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March 17, 2004

Echinacea for Treating Colds in Children

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(11):1323-1324. doi:10.1001/jama.291.11.1323-a

To the Editor: Dr Taylor and colleagues1 concluded that a nonstandardized dose of Echinacea purpurea did not decrease the severity or duration of upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) in children 2 to 11 years old. We have several concerns about the authors' methods. First, the dosage was not determined, nor did the authors measure lipophilic phenol or hydrophilic polysaccharide fractions. The lack of standardization calls into question the relevance of the outcomes compared with other commercially available standardized echinacea preparations.2 Furthermore, fractions derived from whole echinacea (roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers) represent a broader spectrum of potentially bioactive compounds and biological activity.3,4