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Echinacea And Longer Life

According to a study completed at McGill University in Canada, the herb Echinacea has been shown to prolong life expectancy in mice. Already touted as an immunostimulant, Echinacea has now been shown to allow mice with tumors to live longer. As we approach middle age, cancer arises with a higher prevalence. especially as people reach their forties and fifties. The body tends to become more susceptible to viral infection. It has been hypothesized that it could be related to either lower numbers of immune cells present or a decrease in functionality of immune cells. Cancer cells may be a result of mutation or viral infection. Researchers wanted to test to see if giving a dose of Echinacea would help if given to mice from a young age. This would diminish the propensity for the mice to get cancer and viral infections by boosting their immune function. The Echinacea helps stimulate bone marrow to produce immune cells, In particular, Natural Killer cells (NK) are strengthened and they are our bodies first line defense against cancer and infections. The theory being proposed is that Echinacea contains arabinogalactans, a sugar chain that is uptaken by NK cells. This increases production of proteins such as interleukin-1, TNF-alpha, and interferon-beta2. These proteins activate NK cells activity. It has also been postulated that alkylamides may bind with the CB2 receptor, and in turn activate the NK cells. Either way, the Canadian researchers are convinced that Echinacea allows mice to live longer. The say it could even be another mechanism, but what ever the reason, Echinacea supplementation leads to a longer life expectancy in mice.

Echinacea: The Take Home Message

According to research, supplementing with this wonder herb makes the body not only less susceptible to cold and flu season, it helps the body live longer by boosting immunity and helping to slow down chronic disease like cancer. Why not take it as a preventative measure.

Biogerontology. 2005;6(3):157-63.