Introduction

Echinacea-based phytomedicines are among the most popular herbal products sold in North America and Europe (Brevoort, 1995). Diversity of products, species, and phytochemicals is a key feature of this herbal medicine. There are over 800 Echinacea purpurea products in Europe alone (Bauer, 1998) which are based on different plant parts and widely different extraction or formulation techniques. There is a large number of other species and varieties in the genus. The phytochemistry of

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the genus is diverse (several classes of phytochemicals) and redundant (many phy-tochemical analogues per class) and these phytochemicals provide several types of medicinally important biological activities. All of the above make the understanding and quality control and improvement of Echinacea products challenging.

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