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Echinacea purpurea for COVID-19

Echinacea purpurea has been reported as potentially beneficial for treatment of COVID-19. We have not reviewed these studies. See all other treatments.
Kolev et al., Echinacea purpurea for the Long-term Prevention of Viral Respiratory Tract Infections during COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized, Open, Controlled, Exploratory Clinical Study, medRxiv, doi:10.1101/2021.12.10.21267582
AbstractIntroductionSARS-CoV-2 vaccination is effective in preventing severe COVID-19, but efficacy in reducing viral load and transmission wanes over time. In addition, the emergence of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants increases the threat of uncontrolled dissemination and additional antiviral therapies are urgently needed for effective containment. In previous in vitro studies Echinacea purpurea demonstrated strong antiviral activity against enveloped viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. In this study, we examined the potential of Echinacea purpurea in preventing and treating respiratory tract infections (RTIs) and in particular, SARS-CoV-2 infections.Methods120 healthy volunteers (m,f, 18 – 75 years) were randomly assigned to Echinacea prevention or control group without any intervention. After a run-in week, participants went through 3 prevention cycles of 2, 2 and 1 months with daily 2’400mg Echinacea purpurea extract (Echinaforce®, EF). The prevention cycles were interrupted by breaks of 1 week. Acute respiratory symptoms were treated with 4’000 mg EF for up to 10 days, and their severity assessed via a diary. Naso/oropharyngeal swabs and venous blood samples were routinely collected every month and during acute illnesses for detection and identification of respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 via RT-qPCR and serology.ResultsSummarized over all phases of prevention, 21 and 29 samples tested positive for any virus in the EF and control group, of which 5 and 14 samples tested SARS-CoV-2 positive (RR=0.37, Chi-square test, p=0.03). Overall, 10 and 14 symptomatic episodes occurred, of which 5 and 8 were COVID-19 (RR=0.70, Chi-square test, p>0.05). EF treatment when applied during acute episodes significantly reduced the overall virus load by at least 2.12 log10 or approx. 99% (t-test, p<0.05), the time to virus clearance by 8.0 days for all viruses (Wilcoxon test, p=0.02) and by 4.8 days for SARS-CoV-2 (p>0.05) in comparison to control. Finally, EF treatment significantly reduced fever days (1 day vs 11 days, Chi-square test, p=0.003) but not the overall symptom severity. There were fewer COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the EF treatment group (N=0 vs N=2).Discussion/ConclusionEF exhibited antiviral effects and reduced the risk of viral RTIs, including SARS-CoV-2. By substantially reducing virus loads in infected subjects, EF offers a supportive addition to existing mandated treatments like vaccinations. Future confirmatory studies are warranted.Clinical Trials registration NrNCT05002179
Nicolussi et al., Echinacea as a Potential Force against Coronavirus Infections? A Mini-Review of Randomized Controlled Trials in Adults and Children, Microorganisms, doi:10.3390/microorganisms10020211
Echinacea purpurea has been shown to broadly inhibit coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. This review discusses the available clinical evidence from randomized, blinded and controlled human studies. Two RCTs capturing incidence of viral respiratory tract infections during Echinacea preventative treatment were identified including coronavirus infections. Incidence and/or viral loads were measured by RT-PCR and symptom severity was recorded. In a first study, Jawad et al. collected nasopharyngeal swabs from adults (N = 755) over 4 months of continuous prevention. Overall, 24 and 47 enveloped virus infections occurred, including 21 and 33 coronavirus detections (229E; HKU1; OC43) with Echinaforce® extract (2400 mg daily) and placebo, respectively (p = 0.0114). In a separate study, Ogal et al. administered the same extract (1200 mg) or control for 4 months to children (4–12 years) (N = 203). Echinacea reduced the incidence of enveloped virus infections from 47 to 29 (p = 0.0038) whereas 11 and 13 coronavirus detections (229E, OC43, NL63) were counted (p > 0.05). Respiratory symptoms during coronavirus infections were significantly lower with area-under-curve AUC = 75.8 (+/−50.24) versus 27.1 (+/−21.27) score points (p = 0.0036). Importantly, viral loads in nasal secretions were significantly reduced by 98.5% in the Echinacea group, with Ct-values 31.1 [95% CI 26.3; 35.9] versus 25.0 [95% CI 20.5; 29.5] in the control group (p = 0.0479). Results from clinical studies confirm the antiviral activity found for Echinacea in vitro, embracing enveloped respiratory pathogens and therefore coronaviruses as well. Substantiating results from a new, completed study seem to extrapolate these effects to the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infections. As hypothesized, the established broad antiviral activity of Echinacea extract appears to be inclusive for SARS-CoV-2.
Please send us corrections, updates, or comments. Vaccines and treatments are complementary. All practical, effective, and safe means should be used based on risk/benefit analysis. No treatment, vaccine, or intervention is 100% available and effective for all current and future variants. We do not provide medical advice. Before taking any medication, consult a qualified physician who can provide personalized advice and details of risks and benefits based on your medical history and situation. FLCCC and WCH provide treatment protocols.
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