With “old man winter” still bearing down hard on most of the country, many people continue to be down and out with a cold and or the flu, as the viral load in our communities remains high. The winter months are classically that time of year when many of us are hit with a cold or flu, and as a society we continue to search for ways to keep our immune systems strong and help us to move through cold and flu season with minimal issues. While it is very important to remember getting proper rest, decreasing our sugar intake, and upping our levels of vitamin C and vitamin D, there is also much that can be offered to support our immune systems from the herbal world. Commonly, we think about herbs like Echinacea and Goldenseal as go to remedies for cold and flu support. I would like to draw your attention to three other herbs that deserve consideration and that you may not have heard of. They are Pelargonium sedoides (South Africa), Tinospora cordifolia (India) and Andrographis panniculata (Asia/India).
Pelargonium – A member of the geranium family of plants, this South African herbal has been used traditionally to treat issues of respiratory illness, both of viral and bacterial origin. Its roots contain active chemical compounds known as phenols and coumarins which have shown immune boosting and antimicrobial (bug killing) effects. One of Pelargonium’s key features is its ability to help prevent the adherence of bacteria to the respiratory mucosa, thus minimizing colonization and infection. In short, it keeps your respiratory tissues slippery so the bugs slide right off – a cool feature!
Tinospora – This tropical Indian vine contains several chemical compounds that exert a beneficial effect on our respiratory system. This is the herbal you want to think of for the pesky upper respiratory and nasal issues that are classic with the common cold – runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy nose and sneezing. In one study of nasal symptom sufferers over an 8 week period, 100% relief of sneezing in 83% of patients was reported compared to placebo. In addition there was a, 71% relief of itchy nose, 69% decrease in runny nose and 61% relief from stuffy nose. The study also showed a 69% increase in immune cell activity compared with 11% in placebo, and a nasal smear showed a decreased inflammatory load and absence of mucus secreting cells.
Andrographis – Having already written a previous article on on this herb, I have been a fan of this Ayurvedic herb for some time. With respect to immune boosting and respiratory infections, Andrographis has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms, provide an antimicrobial effect on common bacteria like strep, minimize antibiotic dependency and provide noticeable improvements in as little as 3 days. In one study of 158 patients with the common cold, Andrographis showed a reduction in fatigue, sore throat, runny nose and sleeplessness after 2 days of use. Reduction of headache, earache, cough and phlegm production was noted at the 4 day mark. In a pediatric study using Andrographis as a preventative for 3 months, results showed only a 30% occurrence rate of cold in the 3rd month compared with a 62% occurrence rate in the placebo group. In short, it holds some promise as a preventative as well for use during active cold and flu symptoms.
AOR has just recently released all of these 3 herbals in a combination formula – Advanced Cold Complex. It has been formulated to boost the immune system and tackle the issues of respiratory infection with respect to frequency, duration, severity and complications.
If you are looking for a new formula to help you this cold/flu season, and have tried other herbal formulas or remedies with little success, this one is worth considering in my opinion. At the end of the day, the stronger our immune system is, and the quicker we sail through a cold or flu without complications, the better. We also decrease the potential to infect those around us (family and co-workers) which is a huge win for all.
Bachert C, Schapowal A, Funk P, Kieser M. Treatment of acute rhinosinusitis with the preparation from Pelargonium sidoides EPs 7630: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rhinology. 2009 Mar;47(1):51-8.
Badar VA, Thawani VR, Wakode PT, Shrivastava MP, Gharpure KJ, Hingorani LL, Khiyani RM. Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 15;96(3):445-9.
Coon JT, Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med. 2004 Apr;70(4):293-8.