Does Echinacea Really Help Prevent Or Treat A Cold? Apr08

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Does Echinacea Really Help Prevent Or Treat A Cold?

echinaceaAs it turns out, echinacea may not be the wonder cure for colds as it is sometimes touted to be.  Based on reviews dating back as far as 1998, it seems that the results are mixed.  According to a report from The Cochrane Library, while taking echinacea is better than nothing, the evidence for echinacea’s ability to prevent or treat colds is weak.

It’s possible that there is a bit of misconception here.  Eventhough the use of echinacea is related to preventing or treating colds, I believe that this is more like a side-effect of taking echinacea.  One article I found says:

Echinacea is employed mostly to stimulate the immune system and fight against respiratory infections, sore throats, urinary tract infections, enlarged prostrate glands, and allergies though it also protects the skin from sun harm, eczema etc. and hastens the procedure of healing wounds.

So, I think it makes better sense to take echinacea in order to boost the immune system in general and the result of doing that makes a person stronger and more able to fight off and recover from diseases.  My personal opinion is that this type of supplement should be taken over time rather than an after-thought to catching something like a cold.  However, there is some evidence that suggests it does work as a treatment to a small degree.

According to Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, the author of the report (Bruce Barrett, M.D., Ph.D. in the department of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison) says:

some Echinacea preparations may reduce the relative risk of catching a cold by 10 to 20 percent, a small effect of unclear clinical significance. The most important recommendation from the review for consumers and clinicians is a caution that Echinacea products differ greatly and that the overwhelming majority of these products have not been tested in clinical trials.

Like most herbal supplements, there is a lack of solid information regarding how much to take and how much it helps in addition to the many different ways that it can be prepared or consumed.  In the end, it seems clear that echinacea is worth taking as an overall health booster.

Ironically, as I am writing this, I am fighting a cold; wishing I had some echinacea on hand to test it for myself.  I do have my multi-vitamins and antioxidant supplements though, so I am not completely unprotected.  If you have taken or currently take echinacea, we would love to hear how it has effected you and any details you are willing to share about its use.  Feel free to leave a comment below or visit us on on Facebook FanPage: HealthUpward

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