Studies on the effectiveness of echinacea have been decidedly mixed. Like many natural remedies much of the evidence is anecdotal. That's never been a deterrent for me as I have never believed in one size fits all remedies. (I pendulum test everything. Works for me.) However, a new scientific study concluded that echinacea does, in fact, prevent colds, by a substantial percentage, and seems to shorten the duration and severity of colds.
The paper, published in the July issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, used statistical techniques to combine the results of existing studies and reach conclusions based on the larger sample that resulted. The researchers selected only those trials that used randomized and placebo-controlled techniques: 14 studies involving 1,356 participants for the number of colds and 1,630 for the prevention of colds. The studies varied in the dosages of the herb, the duration it was taken and the species of echinacea used, and the number of participants ranged from 40 to more than 300.
The analysis concluded that echinacea reduced the risk of catching a cold by 58 percent. It also found that the herb significantly shortened the duration of a cold, but there was no general agreement about the magnitude of this effect.
“Our analysis doesn’t say that the stuff works without question,” said Dr. Craig I. Coleman, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut, and the senior author of the paper. “But the preponderance of evidence suggests that it does.”
On the subject of herbs, this might be a good time mention that one of my newest affiliates is Mountain Rose Herbs. I don't mean this to be a shameless plug, but a genuine recommendation. I waited for years for these folks to go online and start an affiliate program. I bought from them when all they had was a low-budget, newsprint catalog. Their herbs and oils are top-notch. Highly, highly recommended.