Listed in Issue 180


SENCHINA and COLLEAGUES,  Biology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, IA 50311, USA. Review [189 references) and evaluate the literature regarding the effects of herbal preparations on athlete immune function.


The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate current immunological and clinical literature regarding the effects of herbal preparations on athlete immune function.


The authors review rates of herbal supplement use by athletes. The authors use ginseng (Panax ginseng) and coneflower (Echinacea spp.) as models for examining how herbal supplements may influence immune function within the contexts of exercise and sport, while briefly considering several other popular herbal products.


The authors proffer several evidence-based hypotheses to explain apparent discrepancies among the cumulative data, concomitantly advancing a novel conceptual framework which may be useful to understanding herbal supplements and athlete immune function using Echinacea supplements as a model. The authors then apply the proposed framework to some prospective data regarding the effects of Echinacea pallida and Echinacea simulata on in vitro cytokine production and cell proliferation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected from male collegiate wrestlers and soccer players during training.


The authors evaluate the current knowledge on herbal supplements and athlete immune function, identify gaps and limitations in knowledge, and advance several possible options for future research. [References: 189]


Senchina DS, Shah NB, Doty DM, Sanderson CR and Hallam JE. Herbal supplements and athlete immune function--what's proven, disproven, and unproven?. [Review] [189 refs] Exercise Immunology Review 15: 66-106. 2009.

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