Pelargonium sidoides | South African Geranium | Family: Geraniaceae

Traditional Uses:

  • Indigenous people of South Africa traditionally used Pelargonium sidoides roots for various ailments, including diarrhea, colic, gastritis, tuberculosis, cough, hepatic disorders, menstrual complaints, and gonorrhea.
  • The roots are used in a remedy for stomach ailments in infants.
  • Powdered plant materials soaked in water are used as a facial cream for treating skin pimples.

Traditional Ethno-Veterinary Applications:

  • Used as an anthelmintic remedy in calves.
  • Boiled leaves protect wounds against maggots.
  • Used to prevent purging in horses.
  • Extract from soaked roots is administered orally in the treatment of dysentery in cattle.

Introduction to Europe:

  • Introduced to Europe by Charles Henry Stevens in 1897, who experienced relief from tuberculosis in South Africa, treated by a traditional Zulu healer.

Expansion of Traditional Uses:

  • Originally used for gastrointestinal disorders, its use has expanded to include respiratory tract infections such as acute bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, and tonsillopharyngitis.

Chemical Profile:

  • Similar chemical profiles in roots of Pelargonium sidoides and Pelargonium reniforme.
  • Contains oligomeric and polymeric proanthocyanidins, highly oxygenated simple coumarins, and other compounds.

Phytochemistry Studies:

  • Extensive exploration of its chemical composition to identify active principles.
  • Oligo- and polymeric proanthocyanidins are significant components.
  • Highly oxygenated coumarins, gallic acid-derivatives, flavonoids, phenolic and hydroxycinnamic acid-derivatives contribute to its pharmacological efficacy.
  • Novel compounds recently identified, such as 7-Hydroxy-6-methoxy-8-(sulfooxy)-2H 1-benzopyran-2-one and 8-Hydroxy-7-methoxy-6-(sulfooxy)-2H 1-benzopyran-2-one.

EPs 7630 (Umcka):

  • Approved drug in Germany for acute bronchitis treatment.
  • Extracted from thick dark-red rhizomes and tubers.
  • Primary active ingredients include highly oxygenated coumarins (e.g., umckalin) and polyphenolic compounds.
  • Exerts three-pronged approach in acute bronchitis: enhances immune function, has antimicrobial effects, and acts as an expectorant.
  • Shown to be safe and effective in randomized clinical trials for acute bronchitis.
  • Antibacterial activity against multiresistant Staphylococcus aureus and antiviral effects against various viruses.
  • Enhances human peripheral blood phagocyte activity and has antiadhesive effects.

Preclinical Research:

  • Umckaloabo shows antimicrobial and immunostimulatory effects and improves mucociliary transport.
  • Beneficial for bronchitis, reactive airways, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, upper respiratory infections, pharyngitis, acute sinusitis, and immune function.


  • Antibacterial, immune enhancing, and antiviral.


  • Bronchitis, common cold, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, influenza, sinusitis.
  • Especially suited to acute respiratory infections in children, Pelargonium sidoides root has been eaten as a vegetable by children.

Adverse Reactions:

  • Available safety data indicates minor gastrointestinal complaints as the most commonly reported adverse reaction, potentially due to the presence of proanthocyanidins.
  • In observation studies involving 2608 patients with acute bronchitis, acute tonsillitis, and acute sinusitis, 1.6% of adverse reactions may have been due to ingestion of Pelargonium.

Reference: John Nowicki ND, Michael T. Murray ND, in Textbook of Natural Medicine (Fifth Edition), 2020, Umckaloabo/South African Geranium Pelargonium sidoides M. Bokelmann MD, Umckaloabo/South African Geranium (Pelargonium sidoides)Jean M. Bokelmann MD, in Medicinal Herbs in Primary Care, 2022.

The information provided is for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition, are on any medication, and if you are pregnant or nursing.