Herbal products have a long history of general usage in traditional Chinese and other complementary medicine
protocols. They are used in the treatment of a variety of conditions most importantly stimulation or inhibition of the
immune system. In this regard, of particular importance are Astragalus membranaceous, Panax ginseng and Echinacea
purpurea; the latter two having found favor across the globe and in common usage by millions of individuals hoping to
improve cancer symptoms (P. ginseng) and fight colds and influenza (E. purpurea). Hundreds of papers have been written
about these three phytochemicals, but the most rigorous and widely cited was written by Block and Mead in 2003, who
underlined the weaknesses in the scientific rigor associated with evaluating these medicines as well as suggesting
strategies to move forward. Using Block and Mead as a platform, this review aims to evaluate whether our knowledge
base has improved subsequently.
Keywords: Astragalus membranaceus, Echinacea purpurea, Herbal medicine, Panax ginseng, phytochemical.
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