Once again study confirms echinacea doesn’t do jack shit for your cold.

This New York Times article tells us of yet another study which shows that using a popular herbal remedy for colds is just a waste of time and money.

The study, being published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved 437 people who volunteered to have cold viruses dripped into their noses. Some swallowed echinacea for a week beforehand, others a placebo. Still others took echinacea or a placebo at the time they were infected.

Then the subjects were secluded in hotel rooms for five days while scientists examined them for symptoms and took nasal washings to look for the virus and for an immune system protein, interleukin-8. Some had hypothesized that interleukin-8 was stimulated by echinacea, enabling the herb to stop colds.

But the investigators found that those who took echinacea fared no differently from those who took a placebo: they were just as likely to catch a cold, their symptoms were just as severe, they had just as much virus in their nasal secretions, and they made no more interleukin-8.

Some researchers say still further investigation is needed, with stronger doses and with echinacea species and preparations different from those used in this study. But Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the government agency that sponsored the new research, says he for one is satisfied that echinacea is not an effective cold remedy.

“This paper says it will not pre-empt a common cold, and it stands on top of prior studies saying it doesn’t treat an established cold,” he said, adding, “We’ve got to stop attributing any efficacy to echinacea.”

When I first married Anne she was very into the herbal supplement scene and whenever I’d catch a cold she’d try to get me to take echinacea to treat it. Being skeptical, but open minded I went ahead and tried it a couple of times and found that it made absolutely no difference in how long my colds lasted or how severe they were. After coming across similar studies to the above we’ve stopped trying to use herbal supplements to deal with our maladies simply because my own experience in combination with said studies shows there’s nothing to the claims. Yet the herbal supplement industry, which is completely unregulated by the FDA, continues to put out the same supplements over and over again with increasingly ridiculous claims and new labels and generates billions of dollars in profit by peddling, in essence, snake oil.

Pay close attention to any of the amazing diet pill ads you see on television, particularly the one that costs $153 a bottle, and you’ll note disclaimers coming out of your ass by the second. The most prominent of which states that you should use the pill “in conjunction with ANY sensible diet and exercise plan.” Of course, if you were already on a sensible diet and exercise plan, you probably wouldn’t need the fucking pill in the first place. You’ll also note the disclaimer that states that NONE of these claims in the ad has been verified or investigated by the FDA. Most of those different products all come from the same company and are largely the same set of herbal ingredients in varying amounts and differing shiny labels. Quit wasting your money on them, they don’t do jack shit.

28 thoughts on “Once again study confirms echinacea doesn’t do jack shit for your cold.

  1. Les wrote: . . .Pay close attention to any of the amazing diet pill ads you see on television, particularly the one that costs $153 a bottle, and you’ll note disclaimers coming out of your ass by the second. The most prominent of which states that you should use the pill “in conjunction with ANY sensible diet and exercise plan.

  2. we’ve stopped trying to use herbal supplements to deal with our maladies simply because my own experience in combination with said studies shows there’s nothing to the claims.

    I’m right there with you on herbal supplements in general, and echinacea in particular.  My own beloved wife is a big believer in it whenever she starts to get a sniffle, and pushes it on me whenever I’m sick.

    That said, I can’t help but imagine that at some time in the past there was a dialogue that went something like this:

    Person 1: Let me get this straight.  You take tree bark and boil it in water, and when you drink that water, your headache just “goes away”?

    Person 2: Not just any tree bark.  It has to be willow tree bark.

    Person 1 (rolling eyes):  Yeah, of course. Willow bark.  Y’know, this whole “herbal medicine” thing is just a crock.  Why don’t you give it up?

  3. Technically, Willow bark doesn’t qualify as an herb.  wink

    And don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of medicines that come from all manner of plants so it’s not unreasonable to consider the possibility that herbs could have medicinal benefits. But those plants that do yield medicines have quite a bit of research and testing backing up their effectiveness. There’s not a lot of herbs that can make that claim.

  4. The only things that I ever noticed making a difference to me are multi-vitamins and St Johns Wort.  StJW only b/c it helps me sleep better, which I consider to be mildly mood enhancing.  Multi vitamins made a HUGE difference on the number of colds/sinus infections I was getting each year.

