NNFA Update: Echinacea Study Questioned/CAFTA Passed, Still No Threat

Skepticism Arises about Conclusions of Echinacea Study

Questions are arising regarding the conclusions of a study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine (2005, vol.353, no.4: 341-348) that reported echinacea is ineffective in preventing colds or helping treat cold-related symptoms. Specifically, industry experts are questioning why doses of echinacea that are considered far below the therapeutic threshold were used.

“Because the dosage was so much lower than what is widely used and recommended, the only real conclusion one can draw from these findings is that additional studies need to be done using doses consistent with what people normally use and find effective,” said David Seckman, executive director and CEO of NNFA.

Seckman further pointed out that even one of the study's authors, Dr. Rudolf Bauer, agreed that the study should be repeated with other echinacea species, preparations and doses, according to The New York Times article on the findings.

The dosages used in the study were equivalent to 900 milligrams of dried echinacea root per day, which is 330 percent lower than the three grams that is commonly used commercially and recommended by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate. The study examined 399 subjects infected with rhinovirus – or what is known as the common cold – who received either placebo or one of three echinacea preparations (from the species Echinacea angustifolia) prior to becoming infected and after onset of symptoms. According to the study, the echinacea groups experienced no difference from the placebo group in frequency of infections or severity and duration of symptoms.

House Passes CAFTA; Still No Threat to Supplements

On July 27, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3045, legislation that will implement the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement, commonly referred to as “CAFTA.” The U.S. Senate had previously passed CAFTA legislation on June 30, 2005. As NNFA has previously reported, fears that CAFTA will restrict the sale of dietary supplements in the United States are unfounded. Regardless of whether CAFTA is eventually signed into law by President Bush or what guidelines are issued at Codex, DSHEA will continue to govern the sale of dietary supplements in the United States. For more information, including statements from industry's congressional champions supporting NNFA's position, visit www.nnfa.org/codex

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