2004-01-23 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Safe Herbs For The Winter
By Dr. Nancy Gahles
Health & Harmony

Health & Harmony

DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Safe Herbs For The Winter

When choosing an herbal supplement, the array of choices can be mind boggling. It is wise to know which products have undergone appropriate clinical testing to determine safety and utility. A book called "Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commissions and Monologues," by Blumenthal and colleagues is the most respected volume on the subject of phytomedicines that have been clinically studied in Germany and the trade names under which these products are marketed in the U.S.

The following is a listing of popular herbs for use during winter months:

Echinacea: Echinacea purpurea (E.purpurea[L.] Moench), stabilized expressed juice of fresh flowers, leaves and stems. Clinically Tested Product: Echinacin (Echinagard) Madaus. Comparable U.S. Product: EchinaGuard – Nature’s Way. Primary Use: Treatment of colds and flu.

A Swedish randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study on 120 patients published in 1997 concluded that Echinacin (called Echinagard in Sweden), taken at the first sign of a cold, reduced and shortened the duration by an average of about four days. Echinacin therefore appears effective in treating but not preventing the common cold.

Echinacea (Combination): Echinacea combination product (E. Angustifolia DC, E. pallida [Nutt.]) 1:1 root extract; baptisia (B.tinctoria {L.} Vent.) root extract; and Thuja (T. occidentalis L.) leaf extract. Clinically Tested Product: Esberitox N – Schaper&Brummer. Comparable U.S. Product: Esberitox – Enzymatic Therapy/PhyoPharmica. Primary Use: Treatment of colds and flu.

Two clinical trials have evaluated the utility of Esberitox N in treating acute viral respiratory tract infections. In the most recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center investigation involving 263 patients, those receiving the product noted significant therapeutic benefits by day 4, which continued until the end of the treatment period. Equal levels of improvement were noted three days earlier in the test group than in those receiving the placebo. No serious adverse events were reported.

Elderberry Combination Herbs: European elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) juice and raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) extract in a syrup base; concentrations not specified. Clinically Tested Product:Sambucol – Razei Bar. Comparable U.S. Product: Sambucol – J.B. Harris, Nature’s Way. Primary Use: Treatment of Influenza.

One preliminary double-blind study was conducted on 40 patients living in a community during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993. Improvement in symptoms, including fever, in 93.3% of the treated group was observed in two days; 91.7% of the control group showed a similar improvement within six days. Additional studies are required before the effectiveness of this product can be determined.

For further information on my clinical experience with these herbs, please e-mail me at askDrNancy@ aol.com or telephone my office 718-634-4577.

May the Blessings Be!

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