Do St John’s wort and echinacea work?

Duchy Originals was established by the Prince of Wales in 1990 to raise the profile of organic food and farming. Lines from the company, which gives its profits to the Prince’s own charities, include Rose and Mandarin Shampoo, oaten biscuits, sherbet lemons and handmade Sandringham Strawberry Preserve.

With regal glee, the Duchy website recently announced a new product range. “Suffering from the sniffles? Try a Duchy Herbal Remedy!” Andrew Baker, Duchy’s chief executive officer, said: “Our decision to launch these products reflects The Prince of Wales’s passion for integrated healthcare.” Well, my own pleb’s passion is for evidence-based healthcare that doesn’t cost more than it needs to. So, let’s look at the evidence.

First, the “Detox Artichoke and Dandelion Tincture”. It allegedly can “help support the body’s natural elimination and detoxification processes”. There is no scientific evidence to support the need for “detox”. Detox is a concept which is designed to make us feel that there is a quick fix to long-term excess. There isn’t. The product costs £10. I think this represents particularly bad value.

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