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The Skinny On: Echinacea

When I was in college, come cold and flu season, all the hippies I knew started taking their echinacea herbal remedies to boost their immune system. It was like clock work. When I tried it my reaction was just icky-nacea since the taste was so bad.

Well, my tune has changed, at least slightly. Several controlled studies have found that the herb can reduce symptoms of the common cold as well as shorten a cold's duration. That was good news for my runny nose. It is important that the echinacea is prepared as an alcohol extract or a pressed juice.

A bummer for my dear hippie friends, no evidence has been found that echinacea prevents colds or bolsters the immune system. So there is no need to take it on a regular basis to enhance your immunity. I will use anything I can to make my colds shorter. How about you?

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Just wanted to remind you that echinacea may interfere with the effectiveness of the birth control pill. So if you are taking the pill you should consult your doctor before using echinacea as a cold remedy.
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