In the last week I have had a terrible cold. I very rarely get colds but it seems that there is no escaping the common cold this winter as everywhere you go there are people coughing and sneezing.
I have heard a lot about echinacea in the past. Anytime anybody coughs or sneezes my sister starts talking about echinacea and swears that it is a miracle. On the other hand my mum (who I should mention is a nurse) does not hold any faith in echinacea.
When my work colleague starting show in all the bad signs of a cold and then my throat started to hurt I knew I was in store for a cold myself. After a few days I went to my local Boots the Chemist and bought some echinacea tablets. From reading all of the information on Echinacea I know that I started taking it too late. I believe that you are supposed to first take it at the very first signs of a cold and it helps prevent a cold from taking hold. You take one or two tablets a day for a maximum of 10 days.
I paid nearly £12 for 180 echinacea tablets. This seems like a lot of money to me but I decided that if it kept me healthy it would be worth it.
My experience of taking echinacea is that maybe it did help my cold pass quicker than nornal. I seemed to only have my cold for about 5 days whereas my work colleague was suffering for around 10 days. I also insisted that my husband started taking these a few days ago when he started having a sore throat and so far he has remained healthy.
It is impossible to say either way if echinacea was the reason my cold lasted less time than my work colleagues but I will deffinately take it again at the next sign of a cold.
Over the years I have heard many things about echinacea, some good and some bad but I tend to think of it in terms of being quite a good supplement to help you when dreaded colds appear. Echinacea is a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve the symptoms of the common cold and the flu based on traditional use only. Nowadays you can get echinacea in just about everything, teas, vitamins, cough and cold sweets etc and like I've said adobe the jury is out as to whether this herbal remedy is just a placebo or actually does do something for your immune system.
According to an article I read, "a 2007 study by the University of Connecticut combined findings from 14 previously reported trials examining Echinacea and concluded that Echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days." However to counterbalance that, "Dr. Wallace Sampson, an editor of Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and a Stanford University emeritus clinical professor of medicine, says that the referenced trials lack the similarities necessary to provide definitive results when combined into one report. "If you have studies that measure different things, there is no way to correct for that. These researchers tried, but you just can't do it."
I tend to take some form of Echinacea when I feel a cold coming on. You can always tell a few days before when you are going to get one, you feel a bit extra tired, start to feel your throat go and this is the exact point at which I start taking the echinacea. I take mine in tablet form from Boots as I find this is the easiest way to take it. As I do not take it as an every day supplement I need it to last during the times I do not take it so to have it in tablets is best. They are individually packed in foil blister packs so you can just take a few at any one time and save the rest for alter. The tablets are not too big and you just take one or two a day. They have a coating on them so they are quite easy to swallow. In the leaflet that comes with the pack of tablets there are lots of instructions about when not to take, i.e. if you suffer from any diseases etc and so if you are worried I would recommend reading the literature first.
So, do they work? Well, I am undecided. I like to think that they are doing something for me. My colds never seem that severe and sometimes my symptoms do not turn into a full blown cold so maybe by taking this medicine I am staving off a cold so I think I will continue to take it when I feel my cold symptoms start.
A box of 60 echinacea tablets costs £4.57 and can be purchased in Boots.