PEOPLE who buy echinacea to stave off a common cold are wasting their money and should buy chocolate instead, two separate scientific studies have claimed.
Echinacea, which is believed to minimise the impact of a common cold, was studied by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
They found the over-the-counter herbal treatment only slightly delayed cold symptoms
In tests of 719 people, aged between 12 and 80, volunteers were randomly given either no pill, a pill they knew contained echinacea, or a pill that could have been echinacea or a placebo.
Those who received echinacea saw the duration of their cold reduced by seven to 10 hours.
“Trends were in the direction of benefit, amounting to an average half-day reduction in the duration of a weeklong cold or an approximate 10 percent reduction in overall severity,” said Bruce Barrett, the lead researcher, writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“However, this dose regimen did not make a large impact on the course of the common cold, compared either to blinded placebo or to no pills,” he concluded.
In the UK, scientists at a British-based drugs company called SEEK, working with experts at Hull Cough Clinic, said that a naturally-occurring substance in cocoa – theobromine – has been shown to prevent the key features of a persistent cough.
Seek was developing a medication based on theobromine, which is found in significant quantities in cocoa-based products and which it says “has been shown to inhibit the inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key feature of persistent cough.”
Professor Alyn Morice from the clinic, said, “Due to the drawbacks of current opioid drugs such as codeine, we are in desperate need of a non-opioid treatment with a drastically improved side effect profile for patients.”