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A Journal on Ophthalmology
Minerva Oftalmologica 2004 September-December;46(3-4):133-40
Control of minor autoimmune idiopathic uveitis with extract of Echinacea Purpurea: pilot study
Neri P., Stagni E., Filippello M., Brogioni C., Giovannini A.
Aim. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of Echinacea Purpurea in the control of minor uveal inflammation in a cohort of patients.
Methods. Thirty-two patients suffering from minor autoimmune uveitis who were admitted or referred to the Ophthalmology Section of the Marche Polytechnic were recruited into this study. At registration, account was taken in all patients of demographic variables, systemic status and eye function condition in the strict sense. Each patient was studied as regards his or her immune status to identify the aetiopathogenetic origin of the inflammation. Patients presenting a non-infective eye inflammation with non-severe inflammatory indices refractory to topical or steroid-dependent therapy (cellularity not higher than +2, flare not higher than +2, binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy (BIO) score not higher than +2) were included. The attack therapy contemplated the use of topical desamethazone in all cases of anterior uveitis, and methylprednisolone per os at a dose of 1 mg/kg with rapid tapering in the case of anterior uveitis with a score of +2 and in all cases of intermediate uveitis. Each patient received Iridium capsules (IRIDIUM capsules: Echinacea extract, olive leaf extract, zinc) in a dose of one capsule 2 times a day.
Results. Of the 32 patients in the series, 21 presented anterior uveitis (65.6%), 11 intermediate uveitis (34.4%). The median follow-up was 9 months for anterior uveitis and 8 months for intermediate uveitis. At the last follow-up, 81% of anterior uveitis cases and 63.6% of intermediate uveitis cases presented inflammatory scores equal to zero. The visus was stable in 66.7% and improved in 23.8% for anterior uveitis cases, while in patients with intermediate uveitis 54.5% presented stable visus while in 27.3% it was improved. No sequela was recorded during maintenance therapy with Echinacea Purpurea.
Conclusion. The control of minor inflammation is certainly an important problem in the management of patients with uveitis: the logical fear of the use of immunosuppressor drugs and the need to maintain doses of steroid, however small, trigger a vicious mechanism that is one of the hot topics in the treatment of uveitis. Echinacea Purpurea has long been known as a valid immunomodulator in inflammatory procedures and has always shown few if any side-effects. The present paper demonstrates that the oral administration of Echinacea Purpurea is safe and effective in the control of uveitis of minor severity.