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The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether echinacea supplementation results in alterations of erythroid growth factors and erythropoietic status. Twenty-four men age 24.9 ± 4.2 y, height 1.7 ± 0.8 m, weight 87.9 ± 14.6 kg, and 19.3% ± 6.5% body fat were grouped using a double-blind design and self-administered an 8000-mg/d dose of either echinacea (ECH) or placebo (PLA) in 5 × 400 mg × 4 times/d for 28 d. Blood samples were collected and analyzed for red blood cells (RBCs), hematocrit (Hct), hemoglobin (Hb), mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin content, prostaglandin E2, ferritin, erythropoietin (EPO), interleukin 3 (IL-3), and granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor using automated flow cytometry and ELISA. ANOVA was used to determine significant differences (P ≤ 0.05). EPO was greater (P < 0.001) in ECH at Days 7, 14, and 21 and refected a 44%, 63%, and 36% increase, respectively. IL-3 was greater (P = 0.011) in ECH at Days 14 and 21, which indicated a 65% and 73% increase, respectively. These data indicate that ECH supplementation resulted in an increase in EPO and IL-3 but did not significantly alter RBCs, Hb, or Hct.
Whitehead is with the Dept. of Health and Human Performance, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA 71497. Martin and Webster are with the Dept. of Human Performance and Recreation, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001. Scheett is with the Dept. of Physical Education and Health, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29464.