    I’ve taken the glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM mix for my injured knee.  People have asked me if it helps, but honestly, how am I supposed to know?  I’d have to injure my knee exactly the same way more than once to experiment, and I’m not too keen on doing that.

  5. Technically, Willow bark doesn’t qualify as an herb.

    True.  But “plant-derived pharmaceutical product” just doesn’t have the same zing.

    But those plants that do yield medicines have quite a bit of research and testing backing up their effectiveness.

    Again, I agree.  But somewhere in the past some lunatic had to wave wondered, “what if I nibble on a little of this plant?  Maybe it will help with that nasty headache I’ve got.”

    Although now that I read it, I suspect that maybe they were thinking, “maybe it will get me high like those groovy mushrooms I tried the other day.”

    As for the echinacea, I’ve decided to allow for the placebo effect, and not try to disuade my wife from imbibing, if she feels that it helps.

  6. The only things that I ever noticed making a difference to me are multi-vitamins and St Johns Wort.  StJW only b/c it helps me sleep better, which I consider to be mildly mood enhancing.

    Multi-vitamins are a good thing, but be careful with the St. John’s Wort. Studies have shown that it can have dangerous interactions with other legitimate drugs. Of course, if you’re not using said drugs then it’s less of an issue.

    Again, I agree.  But somewhere in the past some lunatic had to wave wondered, “what if I nibble on a little of this plant?  Maybe it will help with that nasty headache I’ve got.

  7. Studies have shown that it can have dangerous interactions with other legitimate drugs.

    Yeah, I heard about that.  I don’t use it regularly, since it does make me want to sleep in and it’s not that cheap.  Definately not when I have prescribed medicine to take.  I take it when I start having trouble staying asleep, which happens sporadically.  It’s also helped that we bought a new mattress, too.

  8. Colloidal Silver actually works as an antibiotic.  I get Sinus Infections frequently and up until recently would run to the doc for the Antibiotic of the week.  At a friend’s suggestion I decided to try a bit of Colloidal Silver in a bottle of Saline Nose Spray.  Actually, come to think of it it might be a combination of the Colloidal Silver and Salt in the spray, but I do know that Saline Spray on it’s own never cleared up a sinus infection for me.

  9. The diet pills that had ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin in them did work, though I believe most studies said the difference was losing an extra pound a month when used as part of a healthy diet and exercise program.  I found they worked pretty well as a mild go-pill before workouts.  They also seemed to get rid of mild allergic reactions in the same way as pseudoephedrine (though not as powerful).

    Of course, one problem with a lot of “nutritional supplements” is that the amounts of ingredients per dose are often way off from what’s listed on the back of the package.

  10. Ginkgo biloba sure helps keep my tinnitus at bay, as well as keeping the blood flowing. My dad, who also has tinnitus and was taking GB, was told to stop taking it after his heart surgery because it is an effective blood thinner and heaven forbid they should use that instead of one of those expensive, on-patent prescription blood thinners.

    And turmeric has helped my psoriasis a lot—a hell of a lot more then that $100-per-tube stuff the skin quack made me use (Dovonex).

    My husband uses St. John’s Wort, and I can generally tell when he stops using it for a while. He also uses Red Yeast Rice to keep his cholesterol low. Red Yeast Rice contains natural lovastatin. Big Pharma managed to get Red Yeast Rice banned for a while—the ban wasn’t lifted until lovastatin went off patent and was replaced with synthetic statins like lipitor and zocor.

    What I’m trying to say is some herbals work, and some don’t. Just like some prescription drugs work, and some wreck your kidneys or kill you. I think blanket condemnations of herbals are just as, well, not useful as blanket condemnations of pharmaceuticals. My sister wouldn’t have recovered from her chemo as quickly as she did without ProCrit, for example.

    By the way, I also went on a regimen of glucosamine/chondroiton (or however it’s spelled) for my knee—and it didn’t do anything for me. What did work for me is SAMe. If it didn’t really work, I wouldn’t use it because it costs so much. But a friend had great luck with the gluc/chond stuff, and SAMe didn’t do a thing for her. Everybody’s different.

