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Ginseng and echinacea may enhance immune function in patients with suppressed immunity

Ginseng has been used as a revitalizing agent by the Chinese for centuries and enjoys popular use in Western countries as well. In Asia, the herb is also used to stimulate cellular immune function, a practice that is supported by laboratory and clinical studies. Patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or AIDS often display suppressed cellular immune function. Until recently, no studies have been undertaken to investigate a possible role for either ginseng or E. purpurea in strengthening immune function in these patients. In this study, researchers treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with healthy immune systems and patients with either CFS or AIDS with extracts of ginseng or E. purpurea. Both herbal extracts enhanced immune response in the two groups, as measured by natural killer cell function. In addition, the extracts increased antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, the ability of peripheral cells to destroy infected targets. These two herbs appear to be a safe, relatively low cost therapy for patients with compromised cellular immune function.

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See D, Broumand N, Sahl L, et al. In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients. Immunopharmacology 1997; 35: 229-235.Ginseng and echinacea may enhance immune function in patients with suppressed immunity

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