Echinacea cuts cold time, symptoms

Echinacea isn’t known as the “immune herb” for nothing! As two German studies prove, it has a well-deserved place on your natural cold remedy shelf.

In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 80 adult patients were given echinacea or a placebo at the first signs of a cold. For patients taking echinacea, the cold lasted an average of 6 days. For those taking a placebo, it lasted 9 days, or 50% longer.

Scientists in another double-blind, placebo controlled study looked at 238 patients from 15 health clinics across Germany. Patients were given either an echinacea tablet or placebo daily for 7 to 9 days and were asked to document the level of 18 cold symptoms every day. On days 4 and 8, a physician examined each subject. The results revealed that those taking echinacea showed at least 50% improvement of symptoms by day 5, compared to only 27.3% in the placebo group. For patients taking the echinacea at the first sign of cold symptoms, beneficial effects were noticed by day 2 and reached significant levels by day 4. In both studies, echinacea was found to be safe and well tolerated.

Sources: Arzneimittelforschung 2001;51(7):563-8; Curr Med Res Opin 1999;15(3):214-27