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Nutrient - Pelargonium - Herbal Focus

(Pelargonium sidoides)

By Suzie Sawyer Dip ION MBANT NTCC

Now that we are firmly gripped by winter’s full blast, it would seem a good time to look more closely at what we can do to help ourselves, should we be unable to avoid the common cold. Did you know that, on average, adults have between two to four colds a year, while children may have as many as eight to ten annually?

Colds are highly infectious and symptoms can last from two days up to as long as 14 days. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, therefore, to find a traditional herbal remedy that could relieve the unpleasant symptoms of the common cold and make it easier to manage?  The pelargonium herb may have the answers.

Pelargonium (Pelargonium sidoides) is the most researched cough and cold medicine worldwide, using a number of randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. For the past 100 years or so, it has been known to the British Medical Association as having an influence on lung health and as a treatment for various respiratory problems. 

We can proudly boast that an Englishman, Charles Stevens, first brought pelargonium to Europe. He contracted tuberculosis in 1897 and was advised to visit South Africa to find a cure. It then became known as “Stevens’ Consumption Cure”. Pelargonium, also known as umckaloabo, has been used for thousands of years by the Zulu, Basuto, Xhosa and Mfenfi people in South Africa and its natural ‘antibiotic’ properties are well accepted. Apparently, umckaloabo means ‘heavy cough’ in the Zulu language. Pelargonium is now commonly prescribed in Europe for upper respiratory tract infections. In 1920, a former missionary doctor, Dr Adrien Sechehaye, learned of Stevens’ cure, and during the next nine years, treated some 800 patients. He even wrote a book, The Treatment of Tuberculosis with Umckaloabo, containing his case studies.

Modern biochemical techniques have confirmed Stevens’ belief that pelargonium supports faster recovery with its immunomodulatory and antibacterial effects. It has been shown to activate the immune system to prevent both bacteria and viruses multiplying. It also prevents viruses from attaching to the mucous membrane cells. Tests also show an expectorant effect, helping the lungs expel mucus. Indeed, its effects do not simply mask outward symptoms, but shorten their duration. 

It follows, therefore, that if pelargonium supports the immune system, re-infection is less likely. How many times have we experienced a cold, entered a short recovery phase and then been struck down again?  

The most effective way of using pelargonium is to take it immediately you experience symptoms. It seems to also work preventatively where someone has come into contact with an infected person and wishes to avoid the cold.


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