Largest Clinical Trial on Echinacea

October 17, 2012

Bioforce AG offers new research on Echinacea and cold and flu protection.

Bioforce AG (Roggwil, Switzerland) is presenting new research on Echinacea (E. purpurea) and cold and flu protection, including what is now considered the largest human clinical trial on Echinacea to date.

The large human clinical study on 755 subjects, which involved Bioforce's Echinaforce Echinacea, was recently published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Researchers from the United Kingdom’s Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University assigned subjects to four months of daily placebo or Echinaforce supplementation and analyzed nasal secretion samples from participants who picked up colds.

Compared with placebo, Echinaforce reduced the number of cold episodes, the number of days experiencing cold episodes, and the need for synthetic pain-relievers, such as Ibuprofen. Improvements in health were reconfirmed in subgroups of stressed subjects, “more susceptible individuals” (those who reported higher frequencies of colds), subjects with poor sleep schedules, and smokers.

Adverse event reports did not differ significantly across the two treatment groups.

“The development of a specific prophylactic against colds and flu is hampered by the multiplicity of viruses and their propensity to mutate,” wrote the researchers in their report. “An alternative approach is to support the body’s own immune mechanism, falling back on the principle that the human organism is able to defend itself naturally against viruses and bacteria. It is here that Echinacea purpurea claims a unique therapeutic role.”

Nutritional Outlook also recently received a copy of a Bioforce AG report on Echinacea, which details several other studies carried out on Echinacea and the company’s Echinaforce product in recent years. Three in vitro studies compiled since 2009 indicate that Echinacea can protect against influenza in a number of ways. Echinacea was shown to reduce the secretion of inflammatory cytokines that appear with influenza, and, in contrast to the prescription flu medicine Tamiflu, Echinacea did not appear to encourage the natural formation of treatment-resistant flu viruses.

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