According to a group of U.S. Researchers, Echinacea may not only help in reducing symptoms of common cold, but could help prevent infection of certain cold viruses.

Among people who were administered Echinacea, fifty eight percent showed a lower risk of catching cold. The researchers did not study the effects of the herb directly, but looked at the results of fourteen studies in an approach known as meta-analysis.

The research was led by Dr. Craig Coleman of the University of Connecticut, who conducted a study involving 1600 people. He said, Echinacea may not work against a few viruses, but works against 199 kinds of other viruses. He also said that it appeared from the studies that Echinacea even reduced the duration of a cold by 1.4 days on an average.

A study that looked at Echinacea together with vitamin C, another common cold remedy, showed that the two together reduced the number of colds by eighty six percent. The terms ˜Echinacea actually refers to parts taken from nine related plant species that are indigenous to North America. According to Coleman, it appears to stimulate the immune system, though the way it works is yet to be known.

“But, although Echinacea is considered safe generally, it has not yet undergone any long-term safety evaluation, and hence should be used with caution. Individuals with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus should be particularly careful.” he said.