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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

echinaceaThe most recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trail in the study of echinacea for the prevention of colds and flu took place in Wales. Individuals were randomized to either echinacea or a placebo for 4 months. An alcohol extract (herbal tincture) of fresh echinacea was used consisting of 95% echinacea purpurea flowers and 5% roots. A dose of 0.9 ml three times per day in water (2,400 mg of extract) or placebo was delivered for four months. If an individual contracted cold symptoms, they were then to increase the dosage to 0.9 ml 5 times per day (4,000 mg of extract). Individuals chosen for the study were at least 18 years old, in good health and had a recent history of 2 or more colds per year.

The individuals in the echinacea group had 149 colds that lasted a combined total of 672 days and those in the placebo group had a total of 188 colds with a length of 850 days. There were significantly fewer number of days with colds in the echinacea group than in the placebo group and there were fewer recurring colds in the echinacea group as well (65 vs. 100). Another interesting result was that for those with colds in the placebo group, more medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen were used compared with the echinacea group (88 vs. 58). In the nasal swabs that were collected, fewer samples with viral infections that contained influenza, parainfluenza and other viruses were detected in the echinacea group compared with the placebo group, (24 vs. 47). When the researchers looked at those individuals in the study who were 100 % compliant with the treatment protocol, there was a combined total of 36 colds for a duration of 155 days in the echinacea group and 58 colds and a duration of 268 days in the placebo group.


This study reports that echinacea over a period of 4 months, provided good prevention with fewer episodes of colds, fewer days with colds, and fewer colds that required additional medications. Now is the season; a perfect time of year to start your 4 months of echinacea and/or echinacea containing products.


Jawad M, Schoop R, Suter A, et al. Safety and efficacy profile of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 12012;841315. Epub 2012 Sept 16

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