Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another study supporting Echinacea

Hype or Hero?

by Jose Antonio, Ph.D.
Leading Expert in Sports Nutrition & Supplementation
Melinda Mergen

One recent study shows statistically, significant promise
that Echinacea may help us defend against this cold season!

One of the most popular herbs used by supplement consumers is the herb Echinacea. The herb is named for the prickly scales in its large conical seed head, which resemble the spines of an angry hedgehog (echinos is Greek for hedgehog). So basically, it's named after the hedgehog.

Historically, Native American Indians may have used Echinacea for over 400 years to treat infections and wounds and as a general 'cure-all.' Ah! Imagine that, a 'cure-all'.

Today, Echinacea is primarily used to reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold. Like any drug or supplement, individuals respond differently to it. Nonetheless, here is some food for thought regarding this herb.

Scientists performed a meta-analysis of experimental, rhinovirus (cold) infection studies on the efficacy of Echinacea extracts to prevent symptomatic development of an experimentally induced cold. A meta-analysis basically looks at the existing literature and tries to come up with some sort of statistical ‘sound bite’ you might say in drawing a general conclusion based on the examined studies. Accordingly, these researchers conducted a systematic search of English- and German-language literature using the MEDLINE, EMBASE, CAplus, BIOSIS, CABA, AGRICOLA, TOXCENTER, SCISEARCH, NAHL, and NAPRALERT, databases and the search terms Echinacea, black Sampson, coneflower, and Roter Sonnenbut.

What did they find?

Based on the analysis, the likelihood of experiencing a clinical cold was 55% higher with placebo than with Echinacea. And this was a statistically significant difference! They concluded “that standardized extracts of Echinacea were effective in the prevention of symptoms of the common cold after clinical inoculation, compared with placebo. Further prospective, appropriately powered clinical studies are required to confirm this finding.”(1)

So there you have it. When you're starting to feel the sniffles, you may want to consider adding Echinacea to your weapons of defense!


Reference: Schoop R, Klein P, Suter A, Johnston SL. Echinacea in the prevention of induced rhinovirus colds: a meta-analysis. Clin Ther, 2006;28:174-83.



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