Reduce antibiotic usage in children with Echinacea
Paediatric study proves 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 per cent;
- Reduced days with fever by 67 per cent;
- Reduced risk of complications (secondary bacterial infections) by 65 per cent;
- Reduced antibiotic prescriptions of 76 per cent.
According to Dr 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 per cent, which ensured these children had milder infections and were less contagious.
Colds and flu are viral infections which 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 to 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 per cent, it means we have a weapon against antibiotic resistance,” says Dr Ogal.
Dr Ogal highlights that it is important globally that we all care about reducing the use of antibiotics.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – which encompasses resistance to antibiotics – has been declared by the World Health Organisation (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, explains 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, so they can get the most out of the 2022 school year academically and socially.
“On average, young children experience between six and 10 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 sick child,” says Dr Naude.
According to Dr Naude, 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 members who often become infected with the virus that a child brings home,” concludes Dr Naude.
Unlike most other Echinacea products which are made from the dried plant extract and/or other Echinacea species, A.Vogel Echinaforce is made from freshly harvested organically grown Echinacea purpurea plants. This, together with its unique formulation of 95 per cent of the herb (above ground) part of the plant, which has the antiviral action, and 5 per cent root, which has the anti-inflammatory action, means the product contains three times more active ingredients – alkylamides – and delivers a 10 times stronger antiviral effect.
SA Natural Products is one of South Africa’s foremost natural health products businesses. Headquartered in KZN and operating for over 30 years, the company sources, markets and distributes some of the world’s best in class natural, herbal product ranges, including the well-known Swiss A.Vogel range. A.Vogel’s remedies comprise a wide selection of organically grown fresh plant products, many backed by clinical research, which address numerous health needs for people who want to live a naturally healthy lifestyle. Visit the A.Vogel website on www.avogel.co.za