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Derek Simonds
06-25-2007, 10:46 AM
Short article on the effectiveness of Echinacea. I used to take it with vitamin c but stopped as I wasn't sure of the benefits. It looks like the two together are pretty powerful.

Echinacea halves risk of catching colds: study

Updated Mon. Jun. 25 2007 11:29 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Taking the herbal remedy echinacea can reduce the chances of catching the common cold by 58 per cent, concludes a large study published in the July edition of The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The study was the largest ever examination of the effects of the herb. The review by Dr. Craig Coleman, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Hartford Hospital, and colleagues looked at the findings of 14 previous studies and concluded that echinacea can also shorten colds by 1.4 days.

Echinacea comes from the purple coneflower, a plant native to North America. Its flower, stem and root are all ground into teas, tinctures and pill forms.

One of the 14 studies reviewed combined echinacea with vitamin C, which showed the two together reduced cold incidence by 86 per cent. The authors could not definitely conclude whether the two supplements combined are more effective than echinacea alone.

"The mechanism of action underlying the proposed immunostimulatory effects of echinacea remains unclear," the authors say.

It is thought that three properties of echinacea could be stimulating the immune system -- alkamides, chicoric acid, polysaccharides.

The authors caution that more work needs to be done on the safety of echinacea, which was not covered in the review. The study also did not establish the best dose or potency or whether there are any significant side-effects of the herb.

The World Health Organization recognized echinacea as a cold treatment in 1999. But some studies have concluded that the supplement had no effect on preventing colds. Other studies have found that the herb could help treat colds but not prevent them.