In 1991, the German journal Arzneimittelforshung published an article
entitled “Toxicity of Echinacea purpurea.” Mice and rats were given
large oral and intravenous overdoses of Echinacea purpurea daily for 14-days.
Upon completion of the regimen the specimens were dissected and studied
with a microscope. In addition, 18 male and 18 female rats were given
Echinacea orally in doses of 0, 800, 2400, or 8000 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks.
The highest dose was approximately 60 times the recommended amount for
humans. Furthermore, Echinacea was tested for its ability to cause
cell mutation. Mice lymphoma cells were placed in a culture of Echinacea
extract and allowed to grow. No abnormalities were found among mice
undergoing the 14-day regimen, except for minor reactions to the intravenous
administration. In the 4 weeks regimen, mice receiving Echinacea
were compared to a placebo on the basis of weight, food consumption, observation
of blood vessels, and dissection. No relevant evidence was found
supporting Echinacea as being toxic. Tests to prove that Echinacea
causes mutations in mice lymphoma cells showed no significant differences
in comparison to the placebo. According to this study, Echinacea
can be classified as non-toxic, even in large doses (Mengs et al. 1076-81).
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