  11. This reminds me of a Beverly Hillbillies episode I saw a few days ago at four in the morning while battling insomnia. Granny claims to have invented a miracle cold cure, and a salesman for a pharmaceutical firm is delighted that he has acquired the rights to sell it. He asks Granny, “How does it work?

  12. I’m all up for any double blind studies folks want to point me to that shows this stuff works as claimed. I’ve seen plenty of studies that suggested there might be some minor benefit from regular ingestion of some types of herbs (St. John’s Wort for minor or mild depression for example), but not a single study that shows a definite benefit.

    There’s a reason most of the ads on TV for these products include a disclaimer stating that the product is not claimed to cure ANY disease, condition, or symptom.

  13. OK, I’m double dipping and I’m going to pick on you a bit here, neurotwitch, seeing as you’ve posted the most claims. You’ve piqued my curiosity and instead of going to bed like I should I find myself looking into the claims you’ve made. First up:

    Ginkgo biloba sure helps keep my tinnitus at bay, as well as keeping the blood flowing. My dad, who also has tinnitus and was taking GB, was told to stop taking it after his heart surgery because it is an effective blood thinner and heaven forbid they should use that instead of one of those expensive, on-patent prescription blood thinners.

    I’ve had subjective tinnitus my entire life (there are two types) and I’ve been told before that ginko biloba would supposedly help with it, but I’ve just learned to live with it because I honestly don’t know what life would be like without it. While I can find plenty of references about using GB to treat tinnitus on the web, none of them explain how or why GB is effective. In the case of objective tinnitus I can see how the blood thinning aspect of GB might offset the symptom, but I don’t see how it would help with subjective tinnitus.

    Incidentally, thinning the blood doesn’t necessarily equate to helping it flow better. It does equate to reducing its clotting ability which could be problematic in an emergency. The reason your Dad was probably asked to stop taking GB after surgery in favor of using blood thinning drugs is because the dosage for the drugs is known and regulated. There have been a number of studies done that found that the ingredients and dosages of several herbal products varied greatly across different brands and often times didn’t match the claimed percentages printed on the bottles. For that matter, some products didn’t even contain any trace of the herb listed on the bottle. The herbal industry is not regulated by the FDA the way the pharmaceutical industry is. There’s no guarantee that what the bottle claims you’re taking is actually what’s in the bottle or that it matches the percentages listed on the bottle.

    And turmeric has helped my psoriasis a lot—a hell of a lot more then that $100-per-tube stuff the skin quack made me use (Dovonex).

    I’ve been unable to locate any studies that show a strong correlation between tumeric use and benefit to psoriasis sufferers. There’s certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence, but even the National Psoriasis Foundation doesn’t have any studies showing its effectiveness.

    He also uses Red Yeast Rice to keep his cholesterol low. Red Yeast Rice contains natural lovastatin. Big Pharma managed to get Red Yeast Rice banned for a while—the ban wasn’t lifted until lovastatin went off patent and was replaced with synthetic statins like lipitor and zocor.

    From what I can find, the courts have upheld the FDA’s decision to regulate Red Yeast Rice products containing lovastatin as a drug and not a dietary supplement. The FDA has sent out a number of warning notices to various companies marketing Red Yeast Rice. Here’s an excerpt:

      REGULATORY STATUS
      In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sought to regulate a proprietary red yeast rice extract marketed as a dietary supplement by Pharmanex, Inc. The FDA took the position that the Pharmanex red yeast rice product, cholestin Cholestin ® , contained elevated levels of the active ingredient lovastatin found in prescription drugs, and was, therefore, an unapproved new drug. Pharmanex advertised the products emphasizing their lovastatin content.

      Pharmanex sued the agency, contending that the red yeast rice product was a dietary supplement and not subject to drug regulation. Despite an initial ruling in 1998 favoring Pharmanex, on March 30, 2001 , a decision by the Court of Appeals affirmed the FDA’s position and held that red yeast rice products containing significant amounts of the ingredient lovastatin are drugs subject to regulation by the FDA. Pharmanex decided not to pursue the appeal.

      Since the March 2001 decision, the FDA has been reviewing red yeast rice dietary supplement products available in stores and on the Internet very carefully. Numerous warning letters to companies identifying problematic levels of lovastatin and structure/function claims have been issued .

