Cold Symptom Reduction with Herbal Remedy
An herbal combination containing a standardized extract of the herb Andrographis paniculata was more effective than typical treatment of symptoms and was more beneficial than echinacea for shortening recovery time and reducing symptoms in children with colds, according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research (2004;18:47–53).
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract characterized by symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, and fever. Typical treatment recommendations include bed rest and anti-inflammatory and decongesting medications as needed for symptom relief.
Andrographis paniculata is a medicinal herb from the Chinese tradition, used historically to treat fever, sore throat, and respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Extracts of Andrographis have proven antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-stimulating properties. A standardized extract in combination with Eleutherococcus senticosus (also called Acanthopanax senticosus or Siberian Ginseng) is frequently used in a traditional Chinese herbal formula known as Kan Jang. A recent review of controlled trials using extracts of Andrographis, alone and in Kan Jang, concluded that it can effectively reduce the duration and severity of colds.
The current study included 130 children, ages 4 to 11, who had been experiencing frequent colds and respiratory infections. Each child entered the study within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms and continued treatment for ten days. They were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: one group received typical treatment alone, consisting of warm drinks, throat gargles, antiseptic nose drops, and cough-suppressing, pain-relieving, and fever-reducing medications as needed; a second group received typical treatment plus 80 ml of fresh juice of Echinacea purpurea preserved with 20 ml of alcohol; and, a third group received typical treatment plus Kan Jang, two tablets three times a day (providing 30 mg per day of the components of Andrographis believed to be active). Each child rated his or her own muscle pain, cough, breathing, sore throat, headache, fever, and runny nose every day during treatment. In addition, nasal mucus secretion and degree of nasal congestion were measured.
The children treated with Andrographis had significant reductions in symptoms after three days of treatment, and virtually no symptoms after five days. In contrast, children treated with echinacea and those receiving typical treatment alone had no significant improvement in symptoms after three days and incomplete improvement after five days. After two days of treatment, nasal congestion in the Andrographis group was significantly less than in the echinacea and typical-treatment groups. The amount of mucus secretion was significantly less in the Andrographis group than in the other groups after four days of treatment.
The results of this study add to the evidence that Andrographis is a beneficial cold treatment. They further suggest that Andrographis, in the formula known as Kan Jang, might be more effective than echinacea in children with a history of frequent respiratory infections.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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