Can Echinacea Stop Cold?

Cold which involve cough, congestion, runny nose, sneezing etc may be really frustrating. It is also very true that you might have tried everything to get rid of it once you have suffered from cold. May it be cough syrup, decongestants or may be some ibuprofen etc. However symptoms in cold do not go away so easily. Well! If you are looking for some herbal remedy for cold then you may also have looked for Echinacea. Read below to know if Echinacea can stop cold.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is actually a flowering plant growing in The United States Of America and Canada and it is been used as medicine for several centuries. There are nine species of Echinacea. Some of its common names are the purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan. Echinacea roots, leaves, flower, stems are all used to make supplements, teas and liquid extracts.

Can Echinacea Stop Cold?

Can Echinacea Stop Cold?

Echinacea can benefit in preventing or stopping cold, especially in individuals who are prone to cold. There have been various studies that have had mixed results. Echinacea extracts do seem to have a great effect on our immune system or the body’s defense against germs. Research shows that it increases the number of WBCs or white blood cells which helps in fighting infection.

However, from a review of more than 12 studies, published in the year 2014 found that this herbal remedy had a very slight benefit in preventing cold. Apart from this, two studies funded by The National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine did not find any real help for a cold from Echinacea in either adults or children.

Again, a clinical study that involved tests on 750 patients found that taking three daily doses of Echinacea herbal remedy for about four months reduced the number of colds and duration of the illness by an average of 26%. The treatment with Echinacea also cut the number of recurrent colds suffered by individuals with weak immune systems or a history of catching several bouts each year by about 60%.

There are also several studies that had suggested that Echinacea could soothe symptoms and cut colds short. However, there are only limited evidences if it could prevent illness from every taking hold. The most recent major paper in to the therapy from The American College Of Physicians had found that Echinacea did not prevent colds or significantly reduce the length or severity of symptoms.

However still, sometimes it is very hard to compare the results of different studies, as they look at different types and strengths of Echinacea, as well as different parts of the plant like stem, leaves, flower or root. It might be possible that some versions of Echinacea are better than others. Moreover, it is possible that the herbal remedy may be useful against some, but not all, of the more than 200 cold viruses or viruses causing colds.

Are There Side Effects of Echinacea?

It is uncertain if Echinacea really benefits in stopping or prevent cold. However, there might be some common side effects from this herb. One of the most common side effects of Echinacea is upset stomach.

Some individuals may also get some allergic reactions where the symptoms may include the following.

  • Skin rashes
  • Worsening of symptoms of asthma
  • Anaphylaxis or a life threatening emergency that can cause trouble breathing.


Echinacea might not be safe for individuals taking certain drugs. For example, some medications for heart problems like Amiodarone and some anti-fungal treatments which combined with Echinacea may cause liver damage.

Apart from this, some experts also suggest that Echinacea should not be taken for more than 8 weeks at a time.


It must be kept in mind that though herbal remedies such as Echinacea are good at times, they are not regulated in the U.S. the way medications are. The makers of Echinacea supplements do not have to show that their products are safe or effective to use before they go on the market. Apart from this, there is also a chance that what you buy at the drugstore may not actually have what the labels says it does. So, one must keep very safe and may consult a physician before purchasing any such supplements or using Echinacea as a herbal cold remedy.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2017

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