Echinacea intake induces an immune response through altered expression of leucocyte hsp70, increased white cell counts and improved erythrocyte antioxidant defences

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2005 Aug;30(4):363-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2005.00658.x.


Objective: To study the effect of Echinacea tablets on the expression of leucocyte heat shock protein 70 (hsp70), erythrocyte haemolysis, plasma antioxidant status, serum chemistry, haematological values and plasma alkylamide concentrations.

Method: Eleven healthy individuals (26-61 years of age) were evaluated at baseline (day 1) and on day 15 after consuming two commercially blended Echinacea tablets daily for 14 days.

Results: Echinacea supplementation enhanced the fold increase in leucocyte hsp70 expression after a mild heat shock (P=0.029). White cell counts (WCC) were also increased (P=0.043). We also observed a preventative effect against free radical induced erythrocyte haemolysis (P=0.006) indicative of an antioxidant effect.

Conclusion: The pilot study suggests that Echinacea may invoke an immune response through altered expression of hsp70 and increased WCC.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Echinacea / chemistry*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology
  • Female
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Plant Extracts