Echinacea Side Effect: Gut Changes

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by kjfms, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    From WEB MD News


    Echinacea Side Effect: Gut Changes

    Change in Balance of Bacteria in Gut May Be Echinacea Side Effect

    By Daniel DeNoon

    WebMD Medical News

    Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD on Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Dec. 20, 2006 - The popular herb echinacea has a side effect: It changes the balance of gut bacteria, a small study shows.

    Whether this is good or bad isn't yet known.

    One of the bacteria that seem to increase, bacteroides, has been linked in other studies to diarrheadiarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancercancer, researchers report.

    But there's no direct evidence that echinacea causes or worsens any of these diseases, says study researcher Jerald C. Foote, PhD, RD, of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

    "We don't know this is caused by echinacea for sure," Foote tells WebMD. "We are not claiming that echinacea will cause things like that.

    But if you are taking echinacea and have a history of gastrointestinal problems, maybe you need to take a further look at it."

    The study does not impress echinacea researcher Bruce P. Barrett, MD, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

    Barrett is a member of the scientific advisory board of the American Botanical Council, an industry trade group, and the leader of a 2002 clinical trial that found echinacea to have no effect in treating the common cold.

    "The low number of subjects, lack of control group, and irrelevant outcome measure detracts from scientific value [of this study]," Barrett tells WebMD in an email. "[The] implied relevance to actual human disease is speculative at best."

    Naturopathic doctor Jean-Jacques Dugoua, ND, a researcher at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, studies echinacea and other supplements.

    Dugoua finds the Foote study very interesting -- but notes that bacteroides are normal gut bacteria that can protect against more dangerous bacteria.

    "This study suggests that perhaps echinacea plays around with the gut-floor bacteria more than we thought it did," Dugoua tells WebMD. "Maybe that is a good thing, and maybe it is a bad thing.

    But we did find echinacea to be well tolerated in our safety studies."

    Echinacea Side Effect?

    Foote, a dietitian, says he began the small study after people taking echinacea asked him whether the herbal remedy might be causing their diarrheadiarrhea.

    A review of the scientific literature revealed no information on the effect of herbal supplements on the gut.

    So Foote and colleagues got 12 men and women to take 1,000 milligrams per day of an echinacea supplement with standardized ingredients (Echinamide from Natural Factors R&D, Canada).

    The researchers cultured bacteria from study participants' stool samples before, during, and after 10 days of echinacea use.

    They found significant changes in the balance of normal gut bacteria -- including an increase on bacteroides.

    "If a person is taking echinacea for a short period of time and has a healthy gastrointestinal tract, I don't think it is a terrible risk," Foote says. "But they should be looking for side effects when they take echinacea or any other drug.

    ... If we can get consumers to look for possible side effects when they take an herbal remedy, that would be a good thing."

    Steven H. Yale, MD, research director of the Marchfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis., has also studied echinacea. Yale says the echinacea side effects Foote describes are "unusual."

    "The only side effects of echinacea we saw were headache and dry mouth -- and that was no more common in the echinacea group than in the placebo group," Yale tells WebMD. "As Dr. Foote and colleagues say, we need additional research for this finding to be understood.

    But this is not the kind of side effect seen in other studies."

    Judy Blatman, vice president for communications at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement-industry trade group, says Foote's bottom-line advice is sound.

    Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing side effects from a dietary supplement should call their doctor, Blatman tells WebMD.

    The study by Foote and colleagues appears in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.


    SOURCES: Hill, L.L. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, December 2006; vol 31: pp 599-604. Perri, D. Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Nov. 3, 2006; vol 13: pp e262-e267. Barrett, B. Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 17, 2002; vol 137: pp 939-946. Yale, S.H. and Liu, K. Archives of Internal Medicine, June 14, 2004; vol 164: pp 1237-1241. Huntley, A. Drug Safety, 2005; vol 28: pp 387-400. Jerald C. Foote, PhD, RD, assistant professor of food & human nutrition and human environmental sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, ND, researcher, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. Steven H. Yale, MD, director of clinical research, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wis. Bruce P. Barrett, MD, PhD, associate professor of family medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Judy Blatman, vice president for communications, Council for Responsible Nutrition, Washington, D.C.

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen :)
  2. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    It changes the BALANCE of gut bacteria.

    Balance being the key word -- dear :)

    Just because one posts an interesting article on an herb does not always mean it is a slam against it.

  3. victoria

    victoria New Member

    might be a good thing if I'm reading it right... see my post about obesity and gut bacteria just posted, interesting research just out about gut bacteria controlling how many calories we actually get from our food...

    balance is everything, the hard part is striking the right balance as usual LOL!


  4. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    It looks like Bacteroides is a genus of bacteria, some of which are helpful and some of which are harmful. It would be helpful to know which species were found to have increased in the study. Given the gut problems that so many of us have, gut changes would not necessarily be a bad thing.

    I have read that Echinacea is an herb that one should be especially careful to ‘pulse’. One recommendation I have read is to take if for 7 days, then not take it for 3 days. There was also a longer on/off schedule given, but I forget what it was. I only use Echinacea during the winter cold and flu season and stop it entirely during the summer.
  5. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Have you ever used Merck Source -- it is an excellent resource

    You may enjoy Merck and find it useful

    Bacteroides (bak-ter-oydz)

    a genus of gram-negative, anaerobic, non–spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria of the family Bacteroidaceae, made up of organisms that are non-motile or motile with peritrichous flagella.

    They are normal inhabitants of the oral, respiratory, intestinal, and urogenital cavities of humans and animals, and may constitute the predominant bacteria of the normal human colon. Some species are potential pathogens, causing possibly fatal abscesses and bacteremias.

    Below is an a little more of the study:

    Increased concentrations of certain bacteria have been reported in people at high risk for colon cancer, Foote and Hill said. One of the strains found in the study - Bacteroides fragilis - may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea, the researchers said.

    From Merck Source:

    B. fra´gilis

    1. a species name given to a group of closely related bile-resistant, saccharolytic organisms comprising all the former subspecies of B. fragilis (fragilis, distasonis, ovatus, thetaiotaomicron, vulgatus),

    which are now considered to be separate species, and a few other species, e.g., B. uniformis.

    Collectively, the organisms constitute the numerically dominant species found in the human intestine and are the most commonly encountered anaerobic bacteria in clinical specimens.

    They are also present normally in the mouth, throat, and vaginal tract.

    2. one of the species included in the B. fragilis group of bacteria. It is the most important of the anaerobic bacteria causing human infection, being most frequently implicated in intra-abdominal infections, but is also found in bacteremias, abscesses, and other lesions throughout the body.

    Organisms in this species are more resistant to antibiotics than any other anaerobe. Called also Bacillus fragilis.

    The Merck Manual is a must have also IMHO you may find it useful as well.


    [This Message was Edited on 12/24/2006]
  6. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Thanks you all for reading the article.

    I added a few things in another post within this thread which may help a little or not...LOL

    I hope you all have a great Holiday Season and may it be pain free as possible.


  7. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Stormyskye -- Too bad the Merck Manuals are top notch and the information is not slanted drug company or no. One only has to read and compare to see but I not even bother...LOL

    What ever floats you boat.

    Hi Huck -- So glad the article was useful have a great one. I agree with you pharmacist if you have IBS or anything of that nature...

    Merry Christmas,

    Karen :)

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