      In response to FDA’s enforcement against traditional RYR products and at the direct request of FDA’s Chief Counsel, NNFA filed a position paper setting forth support for the continued sale of traditional red yeast rice, and distinguishing these products from the proprietary forms that are the subject of the Pharmanex case.  FDA has not issued a final reply to that position paper, but has, in the meantime, ceased issuing warning letters to this industry.—National Nutritional Foods Association

    Again, the issue comes down to regulation. Sure, you can get the same lovastatin from Red Yeast Rice that you’d get from a prescription, but you have no guarantees that the amount of lovastatin in any particular bottle of Red Yeast Rice is going to be a proper dosage for your condition. Dietary supplements aren’t regulated like pharmaceutical products are. You could be getting too little, too much, or something other than Red Yeast Rice. Here’s another excerpt from the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging – Hearing on Swindlers, Hucksters and Snake Oil Salesmen: The Hype and Hope of Marketing Anti-Aging Products to Seniors September 10, 2001 on Red Yeast Rice that you may find enlightening:

      I am very grateful that the Honorable Congressman Burton raised the matter of red yeast rice as an alternative to prescription "statin" drugs. This is yet another excellent example of how DSHEA has corrupted the law and, with it, the understanding of Americans with respect to products promoted as having health benefits. For on the one hand was the "drug" lovastatin, sold under the trade name Mevacor, which the FDA requires be proven safe and effective for its intended purpose before marketing. On the other hand was the "dietary supplement" lovastatin, sold under the trade name Cholestin® (since reformulated), which was not subject to such strictures. Both contained the same active ingredient possessing the same pharmacologic activity and therefore the same potential for beneficial as well as adverse effects. If the "drug" is not safe without its use being prescribed and monitored by a physician, why should the "dietary supplement" be so considered? And if the "dietary supplement" is safe to use without medical supervision, why not the "drug" as well?

      The same potential for confusion and contradiction exists whenever a substance is found to exist naturally somewhere in the universe and, at the same time, happens to be a prescription medication. Because of the fact that many medications are derived from animal or botanical sources, this situation can be expected to arise frequently. Another current example is that of vinpocetine, sold in Europe as a prescription drug to treat dementia at the same time it is promoted in the US—probably fraudulently [14]—as a dietary supplement to improve memory and concentration. Congressman Burton laments the fact that the FDA eventually won its case in the matter of Cholestin®, but the fact is that if cerivastatin could be found in a plant extract, it could be marketed as a dietary supplement under DSHEA.

    From what I can tell, “Big Phrama” had no hand in the FDA’s action with regard to Red Yeast Rice products.

    What I’m trying to say is some herbals work, and some don’t. Just like some prescription drugs work, and some wreck your kidneys or kill you.

    The big difference is that prescription drugs have to prove they actually work and list off all known side effects and risks involved in their usage before they’re approved. Herbal supplements don’t have to prove jack shit prior to hitting your store shelf. You make it sound like herbal supplements are inherently safer than prescription medications. Just about every responsible alternative health site I visited that discussed herbal supplements pointed out that there is a misconception that because herbs are natural, they’re safe, and that’s not always true.

    There are plenty of herbs that can wreck your kidneys or kill you if you’re not careful. Let’s take a look at the three examples we’ve been talking about so far:

    Red Yeast Rice – Side effects can include headache, dizziness, heartburn, gas, and digestive tract discomfort. The statins in red yeast rice extract pose the risk of rare but serious reactions, including skeletal muscle damage, liver damage, and kidney toxicity. Approximately 1% to 2% of people taking the drug lovastatin have such reactions. Symptoms may include unexplained weakness, muscle pains and tenderness, and other flu-like symptoms.

    Ginko Biloba – May cause headache, irritability, restlessness, diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or vertigo. Should not be used in conjunction with anticoagulants. Ginkgo intensifies the blood-thinning effect of long-term aspirin use and may lead to excessive bleeding. Ginkgo increases blood pressure when combined with thiazide diuretics, a class of medications prescribed to control blood pressure. Insulin secretion can be affected by ginkgo, altering blood glucose levels in undesirable ways. Use caution before combining ginkgo with trazodone, a modified cyclic antidepressant or “mood elevator” that works in a unique way. The interaction of the herb and the drug was associated with coma in a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Consult your doctor before combining with prochlorperazine, an antipsychotic drug; ginkgo may cause seizures when combined with this drug, which lowers the seizure threshold.

