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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 3, Pages 309-314

Echinacea: a Miracle Herb against Aging and Cancer? Evidence In vivo in Mice

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Received 12 October 2004; Accepted 29 July 2005

Copyright © 2005 Sandra C. Miller. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Echinacea has been viewed as an immunoenhancing herb since it became commercially available several years ago. Indeed, its medicinal significance is responsible for billions of dollars in worldwide sales annually. Unfortunately, most of the ‘evidence’ for the purported medicinal efficacy of Echinacea has been anecdotal and, moreover, to this day, there is no formal proof on how to achieve the best results—whether it should be consumed daily throughout life as a prophylactic; consumed by either young or old; or consumed after diseases, such as cancer, have taken hold. Our work over the past 5 years has led to conclusive answers to some of these questions, at least in mice. Our results have shown that daily consumption of Echinacea is indeed prophylactic, extends the life span of aging mice, significantly abates leukemia and extends the life span of leukemic mice. Given that humans are 97% genetically common with mice and that virtually all our basic physiology is identical, it is neither unjustified to extrapolate these observations to humans nor would it be an arduous task to perform many of these studies in humans, thus establishing viable scientific evidence replacing the anecdotal.