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Echinacea Preparation As Effective as Tamiflu® in Early Flu Cases in Large Clinical Trial

(AUSTIN,Texas,June17,2015)Newclinicalresearchsuggeststhatanherbalmedicinalproductcontainingaproprietarycombinationofaconcentratedechinaceaherbandrootextractisaseffectiveastheconventionalantiviralmedicineoseltamivir(Tamiflu®)intheearlytreatmentofinfluenza.Theresultsoftherandomized,double-blind,controlledclinicaltrialwerepublishedonlineinAprilintheopen-accessjournalCurrentTherapeuticResearch.[1]Forthestudy,researchersrecruited473patientswhohadexhibitedflusymptomsforlessthan48hoursfrom29primarycarepracticesintheCzechRepublic.ThepatientswererandomlyassignedtotakeEchinaforce®Hotdrinksyrup,abeveragecontaininganalcoholicextractpreparedfromfreshlyharvestedechinacea(Echinaceapurpurea)herbandroot(95%herb;5%root)supplementedwithEuropeanelderberry(Sambucusnigra),for10days,oroseltamivirforfivedaysfollowedbyplaceboforfivedays.(EchinaforceHotdrinkisproducedandmarketedbyA.VogelBioforceAGofRoggwil,Switzerland.ItisnotcurrentlysoldintheUnitedStates.)Theprimaryendpointoftheclinicaltrialwasthepercentageofpatientswithmildornosymptomsafterone,five,and10daysoftreatment.Ateachtimepoint,theresearchersfoundthatasimilarnumberofpatientshadrecoveredinbothgroups.Afterdayone,1.5%ofpatientsintheEchinaforceHotdrinkgroupand4.1%ofthoseintheoseltamivirgroupexhibitedmildornosymptoms;recoveryratesfordaysfiveand10were50.2%and48.8%,and90.1%and84.8%,respectively.Statisticalanalysesrevealedthatthetwotreatmentswere,infact,non-inferiortoeachother;thatis,theywereapproximatelyequalintheirtherapeuticeffects.Whentheresearcherslookedatasubgroupofpatientswithlaboratory-confirmedinfluenza(asopposedtothosewithaclinicalfludiagnosis),recoveryratesstilldidnotvarybetweenthetwoactives.Finally,therewasatrendtowardsahigherproportionofrecoveredpatientsafter10daysoftreatmentwithEchinaforceHotdrink.“ThisisyetanothersignificanthumanclinicaltrialthathelpstodocumenttheclinicalbenefitsofthisspecificSwissechinaceaextract,”saidMarkBlumenthal,founderandexecutivedirectoroftheAmericanBotanicalCouncil,aleadingnonprofitresearchandeducationorganization.“Thesizeofthistrial—473patients—isoneofthelargestechinaceaclinicaltrialseverpublished,”addedBlumenthal,whonotedthatthelargestechinaceaclinicaltrialinthescientificliterature—with755subjects—wasconductedwiththesameEchinaforceextract,andshowedapreventiveeffectagainstrespiratorytractinfections.[2]“Itisrewardingtoseeanherbalproducts manufacturer investingresourcesinawell-designedclinicalstudyonaphytotherapeuticproduct,”notedStefanGafner,PhD,ABC’schiefscienceofficer.“ThecombinationofechinaceaandEuropeanelderberryhasresultedinthesametreatmentoutcomeasthestandarddrugoseltamivirinthestudypopulation,providingevidenceforthesafetyandefficacyofthisproduct.”Inthenewclinicaltrial,complicationswerelimitedinbothgroups;6.5%ofpatientsintheoseltamivirgroupexperiencedrespiratory-relatedissuessuchaspneumonia,bronchitis,orsinusitis,andgastrointestinalcomplications.AninsignificantlylessnumberofpatientsintheEchinaforcegroup(2.5%)experiencedrespiratory,butnogastrointestinal,complications.Researchersdeterminedthat10adverseeventswererelatedtothetreatments—foureventsintheEchinaforcegroup(1.7%)andsixeventsintheoseltamivirgroup(2.2%),aninsignificantdifference.Patientstakingoseltamivirweremorelikelytoexperiencegastrointestinalissuessuchasnauseaandvomiting.Therewerealsonostatisticallysignificantdifferencesbetweengroupsintermsofantibioticuse,intermediatedoctorvisits,useofover-the-countermedicationsforsymptoms,“abilitytoreturntonormaldailyactivities,”orphysician-andpatient-reportedefficacyofthetreatments.“EchinaforceHotdrinkhasherebeendemonstratedasattractivetherapyforacuteinfluenzatreatmentwithbettersafetyandcomparableefficacyprofiletotheneuraminidaseinhibitorOseltamivir,”theauthorsconcluded.“Itsavailabilityasover-the-countermedicineallowsforaveryearlytreatmentstart,whichiscentralfortreatmentsuccesswithanyintervention.Furtherstudiesarewarranted.”ABCmembersandregisteredusersoftheABCwebsitecanaccessthemoredetailedABCHerbClipsummaryofthestudy—availablehere—onABC’swebsite(www.herbalgram.org).



References

RaušK,PleschkaS,KleinP,SchoopR,FisherP.EchinaforceHotdrinkversusoseltamivirininfluenza:arandomized,double-blind,doubledummy,multicenter,non-inferiorityclinicaltrial.CurrTherRes.2015;[epubaheadofprint].doi:10.1016/j.curtheres.2015.04.001.JawadM,SchoopR,SuterA,KleinP,EcclesR.SafetyandefficacyprofileofEchinaceapurpureatopreventcommoncoldepisodes:arandomized,double-blind,placebo-controlledtrial.EvidBasedComplementAlternatMed.2012;2012:841315.doi:10.1155/2012/841315.