Commonly used during the cold and flu season, echinacea has been used for years as a remedy for a cold or the flu. While it’s not a cure and conflicting evidence about its true value exists, recent research is showing that a simple echinacea preparation could be helpful much in the same way as Tamiflu. Could it help reduce reliance on over-the-counter medications?
New Research Shows Echinacea as Effective as Tamiflu
A new study published in the April 2015 edition of Current Therapeutic Research revealed that an herbal proprietary blend of concentrated echinacea root extract had a powerful effect on cold and flu.  Researchers compared the herbal extract to Tamiflu, a common over-the-counter medication used to combat the symptoms of the influenza virus. Close to 500 people exhibiting flu-like symptoms were involved in the study, each randomly receiving either the echinacea extract or oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Statistical analysis following administration of the two therapies showed no significant differences among groups, and that the herbal extract was equal in effectiveness to Tamiflu in reducing symptoms.
Efficacy is Not the Only Problem With Tamiflu
The main issue with Tamiflu, and most other store-bought medications, is that it has a higher risk factor compared with herbal approaches. Herbs are not without risk, but the risk-to-benefit ratio is considerably lower, for most healthy individuals, when you’re dealing with natural plant material in its pure form. That being said, herbal approaches have been shown consistently to be equal in effect to many conventional influenza and cold medications.   Side effects of Tamiflu include nausea, dizziness, insomnia, eye redness, and vomiting.
Natural Cold and Flu Approaches
One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of developing a cold or the flu is to step outside in the sun. Ultraviolet light is a potent antiviral, and it’s also helpful for producing immune-bolstering vitamin D.  Studies also indicate that getting enough quality sleep is an important factor for reducing cold and flu incidence, as is stress reduction.   Increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, like vegetables and small berries, also support immune health. Exercise is also a potent supporter for immune health that is often overlooked, so be sure you’re getting plenty of physical activity throughout the day, no matter the season.
- Karel Raus, Dr, Stephan Pleschka (Prof), Peter Klein, MSc, Roland Schoop, MSc, Peter Fisher, Dr. Effect of an Echinacea-Based Hot Drink Versus Oseltamivir in Influenza Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial. Current Therapeutic Research. doi:10.1016/j.curtheres.2015.04.001.
- Rajesh Arora, R. Chawla, Rohit Marwah, et al. Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of Novel H1N1 Flu (Swin Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 586506. doi: 10.1155/2011/5865506.
- M. Jawad, R. Schoop, A. Suter, P. Klein, and R. Eccles. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 841315, 7 pages. doi: 10.1155/2012/841315.
- Amir Hashem Shahidi Bonjar. UV Phototherapy Has Positive Effect in Viral Treatments. International Journal of Applied Science and Technology. Vol. 2 No. 6; June 2012.
- Luciana Besedovsky, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan; 463(1): 121-137. doi: 10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0.
- Infante JR, Peran F, Rayo JI. Levels of immune cells in transcendental meditation practitioners. Int J Yoga. 2014 Jul;7(2):147-51. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.133899.
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