Echinacea ....pah



  • Just read the article, and agree. And does this therefore imply that there is no noticeable placebo effect either?
  • If there is a placebo effect, it's negative. Although only a full analysis of the statistics would confirm whether or not the extra half-day of cold symptoms that echinacea users suffered is statistically significant.

    It's not really news, though - echinacea sales have long been a triumph of marketing over science.
  • Beat me to it regarding the stats, V-rap.

    I assume it's a blind or double-blind trial, or else why would people be fed placebo? So you can't say anything about placebo effects here.

    Oh, and don't bother with vitamin C either!
  • Been waiting for someone to comment on this.

    The hypothesis apparently being tested here is that echinacea is capable of **curing** NOT **preventing** colds.

    I take echinacea to prevent colds/sore throats/respiratory infections. Still have every reason to believe it works.
  • My wife swears by echinacea,she is a teacher and all the germs from the little brats surround her daily,mind you she's always got the cold! DOH!
    Believe me it does not work.
  • For all those that have an open mind...

    Here's hoping that your brain doesn't fall out.

    (Not an orginal quote, alas, but one of my all-time favourites.)
  • interesting article SS - thanks for that.
  • I've alwyas been under the impression that you take echinaceae to prevent colds, not cure them, as it is "supposed" to stimulate the immune system. And you're supposed to adopt a 3week on/1 week off regime but don't know why.

    Although I am a sceptic when it comes to many herbal remedies I have been using echinaceae for a couple of years now and have to say my incidence of colds has tailed off enormously - whilst those around me suffer I have been fine (cross fingers, touch wood - but that's a completely different issue!!!).

    If it is a placebo working with me, is there anything wrong with that if it does what it's supposed to?
  • Read the pponline article - Echinacea is one of the few alternative herbal treatments that's been very thoroughly researched ---- and as with any research - it depends how it's done / by whom / what the controls were etc.

    But interesting that the dinosaur's become extinct - maybe they should have chewed a few more purple flower plants - or read the research.....
  • I thought it was a meteor that got rid of the dinos - or, if you go with The Far Side cartoon version, it was smoking!!

    I read this article, and just as I was about to go 'where are the footnotes?!', it started to incorporate the studies. Good thing that, but still, as an academic as well as an informed member of the public, it would have been more interesting to have be shown the actual evidence. As it was, the anecdotal tone put me off rather, as I really hate the (erronous) idea that the past was some sort of altruistic golden age. Not so!
  • Yes the style of the article is a bit naff - but that's the same style used for most of Peak Performances articles. I don't think anyone's really saying that the past was a Golden Age - but surely it's exactly because there were so many illnesses then, that alternative treatments that actually worked then shouldn't be discounted now, just because the drug industry's been born?

    And of course as the article wasn't written for 'academics' but as a summary for tired worn out athletes like me - and is not a piece of research in itself - it wouldn't have been written in a style that would appeal to academics nor would it go into the length of detail that you obviously want. That's not the purpose of Peak Performance.
  • Research, research, research!
    Polls, studies, statistics!
    One says one thing.....etc. You go with what you beleive - and if it works for you, you stick with it. If not, you kick it out. Say what you like about echinachea but it has reduced the number of colds and sore throats in our house tremendously. If you get a cold (and whatever we take, we sometimes get them) you just have to get through it. But as a prevention it works!

    Even the recent slagging off of vitamins through 'research' was via a study carried out by - you've guessed it - the drug companies. Let's face it, the drug companies are hell bent on treating illness and symptoms of illness. If preventions were used on a massive scale we may be staggered by the national figures and the drug companies shares would be falling like a stone. They cannot let this happen. Is that why suppliments are so damned expensive?

    Have you ever wondered why arteries clog up with colesterol. Here's a thought! Animals don't suffer with it - even carnivores as far as I can read. Maybe it is because their bodies make there own vitamins. We don't. Maybe narrowing of the arteries is the walls lining themselves because they are cracking from vitamin C deficiency (like a form of Scurvey).

    There is much we do not know but I beleive the above is true. It certainly gives food for thought. I promise, your brains won't fall out (although there may be some on the forum who think mine allready have!)

  • No doubt about it, prevention is better than cure. Drug companies NEED people to be ill, not us fit and healthy people who don't help their profits. BUT at the same time modern life would be difficult without them - think antibiotics.

    As for your point about arteries clogging up with cholesterol the facts here are clear - they clog up due to either taking in too much via diet OR a genetic imbalance which prevents it's metabolism. So the cure is either diet (and exercise) for the overeaters; for those with genetic problems, lifelong adherence to drugs (statins usually now) or early death.

