Echinacea ....pah

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18/12/2002 at 14:11
For all those who think echinacea works:
18/12/2002 at 14:39
Just read the article, and agree. And does this therefore imply that there is no noticeable placebo effect either?
18/12/2002 at 14:46
If there is a placebo effect, it's negative. Although only a full analysis of the statistics would confirm whether or not the extra half-day of cold symptoms that echinacea users suffered is statistically significant.

It's not really news, though - echinacea sales have long been a triumph of marketing over science.
18/12/2002 at 14:49
Beat me to it regarding the stats, V-rap.

I assume it's a blind or double-blind trial, or else why would people be fed placebo? So you can't say anything about placebo effects here.

Oh, and don't bother with vitamin C either!
18/12/2002 at 15:29
Been waiting for someone to comment on this.

The hypothesis apparently being tested here is that echinacea is capable of **curing** NOT **preventing** colds.

I take echinacea to prevent colds/sore throats/respiratory infections. Still have every reason to believe it works.
18/12/2002 at 15:58
My wife swears by echinacea,she is a teacher and all the germs from the little brats surround her daily,mind you she's always got the cold! DOH!
Believe me it does not work.
18/12/2002 at 16:33
And for all those that have an open mind
18/12/2002 at 16:39
For all those that have an open mind...

Here's hoping that your brain doesn't fall out.

(Not an orginal quote, alas, but one of my all-time favourites.)
18/12/2002 at 16:43
interesting article SS - thanks for that.
18/12/2002 at 18:11
I've alwyas been under the impression that you take echinaceae to prevent colds, not cure them, as it is "supposed" to stimulate the immune system. And you're supposed to adopt a 3week on/1 week off regime but don't know why.

Although I am a sceptic when it comes to many herbal remedies I have been using echinaceae for a couple of years now and have to say my incidence of colds has tailed off enormously - whilst those around me suffer I have been fine (cross fingers, touch wood - but that's a completely different issue!!!).

If it is a placebo working with me, is there anything wrong with that if it does what it's supposed to?
18/12/2002 at 19:10
Read the pponline article - Echinacea is one of the few alternative herbal treatments that's been very thoroughly researched ---- and as with any research - it depends how it's done / by whom / what the controls were etc.

But interesting that the dinosaur's become extinct - maybe they should have chewed a few more purple flower plants - or read the research.....
18/12/2002 at 19:38
I thought it was a meteor that got rid of the dinos - or, if you go with The Far Side cartoon version, it was smoking!!

I read this article, and just as I was about to go 'where are the footnotes?!', it started to incorporate the studies. Good thing that, but still, as an academic as well as an informed member of the public, it would have been more interesting to have be shown the actual evidence. As it was, the anecdotal tone put me off rather, as I really hate the (erronous) idea that the past was some sort of altruistic golden age. Not so!
18/12/2002 at 20:11
Yes the style of the article is a bit naff - but that's the same style used for most of Peak Performances articles. I don't think anyone's really saying that the past was a Golden Age - but surely it's exactly because there were so many illnesses then, that alternative treatments that actually worked then shouldn't be discounted now, just because the drug industry's been born?

And of course as the article wasn't written for 'academics' but as a summary for tired worn out athletes like me - and is not a piece of research in itself - it wouldn't have been written in a style that would appeal to academics nor would it go into the length of detail that you obviously want. That's not the purpose of Peak Performance.
18/12/2002 at 20:59
Research, research, research!
Polls, studies, statistics!
One says one thing.....etc. You go with what you beleive - and if it works for you, you stick with it. If not, you kick it out. Say what you like about echinachea but it has reduced the number of colds and sore throats in our house tremendously. If you get a cold (and whatever we take, we sometimes get them) you just have to get through it. But as a prevention it works!

Even the recent slagging off of vitamins through 'research' was via a study carried out by - you've guessed it - the drug companies. Let's face it, the drug companies are hell bent on treating illness and symptoms of illness. If preventions were used on a massive scale we may be staggered by the national figures and the drug companies shares would be falling like a stone. They cannot let this happen. Is that why suppliments are so damned expensive?

Have you ever wondered why arteries clog up with colesterol. Here's a thought! Animals don't suffer with it - even carnivores as far as I can read. Maybe it is because their bodies make there own vitamins. We don't. Maybe narrowing of the arteries is the walls lining themselves because they are cracking from vitamin C deficiency (like a form of Scurvey).

There is much we do not know but I beleive the above is true. It certainly gives food for thought. I promise, your brains won't fall out (although there may be some on the forum who think mine allready have!)

19/12/2002 at 09:33
No doubt about it, prevention is better than cure. Drug companies NEED people to be ill, not us fit and healthy people who don't help their profits. BUT at the same time modern life would be difficult without them - think antibiotics.

As for your point about arteries clogging up with cholesterol the facts here are clear - they clog up due to either taking in too much via diet OR a genetic imbalance which prevents it's metabolism. So the cure is either diet (and exercise) for the overeaters; for those with genetic problems, lifelong adherence to drugs (statins usually now) or early death.

So echinacea knockers - try it and see what happens even if you don't believe as it may just work as placebo effect.
19/12/2002 at 13:23
I did try echinacea, twice, and both times it gave me a terrible headache. Weird indeed.
19/12/2002 at 13:26
Hildy - did you remember to keep your mind open? Pressure can build up otherwise.

19/12/2002 at 14:35
So many times we see newpaper articles about this thing, or that thing and what revolutionary new research has found etc etc etc. This comes up a lot in the triathletes forum, some people brand it about to support their arguments, other people treat all isolated news reports with scepticism. I have a sports science degree, and now work in science, technical and medical journal publishing, where many 'eureka' news reports are sourced and mis-quoted. Any serious researcher will tell you that you need a great deal of evidence to prove health issues, not the results of 150 students in one isolated review.
19/12/2002 at 18:25
Yes Swerve, my mind was open because I was trying it in the first place! Perhaps the headache was caused by the fact that my brain refused to fall out, and that I was not convinced thereby.
19/12/2002 at 18:31
Agree with you totally Chris - too much in the papers is worthless - either poor research design, or even if it isn't we don't get the info to judge whether it is or not.

I guess being able to see the sample size and other study design factors would broe the crap out of readers of The Sun and even the more serious papers, but it's essential to form a judgement of the value of the study.

I think I heard somewhere (okay - that in itself is dodgy) that the current panic over the MMR vaccine was based on a study of abotu 20 people!
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