pelargonium sidoides safe and effective for children with bronchitis and acute respiratory tract infections

Still little known in North America, this South African herb is safe and effective for treating acute respiratory tract infections in kids.

Still underused in North America, this herb is catching on in Europe and has long been used by the Zulus to treat coughs, upper respiratory tract infections and tuberculosis. Pelargonium sidoides, or African geranium, has shown immunostimulant activity in many laboratory studies. It has shown in vitro activity against influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (a lung and respiratory tract infection that is very common in kids) and coronavirus. There have been more than 30 clinical studies of pelargonium for acute respiratory infections. It is safe and effective.

Pelargonium is one of the best herbs for bronchitis (Phytomedicine 2003;10(suppl 4):7-17; Explore! 2005;1(6):437-445; Curr Med Res Opin 2007 Feb;23(2):323-31 Respir Med 2013;10:691–701). A Cochrane systematic review found the liquid preparation to be effective for bronchitis in both children and adults (Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013 Oct 22(10):CD006323).

As the previous studies have suggested, pelargonium is effective for children. Since more than half of children with acute respiratory tract infections are still prescribed antibiotics even though bacteria is involved in only about 25% of cases, researchers wanted to take a closer look at a herbal alternative specifically for children. So, they did a review of research specifically on children under 6.

They included 7 studies of 1,097 children. Two controlled studies of children with acute bronchitis gave pelargonium root drops to 124 kids for 7 days. In both studies, the herb was significantly more effective than the placebo. Two more uncontrolled studies also found improvement with pelargonium.

Other uncontrolled studies suggested that pelargonium may also be beneficial for tonsillopharyngitis, rhinosinusitis and acute and chronic respiratory infections.

Taking pelargonium was very safe for children, leading the researchers to conclude that the herb is safe and effective for children younger than 6 with acute bronchitis. It may also help other respiratory tract infections in kids, but  more studies are needed.

Cur Med Res Opinion March 2018;34(3):475-485

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For much more on treating bronchitis, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For comprehensive help with bronchitis and respiratory health, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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