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04/29/2009

Take-off time for travellers to test popular herbal remedy

Long-haul travellers are invited to help determine whether the herbal medicine Echinacea can prevent respiratory and other symptoms associated with international air travel.

Echinacea is currently the most widely used herb for the prevention of the common cold and to reduce the duration and severity of its symptoms.

Dr Evelin Tiralongo, a senior lecturer in Griffith’s School of Pharmacy, said there was considerable scientific evidence for its use as an early treatment of the symptoms of the common cold. However further research was necessary for the product to extend its claims.

Dr Tiralongo, who has a particular clinical and research interest in complementary and alternative medicines, said international travel was known to put extra stress on people’s physical and psychological health.

“Nasal dryness following long-haul flights has been investigated as a risk factor for developing upper respiratory infections and other disorders such as allergic rhinitis. There is also the risk of cross-infection from other passengers,” she said.

Times changes leading to jet lag and rapid adjustment to different climates following intercontinental flights can also affect the body’s immune system. 

Dr Tiralongo is encouraging healthy adults between 18 and 60 years of age who are planning to travel on long-haul, economy class flights to Europe or North America to consider participation in the study.

“Given that more than half of the population already uses herbal medicines, vitamins and minerals, we need more evidence for complementary and alternative medicines,” she said.

“Participants will complete a diary while they are travelling and a questionnaire on their return to evaluate upper respiratory symptoms, duration of jet lag, quality of life, occurrence of viral infections, headache and sleep patterns.”

The project is sponsored by Queensland-based herbal products company MediHerb.

For further information or to register your interest, please contact project coordinator Shirley Wee 07 5552 9773, [email protected]

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