Echinacea confirmed as shield against colds
PARIS – Echinacea, a medicinal herb that came to prominence thanks to its use by Sioux Indians, can more than halve the risk of catching a cold, a widescale study has confirmed.
Taking echinacea supplements can reduce the risk of a cold by 58 per cent and may also shorten the duration of a cold almost one and a half days, according to the paper, published yesterday in the July issue of the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study is a “meta-analysis” comparing the outcome of 14 published trials using echinacea.
One of the trials combined echinacea with vitamin C, which showed the two together reduced the incidence of a cold by 86 per cent.
The analysis was led by University of Connecticut pharmacist Craig Coleman.
The authors say it is still unclear how echinacea appears to stimulate the immune system against the cold virus.
Its three major ingredients are alkamides, chicoric acid and polysaccharides, but it is unclear whether these work by acting separately or together, or with the help of other constituents.