Whitehead, M. T., Martin, T. D., Webster, M. J., & Scheett, T. P. (2007). Improved running economy and maximal oxygen consumption after 4-weeks of oral Echinacea supplementation. ACSM Annual Meeting New Orleans, Presentation Number, 908.

"Echinacea is an herbal supplement primarily utilized as an immunostimulant. Evidence from animal and cell culture models indicate that Echinacea may increase oxygen transport capacity". This study investigated the effects of four-weeks of oral Echinacea supplementation on erythropoietin, red blood cell count, running economy, and VO2max. Males (N = 24) were supplemented with either 8,000 mg/d of Echinacea (N = 12) or a placebo (N = 12). Blood samples were collected prior to and every seven days during supplementation and analyzed for erythropoietin and red blood cells. Maximal graded exercise tests were administered to measure VO2max, running economy, and heart-rate responses.

The Echinacea condition significantly increased Erythropoietin at days 7, 14, and 21 and VO2max. Running economy improved significantly in the Echinacea condition (indicated by a decrease in submaximal VO2 during the first 2 stages of the graded exercise test).

Implication. Echinacea supplementation results in significant increases in erythropoietin, VO2max, and running economy.

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