Umckaloabo Against Bronchitis, Cold And Covid-19

Umckaloabo is an over-the-counter herbal remedy, a well-known cold remedy approved for use in acute bronchitis. Its active properties as well as initial cell studies and the experiences of naturopathic therapists now indicate that preparations from Cape geranium could also be suitable for the therapy and prevention of Covid-19.

Umckaloabo: herbal remedy for the lungs and airways

Umckaloabo is the Zulu word for Cape geranium or Cape geranium (Pelargonium sidoides), a species of geranium native to South Africa. The meaning of the word umckaloabo immediately shows what the plant is used for in traditional folk medicine. The term means two things – one is pulmonary discomfort and the other is chest pain.

In herbal medicine outside of South Africa, too, preparations from Umckaloabo have been taken for colds and bronchitis for many years. For use in acute bronchitis (for some Umckaloabo preparations) there is even approval from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices BfArM. The plant thus seems to be a possible therapeutic for respiratory diseases with lung involvement, such as influenza, colds, and perhaps also Covid-19.

Umckaloabo: The Effects

The main active ingredient in Cape geranium is umckalin, which belongs to the coumarin group. The plant is also rich in tannins with a share of 9 percent.

However, it has not been clarified which of the typical active ingredients in Umckaloabo is responsible for the healing effect, so it is assumed that it is not a single substance at all, but the interaction of all or at least some of the substances contained.

Various randomized and placebo-controlled double-blind studies have shown that umckaloabo (specifically the special extract EPs 7630 made from umckaloabo) can help with acute bronchitis as well as with sinusitis, colds, and tonsillitis could be helpful.

The healing and preventive properties of umckaloabo are summarized as follows:

  • Antibacterial (even with some already multi-resistant bacteria, such as some Staphylococcus aureus strains)
  • antiviral
  • Antifungal (effective against fungi)
  • cell protecting
  • Activates the immune system (e.g. to produce interferon, an antiviral messenger produced by immune cells)
  • Increases ciliary beat rate, resulting in increased airway and lung protection (see the following paragraph)

Protection of the airways and lungs

What is cilia beat frequency? The mucous membrane that lines our airways consists of what is known as the ciliated epithelium. Below this one can imagine a kind of carpet of cells that have cilia on their surface – the so-called cilia. These are mobile hairs that catch inhaled foreign substances (dust, pollen, bacteria, viruses) and transport them with their constant wave-like movements – the so-called cilia beat – towards the throat, where the foreign substances are simply swallowed, digested, and excreted with the stool.

Now, when the ciliary beat rate is increased, it means that foreign matter can be cleared from the airway more quickly, the airways and lungs are protected, and infection is less likely.

Umckalo subscription at Covid-19

On the occasion of the never-ending pandemic, a study was published in October 2021 in which Umckaloabo and its effect on various coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV) were examined. Involved were u. a. Researchers from the Institute of Virology at the Charitéin Berlin and the German Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig.

In their introduction, the scientists wrote that an ideal remedy for Covid-19 should both reduce viral load and curb the inflammation caused by the infection. Umckaloabo can do both, at least according to the available studies on some viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. Here, the remedy helps to avoid severe courses and to reduce the duration of the disease. It could therefore be a potential tool for supportive Covid therapy and prevention.

Umckaloabo does not allow viruses into the cells

The researchers now gave the Cape geranium extract to human lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. The replication of the virus could be effectively inhibited, it was even the case that the virus could not even get into the cells if they were treated with umckaloabo before infection – and in a non-toxic dose.

What does “non-toxic” mean? In tests in the test tube (in-vitro), such high dosages are often used that they would be poisonous (toxic) for humans if they were to be ingested. It is therefore considered promising if a substance is effective in the test tube at doses that can be administered to a person without having to fear negative effects.

Umckaloabo also reduces dangerous virus variants

Umckaloabo was also able to reduce the amount of virus RNA in the lung cells when dealing with virus variants of concern (VOCs = Variants of Concern), such as alpha or beta, indicating a broad spectrum of activity and also protection against possible other Variants that may appear in the future.

Additional anti-inflammatory effect

At the same time, a regulatory effect on the immune system was found, which could have a positive effect on the possible development of a cytokine storm. The umckaloabo extract was able to down-regulate (inactivate) pro-inflammatory genes and up-regulate (activate) anti-inflammatory genes 48 hours after infection.

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