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Echinacea? Bah! Humbug!

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Purple cone flowers, or Echinacea, are pictured in this March 2004 file photo. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, file)

Purple cone flowers, or Echinacea, are pictured in this March 2004 file photo. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, file)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical Editor
Okay, you’ve got the sneezing and sniffles and know there is no cure. But maybe, just maybe, a little natural “medicine” might help — specifically the herb echinacea.

Echinacea has been touted as an effective cold fighter for centuries, but the research on the herb has been a hogde podge of studies with a hodge podge of results.

So now comes the best study to date: more than 700 people, ages 12-80, who took either echinacea, a placebo, or nothing, for the the five days of runny noses and watery eyes. Twice a day, the folks in the study graded their symptoms and wrote those grades in a journal.

The results — no difference in any of the groups. Meaning, not only did the echinacea fail to reduce “Kleenex consumption”, even those who took placebo didn’t feel any better, more quickly.

In other words, in the game of upper respiratory infection baseball, echinacea struck out.

Sorry folks. Take the herb if you wish. But when your nose is still running a week later, remember this study.

Final note — if you think, “I used it before and I got better,” well, you probably would have gotten better no what you did.

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