Echinacea purpurea for prevention of experimental rhinovirus colds

Steven J Sperber, Leena P Shah, Richard D Gilbert, Thomas W Ritchey, Arnold S Monto
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2004 May 15, 38 (10): 1367-71
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the ability of Echinacea purpurea to prevent infection with rhinovirus type 39 (RV-39). Forty-eight previously healthy adults received echinacea or placebo, 2.5 mL 3 times per day, for 7 days before and 7 days after intranasal inoculation with RV-39. Symptoms were assessed to evaluate clinical illness. Viral culture and serologic studies were performed to evaluate the presence of rhinovirus infection. A total of 92% of echinacea recipients and 95% of placebo recipients were infected. Colds developed in 58% of echinacea recipients and 82% of placebo recipients (P=.114, by Fisher's exact test). Administration of echinacea before and after exposure to rhinovirus did not decrease the rate of infection; however, because of the small sample size, statistical hypothesis testing had relatively poor power to detect statistically significant differences in the frequency and severity of illness.

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