Randomised clinical trial: a herbal preparation of myrrh, chamomile and coffee charcoal compared with mesalazine in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis—a double-blind, double-dummy study

J Langhorst, I Varnhagen, S B Schneider, U Albrecht, A Rueffer, R Stange, A Michalsen, G J Dobos
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2013, 38 (5): 490-500

BACKGROUND: The herbal treatment with myrrh, dry extract of chamomile flowers and coffee charcoal has anti-inflammatory and antidiarrhoeal potential and might benefit patients with UC. Aminosalicylates are used as standard treatment for maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis (UC).

AIM: To compare the efficacy of the two treatments in maintaining remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.

METHODS: We performed a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy study over a 12-month period in patients with UC. Primary endpoint was non-inferiority of the herbal preparation as defined by mean Clinical Colitis Activity Index (CAI-Rachmilewitz). Secondary endpoints were relapse rates, safety profile, relapse-free times, endoscopic activity and faecal biomarkers.

RESULTS: A total of 96 patients (51 female) with inactive UC were included. Mean CAI demonstrated no significant difference between the two treatment groups in the intention-to-treat (P = 0.121) or per-protocol (P = 0.251) analysis. Relapse rates in total were 22/49 patients (45%) in the mesalazine treatment group and 25/47 patients (53%) in the herbal treatment group (P = 0.540). Safety profile and tolerability were good and no significant differences were shown in relapse-free time, endoscopy and faecal biomarkers.

CONCLUSIONS: The herbal preparation of myrrh, chamomile extract and coffee charcoal is well tolerated and shows a good safety profile. We found first evidence for a potential efficacy non-inferior to the gold standard therapy mesalazine, which merits further study of its clinical usefulness in maintenance therapy of patients with ulcerative colitis. EudraCT-Number 2007-007928-18.

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