Not All Traditional Cold Remedies Work

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

Many more Americans are using organic alternatives to traditional medicine, but a recent review shows that one herb in particular may not be as effective as you think.

The herb is called Echinacea, commonly thought to fight the common cold.

"Whenever I get a cold, I usually have Echinacea tea with some honey and it always seems to kick my immune system back up and make me feel better," said Charlottesville resident Jessica Hogan.

"I have been told I could take it once every hour until I felt better so I would do that and most of the time it would only take eight or nine hours until I would start feeling better," said Elaine Nicholson of Madison County.

Dr. Jack Gwaltney reviewed the studies done on the herb and found flaws in the ones that call Echinacea a cold buster. The studies he found acceptable yielded very different results, begging the question: Does it really help?

"Based on the results we have now, which is really two studies, is no. It didn't seem to be useful in treating colds," explained Gwaltney.

The Echinacea label says it supports the immune system, but what you may miss in the fine print is the fact that the drug has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to cure or prevent any diseases.

"Just to say it boosts the immune system really isn't saying anything scientific," said Gwaltney.

But some people aren't convinced of this new review.

Gwaltney suggested an alternative to Echinacea, a mixture of an Anti-Histamine and IB Profin. It could cost more but you may spend less time sniffling and sneezing.

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