Sunday, August 24, 2008

Little Pharma: Herbal Medicine Garden - Echinacea

Herbal Medicine Garden - Echinacea


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Echinacea purpurea 'Maxima'

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Echinacea
Species of Echinacea are:
Echinacea angustifolia - Narrow-leaf Coneflower
Echinacea atrorubens - Topeka Purple Coneflower
Echinacea laevigata - Smooth Coneflower, Smooth Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida - Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea paradoxa - Yellow Coneflower, Bush's Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea - Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower
Echinacea sanguinea - Sanguine purple coneflower
Echinacea simulata - Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower
Echinacea tennesseensis - Tennessee Coneflower
Echinacea, commonly called Purple Coneflower, is a genus of nine species of herbaceous plants in the family Asteraceae. All are strictly native to eastern and central North America. The plants have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. Some species are used in herbal medicines.

E. purpurea flower centre
The genus name is from the Greek echino, meaning "spiny," due to the spiny central disk. They are herbaceous, drought-tolerant perennial plants growing to 1 or 2 m in height. The leaves are lanceolate to elliptic, 10 – 20 cm long and 1.5 – 10 cm broad. Like all asteraceae, the flowers are a composite inflorescence, with purple (rarely yellow or white) florets arranged in a prominent, somewhat cone-shaped head — "cone-shaped" because the petals of the outer ray florets tend to point downward (are reflexed) once the flower head opens, thus forming a cone.

Medicinal effects
A controlled double-blind study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and documented in the New England Journal of Medicine[1] stated that echinacea extracts had "no clinically significant effects" on rates of infection or duration or intensity of symptoms. The effects held when the herb was taken immediately following infectious exposure and when taken as a prophylaxis starting a week prior to exposure.

An earlier University of Maryland review based on 13 European studies concluded that echinacea, when taken at first sign of a cold, reduced cold symptoms or shortened their duration.[2] The review also found that three of four published studies concluded that taking echinacea to prevent a cold was ineffective.

As with any herbal preparation, individual doses may vary significantly in active chemical composition. In addition to poor process control which may affect inter- and intra-batch homogeneity, species, plant part, extraction method, and contamination or adulteration with other products all lead to variability between products.[3][4]

The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) assessed the body of evidence and approved the use of expressed juice and dried expressed juice from fresh flowering aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea for the short-term prevention and treatment of the common cold. According to their recommendations,

It should not be used for more than 10 days. The use in children below 1 year of age is contraindicated, because of theoretically possible undesirable effect on immature immune system. The use in children between 1 and 12 years of age is not recommended, because efficacy has not been sufficiently documented although specific risks are not documented. In the absence of sufficient data, the use in pregnancy and lactation is not recommended.[5]
Assessment report is also published.[6]

Popular belief and traditional use
Echinacea is popularly believed to be an immunostimulator, stimulating the body's non-specific immune system and warding off infections. A common reference source for believers is a 2007 meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious Diseases[7]; however, this study fails to indicate important confounding factors that could drive the reported conclusion. The studies pooled in the meta-analysis used different types of echinacea, different parts of the plant, and various dosages. This review cannot inform recommendations on the efficacy of any particular type of echinacea, dosage, or treatment regimen. The safety of echinacea under long-term use is also unknown.[8]

Echinacea angustifolia rhizome was used by North American Plains Indians, perhaps more than most other plants, for various herbal remedies.[citation needed] Echinacea was one of the basic antimicrobial herbs of eclectic medicine from the mid 19th century through the early 20th century, and its use was documented for snakebite and anthrax. In the 1930s echinacea became popular in both Europe and America as an herbal medicine.

Active substances
Like most crude drugs from plant or animal origin, the constituent base for echinacea is complex, consisting of a wide variety of chemicals of variable effect and potency. Some chemicals may be directly antimicrobial, while others may work at stimulating or modulating different parts of the immune system. All species have chemical compounds called phenols, which are common to many other plants. Both the phenol compounds cichoric and caftaric are present in E. purpurea, other phenols include echinacoside, which is found in greater levels within E. angustifolia and E. pallida roots than in other species. When making herbal remedies, these phenols can serve as markers for the quantity of raw echinacea in the product. Other chemical constituents that may be important in echinacea health effects include alkylamides and polysaccharides.

Root or whole plant
As with any plant, the chemical makeup of echinacea is not consistent throughout the organism. In particular, the root has been promoted as containing a more efficacious mixture of active chemicals. A 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Taylor et al. 2003[9]) found that when echinacea products made from the entire plant were taken after the second cold symptom appeared they provided no measurable beneficial effect for children in treating the severity or duration of symptoms caused by the common cold virus. The study has been criticized for using whole-plant extracts instead of root extracts, and the dosages studied were lower than those recommended by herbalists.[citation needed] A 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Turner, 2005[1]) focused on several root extracts, but still found no statistically significant effects on duration, intensity, or prevention of symptoms.

Frequency of administration
Proponents of echinacea assert that it is not a "one-dose" treatment, and that in order to work effectively, a dose should be taken at the very first sign of a cold symptom. Subsequent doses are called for every two to four hours after the first dose, including during the overnight sleeping period, until the cold symptoms have disappeared.

The several species of echinacea differ in their precise chemical constitution, and may provide variable dosages of any active ingredients.

Side effects and contraindications
Reported adverse effects of echinacea include nausea, dizziness, dyspnea, rash, dermatitis, pruritis, and hepatotoxicity. These tend to be infrequent, mild, and transient.[10][11] Echinacea should not be taken by persons with progressive systemic and auto-immune disorders, connective tissue disorders, or related diseases. It should not be used with immunosuppressants or hepatotoxic drugs,[11][12] and has the potential to interfere with anesthesia.[13]
In one investigation by an independent consumer testing laboratory, five of eleven selected retail echinacea products failed quality testing. Four of the failing products contained measured levels of phenols believed to be related to potency below the levels stated on the labels. One failing product was contaminated with lead.[4]
[edit]Other uses

Some species of echinacea, notably E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida, are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.[14] They tolerate a wide variety of conditions, maintain attractive foliage throughout the season, and multiply rapidly. Appropriate species are used in prairie restorations.

a b Turner, Ronald B.; Rudolf Bauer, Karin Woelkart, Thomas C. Hulsey, and J. David Gangemi (2005-07-28). "An Evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in Experimental Rhinovirus Infections". The New England Journal of Medicine 353: 341–348. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa044441. PMID 16049208. Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
Bergner. "Healing Power of Echinacea and Goldenseal and Other Immune System Herbs" (The Healing Power)1997
Linde K, et al. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD000530
a b "Product Review: Echinacea"., LLC (2004-03-18). Retrieved on 2007-08-02.
Monograph on Echinacea purpurea[1]
Human Medicines - Herbal Medicinal Products
Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis.Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Jul;7(7):473-80. [2]
Caruso TJ, Gwaltney JM (2005). "Treatment of the common cold with echinacea: a structured review". Clin. Infect. Dis. 40 (6): 807–10. doi:10.1086/428061. PMID 15736012.
"Efficacy and safety of echinacea in treating upper respiratory tract infections in children: a randomized controlled trial", Taylor, J. A., et al. 2003., Journal of the American Medical Association 2003 Dec 3;290(21):2824-30
Cheeseman, Mark (2002-12-13). "Echinacea". Complementary Medicines Summary. UK Medicines Information, National Health Service. Retrieved on 2007-07-07.
a b Mayo Clinic. "Echinacea (E. angustifolia DC, E. pallida, E. purpurea)". Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
Miller LG (1998). "Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions". Arch. Intern. Med. 158 (20): 2200–11. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.20.2200. PMID 9818800.
"Echinacea". American Cancer Society (2007-06-26). Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
"A Comprehensive Echinacea Germplasm Collection Located at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station", USDA

Creative Advertising

This was in the spam box...nice work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Green Tea

We love green tea around here. Simply can't get enough. We all know that green tea has several health benefits, but this article contains a good list of all the reasons why green tea is good for you.

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice has been used in China since the Tang Dynasty to treat gastric problems, blood circulation, among others. According to this article on the Mayo Clinic's website, red yeast rice may also serve as a natural remedy for high cholesterol.