    So echinacea knockers - try it and see what happens even if you don't believe as it may just work as placebo effect.
  • I did try echinacea, twice, and both times it gave me a terrible headache. Weird indeed.
  • Hildy - did you remember to keep your mind open? Pressure can build up otherwise.

  • So many times we see newpaper articles about this thing, or that thing and what revolutionary new research has found etc etc etc. This comes up a lot in the triathletes forum, some people brand it about to support their arguments, other people treat all isolated news reports with scepticism. I have a sports science degree, and now work in science, technical and medical journal publishing, where many 'eureka' news reports are sourced and mis-quoted. Any serious researcher will tell you that you need a great deal of evidence to prove health issues, not the results of 150 students in one isolated review.
  • Yes Swerve, my mind was open because I was trying it in the first place! Perhaps the headache was caused by the fact that my brain refused to fall out, and that I was not convinced thereby.
  • Agree with you totally Chris - too much in the papers is worthless - either poor research design, or even if it isn't we don't get the info to judge whether it is or not.

    I guess being able to see the sample size and other study design factors would broe the crap out of readers of The Sun and even the more serious papers, but it's essential to form a judgement of the value of the study.

    I think I heard somewhere (okay - that in itself is dodgy) that the current panic over the MMR vaccine was based on a study of abotu 20 people!
  • Thought I might take the opportunity to set out (again) the statistical basis for my cautious but increasing optimism wrt echinacea consumption. The more rigorous mathematicians amongst you please excuse the crude modelling.
    Previous history suggests I average 4 colds/sore throats/respiratory whatever per year. So in any month, the probability of picking up a bug can be reasonably assumed to be 1/3 .
    Started taking echinacea mid-April this year in desperation after a bug forced me out of a 5K race I'd been looking forward to. 8 months on, no further bugs have hit me. Odds against that are (2/3)**8 (anyone got a better way of writing power functions?) - which is rather less that 4% or 1 in 25.
    Random chance? The longer this continues, the less plausible it becomes that it's down to "random chance". Certainly I don't think I've ever got this far into the winter before without picking something up.
  • are u mixing with children less have to look at all perameters
  • Fatbut,

    Far from being clear, the colesterol issue is becomming ever more complicated. I am surprised by your statement of "fact". There are many people who have a decent diet, do not over-eat and are otherwise healthy. But they can suffer from high colesterol. There are masses who consider themselves to be healthy and could have a colesterol count through the roof. What percentage of the population know their colesterol level - Not many! And most that do have probably only been tested because another problem showed up.

    Let's not get blinkered (as I said) to beleiving that we know everything.
  • I've been usin echinacea for years as a way of preventing illness. I am certain it works.

    As for doctors. They just love prescribing anti-biotics. Great. And they love writing out sick notes for people who have got nothing wrong with them
  • Soory i like antis, echinacea works for short periods loses effieciency over long periods, u probably dont mix w small children, colesterol is genetic eat eggs if its genetic u r in trouble if not u can eat 70 a day and not have a probvlem other than constipation and hey as a runner that is a good thing.
  • I think more likely they try to help people, and try to be on their patients' side, and generally consider that if their patient feels they are unfit for work, then it is not for them to decide whether they are or not

    I might be wrong like - and I would hope that doctors would not collude with patients in obvious lead-swinging - particularly if this is not ultimately in the best interests of the patients health

    I hope if I ever get ill, my doctor will be there to help me not police me

  • Drs know best.
  • Freaky,
    Answer to your question is "no" - the opposite is the case. My younger son Nicholas (4) started at infants school in September - so we have 2 boys in contact with a lot of other kids. Nicholas has had a persistent cough for the last 2 and a bit weeks - he's certainly bringing bugs into the house.
    And let's not forget the Godawful open plan office at work, shared with some 40+ others....
  • Hi everybody
    People believe what they believe and it is a rare piece of a reseach that can alter someone's views (doctors included).

    Actually, doctors do their best to avoid antibiotics. People might be surprised to learn how often GPs resist pressure to prescribe them. See thread on mobile phones and smears and the bbc article that provoked it.

    The idea that GPs like to issue sick notes for malingerers is another idea that I often encounter. Big AL is correct, we are trying to be the patient's advocate and help them not police them. How would I benefit from colluding with lead-swingers? It's my tax money as well as yours.

    dr eamonn
    an NHS employee and proud of it
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