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Diet and Nutrition

A new herbal cure for the common cold?

12/09/2003

Question:

I`ve heard about an herb called echonachia (I`m not sure if I`m spelling this word correctly, but I`m close) which helps to cure, or at least expediate, the body`s ability to fight the common cold and the symptoms which accompany it. Is this true, and if so, are there any risk factors involved?

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Echinacea (pronounced ECKIN-AYSHA) has been touted for years in the treatment and prevention of the common cold, urinary or respiratory tract infections and other ailments. Echinacea may help reduce the symptoms of a common cold when taken when you first feel sick. It will not CURE or prevent a cold from coming. Experts suggest taking it for 7-10 days while symptoms persist and discontinue use once your cold is gone. Recent research suggests that Echinacea is ineffective in reducing cold symptoms in children. Echinacea is probably safe when used for short periods of time (no longer than 8 to 12 days at a time). People with autoimmune disorders or other immunity disease (such as HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.) should not take echinacea as it may exacerbate these conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Echinacea, or any other herbal preparations. If you are allergic to wild plants or flowers, you may have an allergic reaction to Echinacea. Other names for echinacea include purple coneflower, coneflower, snakeroot or echinacea purpurea. Prior to trying any `natural` remedy, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Many treatments can interact with other medications, or may be unsafe for you for other reasons. I hope this information was helpful.

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati