HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE: Taking time to smell the echinacea in Southern Cross Universitys Medicinal Garden is Head of Natural Heal
HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE: Taking time to smell the echinacea in Southern Cross Universitys Medicinal Garden is Head of Natural Heal

Natural remedy to beat off winter colds

By Fay Knight

WINTER arrived a bit late this year, but five minutes after the temperature dropped, the winds began howling and the rain set in, people started sneezing and the working ranks began to thin.

The good news is that a new 'meta analysis' of 14 clinical studies, published in the UK medical journal Lancet, found that people who took echinacea were 58 per cent less likely to catch cold than those who didn't. Those who did catch a cold while taking echinacea had the duration of the cold shortened by as much as a day and a half.

Hans Wohlmuthy, Head of Natural Health and Complementary Medicine at Southern Cross University, is not surprised by these findings.

"The thing to remember is that there are three different species of echinacea and they can be extracted in different ways," said Hans.

"It doesn't mean each echinacea product is the same." However, Mr Wohlmuthy recommends taking a high does as soon as you feel a cold coming on and to repeat the dose for the first three or four days.

"But it's best if you can go to a naturopath," he said.

While anecdotal evidence of increased absences at work varies across the region, it seems the althernative-health conscious folk of Byron Shire are doing OK. Julie Davies, payroll officer for Byron Shire Council, one of the area's largest employers, said their sick leave was 'on par for this time of year'.

At Thursday Plantation in Ballina, financial controller Malcolm Gardiner said there was a 'slight increase in absences'.

Staff at Lismore City Council are offered a health and fitness program which includes a free flu shot.

"Quite a few staff take advantage of that," said Isobel Perdriau, human resources manager.

"Currently people seem to be affected by a combination of the flu and gastro."

So if you're sick you just might like to give echinacea a try.

But regardless of what you take to combat winter illnesses, don't 'soldier on'. You'll actually be doing those of us left at work a big favour if you'd just stay home and keep your coughs, colds, fevers and gastro bugs to yourself.



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