Japanese Herbal Medicine Fights off Flu

herbal medicine and the fluResearchers from Japan’s Fukuoka University have found that a Japanese herbal blend called Maoto reduces the duration of influenza.

The researchers randomly gave 28 adults with influenza either the Maoto herbal medicine, or one of two neuraminidase inhibitor pharmaceutical drugs found to reduce influenza duration.

The Japanese herbal combination – taken in granule form – reduced the average flu duration from its typical four to five day duration down to an average of 29 hours. Because the subjects had contracted influenza symptoms within 48 hours of the study, the maximum mean duration totaled about three days, with the average at about two days.

The two neuraminidase inhibitor drugs, known also for reducing influenza duration – but can accompany side effects including vomiting and nausea – had average durations of 43 and 27 hours respectively.

The Maoto herbal treatment caused no side effects and was characterized as “well tolerated.”

The Japanese herbal complex called Maoto is composed of the herbs Cinnamon Bark, Apricot Kernel, Glycyrrhiza Root (Licorice) and the Ephedra plant. These four herbs have been used independently and in various combinations in Japanese traditional medicine (also called Kampo), Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurveda from ancient India for many centuries. Recent scientific studies have shown that these herbs each provide anti-inflammatory effects. In combination, herbal medicines tend to work synergistically.

The researchers also tested inflammatory mediators called cytokines, which will increase during fevers. The Japanese researchers found that the cytokine levels were similar between the three treatments. The Kampo herbal complex reduced inflammatory mediators similarly to the pharmaceuticals.

Symptom scores between the three groups were also similar.


Nabeshima S, Kashiwagi K, Ajisaka K, Masui S, Takeoka H, Ikematsu H, Kashiwagi S. A randomized, controlled trial comparing traditional herbal medicine and neuraminidase inhibitors in the treatment of seasonal influenza. J Infect Chemother. 2012 Feb 16.

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