A particular species of echinacea – an herb widely used to boost the immune system and treat colds, upper respiratory infections, and the flu – has been studied and found to exhibit cytotoxic properties. In short, this means that that it kills cancer. Researchers also discovered that this type of echinacea initiates spontaneous cancer cell death – a process known as apoptosis.
After performing studies on human pancreatic and colorectal cancer cells, scientists came to the conclusion that Echinacea pallida (E. pallida) shows great promise as a cancer treatment option(1).
Echinacea Pallida Contains Anti-Cancer Compounds
What makes E. pallida so effective is the presence of polyacetylenes found in this specific strain of echinacea. Polyacetylenes are compounds with proven anti-cancer(2), anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects.
And, unlike manmade chemopreventative agents, E. pallida targets only cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone.
In addition, scientists noted that when taken orally the anti-cancer compounds in E. pallida appear to be readily bioavailable and easily absorbed by the human intestinal tract.
Echinacea Use May Increase Longevity, Even In Cancer Patients
Subsequent studies established that long-term use of echinacea is not only safe, but effective in increasing longevity, even in test subjects injected with cancer cells. In fact, one-third of leukemia-injected mice lived out their normal life span when given echinacea, whereas the mice who were not fed echinacea died shortly after contracting the disease(3).
- Chicca, A., F. Pellati, B. Adinolfi, A. Matthias, I. Massarelli, S. Benvenuti, E. Martinotti, A. M. Bianucci, K. Bone, R. Lehmann, and P. Nieri. “Cytotoxic activity of polyacetylenes and polyenes isolated from roots of Echinacea pallida.” Cytotoxic activity of polyacetylenes and polyenes isolated from roots of Echinacea pallida – Chicca – 2009 – British Journal of Pharmacology – Wiley Online Library. January 14, 2008. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/sj.bjp.0707639/references.
- Wu, Li-Wha, Yi-Ming Chiang, Hsiao-Ching Chuang, Sheng-Yang Wang, Ga-Wen Yang, Ya-Huey Chen, Ling-Ya Lai, and Lie-Fen Shyur. “Polyacetylenes Function as Anti-Angiogenic Agents.” Pharmaceutical Research 21, no. 11 (November 2004): 2112-119. doi:10.1023/b:pham.0000048204.08865.41.
- Miller, Sandra C. “Echinacea: a Miracle Herb against Aging and Cancer? EvidenceIn vivoin Mice.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2, no. 3 (September 2005): 309-14. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh118.