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Can Echinacea help prevent dermal fibrosis?

Posted on August 30, 2009 at 11:55 PM

Earlier this year in March, the cannabinoid receptor CB2 was found to exert anti-fibrotic effects in experimental dermal fibrosis.  The cannabinoid receptor CB2 is predominantly expressed in areas outside of brain tissue and can powerfully modulate the immune system.

The study conducted evaluated the effects of drug-induced, dermal fibrosis and the effect of the CB2 receptor.  The finding indicated that leukocyte expression of CB2 critically influences experimental fibrosis. The authors of the study suggested that targeting this receptor could be suitable for the treatment of early inflammatory stages of systemic sclerosis.  

I wondered at the time what a natural CB2 agonist would be and more importantly did it actually exist.  I found the answer in N-alkyl amides from two different Echinacea varieties, namely Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia.  In 2006, Switzerland researchers discovered two natural non-cannabinoid ligands for cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors.  Not since the discovery of Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC and related cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa plant has there been a botanical with similar effects on specific physiological receptors in the human body. 

The researchers found that N-alkyl amides from purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.) constitute a new class of cannabinomimetics, which specifically engage and activate the cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors.

CB2 receptors are believed to play an important roles in metabolic dysregulation, inflammation, pain, and bone loss.  Traditional use of Echinacea has shown promise in several areas concerning the skin and immune modulating properties, but until now there wasn't much of an understanding on how these effects were occuring. 

Echinacea may play a role topically and/or internally for skin disorders, more research will hopefully emerge from this area.

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