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Research gives mixed results for usefulness of Echinacea for colds

Natural health enthusiasts often look towards Echinacea for help in treating the misery of a common cold. However, the evidence is actually mixed on the usefulness of Echinacea for colds, reported the Health Behavior News Service, which is part of the Center for Advancing Health, on Feb. 20, 2014. A new report from The Cochrane Library says the evidence reveals no significant reductions in preventing colds with Echinacea, but does not rule out small preventive effects.

A young woman suffering from a cold
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Preparations of the plant Echinacea are used widely in some European countries and in North America for common colds, reports the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Researchers have determined that although it appears possible that some Echinacea products are more effective than a placebo for the treatment of colds, the overall evidence for clinically relevant treatment effects is actually weak.

In general the trials investigating Echinacea for the prevention of colds did not show statistically significant reductions in illness occurrence. However, just about all of the prevention trials showed there may be small preventive effects. It has been suggested that at least some Echinacea preparations may lower the relative risk of catching a cold by 10 to 20 percent. It appears there should be more studies to help clear up the issue of the effectiveness of Echinacea for the prevention of colds.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/