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Echinacea and Cat's Claw work better when combined

Echinacea and Cat's Claw activate the body's natural resistance and reduce the chance that you will become ill when exposed to a virus, or that cancer cells will survive in your body. Some supplements contain extracts of both plants, and it may well be that these work better, according to a test-tube study that nutritionists from McGill University published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

The researchers used J774A.1 and NK-92 cells for their experiments. J774A.1 cells are macrophages: immune cells that eat up intruders. The strain that the researchers used came originally from mice. NK-92 cells are Natural Killer cells, which originated from humans. Natural Killer cells force other cells cancer cells or cells infected by a virus to commit suicide.

The Canadians put their J774A.1 and NK-92 cells in test tubes and added standardised extracts of Echinacea [Echinacea purpurea], Cat's Claw [Uncaria tomentosa] and Saw Palmetto [Serenoa repens]. The concentrations they used were 0.128, 0.385 and 1.28 mg per ml.

The researchers introduced E. Coli bacteria to the macrophages and observed whether the immunological appetite [Phagocytosis] of the macrophages increased. The figures below show that this happened for all extracts and Cat's Claw worked particularly well.

In other experiments the researchers measured the macrophages' production of interleukin-12 and the Natural Killer cells' production of interferon-gamma. Interleukin-12 is a signalling substance through which macrophages speed up the development of T-cells and stimulate the activity of other immune cells. Interferon-gamma strengthens immune reactions that are important for destroying 'bad' cells. As you can see below, Echinacea in particular, and to a lesser extent Cat's Claw, increased the production of interferon-gamma.

Finally the researchers did a round of experiments in which they looked at whether they could make the NK cell extracts even deadlier [MK Cell Toxicity]. Here the results were disappointing.

As you can see, all extracts, but Cat's Claw in particular, boosted phagocytosis.

Echinacea and Cat's Claw work better when combined
Echinacea and Cat's Claw work better when combined

Echinacea and Cat's Claw work better when combined

So immuno-supplements containing both Echinacea and Cat's Claw may well work better than products containing only one of the two. But if you stop to think that none of the supplements did anything to increase the toxicity of the Natural Killer cells and the production of interleukin-12, then you start to wonder if it's not possible to dream up better immuno-supplements.

J Med Food. 2007 Mar; 10(1): 73-9.

Study: Echinacea helps against colds 29.04.2009
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