Geranium, healing for the respiratory tract

In Africa, the rhizomes of a geranium-like plant, Pelargonium sidoides, have been used for centuries to treat gastrointestinal complaints and respiratory infections, for example. This geranium with purple colored flowers is a medicinal plant that only grows in certain regions of South Africa. The geranium, also called Cape Pelargonium, found its way to Europe about a hundred years ago. Scientific support for the use of pelargonium extracts in respiratory infections is provided, for example, by a Cochrane review from 2008. This review concludes that Pelargonium sidoides can indeed reduce the symptoms of acute bronchitis, rhinosinusitis and the common cold.

Pelargonium research: anti-bacterial, anti-viral, epithelium protective

The Pelargonium sidoides extract has been extensively researched. Overall, it can have a triple effect: an antiviral effect, an antibacterial effect and an epithelium-protective effect. Research has shown, among other things, that under the influence of this geranium extract, macrophages are activated, NO and interleukin production is induced and phagocytosis is stimulated. Reduced adhesion of bacteria to intact epithelial cells is also observed under the influence of the extract. In addition, it has an effect on the beating frequency of the cilia on the epithelium. An increased frequency accelerates the drainage of mucus, making it less likely for microorganisms to adhere. This combination of properties means that this extract both reduces the severity of the symptoms and can shorten the duration of the respiratory infection.

Safe use Pelargonium

The effectiveness and safety of respiratory tract infections has been studied in more than 10,000 people, including more than 3,900 children (1 year). The study shows that Geranium sidoides is well tolerated and significantly more effective than placebo in reducing cold symptoms, such as a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache and muscle pain. The average duration of illness is also significantly shorter in the group that used Geranium, meaning that these people were able to resume their daily activities sooner.

Respiratory tract disorders

Upper respiratory tract disorders are common. Adults suffer from a cold 2 – 3 times a year on average, while this can be up to ten times a year in small children. In 2007, general practitioners diagnosed a cold 1,171,600 times, of which 65.3 cases per 1,000 men and 77.6 per 1,000 women. The vast majority of patients who present to their GP are children aged 0 to 4 years, a group of almost 400,000 patients. The extract can be an interesting treatment option, especially for the treatment of this last vulnerable group. Both the safety and the effect on respiratory infections have also been extensively researched and demonstrated in this age group.
The use of Pelargonium sidoides root extract for respiratory infections has a long tradition. The use has now been scientifically substantiated. It not only relieves the symptoms of the respiratory infection, but also tackles the cause. The effectiveness and safety have been demonstrated in a large population. A bright future for a traditional remedy in today’s general practice?

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