Echinacea extract may help prevent common cold: Study

Echinacea extract may help prevent common cold: Study

Related tags Common cold

Daily consumption of echinacea herbal remedies could help to stave off the common cold, according to new research.

The study – published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine​ – investigated the risks and benefits of Echinacea purpurea​ extract for the prevention of common cold in the largest ever study of the herbal remedy.

Led by researchers in the UK, the new data reports that three daily doses of the common remedy for four months reduced the likelihood of developing cold and also slashed the duration of the illness by an average of 26%. The herbal supplementation was also reported cut the number of recurrent colds, suffered by those with weakened immune systems, by 60%.
“Prophylactic treatment with Echinaforce over 4 months appeared to be beneficial for many reasons,”​ explain the researchers, led by senior author Professor Ronald Eccles, from Cardiff University, UK.

“Overall, the risk/benefit results from this clinical study suggested that long-term treatment with E. purpurea over 4 months can be recommended,”​ they said.

The study was partly funded by a grant from A. Vogel, who manufactures the Echinaforce product used in the clinical trial.

Herbal power

Echinacea is extracted from the Eastern Purple Coneflower – which is found in North America – and has long been used as a herbal remedy to battle the common cold.

Several previous studies – including a systematic review of the evidence from the Cochrane Collaboration – have suggested that echinacea could reduce the severity and duration of colds, however until now there has only been very limited evidence to suggest a benefit in preventing illness.

Despite the positive evidence the British drugs regulator, the MHRA, warned parents earlier this year that Echinacea should not be given to children under 12, because of the risk of severe allergic reactions including rashes and swelling of the mouth and tongue.

Study details

Eccles and his colleagues conducted a randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled clinical trial in 717 participants. The group assessed safety and efficacy variables over a collective total of 11,472 weeks, or 2,868 months of prophylaxis. 

Patients mixed 25 drops of Echinaforce or a placebo with water and held it in their mouths for 10 seconds before swallowing it, three times per day over a four month period.

The team said the overall safety profile of the echinacea supplement was ‘very good’, and was found to be the noninferior to placebo – a total of 293 adverse events occurred with Echinacea and 306 with placebo treatment, they said.

Eccles and his team revealed that those who took echinacea suffered 149 bouts of illness compared with 188 in the placebo group – a difference described by researchers as 'borderline significant'.

However, the total number of days spent with flu was reduced from 850 to 672 – a 'highly significant' change. While recurring infections were cut by 59%, the authors revealed.

Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1155/2012/841315
“Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: M. Jawad, R. Schoop, A. Suter, P. Klein, R. Eccles

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1 comment

Back to Native American and β-1,2-D-fructofuranosides content

Posted by Hadar Sutovsky - Frutarom Health,

The first records of the use of Echinacea purpurea date back to Native American Indian tribes. It was only with its
cultivation in Europe that Echinacea purpurea was accepted as a pharmaceutically recognized medicinal plant in
Europe. The traditional mode of preparation as pressed juice from the aerial parts of the fresh plant was maintained.
A particular and significant quality characteristic of the juice of fresh plants is their high content of β-1,2-Dfructofuranosides,
that belong to the polysaccharides. If the juice of the fresh plant is produced in an unprofessional
manner, then the polysaccharides are rapidly transformed into fructose. β-1,2-D-fructofuranosides content is
therefore an indication for a professional production.
It must be noted that plant acids, such as cichoric acid are not contained in the traditionally produced pressed juice.

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