As with any natural remedies we post up here, it is for informational usage only. Consult your physician should you wish to begin alternative treatments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Push'n Drugs on Kids

For Immediate Release

July 30, 2008

Contact: Josh Golin (617.278.4172;

Advocates to Channel One: Stop Marketing Prescription Drugs to Children

Advocates for children are demanding that Alloy Media and Marketing immediately remove ads for prescription drugs from its Channel One website. Channel One, the controversial in-school news program that makes viewing ads a compulsory part of the school day for grades six through twelve, was purchased by Alloy in 2007. As part of its user agreement with schools, Channel One has pledged not to market prescription drugs to its young audience. Yet ads for the prescription acne medications Differin and BenzaClin have been running on the Channel One website for at least the past week.

“Alloy is taking Channel One to a new low by peddling prescription drugs to children,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “The company that has done more than any other to commercialize classrooms is now delivering young students to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The ads were spotted on on July 20, 2008 by Jim Metrock of Obligation, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy organization that monitors Channel One. Because the ads clearly violate Channel One’s advertising policy, Metrock contacted Paul Folkemer, Senior Vice-President and Director of Education at Channel One Network and Matt Diamond, Chief Executive Office of Alloy Media and Marketing, to demand that the ads be removed. Neither Folkemer nor Diamond has responded. On July 22, Obligation, Inc. filed a complaint against Channel One with the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU). CARU guidelines state that advertisers should not advertise drugs to children.

“There has never been a better time for schools to pull the plug on Channel One,” said Metrock. “There is simply no reason for schools to deliver a captive audience of students to a company like Alloy that violates its own meager advertising policy and advertising industry standards.”

One of Channel One’s drug ads links to, a kid-targeted website created by the pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis to promote BenzaClin, a prescription drug for acne. The website features actor Cody Linley, who introduces himself as one of the stars of Hannah Montana, which airs on the Disney channel and is among the most popular television programs for children.

“It’s outrageous that Alloy is abetting a pharmaceutical company’s cynical exploitation of children by linking a popular program like Hannah Montana to a branded prescription drug,” said Dr. Linn.

For Dr. Victor Strasburger, Professor of Pediatrics at University of New Mexico School of Medicine, the Channel One ads are part of a disturbing trend in which children are targeted with ads that tout drugs as the answer to life’s problems. “If we want kids to 'just say no' to drugs, how can we possibly beam ads at them for prescription drugs?” asked Dr. Strasburger. “Early on, they get the clear message: there's a drug for every problem we have."

To view Channel One’s advertising policy and screen shots of the Differin and BenzaClin ads, please visit

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC supports the rights of children to grow up – and the rights of parents to raise them – without being undermined by rampant commercialism. For more information, please visit:

If you no longer wish to receive CCFC press releases, please reply with “unsubscribe” in the headline.

via commercial free childhood

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The List

Came across a listing of independent experts from the Big Pharma field.

Independent list members state that they do not have financial ties to drug or medical device manufacturers. You will need a password to gain access to all the information.

See the list here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

DEA agents raid Culver City medical marijuana dispensary

The Los Angeles Times Reported this yesterday (Aug 1, 2008):

DEA agents raid Culver City medical marijuana dispensary
The action comes on the same day an appellate court in San Diego rules that federal law does not preempt California's medical pot law.

(Photo:Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Employee Brian V. Birbiglia, 35, is questioned by DEA agents after Organica Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary, was raided. Birbiglia sat handcuffed next to DEA agents on a tattered couch outside the dispensary for more than four hours during the raid.

Federal agents raided a Culver City medical marijuana dispensary where they spent more than four hours this afternoon, serving a search warrant that resulted in no arrests but left the shop in disarray.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrived about noon at Organica Collective in the 13400 block of Washington Boulevard, said Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles office of the agency.

"Marijuana remains a controlled substance, and it is illegal under federal law to possess, dispense or cultivate marijuana in any form," Pullen said of the purpose of the raid.

The federal operation came on the same day an appellate court in San Diego ruled that federal law does not preempt the state's law allowing the use of medical marijuana -- a ruling touted by supporters of California's medical marijuana law as a significant win.

