Flu & Cold Medicine Radford VA

Everyone knows echinacea is what you take when you have a cold, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that at least one species of echinacea didn’t help prevent colds or reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

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Echinacea's Rocky Road

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Everyone knows echinacea is what you take when you have a cold, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that at least one species of echinacea didn’t help prevent colds or reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

Although the study was notable in its research methods, it doesn’t mark the definitive death knell for echinacea as a cold fighter. Mark Blumenthal, founder and director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC), says that the cold/flu viruses, injected into participants noses were highly infectious, while the echinacea dosages were lower than what people would normally take—they received an equivalent of 900 mg a day of dried Echinacea angustifolia root, compared to the 3,000 mg that the World Health Organization and ABC recommend. “It would have been optimal if this trial had tested the echinacea preparation at either more frequent or higher doses,” he states.

The amount of biologically active ingredients found in the herb vary widely depending on a multitude of factors, leading the researchers to admit other “chemical constituents that were not tested [could] have important biological effects.” In fact, another study this year found that a standardized root extract from Echinacea angustifolia did, in fact, strengthen the immune systems of mice infected with Candida albicans (yeast overgrowth), as well as stimulate the production of T-cells that are vital for immunity. But don’t throw out that tincture just yet. Most doctors do still recommend echinacea for colds and flus.

—Nancy Alfaro

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