Echinacea for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold

Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmacognosy, Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria.
Planta Medica (Impact Factor: 2.15). 06/2008; 74(6):633-7. DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-993766
Source: PubMed


Echinacea preparations are widely used for common cold. Many consumers and healthcare professionals are not aware that products available under the term Echinacea may differ in their composition, due to the use of different species, plant parts, extraction methods and addition of other components. In 2005, a Cochrane review has been published to provide objective evidence whether the various Echinacea preparations are more effective than no treatment, more effective than placebo or similarly effective to other treatments in the prevention and the treatment of the common cold. In contrast to other reviews, the specific criteria for pooling of data from different trials have been predefined to assure a meaningful meta-analysis. In the meantime two further meta-analyses have been published. In the present mini-review, these latest meta-analyses are evaluated and discussed.

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    • "This is mainly attributable to the fact that the products under study were not comparable because they belonged to different Echinacea species or different commercial/botanical preparations or even different Echinacea components. An additional source of uncertainty derives from the fact that some authors have proven the biological Echinacea activity in in vitro studies (Randolph et al., 2003; Burger et al., 1997; Steinmuller et al., 1993), while others have conducted animal (Jia et al., 2009) or clinical studies (Guiotto et al., 2008; Woelkart et al., 2008; Di Pierro et al., 2012). "

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    • "Preparations from Echinacea species have been among the top botanical dietary supplements in Europe and North America since late 1980s, purportedly for general stimulation of the immune system and for treatment or prevention of the common cold (Barrett et al., 2010; Woelkart et al., 2008). Contradictory laboratory and clinical test results have been published regarding the effectiveness of Echinacea products (Barrett et al., 2010; Ross, 2010; Shah et al., 2007; Woelkart et al., 2008), but they are received well in the marketplace, and this trend seems likely to continue (Barrett et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Strong seed dormancy has been an obstacle for field production of Echinacea species. Previous research on overcoming Echinacea seed dormancy has been extensive and focused on treatment methods, which involve time and expense, and are incompatible with organic production if synthetic chemicals are used. We have attempted to genetically reduce seed dormancy through selection and breeding in Echinacea, by using E. pallida as a model species. Three accessions were used in this study. Nine parent plants of each accession selected from early, in-dark germinated seeds (in-dark plants) or from late, in-light seeds (in-light plants) were planted and grouped by accession and germination treatment method for seed production through a polycross method. Germination tests indicated that these in-dark plants produced seed (in-dark seed) with significantly reduced seed dormancy when tested under light or dark conditions in comparison to the seed of the in-light plants (in-light seed). Among the three accessions, the in-dark seed germinated at much higher rates than did the in-light seed, more than 2× at 25°C under light and up to an 83× increase in darkness, and up to an 8× increase over the corresponding parental seed lots under comparable germination conditions. In addition to these increases in germination, the in-dark seed showed early and synchronized germination as compared to the in-light seed. Since these results were achieved through only one cycle of selection and breeding, they strongly suggest that we have developed a very effective method for modifying seed dormancy in Echinacea.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Industrial Crops and Products
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    • "Echinacea's preventative effects for respiratory illness are still debated [19, 27, 28] and difficult for consumers to ascertain [29]. Some previous studies used artificial rhinovirus inoculation [28] or were not blinded and placebo controlled [27]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. To identify whether a standardised Echinacea formulation is effective in the prevention of respiratory and other symptoms associated with long-haul flights. Methods. 175 adults participated in a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial travelling back from Australia to America, Europe, or Africa for a period of 1-5 weeks on commercial flights via economy class. Participants took Echinacea (root extract, standardised to 4.4 mg alkylamides) or placebo tablets. Participants were surveyed before, immediately after travel, and at 4 weeks after travel regarding upper respiratory symptoms and travel-related quality of life. Results. Respiratory symptoms for both groups increased significantly during travel (P < 0.0005). However, the Echinacea group had borderline significantly lower respiratory symptom scores compared to placebo (P = 0.05) during travel. Conclusions. Supplementation with standardised Echinacea tablets, if taken before and during travel, may have preventive effects against the development of respiratory symptoms during travel involving long-haul flights.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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