Echinacea – The Herb Extract for Prevention of Colds

A new study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal says that Echinacea helps in the prevention of colds.

This research was partly funded by A. Vogel, the Swiss manufacturer of natural remedies.


Echinacea is a species of herbaceous plants, extracted from purple coneflowers, which are locally found in central and eastern North America.

The study suggests that when Echinaforce, a common extraction of the herb is taken by the patients, it helps in lowering the risk of colds and also in the reduction of paracetamol quantity intake, while ill. Echinacea has been in use as herbal medicine from a long time.

Treatment process

This remedy was designed primarily, for the purpose of testing the treatment’s safety and it was found to be causing no side effects in the participant individuals, aged above 18 years. The British drugs regulator, MHRA warned parents not to give Echinacea to the children below 12 years, because of the risk it posed. It could cause serious allergic reactions such as rashes, swelling of tongue and mouth.

Tests were conducted on 750 patients, who were given three doses of this common remedy daily, for a period of four months. According to Telegraph reports, it was found that the frequency of colds and the duration of illness were reduced by 26% on average.

Outcome of the research

  • People who suffered from frequent recurrent colds, owing to poor immune system or those with history of severe cold bouts every year, experienced reduction by 60% with the help of this treatment, as found by Cardiff University Common Cold Centre.
  • The herbal medicine is known to work by combating viruses, which are mainly responsible for causing 95% of all types of colds and flu, and findings reveal that, it has the potential to boost weak immunity, if it is swallowed.
  • One group of participants were given 25 drops of herbal extract Echinaforce with water, while the other group were given a placebo; which they held for ten seconds in their mouth before swallowing, three times each day, for four months.  The placebo group encountered 188 bouts of sickness, whereas the group which received the treatment suffered only 149 sickness bouts. The researchers described this difference as “borderline significant”. The duration of flu decreased from 850 days to 672 with the treatment. This was termed as a “highly significant” difference.
  • Researchers also stated that 100 episodes of recurrent infections in 43 patients were cut down to 65 occurrences in 28 patients, which shows 59% difference.