The Most Important Virus Versus the Most Important Immune Herb
You’ve been waiting for this match up. How would echinacea, the king of the immune herbs, do in a match against COVID? This new study matched them up. And the winner is . . . .
Echinacea is, perhaps, the most important general immune herb. It has broad antiviral effects, but does much of its work, not by killing the virus, but by helping your immune system to do its work. It has shown antiviral activity against coronaviruses in general.
A previous study has suggested that the combination of echinacea and ginger could be effective against COVID (J Complement Integr Med. 2021 Mar 31;18(4):775-781).
Perhaps because echinacea works in so many ways, preliminary studies show that respiratory viruses have limited ability to evade the antiviral effects of echinacea. In vitro studies suggest the inability to evade immunity caused by echinacea holds true for COVID variants of concern also (BioRxiv 2021;10.1101/2021.12.12.472255).
This new, unblinded, controlled study gave people either nothing or 800mg of Echinacea purpurea extract 3 times a day. They were followed for 23 weeks to see if they developed a respiratory tract infection in general or COVID in particular. If they did get an infection, the echinacea group was treated with 800mg 5 times a day.
119 people were included in the study. There were 14 cases of COVID in the control group but only 5 in the echinacea group. That is a significant 63% reduction in risk.
Echinacea was also able to significantly reduce viral loads by more than 99%, and, compared to the control group, echinacea significantly reduced the time to virus clearance by 4.83 days.
Echinacea also significantly reduce the number of days with fever from 11 in the control group to only 1.
This study suggests that adding echinacea can be a useful layer to add for prevention and treatment of COVID.
Front Pharmacol. 2022; 13: 856410