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Can Echinacea Help People With COPD?

Echinacea may help improve breathing in people with COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is actually the name given to a number of lung conditions (including emphysema) that are primarily characterized by difficulty breathing. An increasingly common disease, COPD has been reported by the World Health Organization as a leading cause of death and illness worldwide, with annual health and economic costs in the billions of dollars and no known cure. How can echinacea help?(65)

Clinical Evidence of Benefit

Current efforts to treat COPD seek to relieve symptoms and preserve as much lung function as possible in order to enhance quality of life. Since conventional drugs have yielded unsatisfactory results and adverse side effects, researchers are looking to traditional herbal remedies for COPD.(65)

Evidence suggests echinacea could help improve lung function in people with COPD:

Table 6: Clinical Trials Using Echinacea for COPD
Echinacea Species & Study Details Study Results

Randomized, double-blinded, controlled clinical trial; 19 patients(65)

  • Esberitox® N (a 3-herb liquid extract, including echinacea) given to 8 patients.(65)
  • Placebo given to 11 patients.(65)
  • Lung function of COPD patients compared to placebo.(65)
  • Volume of air participants were able to expel when exhaling forcefully.(65)

Controlled clinical trial; 60 patients with COPD and heart disease(90)

  • 30 patients given standard therapy.(90)
  • 30 patients given standard therapy along with tincture of echinacea (30 drops twice daily) and 5 ml of 1% Chlorophyllipt 3 times/day.(90)
  • Respiratory function better than standard therapy alone.(90)
  • Heart function (as measured by echocardiograph) better than standard therapy group.(90)

Randomized, double-blinded, controlled clinical trial; 108 patients with COPD & active upper respiratory tract infection(91)

Patients were divided into 3 groups given an antibiotic daily for 7 days along with one of the following for 14 days:(91)

  • Echinacea purpurea tablet (500 mg)
  • Echinacea purpurea (500 mg) combined with 10 mg zinc, 15 mcg selenium, and 50 mg vitamin C in a tablet
  • Placebo tablet
  • Exacerbated COPD symptoms.(91)
  • Severity and length of time of overall symptoms.(91)

The positive findings were only found in the group taking echinacea combined with the nutrients vitamin C, zinc, and selenium. However, the amounts given of these nutrients were far less than doses found effective in other clinical trials. This suggests echinacea enhanced the nutrients' effectiveness.(91)

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