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AHP Publishes Echinacea Purpurea Aerial Parts Monograph
AHP Publishes Echinacea Purpurea Aerial Parts Monograph

The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® (AHP) has announced the release of its most recent monograph containing quality control standards and a therapeutic compendium for the popular botanical dietary supplement ingredient, Echinacea purpurea Aerial Parts.1,2 Also commonly referred to as purple coneflower, this form of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea [L.] Moench, Asteraceae) has gained widespread use in the United States and worldwide. In 2004 AHP issued its first monograph on echinacea: E. purpurea root3 (see article in HerbalGram 64).4

Initially, medical interest in Echinacea began in the late-1800s in the United States among eclectic physicians who employed mainly roots from E. angustifolia D.C. Interest in the medicinal use of E. purpurea is largely due to the pioneering research work in Germany, where much of the initial research on Echinacea since the late 1930s focused on E. purpurea. This German research eventually evolved into a liquid preparation made from the fresh-pressed juice of the aerial parts. Over the last several decades, based on the initial animal and human research on this juice preparation, dietary supplement manufacturers in the United States and other countries began to market Echinacea preparations made from the dried aerial parts themselves, as well as those containing the fresh-pressed juice and/or dried juice.

Consistent with previous monographs produced by AHP, this monograph contains numerous tables (5) and figures (20).

Tables include a historical timeline* of E. purpurea aerial parts, a comparison of the botanical descriptions of E. purpurea aerial parts to aerial parts of other species of Echinacea, and a comparison of the polysaccharide composition of E. purpurea aerial parts and Echinacin® (the pioneering commercial phytomedicine made by Madaus AG of Germany from the fresh-pressed liquid juice) to dry weight of E. purpurea aerial parts. Additional tables include alkamide and cichoric acid levels of dried aerial parts of E. purpurea, and a summary of blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trials testing E. purpurea aerial parts for the prevention or treatment of upper respiratory tract infections.

Each AHP monograph establishes national standards for assuring authenticity, purity, and quality control of the monographed botanical, as well as industrial information (extraction, processing, and storage). The Therapeutic Compendium provides a comprehensive and critical review of the pharmacological and safety data currently available.2

Like the previous monograph on E. purpurea root, this international collaborative effort was authored by the numerous scientists and herbalists with particular expertise in the genus Echinacea. In addition, this monograph and the others in the Echinacea series (two more are scheduled for publication, i.e., E. angustifolia root and E. pallida root) were reviewed by a committee comprising 28 botanical experts from the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, including Professor Hildebert Wagner and Professor Rudolf Bauer, two of the world’s leading researchers on Echinacea.

Additionally, the release of this monograph is accompanied by the release of several AHP-Verified™ botanical and chemical reference standards that can be used for the analysis of Echinacea. AHP-Verified™ Botanical Reference Standards are available directly from AHP ( AHP-Verified™ Chemical Reference Standards are available through Chromadex (

 AHP monographs represent the most thorough and critical review available of all aspects of each herbal ingredient and provide comprehensive and reliable information to present a rational assessment of the true therapeutic potential and safety of the herb.2

For information regarding pricing and availability of other monographs and reference standards, visit AHP’s Web site at

AHP is a nonprofit research organization based in Scotts Valley, California ( Each AHP monograph is available for $19.95, except for Ginkgo biloba, Echinacea purpurea root, and Echinacea purpurea aerial parts ($24.95 each). All AHP monographs can be purchased from the American Botanical Council Herbal Education Catalog or from AHP.

—Mark Blumenthal


* The historical timeline for the use of E. purpurea aerial parts is relatively shorter than E. purpurea root and E. angustifolia root. The introduction of E. purpurea aerial parts into herbal medicine was the result of the German Dr. Gerhard Madaus’ purchase of mislabeled seeds. He believed he had purchased seeds of E. angustifolia, the species of echinacea most widely used by the eclectic physicians in the United States, but due to an error at a Chicago-based seed company, he actually acquired E. purpurea seeds.5


1. Upton R, Graff A, eds. Echinacea purpurea Aerial Parts: Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium. Scotts Valley, CA; 2005.

2. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® Publishes Echinacea purpurea Aerial Parts: Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench [press release]. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium. Scotts Valley, CA; 2005.

3. Upton R, Graff A, eds. Echinacea purpurea Root: Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium. Scotts Valley, CA; 2004.

4. Blumenthal M. AHP releases monograph on Echinacea purpurea root. HerbalGram. 2004;No. 64:16.

5. Foster S. Echinacea: The purple coneflowers. Botanical Booklet Series 301. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 1996.