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We noticed a post on our forum asking if Echinacea can help beat cold and flu, and fight against the cold sore virus: so we asked Nutritional Scientist Toral Shah if there was any truth behind the claims…

“Most peer-reviewed studies say it’s not. If anything there are negative results, as in nothing happens. There are some studies that report a couple of positives against colds but definitely not flu.

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Echinacea is thought to be immune-boosting, but a lot of this is placebo effect because it feels like you’re helping to combat your symptoms. A lot of people will have it with honey and lemon and it’s something I’ve done myself. The warming effect will at least make it feel like you’re doing something, which may help you feel better to some extent.

In terms of actual scientific evidence: our immune system doesn’t have much of an arsenal against viruses anyway. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, there isn’t much anti-viral medication available yet. The thing with the flu virus is that it changes and mutates very quickly, which is why the flu vaccination has to change every single year. 

There are quite a few Cochrane studies that used randomised trials to statistically measure the effect of Echinacea. A Cochrane review looked at 16 different double-blind trials (meaning no participants knew if they were taking the Echinacea or not) and all tests conclusively shown it had no positive results or made any difference towards cold, flu or any viruses. The studies are replicated year after year and unfortunately, there is just zero evidence that Echinacea has an effect.   

A lot of the assumed knowledge about Echinacea is hearsay, that was popularised by salespeople in the 1800’s. It just keeps resurfacing, and every time scientific studies show there is no truth behind it! To summarise, Echinacea isn’t effective against flu or cold sores.”

Toral Shah is a nutritional scientist and chef, with an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She heads up the Urban Kitchen (urbankitchen.co.uk) featuring recipes and nutritional advice, and is represented by Sports Sphere.  

If you have any other queries related to training, illness or nutrition, email us at info [at] road.cc or start a thread on our forum, and we’ll try to get an expert to answer. 

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017 having previously being Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine, and reports on all things tech as well as editing road.cc's live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake. 

20 comments

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andyp [1605 posts] 1 year ago
9 likes

That's a lot of words to say 'no'...

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Jack Sexty [126 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Valbrona wrote:

... anyway, it's suitably androgynous.

Like a few I see on the underground each morning.

it is indeed a royalty-free vector image, which required a great deal of research to dig out!  1 

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hawkinspeter [4079 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Forget echinacea, what you want to be doing is consuming loads of lactic acid bacteria. To be fair, this hasn't been tested on humans, but I was surprised at how effective it was in mice. Here's a link to some results:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171213130328.htm

Luckily, I'm a huge fan of kimchi and I also drink about half a pint of homemade kefir each morning so I reckon I'm getting my dose of lactobacillus (though not in my nose).

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No Sweat [32 posts] 1 year ago
8 likes

Wash your hands a lot.

Eat well.

Sleep well.

Don't over-train.

Avoid people with colds and flu.......

 

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Pub bike [265 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

A ridelondon newsletter claimed that echinacea was effective.   How embarrassing for them to publish such nonsense on their website. I wonder how much science is behind their other articles?

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Pub bike [265 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

A ridelondon newsletter claimed that echinacea was effective.   How embarrassing for them to publish such nonsense on their website. I wonder how much science is behind their other articles?

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ktache [2122 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Our immune systems have a tremendously effective and complex arsenal that has evolved to fight  viruses.

Have a little look at the immunity page on wiki.

Viruses are everywhere, all cellular life has to have some way of fighting them.

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DaveE128 [1010 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

What's wrong with a bit of placebo effect anyway?  1

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NPlus1Bikelight... [100 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Our immune systems have a tremendously effective and complex arsenal that has evolved to fight  viruses.

Have a little look at the immunity page on wiki.

Viruses are everywhere, all cellular life has to have some way of fighting them.

Research on echinacea says It does actually reduce inflammatory proteins. "it helps support the immune system if you are stressed or susceptible." is fluff based. "It contains alkyl amides which stimulate production of neutrophils, the first line defences of your immune system" but this is from a herbalist, no journal references no

Just make sure your vitamin C and Zinc levels are as high as they should be from diet or with a multivit.

PS Jack, try Pixabay for copyright-free, free images?

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mdavidford [103 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Pub bike wrote:

A ridelondon newsletter claimed...

As I started to read this I was wondering what kind of drug or pseudo-drug ridelondon was...

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harragan [285 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes
ktache wrote:

Our immune systems have a tremendously effective and complex arsenal that has evolved to fight  viruses.

Have a little look at the immunity page on wiki.

Viruses are everywhere, all cellular life has to have some way of fighting them.

 

Absolutely true.  For her to say, as an "expert" that our immune system doesn't have much of an arsenal against viruses, is worrying.  We're fighting viruses all the time, for goodness sake.  Occasionally, one gets through and we get a cold or flu and, most of the time, we get better because our immune system is doing its work! 

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Mungecrundle [1564 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Beyond eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids, pretty much take any supplement or perform any ritual you like. Chances are you will get better in 3 to 4 days.

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Simmo72 [719 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

Based on my own recent research and the fact that I have green syrup pouring out of my nose for weeks on end, I would say Echinacea does chuff all.

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Simon E [3844 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
NPlus1BikelightsNJerseys wrote:

Just make sure your vitamin C and Zinc levels are as high as they should be from diet or with a multivit.

Most multivits have ineffective levels of the relevant vitamins and minerals so don't help, those taking them have been duped are just wasting money.

In the UK winter vitamin D supplementation (D3, not D2) is the one that is most likely to have a beneficial effect.

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Tom_77 [29 posts] 4 weeks ago
3 likes

This is a useful webpage for what's worth taking:

Snake Oil Supplements?

 

(spoiler: most stuff isn't)

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cdamian [265 posts] 4 weeks ago
2 likes
DaveE128 wrote:

What's wrong with a bit of placebo effect anyway?  1

A lot of my bike upgrades are not much more than a placebo  1

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benbrangwyn [10 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

I second the comment about homemade kefir. I've been taking it for 3 years and haven't had a cold or flu at all. I used to get them at least 4 times a year.

The BBC "Trust me I'm a Doctor" guy rated it too after a scientific comparison with a bunch of other "gut-friendly" products. Gotta do the homemade version, mind, not that shop bought stuff.

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NervousNelly [1 post] 4 weeks ago
3 likes
cdamian wrote:
DaveE128 wrote:

What's wrong with a bit of placebo effect anyway?  1

A lot of my bike upgrades are not much more than a placebo  1

Proven fact - Placebo effect is directly proportional to cost born by patient. Therefore if you spend many ££s you'll go MUCH faster. At least you'll think so 

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Rick_Rude [399 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Oil of oregano sorted my candida ridden guts out. Got a nasty case of hives/breakout in my hands and feet afterwards though as I think the candida releases toxins as it dies. Now I just do two drops two or three times a week and it's not returned.

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leqin [296 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I had almost forgotten that road.cc is a cycling news, reviews, and advice website'

Can we have less shitte like this and just stick to the bike business, otherwise we may end up poisening peoples minds with pseudo scientific clap trap and anti vacine nonsense before very much longer.