Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:2011:690346. doi: 10.1155/2011/690346. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


This study is a prospective randomized double-blind controlled trial whose aim was to investigate the clinical effects of aromatic essential oils in patients with upper respiratory tract infections. The trial was conducted in six primary care clinics in northern Israel. A spray containing aromatic essential oils of five plants (Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus globulus, Mentha piperita, Origanum syriacum, and Rosmarinus officinalis) as applied 5 times a day for 3 days and compared with a placebo spray. The main outcome measure was patient assessment of the change in severity of the most debilitating symptom (sore throat, hoarseness or cough). Sixty patients participated in the study (26 in the study group and 34 in the control group). Intention-to-treat analysis showed that 20 minutes following the spray use, participants in the study group reported a greater improvement in symptom severity compared to participants in the placebo group (P = .019). There was no difference in symptom severity between the two groups after 3 days of treatment (P = .042). In conclusion, spray application of five aromatic plants reported in this study brings about significant and immediate improvement in symptoms of upper respiratory ailment. This effect is not significant after 3 days of treatment.