Echinacea has become one of the best selling herbs in North America and Europe, and is frequently advocated for the prevention and treatment of colds and ’flu, and related respiratory diseases. Traditional uses implied that it was also useful in the treatment of many other diseases as well. How did Echinacea acquire its popularity, and is it justified? Is there scientific evidence from research laboratories or from clinical trials to back up the claims made by the manufacturers? Yes, to some degree. There has been substantial basic research on Echinacea recently, much of it in the Author’s laboratory.
But not all Echinacea preparations are the same, and they will probably not work for everybody, for reasons that are explained. One reason why herbal medicines such as Echinacea appeal to consumers is that they look critically at the
western pharmaceutical alternatives, and their inherent problems. We have antibiotics, which are potentially lifesaving
chemicals, but which have been applied excessively in humans and their livestock, resulting in global antibioticresistant bacteria. We have questionable vaccines. And of course we are continually producing toxic drugs with numerous side effects, some lethal (“Death by Medicine” has become an acceptable phrase). Professor Hudson attempts to explain all this in language suitable for the general reader, with some help from accompanying light-hearted anecdotes.