    St. Johns Wort – Side effects can include fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, upset stomach, and increased sun sensitivity. Additionally St. Johns Wort interacts with several common medications. The active ingredient of St. John’s Wort is hypericin. Hypericin is believed to exert a similar influence on the brain as the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as the one in major antidepressants. Mixing MAO inhibitors with foods high in tyramine, an amino acid, produces one of the most dramatic and dangerous food-drug interactions. Symptoms, which can occur within minutes of ingesting such foods while taking an MAO inhibitor, include rapid rise in blood pressure, a severe headache, and perhaps collapse and even death. Foods high in tyramine include aged cheese, chicken liver, Chianti (and certain other red wines), yeast extracts, bologna (and other processed meats), dried or pickled fish, legumes, soy sauce, ale, and beer. Some patients report that Saint Johns Wort caused excessive stimulation and sometimes dizziness, agitation and confusion when taken with other antidepressants or over-the-counter medications like Maximum Strength Dexatrim and Acutrim. It also caused their blood pressure to shoot up.

    Yes, some herbal supplements may actually provide a medically significant benefit to folks who use them, but consider this: If a study were to demonstrate that a particular herbal supplement had a significant medicinal benefit then that supplement would be reclassified as a drug in much the same way that products made from Red Yeast Rice were reclassified. It’s the fact that most studies don’t show a significant correlation that keeps these products classified as supplements.

  14. Hey Les, I read Quackwatch too! And I’m an active member of psoriasis.org.

    Gingko/tinnitus: Some studies show there is an effect, some show that there isn’t one on tinnitus. I have no idea which type of tinnitus I have as I’ve had it since birth and it’s always been overlooked due to the more important (to everyone else) issue of my nerve deafness.

    At any rate, about 15 years ago an MD I worked with suggested I give it a shot. It wouldn’t hurt me if it didn’t work and, if it did, hurray. It turned my tinnitus way down. Same thing with my dad, who tried it when I told him it was helping me. He’s a cheap Depression-kid Scot, so there’s no way he’d pay anything for something that doesn’t work. He was very upset that he had to stop the GB after his bypass. I guess our tinnitus has the same cause.

    Studies? Studies are usually done if there is some money that can be made if they can isolate and synthesize the active ingredient. At any rate, I guess I would be considered an empiricist. If it can’t harm me, I’ll try it and judge for myself if it works for ME. By the way, I worked for Purdue Pharmaceuticals, doing database work in their “doctor relations” dept. and I know A LOT about how pharma companies work. (Oxycontin had just been approved when I worked there—that was interesting!)

    As for why GB works on tinnitus for some people, who knows? The causes of tinnitus are not truly known (a lot of educated guesses), so perhaps there’s something in it that works on whatever is causing my particular flavor of tinnitus. I use Trader Joe’s brand, or the stuff from vitacost.net, which have tested consistently honest. The doc told me to give it a six-week trial and, if it worked, cool. If not, dump it. I love not having the noise blasting in my ears.

    GB/Blood Thinning: Coumadin, which is Warfarin (aka rat poison) is what they use post bypass for regulating blood clotting. Even after years and years of using the damned stuff, doctors do not have any idea on how well it will, or won’t, work on any given individual. My dad tolerated it very well, and with weekly blood tests and adjusted dosages, he was able to keep his clotting factor under control for the entire six weeks post-bypass. On the other hand, my husband is extremely sensitive to warfarin, and he needed his blood tested at least twice per week and when they needed to do some post-byass (and post valve-replacement) work becuase they fucked up, he almost died because his blood was so “thin,” and it took three days of heavy Vitamin K dosing (liquid spinach, my husband calls it) before they could fix the problem that almost killed him (read my March 2005 blog entries for the details). His surgeon admitted to us that Stanley would probably had been much better off using GB and aspirin to regulate his blood clotting—his SURGEON admitted this. So they know enough. But using aspirin and GB, or even just aspirin, is cheap. Using FDA-approved drugs and having to get lots of blood tests is expensive.

