UK-based organic wellbeing company, Pukka Herbs, says it is working with the University of Southampton on a clinical trial to test whether the South Asian herbal remedy andrographis could be used as an alternative to antibiotics.

The company says it is the first study specifically looking at this particular herbal intervention in the western world.

During the trial around 20 GP surgeries across the south of England, will participate in arandomised placebo-controlled feasibility study looking at Pukka’s Andrographis supplements for adults with an acute cough, sore throat and sinusitis.

The study, for which results are expected in the summer, aims to find out if GPs and patients are receptive to using a herbal medicine for these infections and whether enough patients can be recruited for this kind of trial.

These findings will then support the design of a larger trial providing Andrographis capsules to adults who visit their GP with acure respiratory tract infection (ARTI) symptoms believed to be caused by an infection (bacterial or viral). The overall aim of the research being to understand if the use of this herbal medicine may lessen the prescription of antibiotics in UK GP surgeries.

A systematic review published by the University of Southampton and Beijing University of Chinese Medicineidentified 33 relevant clinical studies on andrographis and surmised that the herb is beneficial and safe for relieving acute respiratory tract infections and shortening the duration of cold and flu symptoms.

The announcement of this feasibility study comes come shortly after the government published a 20-year vision and five-year action plan to combat the rise and spread of antimicrobial resistance (new strains of microbes, primarily bacteria, that resist treatment with existing medicines).

The government aims to look at global ‘One-Health’ approaches to address human and animal welfare, but with consideration for the environment and food chains in finding sustainable solutions.

Euan MacLennan, herbal director at Pukka and Medical Herbalist at an NHS practice in London said: “There is an urgent need to discover effective and low-cost solutions to this problem andthe provision of an antibiotic alternative at this simple grass-roots level may have significant effects on the battle to tackle antibiotic resistance.”

The government’s global ‘One health’ plan is right to look at the health of us and our planet simultaneously, as the two are inextricably linked. We believe that organic and ethically farmed herbs and spices can play an important role in global sustainable healthcare and nutritional approaches. It’s one of the reasons our teas and supplements are created using sustainably sourced and organically farmed practitioner grade herbs and spices.”