With consumers increasingly proactive about boosting their immune health, there is growing interest in proven, natural ingredients such as IFF Health’s Echipower.
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. Echipower from IFF Health is a unique, all-natural echinacea ingredient, which has been shown in preclinical and clinical studies to enhance immune function, lower the odds of catching a cold and reduce the duration of a cold.
Growing interest in nutrition for immune health
The critical role of the immune system in maintaining good health 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 supplements 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 properties.
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, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Antitussive and bronchodilatory effects also have 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. These components are thought to stimulate the immune system by interacting with macrophages, lymphocytes and other cells involved in the immune response and immunity. Experimental data suggest that immunomodulatory activity linked to echinacea 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 also were observed, with virologically confirmed recurrent infections and complications such as otitis media observed with less frequency following echinacea intake.
Echipower: 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.
Echipower 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. Echipower 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 of Echipower daily improved immune function. 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 cold-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 Echipower with Pelargonium was even found to enhance antiviral effects, pointing to a synergistic potential between the two plant preparations.
Ultimately, keeping the immune system strong is no easy feat, because factors such as stress, lack of sleep, activity level and the environment all can have effects. However, nutritional solutions can offer significant support and the body of evidence for the benefits of traditional herbal ingredients for immune function is growing.
Echipower 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 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 IFF Health
Formerly known as Frutarom Health, IFF Health is leading global manufacturer of high-quality health ingredients supported by science. It has a long track record of meeting consumer demand for ingredients that are safe and scientifically substantiated as well as natural.
Now part of the IFF family, IFF Health is even better placed to help its customers gain a competitive edge in the dynamic health landscape.
For information click here.
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