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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 690346, 7 pages
Research Article

Treatment of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Primary Care: A Randomized Study Using Aromatic Herbs

1Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
2Clalit Health Services, Haifa and Western Galilee District, 6 Hashahaf Street, Haifa 35013, Israel
3Department of Aromatic, Medicinal and Spice Crops, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization, P.O. Box 1021, Ramat Yishay 30095, Israel
4The Department of Family Medicine, Ha'Emek Medical Center and the Northern District, Clalit Health Services, Afula 18101, Israel
5Department of Internal Medicine, Bnai-Zion Medical Center, Haifa, 33394, Israel
6The Department for Alternative/Integrative Medicine, Law and Ethics, The International Center for Health, Law and Ethics, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel
7ENT Department, Ha'Emek Medical Center, Afula 18101, Israel
8The Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 31096, Israel

Received 26 February 2010; Accepted 10 October 2010

Copyright © 2011 Eran Ben-Arye et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 = . 0 1 9 ). There was no difference in symptom severity between the two groups after 3 days of treatment ( 𝑃 = . 0 4 2 ). 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.