    Bet if some day we ever get national health care (yeah, right) you’ll see how fast the regimen changes from FDA-regulated poison to safer but cheap regimens.

    Turmeric: curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, especially if you get it from a reputable purveyor of such stuff. Curcumin has been shown to have effects on a lot of stuff, such as arthritis. (The link I put in was banned by your blacklist thingie!)

    I think it was on the psoriasis.org boards where I first started seeing people talking about tumeric being prescribed for arthritis in general, and psoriatic arthritis in particular (because it is an anti-inflammatory). My knee doctor told me about three or four years ago to take it for my osteoarthritis, but I ignored it (aspirin works right away!) For the psoriasis sufferers who also have arthritis, the psoriasis abatements were side effects of the arthritis treatment with psoriasis.

    The psoriasis boards, the arthritis advice, an article in, I think, Psoriasis Advance, and even reports that asthma sufferers benefitted from tumeric, and connections started materializing in my feeble brain. All are autoimmune disorders, all respond to anti-inflammatories (to some degree, depending on the drug), curcumin is an anti-inflammatory, the worst thing that would happen if I ingested too much tumeric is my skin might turn curry yellow. So, I decided to give it a shot. The six-week rule.

    Guess what: my psoriasis has improved enourmously. If I go away and stop taking it for four or five days (like I did when we went on our honeymoon), the psoriasis gets worse.

    Now let’s look at just one of my FDA-approved treatment for psoriasis: Dovonex is a cream that costs more than $100 per tube if you buy it in the US (in Canada, I paid about $70). Dovonex is a synthetic form of vitamin D—you know, the stuff you get in milk or from the sun, only fake stuff. I followed the directions, and it felt (and looked) the next day like I’d poured battery acid on my hands. The pain was unbelievable—much worse than the pain caused by my psoriasis on even the worst days. But, no pain, no gain, right, so like an idiot I tried it for more than a week before I realized it was poisoning me systemically. My skin quack said, “Oh, give it some more time.” I don’t think so.

    Decided to try turmeric—stopped the Dovonex, gave myself a couple of weeks to recover from the Dovonex (the nausea took a few days to go away), and got some Turmeric standardized to 95% curcumin (which costs $14 a month) and gave it some time. Took about three weeks to really kick in, but in just about a week I noticed that the pain had abated considerably.

    My conclusion is it works for ME. I am a skeptic, I assume there will be a placebo effect and to guard against it, I make sure I stick with a regimen long enough to have an effect and go off of the regimen from time to time to see if symptoms return.

    You make it sound like herbal supplements are inherently safer than prescription medications. Just about every responsible alternative health site I visited that discussed herbal supplements pointed out that there is a misconception that because herbs are natural, they’re safe, and that’s not always true.

    I did not mean to imply that herbal or other supplements are inherently safer than prescription medications. I mean to imply that just because it’s been FDA approved doesn’t mean it’s safer or even better for you than an herbal rememdy (or vitamins or supplements or other stuff that can’t be patented). (Can we say “Vioxx”?) The side effects you list for Red Yeast Rice are some of the same ones listed on the packaging for Lipitor and Zocor.

    As far as RYR goes, the patent expired, so there was no longer any reason to ban RYR, so it is now once again available for purchase at your friendly neighborhood health store (and even at Walgreens). For real—go look.

    I guess what I’m wondering is: would you take a medicine prescribed by your doctor without doing the research? Has the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry infantilized us so much that brain cells cease to function when viewing the initial MD after a name? Oooh, it’s expensive, and I have to go through this ritual to get it, so it must be good stuff.

    If regulation is so necessary for everything “not food” that we ingest, why isn’t the nutrition and supplement industry regulated? Could it be because, well, there just ain’t that much dough to be made off of it? No matter how big the health supplement industry is, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared with the medical industry altogether. (And if people are too stupid to do the research or even ask a few questions, well maybe the Darwin Awards will have a few more candidates. Is this a bad thing?)

