Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

The Effect of Four Weeks of Echinacea Supplementation on Erythropoietin and Indices of Erythropoietic Status: 2256Board #193 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Whitehead, Malcolm T.; Webster, Michael J. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 5 - p S407
Thursday Morning Poster Presentations: Posters displayed from 7:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: One-hour author presentation times are staggered from 8:30–9:30 a.m. and 9:30–10:30 a.m.: D-31 Free Communication/Poster – Supplements: THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2006 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM ROOM: Hall B

Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Natchitoches, LA.


Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is an herbal supplement derived from a North American perennial plant (Purple Coneflower) that is primarily used as a non-specific immunostimulant. Evidence from animal and cell culture models supports the role for Echinacea as a potential mediator of erythropoiesis.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether four weeks of oral Echinacea supplementation resulted in alterations in erythropoietin (EPO), red blood cell (RBC) count, hematocrit (HCT) or hemoglobin (Hb).

METHODS: Twenty-four healthy and recreationally active males age 24.9 ± 4.2 yrs, height 1.7 ± 0.8 m, weight 87.9 ± 14.6 kg and 19.3 ±6.5 % body fat were randomly assigned to either an Echinacea (ECH; n=12) or a placebo (PLA; n=12) group. Participants were supplemented with 8000 mg-d−1 of ECH or PLA (i.e., wheat flour) for 28 consecutive days. Blood samples were collected from a superficial forearm vein. Whole blood samples were analyzed for RBC count, HCT, and Hb (GenS™ System 2 Hematology Workstation, Beckman Coulter, Fullerton, CA). Serum samples were analyzed for EPO using a microplate reader system (Versamax, Molecular Devices, Sunnyvale, CA) and accompanying software (Softmax pro version 4.3, Molecular Devices, Sunnyvale, CA). Repeated measures two-way ANOVA followed by independent samples t-tests were used to determine whether significant within and between groups differences existed following supplementation. Significance for all analyses was set at P < 0.05.

RESULTS: Serum EPO was significantly greater in the ECH as compared to the PLA group at day 7 (15.75 ±0.64 vs. 10.01 ± 0.73 mU·mL−1), day 14 (18.88 ± 0.71 vs. 11.02 ±0.69mU·mL−1), and day 21 (16.06 ± 0.55 vs. 9.20 ± 0.55 mU·mL−1. There were no significant within or between groups differences demonstrated in either group for RBC count, HCT, or Hb.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that 28-d of ECH supplementation promoted a significant increase in EPO that lasted for 21 days. However, there were no significant concomitant increases in erythropoietic status, despite positive trends.

Supported by donations from Puritan's Pride, Holbrook, NY and the A.K. and E.G. Lucas Endowment for Faculty Excellence, Office of the Vice President for Research, The University of Southern Mississippi.

© 2006 American College of Sports Medicine