Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Beat

Herbal Combination Improves Children?s Cold Recovery
An herbal combination containing a standardized extract of Andrographis paniculata was more effective than traditional 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.

The Chinese herb has been used historically to treat fever, sore throat, and respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Andrographis extracts have proven antibacterial, antiviral and immune-stimulating properties. A recent review of controlled trials using extracts of andrographis alone and combined with Siberian Ginseng in a Chinese herbal formula known as Kan Jang concluded that it can effectively reduce a cold?s duration and severity.

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 10 days. They were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: one group received traditional 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 traditional treatment plus 80 ml of fresh juice of Echinacea purpurea preserved with 20 ml of alcohol; and a third group received traditional treatment plus Kan Jang, providing 30 mg per day of the components of andrographis believed to be active. Each child rated his or her own symptoms 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 traditional 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.


Pair Yogurt With Antibiotics
People who eat yogurt while being treated with antibiotics are less likely to develop diarrhea as a side effect of the medication, reports a new study in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea may occur in up to 39 percent of people treated with antibiotics. Supplementing with probiotic agents such as Lactobacillus acidophilus (a beneficial bacterium found in the colon) while taking antibiotics has been found to effectively prevent AAD. Because yogurt often contains a mixture of several strains of beneficial bacteria, it has been used to prevent AAD. However, until the present study, the effectiveness of yogurt had not been substantiated.

The current study investigated the use of yogurt for the prevention of AAD in 202 hospitalized patients receiving oral or intravenous antibiotics. Participants, whose average age was 70, were randomly assigned to receive or not receive eight ounces of a commercial yogurt containing one million cultures per gram of L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus two times daily for eight days. Treatment was initiated within 12 hours of starting antibiotics.

The incidences of diarrhea, bloating and frequent bowel movements were assessed in both groups. The yogurt-treated group had much lower rates of diarrhea compared with the control group, and of those people who developed diarrhea, the group receiving yogurt had significantly shorter bouts. There were no differences between groups in the incidence of bloating or of frequent bowel movements.

Antibiotics may disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the intestines. When the beneficial bacteria decrease, other harmful bacteria may multiply and cause symptoms, including diarrhea. The exact mechanism of protection is not known, but may be related to the replenishment of normal flora in the intestines or to changes in the immune system. Lactobacillus strains increase antibodies that line the intestines and also decrease inflammation.


Maureen Williams, N.D., has a private practice in Quechee, Vt. Kimberly Beauchamp, N.D., is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths Inc. in Wakefield, R.I. Copyright ? 2004 Healthnotes Inc.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 5/p. 44

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