Colds and flu

Updated 06 January 2016

Echinacea proven to fight flu

New research by an international panel of researchers has shown, for the first time, the efficacy of echinacea purpurea against flu viruses, including the H1N1 strain.

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Research by a group of internationally-reputed researchers has shown, for the first time, the efficacy of Echinacea purpurea, often referred to as Echinacea, against clinically important influenza viruses.

Five flu strains tested

According to the study, published in the Virology Journal, the Echinacea extract inhibited the infectiousness of all examined flu viruses by over 99%.

Five influenza A strains were investigated: H3N2 (e.g. "Hong Kong flu" or seasonal influenza), H5N1 (e.g. "bird flu", human pathogen), H7N7 (e.g. avian influenza, also human pathogen), H1N1 (human influenza) and H1N1 (better known as swine flu).

The cell cultures were treated at different points in time and in varying concentrations with the Echinacea extract, and the extent of infection inhibition was then tested. A standardised alcohol extract of fresh Echinacea purpurea herb (95%) and root (5%), was used.

The research showed that Echinacea effectively blocked the replication of various influenza strains, like seasonal types as well as the pandemic bird- and swine-flu virus.

No build up of resistance

Even after repeated treatment cycles the echinacea fresh-plant extract exhibited persistent activity and no resistance was built up (as seen with Tamiflu).

The authors of the study are of the opinion that Echinacea is a useful, easily available, affordable and clinically relevant addition to standard influenza control measures. The significance of the clinical antiviral effect of Echinacea in pandemic flu infections now has to be proven through studies in humans (in-vivo).       

(The results of the study were published in November 2009 in the Virology Journal. Click here to read the full article)

Read more:
Why there is no cure for the common cold
Managing flu in children

Could vitamin C therapy cure your cold?

 

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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