How does Echinacea Inhibit Cancer?
A recent study by McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada revealed startling good news regarding Echinacea and cancer. They induced leukemia in mice and treated them with the herb to study if Echinacea would increase Natural Killer Cells (NKCs). Remember, NKCs are part of the first line of defense against disease and cancers. The concept that herbal compounds could enhance NKCs has recently gained considerable attention and indeed, excellent reviews on the roles of NKCs in tumor combat and the role of such compounds in modifying antitumor responses, have been provided by leading researchers.
So, they induced leukemia in mice via injection of a dose of leukemia cells known to consistently result in death 3.5 weeks later and on the same day as leukemia induction, Echinacea was added to their diet. A “Control Group” of leukemia-injected mice also consumed a regular diet with NO Echinacea added. The results were most encouraging. NKC numbers by 9 days after tumor onset were “very significantly elevated over control”. Three months after leukemia onset—long after all control (those mice with NO Echinacea) leukemic mice had died—NKCs were recorded at more than twice the numbers present in normal mice of identical age, strain and gender (that is – the mice with leukemia that were given Echinacea had TWICE the NKCs then normal mice!!).
Furthermore, the study reports, “all the other hemopoietic (blood cell) and immune cell lineages in both bone marrow and spleen in these long-term, Echinacea-consuming, originally leukemic mice were indistinguishable from the corresponding populations of cells in normal mice. Life span analysis indicated that not only had Echinacea extended life span but also the survival advantage provided to leukemic mice by consuming Echinacea daily was statistically significant. One-third of all Echinacea-consuming mice that survived until 3 months after leukemia onset went on to live a full-life. We believe that further manipulation of Echinacea dose/frequency/duration regimens could allow many more if not the other full two-thirds to go on to live a full life.”
Echinacea mediates its antineoplastic (cancer killing) activity via the immune system and has no influence on the tumor cells themselves (it stimulates the NKC activity). By stimulating the first line of defense, i.e. NKCs, which are so effective in detecting and killing tumor cells immediately upon detection, the value of Echinacea can be readily seen.
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Dr. Conners graduated with his doctorate from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1986 and has been studying alternative cancer care for over 20 years. He holds AMA Fellowships in Regenerative & Functional Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapy.
He is the author of numerous books including, Stop Fighting Cancer and Start Treating the Cause, Cancer Can’t Kill You if You’re Already Dead, Help, My Body is Killing Me, Chronic Lyme, 3 Phases of Lyme, 23 Steps to Freedom, and many more you can download for FREE on our books page.