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Echinacea_latest clinical trial_update
Largest Clinical Trial Supports its Use for Colds & Flus
By Jillian Bar-av, MS, RH(AHG), CNS, LDN
Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Nutritionist
Echinacea is one of my favorite herbs. As an herbalist, I use it myself and recommended it to my clients, and I can testify that it works. But you don’t have to just take my word for it. The most recent and largest ever clinical trial to study the effects of Echinacea on cold prevention found that Echinacea is safe and effective when it comes to prevention of the common cold.1 The study involved 673 healthy subjects with a recent history of 2 or more colds per year who were randomized into 2 groups to receive either Echinacea or placebo for 4 months. There was no baseline difference between the groups except that those in the Echinacea group happened by chance to be more
susceptible to colds than those in the placebo group. This difference should have skewed results towards the placebo group, but it didn’t. What was seen instead was that subjects in the Echinacea group experienced fewer colds that lasted for a shorter number of days than those in the placebo group. Those in the Echinacea group also experienced fewer recurring colds than those in the placebo group. Additionally, those in the placebo group with colds had more use of over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen compared to those with colds in the Echinacea group.2 Another interesting aspect of the study is that nasal swabs were collected from the subjects to identify whether a viral infection was present. Of the 201 nasal swabs collected, viral infection was found in 54 of the Echinacea group vs. 74 of the placebo group, which showed that significantly fewer samples in the Echinacea group contained influenza or other viruses.3 This clinical trial is getting much attention among herbalists because prior to this study, clinical trials investigating Echinacea’s efficacy on the common cold had been contradictory, some showing benefit while others did not. Some problems with earlier trials have been the small number of people studied or the use of a sub-therapeutic dosage. This trial included an adequate number of subjects, as well as an adequate dosage of the herb. Researchers instructed those in the Echinacea group to take 0.9ml of the liquid extract three times per day, and if subjects had a cold they were told to take that same dose five times per day. This dosage regimen is more in alignment with commonly recommended doses by herbalists than dosages used in previous trials.
1 American Botanical Council. Echinacea extract prevents cold symptoms in largest clinical trial.
Retrieved from herbalgram.org
2 Jawad M, Schoop R, Suter A, Klein P, Eccles R. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.
Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/841315/ 3 Ibid
While the positive results of this trial may not be surprising to herbalists, they do validate what herbalists already know – Echinacea is a safe and effective cold and flu remedy.
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