The bloom is off echinacea's rose

Published: March, 2014

The herbal remedy for colds hasn't looked so promising in clinical trials.

It may not be that long-sought cure. But many people still swear that echinacea (pronounced eck-ah-NAE-sha) does a fine job of taming the all-too-common cold, making it less severe, shorter in duration, or both. Extracts from certain plant species in the Echinacea genus do indeed seem to energize the immune system. In their presence, white blood cells become fruitful and multiply, and germ-eating macrophages get hungry. A 1999 overview in the Journal of Family Practice is often cited in support of this herbal remedy. The authors scanned the medical literature and concluded that eight of the nine treatment trials they found "reported generally positive results" for echinacea.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »