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Echinacea reduces cold and flu symptoms in multiple studies
Echinacea reduces colds, flu
In this new and largest echinacea study to date, 755 healthy people took echinacea or a placebo. The dose was 800 mg of echinacea liquid extract three times per day, or during colds, five times per day. After four months, compared to placebo, the echinacea group had 20 percent fewer colds with symptoms clearing up 20 percent quicker, and 35 percent fewer recurrences. Those taking echinacea also had fewer flu-type viral infections and needed less over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. To reduce and prevent colds and flu, doctors said this study adds evidence that echinacea can help. 

Reference:
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2012, ID 841315



Echinacea eased long-haul travelers’ symptoms of colds and flu
In one study, 175 adults flew in coach class over a one to five week period, from Australia to either America, Europe or Africa, on flights lasting 15 to 25 hours, with stopovers of less than 12 hours.
Starting two weeks before flying, and continuing two weeks afterward, the travelers twice daily took a placebo or a combination of 600 mg of echinacea angustifolia root plus 675 mg of echinacea purpurea root and 4.4 mg of echinacea alkylamides. Participants doubled the dose while flying, and could triple or quadruple the dose for a short time when cold or flu symptoms occurred. Researchers measured cold and flu symptoms before and immediately after travel, and again four weeks later. Upper respiratory symptoms increased for everyone during long-haul flights, but symptoms in the echinacea group were half as severe as symptoms were for placebo. 

Reference:
Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medic, 2012, Electronic Publication



Echinacea plus vitamin C help relieve colds  
The herb echinacea lowered the risk of catching the common cold, cut the number of days people had colds, reduced cold symptoms and improved immune response under stress in three new studies. Researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy in Storrs, Connecticut, analyzed data from 14 placebo-controlled trials and found that among 1,356 participants, those who had taken echinacea were 58% less likely to catch a cold than were those in the placebo groups. In another group of 1,630 participants who had already caught a cold, colds lasted 1.4 fewer days for those who had taken echinacea compared to placebo. Researchers noted one study where participants who took vitamin C along with echinacea were 86% less likely to catch a cold compared to placebo. The 14 studies included three types of echinacea: E. purpurea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida.

In a second study, researchers recruited 282 participants aged 18 to 65 who were healthy but who had caught a cold at least twice in the previous year. Doctors asked participants to take 10 doses of a standardized extract of echinacea, E. purpurea, on the first day cold symptoms appeared and then four doses per day for the next seven days. Nurses examined the 128 participants who caught a cold—59 in the echinacea group and 69 in the placebo group—on the 3rd and 8th day after symptoms first appeared. Those who had taken echinacea reported 23.1% less severe symptoms compared to placebo with no serious side effects in either group.

In a third study, researchers recruited 32 physically active, non-smoking adults aged 19 to 46 to perform a strenuous exercise test. Those who had taken echinacea had a 7% decrease in a protective antibacterial agent (saliva Immunoglobulin A or sIgA) compared to a 45% decrease for placebo.

Reference:
Lancet Infectious Diseases: July, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 7, 473-80.

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