Ancient African Herb Bests Antibiotics (Amoxicillin) for Sinus Infections in Clinical Trial

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For centuries, traditional healers in South Africa have relied on the Pelargonium sidoides plant to treat respiratory infections. Now modern research proves this ancient remedy works better than antibiotics for acute sinusitis

Sinus infections are one of the most common reasons people seek medical care, with over 30 million cases diagnosed annually in the United States. Antibiotics have long been the standard treatment, but growing concerns over antibiotic resistance have led to interest in alternative therapies. A new study (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0003489420918266) published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology suggests that a natural herbal remedy may be just as effective as amoxicillin for some sinus infections, without contributing to antibiotic resistance.

The Trouble with Antibiotics

Antibiotic overuse is a major public health issue. Not only can antibiotics cause side effects, but their widespread use leads to increasing numbers of drug-resistant bacteria. Doctors have been trying to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, but effective alternative treatments have been lacking. This new research provides evidence that a compound from the Pelargonium sidoides plant, known as EPs 7630, works as well as amoxicillin for uncomplicated acute bacterial rhinosinusitis.

A Natural Cure for Sinusitis

Sinusitis occurs when the nasal and sinus passages become inflamed, usually due to infection. Symptoms like congestion, facial pressure and pain, and mucus discharge make sinus infections extremely uncomfortable. The researchers conducted a clinical trial comparing EPs 7630 to amoxicillin for treating acute bacterial sinusitis. They enrolled 50 patients with symptoms of uncomplicated sinus infection. Half the patients took EPs 7630 tablets three times daily, while the other half received high-dose amoxicillin on the same schedule.

After 10 days of treatment, the EPs 7630 group showed greater improvement in symptoms like facial pain and pressure and loss of smell, as well as in physical exam findings like mucus discharge and nasal inflammation. The EPs 7630 remedy was also better at clearing bacteria from patients' sinuses--samples collected after treatment showed fewer types of bacteria remaining compared to the antibiotic group. The researchers concluded that EPs 7630 has potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective alternative to antibiotics for mild sinus infections.

The Power of Plants  

EPs 7630 is a concentrated extract made from the roots of Pelargonium sidoides, a species of geranium native to South Africa. Traditional healers have used Pelargonium preparations to treat respiratory and gastrointestinal infections for hundreds of years. Modern research discovered that compounds in the roots called coumarins and phenolics give the plant antibacterial, antiviral and immunomodulating capabilities--in other words, it can directly fight infection while also stimulating the body's immune defenses against pathogens.

This new study provides high-quality evidence that EPs 7630 lives up to its traditional use and offers a safer, more ecologically-sound alternative to antibiotics for sinusitis. With antibiotic resistance on the rise, the search for effective natural remedies has taken on new urgency. These research results highlight how studying medical traditions can yield innovative solutions to modern health problems. Pelargonium sidoides and other herbal medicines offer under-recognized therapeutic potential that Western healthcare has only begun to explore. As we learn more about traditional cures, we move closer to the goal of personalized, integrative medicine tailored to each patient's needs.

To learn more about natural ways to approach sinusitis, visit our database on the topic here.


References

1. Aleksandar Perić, Dejan Gaćeša, Aleksandra Barać, Jelena Sotirović, and Aneta V Perić, "Herbal Drug EPs 7630 versus Amoxicillin in Patients with Uncomplicated Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis: A Randomized, Open-Label Study," Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 129, no. 10 (October 2020): 969–76, https://doi.org/10.1177/0003489420918266.

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