    I guess the whole idea behind this all that we must somehow be protected from ourselves is pretty repugnant to me. Especially when applied so inconsistently. The biggest, baddest, costliest-to-society drug/natural ingredient out there is alcohol—isn’t that a cool Budweiser ad?

    Ok, enough. I didn’t answer everything (yet) because I do want to plant my irises (irisi?) before sundown. (Ooh how I love a good debate!!)

  15. Hey, Benior, thumbs up on the Magatsu icon.

    Thanks.  You know, this is actually the first time anybody mentioned recognizing it

  16. I must say that after wading through the smelly
    dog droppings of this worthless site…I felt I
    should inform you of documented facts based on personal experience in using Echinacea for the past six years and provide you with at least ONE worthwhile commentary:
      * One week does not allow Echinacea time to be established as a “cold” preventive.
      * Only those who have never properly used the herb or huge drug companies say it doesn’t work.
      * Please learn to base your “unprofessional”
    writings on true testimonies…not OPINIONS!!!

  17. Testimonies are often little more than opinion, Paul. I’ll stick to double blind studies. You keep swallowing your useless pills if you think it helps you. I’m sure the folks putting them out will gladly take your money.

  18. I read a lot of threads here because I look at the recently posted comments, and sees what piques my interest, so I end up reading a lot of old stuff, and sometimes commenting on things posted months ago, and so I have come across the claims of Neurotwitch.

    About a year ago the head of one of the big pharmaceuticals caused constanation in the industry by ‘admitting’ most drugs only work on 30% of the population.  The problem is we are all genetically different, and so only about a third of people are suseptable to any particular combination with full effectiveness.  Of course there will be a range of effectiveness on the other 70%.

    Knowing only a little of statistics makes you realise that even this limited effectiveness, still means that an effectiveness vs the placebo will be shown.  However they do work in enough cases to be shown to be the cause of the cure.

    I am prepared to believe NT’s claims may be at least partially- as noted above willow ‘became’ asprin. It was actually discovered by a Victorian who was working on the then common principle of cures being near causes.

    The dilemma is how much do we trust the commercial side the drug companies.  On one side is the fact that they are regulated, and have paid for the research (as they said on the West Wing the pills are 2cents each, but the forst one was $100m), on the other is the fact they are only in it for the profit, and when nature has done the reaserch already, how much does it really take- the $100 a tube given above springs to mind here.

    I’ve got nothing against ‘natural’ rather than ‘processed’ remedies.  I do think they should have the same double blind tests.

    The most foolish thing supporters of ‘natural’ remedies say is those things along the lines that drug companies are suppressing due to fears it will hit their profits.  Bollocks- if it did really work, they would all be there developing it like crazy to make the profit from it.

  19. I’ve got nothing against ‘natural’ rather than ‘processed’ remedies.

    One of the problems that arises when a naturally-occurring remedy (pain reliever, etc.) is synthesized into a commercial medication is that the commercial version, with its higher concentration of active ingredient plus chemical fillers/binders, is harder on your kidneys and liver, through which they’re filtered.

    Upon medical advice, I’ve had to give up taking a massive dose of Ibuprofen every day (for pain in my joints – like arthritis, but in reality is an “extraintestinal” symptom of Crohn’s Disease). I’ve already had kidney stones, and the doc told me that Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are downright hellish on your kidneys. He advised that I take acetominophen (Tylenol) only when I absolutely have to, and that I just smoke more weed, which’ll wreak far less havoc with my organs than prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers.

    Thank Smee for Prop. 215!

  20. There is a theory that early herbal medicine was a result of watching sick animals heal themselves or kill themselves by eating certain plants.

    That study you cite is wildly flawed on many levels. Echinacea does not prevent colds, it makes them less severe if it is the sort of thing that might have killed you. For a 24 hour bug, taking the snot out of my nose is not really going to be dramatically different snot than anyone elses- but the blood is different as is the kidney function and whatever else that thing stimulates. I take it combined with goldenseal that is an excellent combination. The other thing is – did these people tested intake alcohol, sugar, red meat or coffee during this testing period? that skews results of a cold wildly as well.

  21. Please explain how the study is flawed. Surely if that’s true you can explain in specifics.

    Based on the rest of your comment, however, I seriously doubt you’ll have anything that shows the study is flawed.

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