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Echinacea and the common cold.

Feel a cold coming on? Your friends who've advised you to take your Echinacea just may have been right all along. Researchers at the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin have reviewed the evidence reported in medical studies on Echinacea and upper respiratory infections, both for treatment and prevention. In order to qualify for their review, the research had to be well-designed: doubleblind, placebo-controlled, and randomized.

Eight of the nine studies involving treatment of cold symptoms with Echinacea showed positive results. Symptoms were either milder or duration of the cold was shorter. Three of the four prevention trials reported marginal benefits. In other words, taking Echinacea to prevent a cold won't reduce your chances of actually catching a cold. But, the research team concluded that Echinacea might be beneficial for the early treatment of upper respiratory infections. They did not find good evidence for prolonged use of Echinacea. The doctors also warned, as is always the case with pharmaceutically active products sold as food supplements, that contents and potency can't be counted on completely.

So what does this mean for you? If you'd like to see if Echinacea can get you running again the next time you get a cold, purchase the "best" Echinacea you can find. Large companies with a well-known name can usually be counted on to do a more consistent job of monitoring their formulations. Take it according to package instructions at the first sign of symptoms, and stop when the cold is better. Although Echinacea is no cure for the common cold, It is, at least, some progress.

(Journal of Family Practice, 1999, Vol. 48, No. 8, pp. 628-635)
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Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 1, 2000
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