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Snake bite treatment a common cold cure?

Byline: Madeleine Brindley

RESEARCHERS studying colds are hoping to recruit 1,000 people to test a popular herbal remedy once used to treat snake bites.

The Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University is hoping to establish whether taking echinacea can prevent coughs and sniffs.

The four-month study will examine how effective the herbal medicine is.

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Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre, said: "Echinacea is a traditional medicine that has a very long history for treating infection, back to the native North American Indians.

1 "Colds and flu are our most common illnesses, leading to thousands of lost days at work, school and college every year." Echinacea, a small plant native to the US which, contrary to popular belief, was not used to prevent common colds but to treat its symptoms.

Echinacea reached its height of popularity in the US in the early 20th century when it was the most common herbal remedy used by doctors.

There have been conflicting studies but research published by TheLancet medical journal two years ago concluded that taking echinacea can halve the risk of catching a cold.

The researchers' report said: "With 200 viruses capable of causing the common cold, echinacea could have modest effect against rhinovirus but marked effects against others."

Vicky Perks, a nutritionist and director of the Beanfreaks health shops, said: "Echinacea is one of the most widely used of all the natural remedies, and has been long thought of as the primary herb to support the immune system.

"This beautiful purple flower and its root have been associated with the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.

"Echinacea taken daily throughout the winter months helps support the immune system, and if you are unfortunate enough to still succumb to a bug, then echinacea can speed up your recovery time."

The latest research into echinacea by the Common Cold Centre, which has been sponsored by Bioforce of Switzerland, will be carried out over four months.

All the volunteers, who should be in good health, will be asked to give a blood sample at the beginning and end of the study.

They will all be given a tincture to take daily - half will be given echinacea and the others a dummy placebo.

All the participants, who should be 18 and over and who will be paid, will be asked to complete a daily diary to record any cold and flu symptoms.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact the Common Cold Centre on 029 2087 4099 or e-mail colds@cardiff.ac.uk

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 6, 2009
Words:431
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