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New study suggests echinacea is ineffective in fighting colds

Though millions will turn to the herb echinacea for some relief this cold season, a study out this week suggests they will get little, if any, benefit.

Though millions will turn to the herb echinacea for some relief this cold season, a study out this week suggests they will get little, if any, benefit.

Based on their findings, the researchers say they cannot recommend the popular herbal remedy to cold-sufferers. But they are not advising people against using it, either.

Echinacea has long been touted as a way to bolster immunity and prevent or ease colds.

Over the years, though, studies have come to conflicting conclusions as to whether the herb really works. And even the positive ones have generally suggested modest benefits.

In this latest study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers pitted an echinacea supplement against inactive placebo pills for easing cold symptoms among 719 adults and teenagers.

They found that echinacea users recovered slightly more quickly — an average of a half-day sooner — and reported somewhat less severe symptoms.

But even those small differences were not quite statistically significant, which means they could have been due to chance.

 
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