Echinacea and the common cold
TOUTED as a natural way to prevent
the common cold, echinacea has
become one of the most widely
used herbal products. However, findings
on its effectiveness have been mixed.
What do the latest studies show?
A study analysed data from 14 studies
involving 1,630 children and adults who
had been randomly assigned to take
echinacea or a placebo.
Those who took the herbal supplement while healthy cut their odds of
catching a cold by more than half. In
studies that tested its effect once people
had a cold, taking echinacea reduced
cold duration by about 1 1/2 days.
Who may be affected? Children and
adults. More than 200 viruses can cause
the sneezing, coughing and runny nose
of a cold. Adults average two to three
colds a year: children often have six to
Caveats: Different species of echinacea, products made from different
parts of the plant and plants from different regions might not produce the same
results. An ideal dose was not determined.
Information on safety including side
effects and drug interactions was not
provided. The mechanism by which echinacea seems to act against colds