Echinacea, one of the most popular herbal
supplements in Australia, would appear to cut the the chances of catching the
common cold by 58 percent and reducing the duration of the common cold by 1.4
days, according to a new University of Connecticut study published in the July
issue of the prominent British medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases,
and published online Monday, June 25 UK time.
Conducted by researchers in UConn's School of
Pharmacy, the study, known as a meta-analysis, combined the results of 14
previous clinical trials involving more than 1,300 patients followed for
Echinacea's effect on preventing the common cold and more than 1,600 patients
followed for Echinacea's effect on limiting the duration of the common cold.
The findings stand in contrast to a study published recently in the New England
Journal of Medicine, which discounted Echinacea's cold-fighting effects, the
researchers report. Instead, the research supports a previous study that found
Echinacea to be an effective treatment for the common cold and also provides new
evidence to support their observations for Echinacea's added cold prevention
Because of the size and scope of the research, which included only randomized,
placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed studies, the researchers were able to observe
effects the smaller, individual studies, including the New England Journal of
Medicine study which was included in the UConn review, were not able to
determine alone. The UConn researchers also were able to examine Echinacea's
effects with and without the presence of additional supplements and whether
exposure to viruses occurred naturally or study subjects were inoculated with a
It was concluded by the researchers that:
Echinacea reduced the incidence of contracting the common cold whether it was
taken alone or in combination with other herbal supplements and that Echinacea
reduced the chance of catching the common cold whether study subjects were
exposed to viruses naturally or inoculated with a particular virus as part of
Reference: University of Connecticut. "Echinacea
Could Cut Chance Of Catching Cold By More Than Half,"
Science Daily 26/6/2007.