Researchers Report that Echinacea May Reduce Length of Common Cold

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Researchers Report that Echinacea May Reduce Length of Common Cold

BACKGROUND: The herb Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a traditional remedy for reducing symptoms of the common cold. Despite its extensive use and popularity, the herb has not been subjected to rigorous double-blind studies.

RESEARCH: Researchers treated 80 men and women with either echinacea or a placebo at their first signs of a cold. These symptoms included sneezing, rhinitis, nasal congestion, sore throat, and cough.

RESULTS: Subjects taking echinacea were sick for fewer days, compared with those taking placebos. On average, people taking echinacea had colds for six days, compared with nine days for those taking placebos. In addition, almost two-thirds of those taking echinacea felt that their cold was "shorter than usual." In contrast, less than one-third of the subjects in the placebo group felt that the length of their cold was reduced.

IMPLICATIONS: This study and several similar ones demonstrate that the herb echinacea may reduce the length of the common cold.

Schulten B, Bulitta M, Ballering-Bruhl B, et al. "Efficacy of echinacea purpurea in patients with a common cold," Arzneimittel-Forschung/Drug Research, 2001;51:563-568.

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