Have a Cold? Try Echinacea: Natural Immune Enhancer

What do you do when you're fighting off a cold? Most of us get the recommended extra rest, plenty of water, and vitamin C, but some people use herbal supplements like Echinacea. Echinacea has been shown to help reduce the onset, duration and severity of symptoms during a cold. According to a recent study at the University of Connecticut, taking Echinacea cuts your chances of catching the common cold by 58% and reduces the duration of a cold by 1.4 days. This study combined the analysis of 14 previous clinical trials, following over 13,000 patients for prevention and 16,000 for duration. Echinacea worked well alone or with other herbal supplements.

This study opposes findings last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, which discounted Echinacea's cold fighting ability. Assistant Professor Craig Coleman, the head researcher of the positive U Conn study claimed that the results differed because the New England Journal of Medicine study, in addition to being smaller in size than the U Conn meta-analysis, used the least common of the three species of Echinacea and administered it at a dose more than three times lower than recommended.

"The take home message from our study is that Echinacea does indeed have powerful cold prevention and cold treatment benefits," said Coleman. "The significance of that finding becomes clear when you consider Americans suffer from one billion colds annually and spend about $1.5 billion annually for doctor's visits and another $2 billion annually on non-prescription cough and cold treatments."


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