Echinacoside (ECH), a natural phenylethanoid glycoside, was first isolated from Echinacea angustifolia DC. (Compositae) sixty years ago. It was found to possess numerous pharmacologically beneficial activities for human health, especially the neuroprotective and cardiovascular effects. Although ECH showed promising potential for treatment of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, some important issues arose. These included the identification of active metabolites as having poor bioavailability in prototype form, the definite molecular signal pathways or targets of ECH with the above effects, and limited reliable clinical trials. Thus, it remains unresolved as to whether scientific research can reasonably make use of this natural compound. A systematic summary and knowledge of future prospects are necessary to facilitate further studies for this natural product. The present review generalizes and analyzes the current knowledge on ECH, including its broad distribution, different preparation technologies, poor pharmacokinetics and kinds of therapeutic uses, and the future perspectives of its potential application.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; echinacoside; pharmacokinetics; preparation.