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HomeNews ReleaseSA Natural Products: Paediatric study supports antiviral, antibacterial benefit of Echinacea Purpurea

SA Natural Products: Paediatric study supports antiviral, antibacterial benefit of Echinacea Purpurea

A recently published clinical trial has shown that a locally available fresh plant extract from the Echinacea Purpurea medicinal plant successfully protects children from colds and flu and that it inactivates not only influenza but also numerous cold viruses, including the common cold coronaviruses.

Published in the European Journal of Medical Research, “Echinacea reduces antibiotic usage in children through respiratory tract infection prevention” is a randomised, blinded, controlled clinical trial that was conducted in Switzerland over four winter months, when children traditionally experience more colds and flu.

The specific extract of Echinacea purpurea, widely known as ‘the immune herb’, that was used in this study is the most-researched echinacea product globally with a well-established antiviral and immune-strengthening track-record.

“This was, however, the first paediatric clinical trial to examine the plant’s benefits for children. The results are fantastic. Echinacea [for children] reduced the days of sickness and prevented the need for antibiotics,” says Dr Mercedes Ogal, paediatrician and lead author in the study.

The study enrolled 203 children aged four to 12 years. In the active arm, half of the young participants took three tablets daily of A.Vogel Echinaforce Junior (the product containing Echinacea purpurea) and the other half of the participants in the placebo control group received a small dose of vitamin C.

Children in the active study arm experienced these benefits:
• Reduced colds, flu and respiratory tract infections by 33%
• Reduced days with fever by 67%
• Reduced risk of complications (secondary bacterial infections) by 65%
• Reduced antibiotic prescriptions of 76%

According to Ogal, a subsequent additional analysis of the trial data showed that among 24 children who had common cold coronavirus infections, Echinaforce Junior reduced the viral load (how much virus is active) by 98.5%, which ensured these children had milder infections and were less contagious.

Colds and flu are viral infections that normally resolve themselves in seven to 10 days. But sometimes they turn into bacterial super-infections, often necessitating antibiotics. These infections include otitis media, sinusitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. The highlight of the study is that only six children in the active arm required antibiotics compared with 24 children in the placebo arm, equating to 45 days on antibiotics versus 216 days on antibiotics respectively.

“Antibiotics are most frequently prescribed to treat respiratory tract infections in children. When an intervention – such as Echinaforce Junior tablets – enables the reduction in the use of antibiotics by over 75%, it means we have a weapon against antibiotic resistance,” says Ogal.

Ogal says it is important that globally, everyone cares about reducing antibiotics use.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – which encompasses resistance to antibiotics – has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

Dr David Naude, head of Medical and Research at SA Natural Products, which distributes A.Vogel Echinaforce Junior in South Africa, says that given the two disrupted academic years under COVID-19 lockdowns, it is more essential than ever to keep our children healthy and in school.

“On average, young children experience between six and ten respiratory tract infections a year. The result is a higher number of days off school as well as the stress for working parents of having to take time off work to care for their children,” says Naude.

He said South African parents can take comfort in the fact that, based on this clinical trial, Echinaforce Junior helps prevent respiratory tract infections, shortens the duration of colds and flu and reduces the risk of bacterial complications if the child falls ill, and by significantly decreasing the need for antibiotics, enables a more holistic healing process.

“By keeping our children healthy, we are also protecting other family who often become infected with the virus brought home by a child,” he added.

Issued by SA Natural Products

 

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