The common cold is a great source of discomfort and inconvenience as well as a cause of lost productivity. Unfortunately, most treatments proposed for the common cold have proven to be a disappointment. Surprisingly, a recent medical study published in the Journal of Family Practice in March 2008, suggests that a certain herb for cold treatment may be effective in reducing the severity and duration of the common cold.
The herb tested is known as Pelargonium sidoides and is a species of South African geranium. A double-blind, prospective study was undertaken to test the effectiveness of this herb in reducing the severity and duration of cold symptoms in two hundred and seven patient. The test group was given a liquid herbal preparation derived from the roots of the Pelargonium sidoides herb. The researchers used a cold intensity scale to determine the severity of cold symptoms which were found to be reduced in the group taking the herbal preparation. In addition, the subjects in the group given the herb had a higher cure rate than the group receiving the placebo. The group taking the herb also experienced fewer lost days from work due to illness.
Although, preliminarily, this herb appears to be effective. What are the side effects? There were no serious side effects noted in the study. Worldwide there have been thirty four cases of allergic reactions to the herb over a four year period. This herb has been used since the 1980’s for treatment of upper respiratory infections in Germany. Some side effects noted during this time period include skin rash and minor gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea.
As far as the issue of the effectiveness of herbs for a cold, this herb seems to be far more effective in relieving the symptoms and duration of the common cold than previous proposed remedies such as zinc and echinacea. Unfortunately, the herb isn’t widely available yet in the United States. There is one manufacturer in the U.S., Nature’s Way, who markets herb under the name of Umcka Coldcare. It can be purchased through some health food stores and online.
This is one of the first herbs for a cold that really seems to have some potential for shortening the duration and severity of symptoms. If you want to try this herb for cold treatment, be sure to start taking it as soon as you experience your first symptoms. In the studies, treatment was started within two days of symptoms and the herb could be less effective after this time. If you should develop any side effects including skin rash, difficulties breathing, or severe gastrointestinal symptoms, discontinue it and call your doctor.