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Thread: Echinacea
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  1. TopTop #1
    SandBar's Avatar


    If you get two of these, sorry, my hand slid off the keyboard and this post seems to have disappeared...

    Thanks for the referral to the U. Conn study and I have a few comments to add to this new thread. As a western-trained immunologist with complementary leanings and gleanings I've followed the echinacea (EC) studies for years.... so first of all, who SHOULDN'T take it, are people with autoimmune diseases or AIDS. Why, EC acts by activating the immune system. These folks already have systems that are activated inappropriately.

    Second, the recommendation was not for us to begin dosing ourselves with EC to prevent colds, it was for more research - which plant was best, dosage, etc. In the past the recommendation was to only take EC at the first sign of symptoms, which I would guess still holds until we know more. It has been shown, for sure, to shorten the time we have symptoms.

    Third, know the source of what you're taking if you do take it. Check out which is an unbiased company that analyzes supplements, herbs, vitamins, etc for content amounts and contaminants. You can subscribe to them for about $30/yr and get all their past and future reports. Since these substances are not regulated by FDA we have no guarantee what's in the bottle, not that I want the government involved, but someone has to protect the consumer. Information is a great protector.

    finally, boy, this got long - I wouldn't get in the habit of taking EC all the time since it does stimulate the immune system and more of our illnesses these days are from overstimulated systems, there is risk with this simple herbal.
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  2. TopTop #2
    Braggi's Avatar

    Re: Echinacea

    Thanks for starting this thread. Perhaps we can find some sense in all this if we work together. First: the University of Connecticut does NOT conclude that echinacea prevents or shortens colds, despite the headlines. It concludes that it "may." Big difference.

    The study was a meta analysis. That means researchers look at a whole lot of little inconclusive studies and try to squeeze all the data into what looks like one big conclusive study. The process is fraught with perils.

    Here's a current article that refers to the echinacea studies in question:

    If the link goes bad, let me know and I'll post the salient paragraphs.

    The bottom line is this: echinacea hasn't done well in many recent double blind, controlled studies. Putting all these studies together and saying that now it works is pretty silly.

    The bottom line is, as usual: more studies need to be done.

    If you can get echinacea for free, by all means try it out. If your cold gets better after you take it, guess what? You would have gotten better anyway. That is the nature of colds. Sometimes they take weeks to get better, sometimes they don't even show up all the way and end after a warning sniffle or a bit of sore throat (that's my usual situation as well as SonomaMark's--he takes echinacea and I don't--we both have the same result).

    If someone wants to you to pay money for echinacea pills or extracts, go elsewhere. It grows really well in my garden. I grow it because it's easy and the plants and flowers are beautiful. It's a near effortless plant in our garden. Those who are determined to take it despite the results of the best studies on the books, go ahead, but try growing your own. You'll smile when you see the plants and their unique flowers and you won't be spending your money on questionable (at best) remedies.

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