If you find yourself about to go down with a cold this winter, the chances are that at some point a friend will suggest you take echinacea. Some swear by it to ward off a cold when they feel the first stirrings of a sore throat. Others take it once a cold is full-blown, in the hope that it will speed their recovery. Native Americans have long valued echinacea for its medical properties, but in the 20th Century its use spread to many countries after it became popular in Germany. In today’s health food shops you can see dozens of different kinds of preparations. The question is, does it work?
Every couple of years a new study is published showing that echinacea either does or doesn’t…
A study in 2015 found a hot drink containing echinacea to be as good as prescription Tamiflu for treating influenza, and a large 2012 study found the remedy cut down on the number of days suffered with colds. The results don’t apply to all formulations of echinacea, which can vary widely,
Always one to be prepared, my then boyfriend had natural remedies with him on the trip and he force fed me some horrible tasting Echinacea tincture. At that time, I was one to turn to antibiotics if I got sick, but that wasn’t an option in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and definitely couldn’t navigate the medical system, so I took the nasty tasting tincture that he offered.
To my shock, it worked and I bounced back pretty quickly (yay younger genes and natural remedies!).
It is therefore no surprise that the clinical evidence shows that Echinacea is not effective for the prevention or treatment of colds or cold symptoms. This latest study adds to the evidence for lack of efficacy.
The market for Echinacea, however, endures, largely on a sea of anecdotes and marketing spin that is incongruous with the evidence.
Echinacea products have not here been shown to provide benefits for treating colds, although, it is possible there is a weak benefit from some Echinacea products: the results of individual prophylaxis trials consistently show positive (if non-significant) trends, although potential effects are of questionable clinical relevance.
You probably associate the name echinacea with a medicinal herb. It enjoyed much attention several years ago as an ingredient in cold remedies and preventions and was a trendy product in the herbal supplement aisle of many drug stores. While it may have gone out of style lately (at least in grocery stores), echinacea does have some important medicinal properties of which you may want to take advantage.
"The placebo effect is huge," said Ms. Gutshtein, a film documentarian. "The power of positive thinking is the best effect of all."
Echinacea, the herbal supplement made from purple coneflower and used by millions of Americans to prevent or treat colds, neither prevented colds nor eased cold symptoms in a large and rigorous study.
Echinacea is often advised for warding off the winter sniffles, says Claudia Hammond, but does it actually work?
Once known as an alternative way to prevent the common cold, now echinacea is quickly becoming known for multiple uses and benefits.
Many studies have been done on echinacea and the common cold. Much less research has been done on the use of echinacea for other health purposes.