At the dispensary agents left behind trash, counters strewn with open and empty glass jars, piles of receipts thrown on the ground, upturned couch cushions, bits of marijuana on the edges of counters and an ATM with its doors torn open and emptied.

In the residents' rooms a safe was cut open, dresser drawers pulled open, and rumpled clothes and knickknacks thrown on the ground. An outdoor vegetable garden had plants uprooted, along with marijuana plants removed by the agents.

Brian V. Birbiglia, 35, sat handcuffed next to DEA agents on a tattered couch outside the dispensary for more than four hours during the raid. Next to the couch sat a box marked "DEA evidence," about a dozen black trash bags and two Trader Joe's paper bags. Some agents wore protective chest gear, black sunglasses and guns in leg holsters.

After the raid was over and he was released, Birbiglia was visibly enraged. An employee and friend of the dispensary's owner, Jeff Joseph, Birbiglia said he is a disabled former Marine who has a prescription to smoke marijuana for a foot injury.

"We follow the law," he yelled, his face red and his eyes teary. "We might as well have just got robbed by a bunch of thugs downtown."

Birbiglia found a remaining bud of marijuana that agents had missed, and he popped it into a pipe to smoke.

"They forgot this, and I'm going to smoke it," he said.

Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl was called to the scene by the owner and arrived several hours after the raid began. Rosendahl, standing outside the gate to the store's parking lot, said he was frustrated that there was nothing he could do to intervene. The dispensary straddles the boundary between Los Angeles and Culver City, Rosendahl said. Culver City police assisted federal agents at the scene.

"This is an action with the federal government, which is sad," Rosendahl said, "because these laws need to be revisited in Washington, especially the medical marijuana law. We're incarcerating people by the tens of thousands, we're destroying peoples' lives, and people who have a medical marijuana legitimacy are caught in the middle. It's a problem we need to resolve. This conflict is totally unacceptable."

Clyde Carey, 50, of Marina del Rey was at the store Friday visiting a friend when agents burst in through the locked front door, he said.

"We heard some noise outside, and then the door literally burst in, and the DEA came in in full combat gear, told everybody to get on the floor and put their hands behind their heads," Carey said. "It was like, literally, an episode of "24," when they bust in on a terrorist cell."

Carey, who said he has multiple sclerosis and has been a dispensary customer since February, stood across the street near a Starbucks with about half a dozen people who had witnessed the raid, watching agents walk in and out.

He said DEA agents searched and cuffed the roughly 25 people inside the building, which also includes four upstairs rooms. Then agents started searching the premises, removing computers, medicine and money, and using a steel cylinder battering ram to get into the upstairs bedrooms, Carey said.

Joseph, the owner, said he was at the bank when an employee called to warn him of the raid.

"I'm a fugitive at the moment," he said. Joseph said he had been speaking with his attorney but would not comment on the amount of marijuana lost. "It's going to be very expensive," he said, adding that he had "paid my taxes, every quarter since last year; I've paid my taxes."

The search warrant signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Victor B. Kenton authorized the seizure of "controlled substances, including marijuana; derivatives thereof, and edible products containing marijuana . . . receipts, notes, ledgers, records . . . reflecting the proceeds of those activities . . . electronic equipment . . . photographs, negatives, videotapes, films, addresses and/or telephone books . . . records, documents, programs, applications. . . ."

On a Web forum for medical marijuana users, news of the raid was posted shortly after 1 p.m. with a call for protesters to "please go down with signs and friends to show your support!"

The dispensary’s MySpace page says it offers "the best of Los Angeles' medical cannabis, as well as several different types of clones. New patients receive a free gift with their first purchase! We are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, with free secure parking and friendly vibes!"

In addition, the section titled "Who I'd like to meet" solicits people without a "medical recommendation card" for marijuana.

"Suffer from migraines, cancer, glaucoma, depression, arthritis, nausea, anorexia, AIDS, insomnia, chronic pain or any other disorders?" the website says. "Medicinal marijuana might be for you! Come meet with our doctor and see if you qualify."