Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea are considered a nonspecific (adaptogenic) stimulant to the immune system, effecting a variety of viral and bacterial conditions influencing the secretory immune sys tem. In this respect, Echinacea is recognized as a secretory immune stimulant influencing the mucous membranes, skin, and lymphatic system. The secretory immune system is recognized as the initial line of defense. Echinacea spp. contain a complex of different compounds responsible for their immune enhancing effects. According to Christopher Hobbs in his monograph on Echinacea, much of the claims for Echinacea include stimulation of leukocytes, inhibition of the enzyme hyaluronidase, mild antibiotic activity, anti-inflammatory activity, stimulation of the adrenal cortex, stimulation of the properdin/complement system, interferon-like activity, stimu lation of phagocytosis (general cellular immunity), anti-viral activity, and increased production of fibroblasts.
During conceptual stages of viral infection, Echinacea can be very effective in frequent and large doses for preventing infection by inhibiting the enzyme hyaluronidase from breaking down the cell membrane and also by strengthening the cell membrane directly. Other secretory infections such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, sinus infections, ear infections, and tonsillitis, respond swiftly and convincingly to frequent and large doses of Echinacea at the onset of the infectious stage.