Echinacea & Elderberry Can Reduce Flu Duration

The coincidental timing of holiday air travel and flu season poses an increased health risk for patients. Two new studies on elderberry or a combination of Echinacea purpurea and elderberry indicated that they may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms from colds and flu. The first study examined the use of elderberry for travel related respiratory illness. The second compared an elderberry-echinacea drink to the commonly prescribed flu drug oseltamivir.

Elderberry, Post-Travel Flu & Colds

It’s well known that long-haul and intercontinental air travel can be physically and psychologically stressful. Upper respiratory infections following air travel are common. Associate Professor Evelin Tiralongo and Dr Shirley Wee from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MHIQ) show in a clinical trial that an elderberry supplement can provide some protection from cold and flu-like symptoms following long-haul flights. The results were presented at the 21st Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference in Melbourne.

The randomised, double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial was conducted with 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to an overseas destination. Cold episodes, cold duration and symptoms were recorded in a daily diary and participants also completed surveys before, during and after travel. “We found that most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group, but the difference between the placebo and active group was not significant. However, the placebo group had a significantly higher number of cold episode days, and the symptom score in the placebo group over these days was also significantly higher,” says Tiralongo.

The trial used capsules containing 300mg of a standardised, proprietary membrane-filtered elderberry extract which has shown to be effective in working against respiratory bacteria and influenza viruses. “Complementary medicines are used by two in three Australians, thus increasing the evidence base of these medicines should be at the forefront of our efforts. It’s often forgotten that the evidence for various herbal medicines is extract specific,” says Associate Professor Tiralongo.

This excerpt was taken from Today’s Practitioner.

by Linda Slater-Dowling