20% of influenza infections lead to complications, particularly in older people and those with a weak immune defence. They often result in more time off work and even hospitalisation. Fear of complications is the main motive for antibiotic prescription by GPs. The overuse of antibiotics, leading to increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now a major global public health problem.
Research presented by Prof. Sebastian Johnston at the Royal Society of Medicine showed that Echinacea significantly reduces recurrent respiratory tract infections and consequently the risk for pneumonia, or bronchitis.
The meta-analysis included six clinical trials with 2,458 participants. It found that recurring RTIs were reduced by 35%, while cases of pneumonia were reduced by 65% by taking Echinacea.
It concluded that the overall risk of developing complications was reduced by approximately half in the Echinacea group.
Lead researcher, Professor Sebastian Johnston, Imperial College London, said: “Respiratory tract infections and their complications are a major clinical issue with a high number of absences from school/work, healthcare consultations, hospitalisations and significant morbidity and mortality. This is the first time we have evidence that Echinacea not only prevents recurrent RTIs but also complications arising out of these infections.”
Dr. Andy Suter (Head of Medical Department, A. Vogel Bioforce AG, Switzerland):
“We’re delighted that the new research not only shows the herb’s efficacy in typical cold and flus but the role it plays in favourable illness progression and consequent reduction of secondary complications. We also see that treatment effects vary greatly between different Echinacea products and cautious manufacturing of fresh plant material seems to be key. ”
Schapowal A, Klein P, Johnston SL. Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Adv Ther. 2015;32(3):187-200.
Vimalanathan S, Schoop R, Hudson J. High-potency Anti-influenza Therapy by a Combination of Echinacea purpurea fresh herb and root tincture. JAPS. 2013;3(12):1-5.