Austin, TX—A study published in Current Therapeutic Research has shown an echinacea preparation to be effective in early influenza treatment, matching the effects of conventional medicine. The preparation used was a supplement containing an alcoholic extract made from the herb and root of the echinacea plant (95% herb; 5% root) supplemented with European elderberry.
The study included 473 patients who had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours and had visited a primary care practices in the Czech Republic. The subjects were divided into two groups, one taking the echinacea preparation (Echinaforce Hotdrink, from A. Vogel Bioforce AG) daily over the course of 10 days, and the other taking a conventional antiviral medicine (Tamiflu), for five days followed by a placebo for five days. The number of patients with mild to no symptoms were recorded at the one-, five- and 10-day marks.
The results show a similar level of effectiveness between the two treatments. Following the first day, 1.5% of patients in the echinacea group and 4.1% of those in the conventional/placebo group exhibited mild or no symptoms, but as the study went on, the statistics began to even out. At day five, 50.2% of the echinacea group exhibited mild to no symptoms compared to 48.8% for the conventional/placebo group, and at day 10, the numbers rose to 90.1% for echinacea and 84.8% for conventional.
The researchers noted that in a subgroup of patients that had laboratory diagnosed influenza (rather than clinically diagnosed), the recovery rates were still similar, but there was a trend toward higher recovery rates after the 10-day period for the echinacea group. The conventional group also saw some incidents of gastrointestinal disorders in the conventional group that required cessation of treatment, while echinacea presented no such issues. The study administrators concluded that echinacea could be viable for “acute influenza treatment,” with its over-the-counter availability making it particularly attractive for self-care.
Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, based here, said this is one of the largest study on echinacea supporting its use for immune support. He stated, “This is yet another significant human clinical trial that helps to document the clinical benefits of this specific Swiss echinacea extract.”