Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of echinacea supplementation in air travellers

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:417267. doi: 10.1155/2012/417267. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


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.