Thursday, July 28, 2005


The herbal supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar juggernaut. It's nice to see some of their outlandish claims finally get put to the test. The New England Journal of Medicine today reports that echinacea ( E. angustifolia root) has no effect for curing the common cold. There is a nice story in the New York Times. I'm sure adherents that swear by it (like my parents) will continue to take it but perhaps this study will put a little dent into sales.

The study took 437 volunteers, challenged them with the cold virus and randomly assigned them with pretreatment, treatment or placebo. The result was that there was no evidence that any form of treatment with echinacea had any significant effect in combating the cold or alleviating its symptoms.


Anonymous said...

Somehow I don't think this will make much difference. People like believing in the tooth fairy!

pacatrue said...

I think anonymous is right. People want to believe they know a secret.

However, I do hope you are right. To me, herbal supplement translates to "no evidence whatsoever that this works, and really we couldn't be troubled to test it, but buy it anyway because... because... um it has a pretty box?"