Echinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial

Eur J Med Res. 2009 Sep 1;14(9):406-12. doi: 10.1186/2047-783x-14-9-406.


Background: The aim of this trial was to assess the relative efficacy of a sage/echinacea spray and a chlorhexidine/lidocaine spray in the treatment of acute sore throats.

Methods: This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy controlled trial carried out in eleven general practices in Switzerland. A total of 154 patients (133 analyzed in per protocol collective) at least 12 years old with acute sore throat present for not more than 72 hours prior to inclusion and with a throat score >/=6 participated in the study. They used either an echinacea/sage spray or a chlorhexidine/ lidocaine spray with two puffs every 2 hours, in a double-dummy blinded manner, up to 10 times daily until they were symptom-free, for a maximum of 5 days. The main outcome measures was the comparison of response rates during the first three days. A response was defined as a decrease of at least 50% of the total symptoms compared to baseline.

Results: The echinacea/sage treatment exhibited similar efficacy to the chlorhexidine/lidocaine treatment in reducing sore throat symptoms during the first 3 days (P(x<Y) = .5083). Response rates after 3 days were 63.8% in the echinacea/sage group and 57.8% in the chlorhexidine/lidocaine group. For all secondary parameters, such as time to becoming symptom free, throat pain, and global assessments of efficacy by the physician and patient, no difference between the two treatments was seen. They were both very well tolerated.

Conclusion: An echinacea/sage preparation is as efficacious and well tolerated as a chlorhexidine/lidocaine spray in the treatment of acute sore throats.

Trial registration: NCT00707902.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Arthralgia / chemically induced
  • Chlorhexidine / administration & dosage
  • Chlorhexidine / adverse effects
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Echinacea / chemistry*
  • Exanthema / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Lidocaine / adverse effects
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy*
  • Pharyngitis / pathology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Salvia officinalis / chemistry*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Plant Extracts
  • Lidocaine
  • Chlorhexidine

Associated data