It’s no surprise that with the changing of the season also comes an increase in sickness. What should you do to prevent getting sick during this infectious time? Some might recommend Echinacea, a herbaceous flowing plant that is related to the daisy. For hundreds of years, Echinacea was used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. When Europeans colonized North America, the idea of Echinacea as an herbal remedy carried over from the Native American culture.
Today, Echinacea is available at pharmacies and supermarkets in a variety of forms. Whether it’s capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, a dried herb or tea, the debate still continues on what its actual effects on the body are.
A recent study performed in 2015 suggested that Echinacea had no significant correlation to the prevention of the common cold. However, they found that Echinacea products might be associated with a small decrease in cold incidence. So while Echinacea might not work like a shot does for the chicken pox, further research reveals that subjects were less likely to get a cold while using one of the various forms of this product. However once you had the cold, this study showed that there was no decrease in duration of the sickness, even when taking Echinacea.
Another research study led by Dr. Craig Coleman from the University of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, demonstrated that Echinacea has the power to help you avoid and recover from the common cold. They tested the common cold in two ways. The first way was by letting some subjects naturally get sick to see if Echinacea could combat this common sickness. However, the second group was injected with rhinovirus, one of the viruses that typically cause the common cold. From here, the results were analyzed to show that cold incidence was reduced 65% when it was caused naturally. Against the rhinovirus, data depicted that there was only a 35% decrease.
I’m guilty of taking Echinacea tablets during cold and flu season to help my immune system. Maybe it’s a placebo effect or maybe it’s actually helping, but when both of my roommates had strep earlier this semester, I had a clean bill of health.
So does Echinacea really work? That’s something that you’re going to have to decide for yourself, because the science currently released about the subject has mixed reviews. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even if it does work, the FDA doesn’t regulate Echinacea. While you might think just because it’s herbal that it’s automatically safe, you should check with a doctor before you start taking any type of medicine.
May the cold prevention odds be ever in your favor!
By Courtney Rosser