As Perlargonium sidoides roots is the name given to the root extract of a South African Perlargonia species, which has always been used in African folk medicine to treat various symptoms. At the beginning of the 20th century, C. H. Stevens transferred the root extract to Europe and sold the substance as a remedy for tuberculosis diseases, as the extract allegedly freed him from the disease himself.
For medicine, perlagonia is particularly important in the form of the Pelargonium sidoides root extract, which is still used today for the treatment of acute bronchitis.
Pearlagon are snorkelling plants. The best-known species among these plants are the hybrid geraniums, which are known in Central Europe as popular balcony and bedding plants. Perlagonia species are annual plants, some of which also occur as shrubs or subshrubs. Their mostly hairy leaves are often divided or lobed.
The flowers are grouped in umbel-like inflorescences. The pollen shafts in Perlagonia are usually long and have bracts. Perlagonia belong to the Cape flora and thus grow mainly in Namibia and South Africa. Some species of pearlagony are also native to Asia, especially Turkey and Iran. Occasionally, pearl agony species also occur in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.
The Central European geraniums are actually not real pearlagony in the narrower sense, but hybrids from different wild species of pearlagony. There are around 300 different types of plants, which are mainly used as ornamental plants. The African perlargonia sidoides occupies a special position and is also used medicinally.
Pearl agonies contain essential oils. In addition to their use as ornamental plants, geraniums are therefore also predominantly used to extract oil, with these oils fulfilling a purpose in particular in the perfume industry. The pearl agony species Pelargonium sidoides has meanwhile also established itself in medicine. An extract is obtained from their roots, which is contained in the drug umckaloabo.
The umckaloabo was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century by Charles Henry Stevens, who was then being cured of tuberculosis by the hands of a South African healer. When Stevens returned to Europe, he was already selling the healing preparation of the pearlagonia root as a tuberculosis drug. In addition to essential oils, the roots of the South African pearl agony species sidoides also contain coumarins, umckalin and simple phenolic compounds as well as tannins of the proanthocyanidins type.
The tanning agents mentioned have anti-inflammatory and antiviral and antioxidant effects, among other things. Coumarins in turn regulate the enzyme activity in the organism. The simple phenols also have antihypertensive, thrombosis-reducing, digestive, immunomodulating and sometimes even cancer-inhibiting effects.
Most studies on the effectiveness of the roots have so far taken place in vitro, i.e. not on living people. Since the root extract also has an anticoagulant effect, the bleeding tendency in particular is a contraindication to ingestion.
The Cape Pelargonium Pelargonium sidoides has always played a role in African folk medicine in the treatment of various clinical pictures. Due to the drug Umckalabo, it became known as a medicinal plant in the beginning of the 20th century as far as Europe.
For medicine, the perlagonia is particularly important in the form of the Pelargonium sidoides root extract, which is still used today for the treatment of acute bronchitis and has an antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant effect.
The substance has an expectorant effect insofar as it increases the number of cilia in the bronchi and thus enables better removal. In addition, bacteria can no longer migrate into the cells of the respiratory tract through ingestion. The extract thus also fulfills cytoprotective, i.e. cell-protecting functions. With its immunomodulating effects, the root extract also activates the scavenger cells of the immune system, which are responsible for fighting bacteria.
The effectiveness of the substance in acute bronchitis has now been confirmed by several placebo-controlled double-blind studies in children and adults. The root extract should be able to reduce the duration and severity of acute bronchitis and be suitable for patients from the age of one year. For a long time, the extract was also used for colds and tonsillitis. The use for these indications had to be officially abandoned.
In Switzerland, for example, perlagonium sidoides roots are only and exclusively permitted for bronchitis. Nevertheless, some self-users still treat themselves with sore throats or cold-related complaints with Perlagonia root extracts. The actual effectiveness of this has not yet been confirmed without a doubt. The extract is normally taken thirty minutes before meals three times a day.
The conventional duration of this treatment is usually less than three weeks. The ingestion of perlagonium sidoides roots is sometimes associated with gastrointestinal complaints, gum problems or nosebleeds. Since liver problems have also been observed in rare cases, side effects that may be harmful to the liver were suspected, which have not yet been confirmed in studies.
In addition to the tendency to bleed, kidney damage and liver disease are nonetheless a contraindication to the drug. Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should also refrain from taking it, as there are no studies in this regard and the mode of action cannot be adequately assessed.