Brief overview: Current evidence suggests that Echinacea supplementation may decrease the duration and severity of acute respiratory tract infections; however, no studies using Echinacea in the prevention or treatment of conditions similar to COVID-19 have been identified. Few adverse events were reported, suggesting that this herbal therapy is reasonably safe. Because Echinacea can increase immune function, there is a concern that it could worsen over-activation of the immune system in cytokine storm; however, clinical trials show that Echinacea decreases levels of immune molecules involved in cytokine storm.
Verdict: Echinacea supplementation may assist with the symptoms of acute respiratory infections (ARI) and the common cold, particularly when administered at the first sign of infection; however, no studies using Echinacea in the prevention or treatment of conditions similar to COVID-19 have been identified. Previous studies have reported that Echinacea may decrease the severity and/or duration of ARI when taken at the onset of symptoms. The studies reporting benefit used E. purpurea or a combination of E. purpurea and E. angustifolia containing standardized amounts of active constituents.Few adverse events from the use of Echinacea were reported, suggesting that this herbal therapy is reasonably safe. No human trials could be located reporting evidence of cytokine storm when Echinacea was used for up to 4 months.When assessing all human trials which reported changes in cytokine levels in response to Echinacea supplementation, the results were largely consistent with a decrease in the pro-inflammatory cytokines that play a role in the progression of cytokine storm and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), factors that play a significant role in the death of COVID-19 patients. While there is currently no research on the therapeutic effects of Echinacea in the management of cytokine storm, this evidence suggests that further research is warranted.
Keywords: Botanical; COVID; Coneflower; Cytokine; Echinacea; Herbal medicine; Inflammation; Rapid review; Respiratory tract infection.
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