Research - Respiratory Infections
Herbs for Viral Respiratory Infections
Eric Yarnell, ND, RH (AHG)
Herbal medicines have long been used to treat and prevent viral respiratory infections (VRI). Here, a broad survey of these herbs is provided. The effects and benefits of a wide array of antiviral herbs are discussed in depth. The benefit of most of these herbs having built-in immune-stimulating and inflammation-modulating effects means that they can help prevent immune overreaction (“cytokine storm”) to VRI while still helping the immune system cope better with the infections. The scientific basis supporting these contentions are discussed. Major herbs with clinical trial evidence that they help resolve VRI reviewed in detail include Sambucus nigra (black elder) fruit, BNO 1016 (Sinupret®) formula, Andrographis paniculata(kalmegh), Pelargonium sidoides (African geranium), má huáng tāng (maō-tō, ephedra decoction), and antiwei formula. The failure of research on Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower), particularly by using far too low of doses, is reviewed. An individualized approach to formulating for VRI patients is presented, followed by a review of the evidence that various herbs, notably Panax ginseng (Asian red ginseng), Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng), Camellia sinensis (green tea), and Allium sativum (garlic), can prevent VRI.
Source : Journal Alternative and Complementary Medicine
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Management of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections by Different Medical Practices, Including Homeopathy, and Consumption of Antibiotics in Primary Care: The EPI3 Cohort Study in France 2007–2008
Lamiae Grimaldi-Bensouda mail, Bernard Bégaud, Michel Rossignol, Bernard Avouac, France Lert, Frederic Rouillon, Jacques Bénichou, Jacques Massol, Gerard Duru, Anne-Marie Magnier, Lucien Abenhaim, Didier Guillemot
Prescribing of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) varies substantially in primary care.
Objectives To describe and compare antibiotic and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs use, URTI symptoms' resolution and occurrence of potentially-associated infections in patients seeking care from general practitioners (GPs) who exclusively prescribe conventional medications (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homeopathy within a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).
The EPI3 survey was a nationwide population-based study of a representative sample of 825 GPs and their patients in France (2007–2008). GP recruitment was stratified by self-declared homeopathic prescribing preferences. Adults and children with confirmed URTI were asked to participate in a standardized telephone interview at inclusion, one-, three- and twelve-month follow up. Study outcomes included medication consumption, URTI symptoms' resolution and potentially-associated infections (sinusitis or otitis media/externa) as reported by patients. Analyses included calibration to account for non-respondents and groups were compared using multivate analyses adjusting for baseline differences with a propensity score.
518 adults and children with URTI (79.3% rhinopharyngitis) were included (36.9% response rate comparable between groups). As opposed to GP-CM patients, patients in the GP-Ho group showed significantly lower consumption of antibiotics (Odds ratio (OR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.27–0.68) and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.38–0.76) with similar evolution in related symptoms (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 0.64–2.10). An excess of potentially-associated infections (OR = 1.70, 95% CI: 0.90–3.20) was observed in the GP-Ho group (not statistically significant). No difference was found between GP-CM and GP-Mx patients.
Patients who chose to consult GPs certified in homeopathy used less antibiotics and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs for URTI than those seen by GPs prescribing conventional medications. No difference was observed in patients consulting GPs within mixed-practice. A non-statistically significant excess was estimated through modelling for associated infections in the GP-Ho group and needs to be further studied.
Source : PLOSOne
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Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
Ying Bao, M.D., Sc.D., Jiali Han, Ph.D., Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., Edward L. Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., M.P.H.
Increased nut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the association between nut consumption and mortality remains unclear.
We examined the association between nut consumption and subsequent total and cause-specific mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses' Health Study (1980–2010) and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986–2010). Participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke were excluded. Nut consumption was assessed at baseline and updated every 2 to 4 years.
