Alternate Title

  • South African geranium

Related Terms

  • African geranium, catechin, coumarin, coumarin sulphates, ellagitannins, EPs 7630, gallic acid, gallocatechin, Geranien (German), geranium, geranium root, Kalwerbossie (German), Kapland-Pelargonie (German), Kap-Pelargonie (German), O-galloyl-C-glucosylflavones, Pelargonien (German), Pelargonium, Pelargonium reniforme, Pelargonium reniforme Curtis, pelargonium root, Pelargonium sidoides, Pelargonium sidoides DC, Pelargonium sidoides extract, polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, rabassam, Rabassamin (German), scopoletin, South African geramium, tannins, umckalin.
  • Note: An ethanolic extract of the roots of Pelargonium sidoides and Pelargonium reniforme has been marketed in Germany under the name “Umckaloabo” since 1983.

Background

  • Pelargonium sidoides, also known as umckaloabo, is a member of the Geranium family and is native to South Africa. The name umckaloabo is derived from two independent Zulu words: “umkhuhlane,” meaning fever and cough related diseases, and “uhlabo,” meaning chest pain.
  • For centuries the roots of Pelargonium sidoides DC have been used in traditional South African medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), and liver disorders. Extracts of the root have been available in German pharmacies since 1983 without prescription and have been widely used to treat infections of the sinus, throat, and respiratory tract. In modern times, an aqueous formulation of the roots of Pelargonium sidoides called EPs 7630 has been studied in humans as a potential treatment for bronchitis (acute), acute pharyngitis (acute non-group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus tonsillopharyngitis), and the common cold.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    Bronchitis

    Based on human studies, umckaloabo has been recommended for the treatment of acute bronchitis.

    Acute pharyngitis (inflammation of the back of the throat)

    Based on human studies, umckaloabo has been recommended for the treatment of acute pharyngitis (acute non-group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus tonsillopharyngitis). However, more well-designed trials are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

    Common cold

    Based on human studies, umckaoabo has been recommended for the treatment of the common cold. However, more well-designed trials are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • For various respiratory tract conditions, 30 drops of a specific extract (EPs 7630, Schwabe GmBh, Germany) has been taken three times daily for 10 days.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • For acute pharyngitis, 20 drops of EPs 7630 solution (Umckaloabo, EPs 7630, Schwabe GmBh, Germany) has been taken three times daily (about 3 milliliters total) for seven days in children 6-10 years old.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to umckaloabo, its constituents, or members of the Geraniaceae family.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Overall, umckaloabo appears to be well-tolerated when used short-term. Few adverse effects, including skin rash with itching (sometimes with swelling beneath the skin or tightening of the airway, shortness of breath, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, and circulatory failure), conjunctivitis, and gastrointestinal irritation, have been reported.
    • Avoid in patients with a known allergy/hypersensitivity to umckaloabo, its constituents, or members of the plant family Geraniaceae. Umckaloabo has been shown to occasionally cause skin rash in humans.
    • Caution is advised in patients with liver disease or in those taking drugs that may be toxic to the liver.
    • Umckaloabo may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or in those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
    • Caution is advised in patients with heart conditions.
    • Caution is advised in patients with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Umckaloabo is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Umckaloabo may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
    • Umckaloabo may have additive effects with antibiotics or laxatives.
    • Umckaloabo may interfere with drugs used to suppress the immune system or decrease heart rate.
    • Umckaloabo contains coumarin, which may be toxic to the liver in large doses.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Umckaloabo may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
    • Umckaloabo may have additive effects with antibacterials or laxatives.
    • Umckaloabo may interfere with herbs and supplements used to suppress the immune system or decrease heart rate.
    • Umckaloabo contains coumarin, which may be toxic to the liver in large doses

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Bereznoy, VV, Riley, DS, Wassmer, G, et al. Efficacy of extract of Pelargonium sidoides in children with acute non-group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus tonsillopharyngitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9(5):68-79.
    View Abstract
  • Chuchalin, AG, Berman, B, and Lehmacher, W. Treatment of acute bronchitis in adults with a pelargonium sidoides preparation (EPs 7630): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Explore (NY) 2005;1(6):437-445.
    View Abstract
  • de Boer, HJ, Hagemann, U, Bate, J, et al. Allergic reactions to medicines derived from Pelargonium species. Drug Saf 2007;30(8):677-680.
    View Abstract
  • Lizogub, VG, Riley, DS, and Heger, M. Efficacy of a pelargonium sidoides preparation in patients with the common cold: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Explore (NY) 2007;3(6):573-584.
    View Abstract
  • Matthys, H and Heger, M. Treatment of acute bronchitis with a liquid herbal drug preparation from Pelargonium sidoides (EPs 7630): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Curr Med Res Opin 2007;23(2):323-331.
    View Abstract
  • Matthys, H, Eisebitt, R, Seith, B, et al. Efficacy and safety of an extract of Pelargonium sidoides (EPs 7630) in adults with acute bronchitis. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2003;10 Suppl 4:7-17.
    View Abstract
  • Schulz, V. Liquid herbal drug preparation from the root of Pelargonium sidoides is effective against acute bronchitis: results of a double-blind study with 124 patients. Phytomedicine 2007;14 Suppl 6:74-75.
    View Abstract