Common ColdEchinaceaInfectionNCCAMOsteopathic

Cranial manipulation and echinacea for middle ear infection

 Among the more common complementary therapies used in young children with recurrent otitis media are Echinacea purpurea and cranial osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

This study, by researchers at the University of Arizona, is the first well-designed study of each treatment.

First, the details.

  • 90 children, aged 12-60 months with recurrent otitis media, participated.
    • “Recurrent” meant at least 3 episodes within 6 months, or at least 4 episodes in a year.
  • Children were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments.
    • Echinacea + sham OMT
    • OMT (including cranial manipulation) + placebo echinacea
    • Echinacea + OMT
    • Placebo echinacea + placebo OMT
  • Echinacea treatment was an alcohol extract of E. purpurea roots and seeds taken for 10 days at the first sign of a common cold.
  • 5 OMT visits (or sham treatments) were offered over 3 months.
  • The children and the researchers were not aware of the treatment given – double-blind.

And, the results.

  • None of the treatments had an effect on otitis media.

The bottom line?

  • None of the treatments had an effect on otitis media.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

10/5/08 19:55 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.