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Echinacea Versus Prescription Antiviral Medication: Who Wins?
By Jen Morganti, ND, NEEDS Education Director

Echinacea has a long history of being used for immune support during cold and flu season, but some research has debated its efficacy. A 2015 study has compared the effectiveness of Echinacea as compared to Tamiflu, a prescription antiviral medicine. This study included just under 500 patients who were in the early stages of flu symptoms. Half the group received an Echinacea preparation (which also included elderberry extract) daily for ten days. The other half took a five-day course of Tamiflu and five more days of placebo.

At day one of treatment, 4% of the Tamiflu group had mild to no symptoms, as compared to only 1.5% in the Echinacea group. At day five, the statistics were close to even; 50% of the Echinacea group had mild to no symptoms and 48% of the Tamiflu felt the same. At day 10, the Echinacea group was at 90% and the Tamiflu group was at 84%. Overall the results for both groups were quite similar, and only the Tamiflu group reported some side effects of gastrointestinal discomfort, which caused them to discontinue treatment.

The key to having a positive experience with Echinacea is to use a high-quality herbal extract, and to start taking it at the very first signs of flu. Keep it handy in your supplement cabinet, and help your family stay healthy this cold season!

United European Gastroenterology Journal, 2015. V3(3) 294-302.

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