With consumers increasingly proactive about boosting their immune health, there is growing interest in proven, natural ingredients such as Frutarom’s Echishield.
Getting sick is a fact of life. Seasonal temperature changes, too much time indoors, stressful or sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, lack of sleep, excessive exercise – there is a long list of factors that can weaken our immune systems and make us susceptible to infection. Colds are nothing new, but there is growing consumer interest in the role of nutrition, and in natural ingredients such as echinacea, in supporting immunity. Echishield from Frutarom is a unique, all-natural echinacea ingredient, which has been shown to enhance immune function, lower the odds of catching colds and reduce their duration.
Growing interest in nutrition for immune health
The critical role of the immune system is often underestimated – at least until it stops working properly. However, with consumers becoming increasingly proactive about protecting their health, there is growing interest in the way immunity can be supported through healthy nutrition. A variety of immune health products are now available and the market for them, which was worth $1.53 billion in the US alone in 2015, is set to grow further in coming years. Alongside vitamins and minerals, herbal preparations such as Echinacea are increasingly sought after for their immune-boosting effects.
Echinacea – supported by both tradition and science
Echinacea purpurea, also known as purple coneflower, is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants. In Europe and North America, it became a popular herbal remedy for the prevention and treatment of infections in the early 20th century after research in Germany explored its benefits. However, long before that, it was being used by Native American tribes to treat wounds as well as coughs, colds, pain and fever. 
Echinacea extracts have been shown to possess anti-oxidative, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Anti-tussive and bronchodilatory effects have also been demonstrated in recent pharmacodynamic studies. Several constituents of Echinacea have been identified as potentially active, including polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkylamides, caffeic acid derivatives, volatile oils and alkaloids. They are thought to stimulate the immune system by interacting with macrophages, lymphocytes and other cells with a role in immunity. Experimental data suggest that immunomodulatory activity is brought about by three mechanisms:
- Activation of phagocytosis and stimulation of fibroblasts
- Increased respiratory activity
- Increased mobility of leukocytes
According to a meta-analysis of 14 randomized placebo-controlled trials, Echinacea decreased the odds of developing a common cold by 58% and reduced the duration of a cold by 1.4 days. A more recent study confirmed that the use of Echinacea extracts was associated with reduced risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections (RR 0.649, p<0.0001). In individuals with higher susceptibility, the risk was halved (RR 0.501, p<0.0001). Preventive effects were also observed, with virologically confirmed recurrent infections and complications such as otitis media less frequent following Echinacea intake.
Echishield: Clinically proven to support immune health
The effectiveness of herbal products for health depends largely on the species used and manufacturing process applied. It is important, therefore, to choose standardized, high quality products with proven efficacy.
Echishield is a unique ingredient prepared from the cold-pressed juice of the freshly harvested flowers of Echinacea purpurea. Thanks to strict quality assurance from the field to the final product, high quality and standardization to not less than 2.4% β-1,2-D-Fructofuranosides is assured. Echishield complies with the THMP monograph of the EMA (European Medicines Agency) and is pre-clinically and clinically proven to support a healthy immune system.
A randomized placebo-controlled trial, for example, demonstrated that oral supplementation with 500 mg of Echishield daily for three weeks improved immune function in healthy individuals experiencing fatigue. Immunity, assessed by applying a score to immunological vigor, improved significantly over time, whereas no effect was observed in the placebo group .
In vitro, Echinacea fresh-pressed juice has been shown to stimulate the production of cytokines involved in the acute phase response to viral and microbial infections and to inhibit the replication of different viruses including human influenza virus and rhinovirus. The combination of Echishield with Pelargonium was even found to enhance anti-viral effects, pointing to a synergistic potential between the two plant preparations.15
Ultimately, keeping the immune system strong is no easy feat, because factors such as stress, lack of sleep, activity level and environment can all affect it. However, nutritional solutions can offer significant support and the body of evidence for the benefits of traditional herbal ingredients for immune function is growing.
Echishield has been shown to be an effective natural ingredient for immunity, and therefore for quality of life. Because it is water-soluble, it can be easily used in product applications ranging from standard dietary supplement forms such as tablets and capsules, sachets and drops, as well as food and beverages. Thus, it allows effective products to be tailored for different target groups, including working age consumers with stressful everyday lives, aging populations whose immune systems are gradually weakening or simply those seeking natural ways to maintain their overall health.
About Frutarom Health
Frutarom is a leading global manufacturer of high-quality ingredients for healthy nutrition. It provides effective ingredients that meet increasing consumer demand for natural and safe alternatives to support health. Frutarom Health offers a selection of technologies in four product groups: Plant Branded, Plant Standard, Bioscience and Pharma.
Persistence Market Research: Global Immune Health Supplements Market is Expected to Reach US$ 25 Billion by 2025
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WHO Monograph of selected plants- Echinacea purpurea http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/16.html#Js2200e.16; 05.09.2018
Shah SA et al. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis 2007; 7(7): 473-8
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Frutarom: Antiviral effects of Echinacea EFLA 894 and pelargonium EFLA 956 (unpublished data)