The potential use of Echinacea in acne: control of Propionibacterium acnes growth and inflammation

Phytother Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):517-21. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3288. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


Acne is a chronic inflammatory disorder of skin follicles caused by the gram-positive bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. The possibility was investigated that a standardized preparation of Echinacea purpurea (Echinaforce®), with known antiviral, antiinflammatory and antibacterial properties, might provide a useful alternative treatment in the control of the disease. The herbal extract readily killed a standard laboratory strain of the bacterium and several clinical isolates. In cell culture models of human bronchial epithelial cells and skin fibroblasts, P. acne induced the secretion of substantial amounts of several pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6 and IL-8 (CXCL8), as determined by means of cytokine-antibody arrays. However, the E. purpurea completely reversed this effect and brought the cytokine levels back to normal. Thus Echinaforce® could provide a safe two-fold benefit to acne individuals by inhibiting proliferation of the organism and reversing the bacterial-induced inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Echinacea / chemistry*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / growth & development*


  • Cytokines
  • Plant Extracts