Echinacea protects air travellers

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    Echinacea protects air travellers

    Echinacea protects air travellers

    If you are troubled by a tickling cough or runny nose when flying you might want to try taking Echinacea. Researchers at Griffith University in Australia published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine the results of a study in which Echinacea supplements helped protect air travellers.

    Virus infections
    About half of all air travellers suffer from a runny nose, sore throat or cough when flying. The dry air in an aeroplane plus being cooped up with others who may have infections seem to provide optimal conditions for viruses to penetrate the body's mucous membranes. Most aeroplane viral infections clear up after two to three days.

    Study
    The researchers wanted to know whether Echinacea supplementation would reduce the likelihood of infection. They did an experiment with 175 adult Australians, all of whom flew to America, Europe or Africa and returned within a few weeks.

    The test subjects' supplementation regime is shown below: they took either Echinacea or a placebo.

    The researchers used MediHerb's [see above] Echinacea Premium. MediHerb is one of Integria Healthcare's brands. [integra.com] Integria helped financed the study, along with the Australian government.

    Each tablet contained 113 mg 6:1 extract of the roots of Echinacea purpurea and 150 mg 4:1 extract of the roots of Echinacea angustifolia.

    Each tablet contained 4.4 mg alkamides, the most important of which was (2E,4E,8Z) N-(2-methylpropyl) dodeca-2,4,8-trienamide. Alkamides activate the immune system. It is thought that they cause more immune cells to fight pathogens and also reduce the symptoms of infection. The exact composition of the tablets is shown here.

    Results
    The supplements had an effect, the researchers discovered. The subjects were asked to keep a detailed diary of whether they were troubled by virus-related symptoms and the severity of these.

    The researchers used these descriptions to ascribe the participants a WURSS-44 score. The higher the score, the more severe the flu or cold virus.

    Allergis reactions
    Two participants had an allergic reaction to the Echinacea. They had a tingling sensation in their mouth after swallowing a tablet. One stopped and the symptoms disappeared. The other continued supplementation and developed more symptoms: sore throat, headache, swelling in the legs, a rash and itching skin. When he stopped the symptoms disappeared after three weeks.

    Source: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:417267.
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