Ethan B. Russo, MD
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Russo EB. Echinacea for the Common Cold. Ann Intern Med. 2003;139:599. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-139-7-200310070-00015
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2003;139(7):599.
TO THE EDITOR:
Barrett and colleagues (1) are to be lauded for their efforts to scientifically examine the commonly used phytomedicinal agent echinacea. However, while they have successfully debunked the advisability of use of oral unrefined echinacea, it is highly likely that the preparation used in their study was inadequate and the route of administration was suboptimal to appropriately test the efficacy of the herb in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. Although echinacea is a native American plant, the best research on it has been done in Germany, where in 1992 Commission E (the equivalent of an herbal Food and Drug Administration) approved the use only of alcoholic root extracts of Echinacea pallida (narrow leaf coneflower) or juice pressed from E. purpurea (common purple coneflower) (2). Because all Echinacea species are endangered, the latter preparation from cultivated sources is preferred. (Individuals who are concerned about conservation are urged to visit United Plant Savers at http://plantsavers.org/.)
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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