As the cold and flu season reaches a peak this winter, many people will find their first sneeze greeted with advice from well-meaning friends to “Take some Echinacea”.
What makes this herbal remedy so popular? Could it be the overwhelming circumstantial evidence of its curative powers from middle-class coffee mornings the length and breadth of the country, or is there a more sinister trend?
“I think that there is a spiritual element missing from modern life” says Richard Dawkins. The best-selling author has almost single-handedly proved that there is no God, but in his latest book “The Echinacea Miracle” even he admits his need for something “a bit mystical” in his life. “OK, there are some flaws in the concept of homoeopathy, at least to anyone who has a scientific education, but I still have this gut instinct that there must be more to life than science.”
“I read that book about Aspirin, and it took years before anyone realised that a few boiled roots could stop you getting a headache Despite Bayer making billions from the patent, why is it only nice middle class ladies in flowery dresses and Goths who campaign for Echinatia? There is definitely something going on or otherwise the giant pharmaceutical companies would have moved in”
The author reveals how he was attending a dinner party where the hostess suggested that if he came up to the bathroom she would “give him something for that cold before it took hold.” “I have to say I was both intrigued and sceptical, but the following morning there wasn’t even a sniffle.”
After years of modern medical research, there is still no evidence that taking a couple of overpriced tablets from the shelves of Holland and Barrett is going to stop a cold developing. “But you never know, do you?” quips Richard. “After all, if Jesus had taken some Echinacea, he might have avoided crucifixion”