​Can Echinacea help with Covid-19?

Mar 14, 2022

That’s a very good question, and one we’ve been asked a lot. We know that Echinacea is beneficial for the immune system; it works by improving the way the immune system responds to bugs, especially the common cold. It reduces the severity of cold symptoms and the duration of colds and flu. [1] And it can reduce the likelihood of repeated cold or flu infections[2]. But can it help with Coronavirus? Research carried out during the pandemic and two (yet to be fully published) studies would suggest that it can.

Echinacea purpurea : Staying Strong

There are several varieties of Echinacea plant, but Echinacea purpurea has a greater amount of scientific evidence behind it than any other herbal remedy. Both real life studies and laboratory research show that Echinacea purpurea :

  • Reduces your chances of catching enveloped respiratory tract viruses by 51% [3]
  • Reduces your chances of catching SARS-CoV-2 by 63% [4]
  • Reduces viral load in cases of infection by 99%4

In addition, Echinacea purpurea shows antiviral action against all coronavirus variants known so far, including the Omicron variant, and no resistance has ever been developed against it by respiratory tract viruses. Its safety profile is also impressive.

Echinacea purpurea for the Prevention of Coronavirus Infections?

Here’s the detail.

Studies with Endemic Coronaviruses

In a first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 755 adults took Echinacea purpurea (Echinaforce® extract) for 4 months and found a reduced incidence of endemic coronavirus infections by 37%. Enveloped viruses, a group of pathogens that include coronaviruses, could even be reduced by 51% (p < 0.05). 3

Another prevention trial administered the same Echinacea extract to children, 4 to 12 years old. Those receiving Echinacea had significantly milder symptoms (64.2% reduction) when experiencing coronavirus infections. Most importantly, Echinacea significantly reduced viral loads by 98.5% in nasopharyngeal secretions (p<0.05), the ultimate indicator for antiviral effects. [5]

Study conducted during Covid-19 Pandemic

The very latest clinical study was carried out in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic 2020/21 to explore Echinacea’s preventive use against SARS-CoV-2. 120 adults were randomized to either take Echinacea purpurea over 5 months or received no treatment. In the Echinacea group 64% fewer SARS-CoV-2 infections were detected (5 compared to 14, statistically significant with p<0.05). Also, Echinacea significantly reduced overall viral loads during acute illnesses by over 99% (p < 0.05). 4

What conclusions can we draw?

Could Echinacea be a potential force against coronavirus infections? Yes, says the latest review. “ This review summarizes two previously published controlled clinical trials and new data from medRxiv from a small, controlled study yet to be published in a journal. These studies report clinical/virologic data suggesting broad antiviral effects for Echinacea purpurea against enveloped viruses, including coronaviruses. More studies are needed, especially for SARS-CoV-2 as the number of proven SARS-CoV-2 infections reported was small. ” says Prof. S Johnston, of Imperial College London. ”Taking Echinacea appears to be safe and it does seem to prevent viral illnesses, so the overall risk-benefit balance appears positive ”.

Our Echinacea favourites

When using Echinacea products it is important to make sure both parts of the plant are used. A.Vogel Echinaforce® Echinacea Drops for cold and flu relief combines both root and aerial part, and is made with fresh extracts of Echinacea purpurea (as opposed to dried), which means its activity is greater than that found in dried extracts.

If you are prone to recurrent colds or flu, start taking Echinaforce® Echinacea Tablets at the first sign of an infection or longer term for more general immune support. As with Echinaforce Drops, Echinaforce Tablets combine both the root and fresh parts of the plant. One Echinaforce Tablet is the same as around 11 drops of Echinaforce tincture.

Not a fan of tablets? Try Echinaforce® Chewable . Easy to take Echinacea tablets in chewable format, these are ideal for children aged 12 years and adults who are unable to swallow tablets.

A.Vogel Echinaforce® Sore Throat Spray can be used if you already have an infection. It contains sage, as well as Echinacea herb and root, which together help to relieve irritation and discomfort in the throat. We recommend using Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray, six to 10 times daily, spraying the back of the throat each time, whilst infection is present. It can be used by adults (over 18 years) and the elderly.

[1] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/841315/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25784510

[3] Jawad M, Schoop R, Suter A, Klein P, Eccles R. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine . 2012:841315. doi: 10.1155/2012/841315.

[4] Kolev E, Mircheva L, Edwards MR, 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 2021.12.10.21267582; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.10.21267582.

[5] Ogal M, Johnston SL, Klein P, Schoop R. Echinacea reduces antibiotic usage in children through respiratory tract infection prevention: a randomized, blinded, controlled clinical trial. Eur J Med Res . 2021. Apr 8;26(1):33.