We’ve all heard that echinacea helps fight the common cold. But does it really? New research says yes.
At the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital, researchers conducted a review of 14 published studies in efforts to assess this controversial herb. Echinacea may reduce the risk of catching the common cold by almost 60% and can cut the duration of a cold by 1.4 days, the researchers found.
"Published evidence supports echinacea’s benefit in decreasing the incidence and duration of the common cold," they concluded.
In another study, researchers at Bastyr University set out to determine whether echinacea given to children for the treatment of upper respiratory infection (URI) would reduce the risk of subsequent URI.
About 500 children ages two to 11 years old were randomized to receive either echinacea or a placebo to treat any incidents of URI during a four-month period. Among the 401 children with at least one treated URI, almost 70% in the placebo group developed a second URI. Echinacea use reduced the risk of subsequent URI by almost 30%.
Although more study is needed, "echinacea purpurea may be effective in reducing the occurrence of subsequent URIs in children," the researchers concluded.
Sources: The Lancet Infectious Diseases 2007; 7:473-480; J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Dec;11(6):1021-6