Recurrent acute otitis media (AOM) in young children is rapidly increasing worldwide. Repeated antibiotic use leads to antibiotic-resistant pathogen development. Complementary and alternative medicine approaches have been suggested as a supplemental treatment option to conventional antimicrobial medicine. This randomized, parallel-group, open-label, non-herbal medicine controlled trial assessed the efficacy of a traditional Japanese herbal medicine, juzen-taiho-to (JTT) for AOM prevention in otitis-prone children.
Children prone to recurrent AOM aged 6-48 months were recruited from 26 otolaryngology clinics in Japan and received conventional AOM treatment based on Japanese guidelines with or without 2 daily oral doses of JTT (0.10-0.25g/kg/day). The mean number of AOM episodes, coryza episodes, and duration of total antibiotic administration per month were compared during 3-month intervention.
At least one episode of AOM was diagnosed in 71% of JTT-group and 92% of control participants during follow-up. JTT administration reduced the frequency of AOM episodes by 57% compared with children who received conventional treatment alone (0.61±0.54 vs. 1.07±0.72 AOM instances/month; P=0.005) and also significantly decreased number of coryza episodes (P=0.015) and total antibiotic administration (P=0.024).
This is the first report of recurrent AOM prevention by herbal medication. JTT appears to effectively prevent recurrent AOM in children. Subsequent double-blind studies are needed to confirm the beneficial effects of JTT on recurrent AOM and upper respiratory tract infections.