During 3,038,853 person-years of follow-up, 16,200 women and 11,229 men died. Nut consumption was inversely associated with total mortality among both women and men, after adjustment for other known or suspected risk factors. The pooled multivariate hazard ratios for death among participants who ate nuts, as compared with those who did not, were 0.93 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90 to 0.96) for the consumption of nuts less than once per week, 0.89 (95% CI, 0.86 to 0.93) for once per week, 0.87 (95% CI, 0.83 to 0.90) for two to four times per week, 0.85 (95% CI, 0.79 to 0.91) for five or six times per week, and 0.80 (95% CI, 0.73 to 0.86) for seven or more times per week (P<0.001 for trend). Significant inverse associations were also observed between nut consumption and deaths due to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
In two large, independent cohorts of nurses and other health professionals, the frequency of nut consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality, independently of other predictors of death. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.)
Source : The New England Journal of Medicine
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Meditation or Exercise May Help Acute Respiratory Infections, Study Finds
According to a recent study, exercising or practicing meditation may be effective in reducing acute respiratory infections. Acute respiratory infections, which are caused by influenza and other viruses, are very common illnesses and account for millions of doctor visits and lost school and work days each year. Previous research has suggested that enhancing general physical and mental health may offer protection against these illnesses. Findings from this NCCAM-funded study were published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison randomly assigned 154 people, aged 50 and older, to one of three groups: a mindfulness meditation group, an exercise group, or a wait-list control group. Participants in the meditation group received training in mindfulness-based stress reduction (a type of meditation based on the idea that an increased awareness of physical, emotional, and cognitive manifestations of stress may lead to a healthier mind-body response to stress). Participants in the exercise group received instruction and practiced moderately intensive exercise (using stationary bicycles, treadmills, and other equipment) during group sessions, and walked briskly or jogged for home exercise. Both interventions lasted 8 weeks, consisting of 2.5-hour group sessions each week and 45 minutes of daily at-home practice.
The severity of each acute respiratory infection that occurred during the study was assessed through a participant survey. In addition, a nasal wash was collected within 3 days of participants experiencing symptoms and analyzed for specific indicators, some of which are linked to the severity of symptoms. Participants answered questionnaires assessing psychosocial measures that could potentially explain links between behavioral interventions and acute respiratory illness outcomes. They also reported any visits to health care facilities or missed work or school activities.
The researchers observed substantial reductions in acute respiratory illness among those in the exercise group, and even greater benefits among those in the meditation group. While not all of the observed benefits were statistically significant, the researchers noted that the magnitude of the observed reductions in illness was clinically significant. They also found that compared to the control group, there were 48 percent fewer days of work missed due to acute respiratory infections in the exercise group, and 76 percent fewer in the meditation group. Researchers stated that these findings are especially noteworthy because apart from hand-washing, no acute respiratory infection prevention strategies have previously been proven. The researchers concluded that future studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Barrett B, Hayney MS, Muller D, et al. Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Family Medicine. 2012;10:337-346.
Source : NCCAM
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Randomised, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Echinacea Supplementation in Air Travellers
Objective. To identify whether a standardised Echinacea formulation is effective in the prevention of respiratory and other symptoms associated with long-haul flights. Methods. 175 adults participated in a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial travelling back from Australia to America, Europe, or Africa for a period of 1–5 weeks on commercial flights via economy class. Participants took Echinacea (root extract, standardised to 4.4 mg alkylamides) or placebo tablets. Participants were surveyed before, immediately after travel, and at 4 weeks after travel regarding upper respiratory symptoms and travel-related quality of life.
Results. Respiratory symptoms for both groups increased significantly during travel (𝑃<0.0005). However, the Echinacea group had borderline significantly lower respiratory symptom scores compared to placebo
(𝑃=0.05) during travel.
Conclusions. Supplementation with standardised Echinacea tablets, if taken before and during travel, may have preventive effects against the development of respiratory symptoms during travel involving long-haul flights.
Source : Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 417267, 9 pages doi:10.1155/2012/417267
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