Echinacea - Weed Or Wonder-Drug?
By Nurse Mark
The newswires have been all a-twitter this week
with the release of a recent report published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases
journal showing what we have long said: Echinacea can both prevent and shorten
the duration of the common cold, that common scourge of mankind.
This wildflower has been known for thousands of
years to traditional healers such as native Indian Shamans, and it has been
popular with Europeans since the early 20th century - but though it was popular
in the US until the 20th century it fell out of acceptance and popularity when
drug-based medicine took hold and the more holistic medicine previously taught
to young doctors was abandoned.
It seems now that what is old is new again, and
after decades of being dismissed as "worthless" and "unscientific" by
conventional medicine echinacea is being "re-discovered" - or is it?
This is wonderful news, but not really much of a
surprise - the power of echinacea is well known except in conventional
But no more!
This meta-analysis (these are the "studies of
many studies" often used by the drug companies to "massage the numbers" in a
preferred direction) shows that echinacea can reduce the risk of a cold by 58
percent and may also shorten the duration of a cold almost one and a half days.
Better yet, one of the trials which combined with echinacea with vitamin C,
showed that the two together reduced the chance of catching a cold by a whopping
The study was lead by Dr. Craig Coleman of the
University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. This in itself is a tip-off; since
pharmacists are not usually people who look with pleasure upon natural remedies.
But the real eye opener is found in one of the lay news article which quotes
Coleman as saying that his study, though not definitive, suggested that
echinacea was worthy of further research. "At the
least it should be brought back to the table as a potential drug that
could be studied to prevent the common cold," he said.
(emphasis added by Nurse Mark)
I'm betting that this means that we'll soon be
seeing the Big Drug Companies showing a much greater interest in this humble
flower (that grows wild in our front yard - shh! Don't tell the FDA!) as they
search for a way to isolate, synthesize, and patent it's wonderful properties in
a quest for profit. Look for it soon on a pharmacy shelf near you: the new,
synthetic echinacea, guaranteed to have properties and side effects that Mother
Nature never intended, and guaranteed to generate millions, even billions of
dollars in Big Pharma profits. I'm further predicting that once the synthetic
version is available the natural version will be banned on some bogus "safety"
Until then, stock up, and be sure to have plenty
on hand come cold season!
Learn more about the noble herb
Echinacea and it's many
uses at Dr. Myatt's Wellness Club.
Infectious Diseases 2007; 7:473-480
Review Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common
cold: a meta-analysis
Echinacea May Boost Immune System More Than
Previously Thought. New Study Says the Herb May Decrease Duration of a Cold.
Echinacea 'halves risk of catching cold'