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Study Finds That Echinacea Has No Significant Impact On Cold Symptom Duration

December 21, 2010: 11:13 AM EST

A randomized clinical trial by U.S. researchers has found that the common over-the-counter herbal treatment Echinacea (purple cornflower) has a negligible effect on relieving common cold symptoms. Echinacea is sold as a capsulized supplement in drug and retail stores, and has been used as a tea and as a dried and liquid extract. More than 700 people aged 12 to 80 years participated in the trial, all of whom had cold symptoms. Divided into four groups, they received nothing, Echinacea, or a placebo and Echinacea, but didn’t know which. They recorded their symptoms twice daily. Researchers found that the colds of patients who took Echinacea lasted seven to 10 hours less than those of the other participants. “However,” the researchers concluded, “these small differences could have occurred by chance.”

Bruce Barrett, et al. , "Echinacea for Treating the Common Cold: A Randomized Trial", Annals of Internal Medicine, December 21, 2010, © American College of Physicians
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