Author Topic: Does echinacea work?  (Read 3897 times)

Pete

Does echinacea work?
« on: April 12, 2008, 09:21:35 am »
I'm sure this question has been asked many times before, but I can't remember what people's replies were.  I'm talking about those familiar 100mg tablets which can be found on just about any supermarket's shelves.  For some years I've been pinning my faith in them over the winter months and there does indeed seem to be a reduced level of coughs and colds.  But my wife - more sceptical - and currently the victim of a streaming cold/cough - argues more for the 'placebo effect'.

Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2008, 09:26:34 am »
I think it works to a degree. And if it's the placebo effect, then so what - it still works!

Echinacea works by turbo charging the immune system for a while. It's effects are reduced with time, so you can only really take it for short spells.

I use it if everyone in the S House are snotty and I think I might be under threat.

woollypigs

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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2008, 10:25:19 am »
I did a search as I didn't know what it was and found around 5 website or more and most of them said that it did not help at all even if you have been taking them all year around.

I have not tried them but I know people who swear by them. I think the general/best way to try to avoid colds is to eat healthy, exercise and make sure that you do not get wet and cold when outside for a long period. I have been taking multivitamins for longer period over the years, but can't really tell you if I was more or less sick from when I didn't take them.

Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2008, 10:43:40 am »
The evidence for the effectiveness of Echinacea is largely anecdotal.

Does it work? I don't know

But taking it won't do you any harm and if you feel it helps carry on.
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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2008, 10:50:18 am »
I'm fairly sceptical of herbal remedies in general but I do occasionally use it if I feel I might have a cold coming on. I think it might help if I take it early enough.

This review of the literature suggests there might possibly be a benefit:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/echinacea-can-cut-risk-of-colds-by-50-per-cent-454541.html

If you look at individual studies there is not a lot of convincing evidence.

andygates

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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2008, 11:08:02 am »
I did a search as I didn't know what it was and found around 5 website or more and most of them said that it did not help at all even if you have been taking them all year around.

That's because

Echinacea works by turbo charging the immune system for a while. It's effects are reduced with time, so you can only really take it for short spells.

Taking it all year is like taking coffee all year to stay sharp for Dunwich - flawed thinking.  IIRC, cycling echinacea with something like two weeks on, two weeks off, keeps things running well.

But before echinacea there are a whole load of other things to get your immune system in tip-top shape.  Plenty of sleep, a varied healthy diet and a multivitamin will keep it running nicely all year around.
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Valiant

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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2008, 01:10:36 am »
It works for me :) I rarely take it unless I'm feeling something coming on.
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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2008, 11:05:04 pm »
Mrs Nutty says it works.   If there's a chance of getting a cold she's on them.  She only seems to get the cold on the times when she doesn't take them, or lets up.


I just reach for the scotch, that works just as well for nuking the cold.

iakobski

Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 10:03:22 am »
Many years ago I was told I was short of zinc (and a few other micronutrients) so I started taking zinc regularly.

I don't think I've had a cold in nearly 20 years, and I used to get loads.

Placebo effect? No, I had no idea about the reputed immune system benefits until years after I started taking it.


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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 10:12:00 am »
My grate frend Uncle Marvo, the Aqua-["Oik" - The Invigilator] maintains that it's the mutt's nuts.
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aglet

coughs and sneezes spread diseases
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 01:27:14 pm »
One of the best (possibly the best) cold preventatives is to clean your hands before touching your face.  This is particularly important after using public transport or other facilities shared by people who may be carrying disease all over their sticky paws.  Of course you already wash your hands before eating...

Washing your hands properly takes a surprisingly long amount of time: about 15 seconds before rinsing.

edit: I'm not sure that Echinacea has any peer-reviewed evidence in its favour, however here's a study indicating it's not effective as a cold preventative.

Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 11:16:32 pm »
My baby sister takes it when she feels a cold sore threatening, and it seems to lessen their staying power and horridness. I'll take it when I'm feeling a lot under the weather - usually because I've not been sleeping properly for a while - or when I'm off at a festival or in some similar not-eating-properly, not-sleeping-properly environment. It does appear to help to ward off bugs then. I have no idea if it actually does or if it's some manner of placebo, but as it seems to work, I'll not complain.

Charlotte

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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2008, 08:56:43 am »
Has it ever proved beneficial inna proper double-blind scientific trial, though I wonder?
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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2008, 09:49:45 am »
dont know about double-blind scientific trials, but my little bro was coach for a well known local university rowing club, and insisted that the guys took it at the first sign of any sniffles and the squad had a pretty-much cold free year in contrast to the other, heavier rowing squad who had a nightmare season. 

They still lost to the other well known university rowing club in the one race of the year that counts, but at least they didnt have a cold.

Charlotte

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Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2008, 09:57:47 am »
Mal Volio will be along inna minute to tell us that the plural of anecdote is not data  :)
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Kathy

Re: Does echinacea work?
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2008, 09:58:35 am »
Has it ever proved beneficial inna proper double-blind scientific trial, though I wonder?

According to that pinnacle of truth, Wikipedia, double-blind trials on the subject have concluded that it has no beneficial effects.