The common cold is a commonly used term for upper respiratory tract diseases of mild severity. Nasal congestion or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and cough are the most common symptoms of the common cold. The common cold does not occur due to a single agent, viral infection caused by many different viruses can be colloquially referred to as the common cold. Although it is perceived as a “simple ailment”, it is one of the leading reasons for patients to consult a physician and pharmacist, and it greatly reduces the quality of life of many people by preventing them from work and school, and imposes a serious burden on both the state and the citizen with the health costs it causes.
Phytotherapy is formed from the Greek words “phytos” (plant) and “therapeuein” (treatment). Phytotherapy is a complementary medicine method that can be applied both to treat simple ailments and to help some chronic diseases. Although the history of treatment with plants is as old as the history of mankind, phytotherapy has become very popular especially in recent years, and the need for reliable information about the benefits and possible risks of herbal products has increased all over the world. Especially in the treatment of colds and flu, patients may prefer herbal medicines to conventional medicines. Contrary to popular belief, herbal products are not completely harmless, they can cause serious side effects, and herb-drug interactions constitute an important problem in this respect. When rational phytotherapy principles are followed, it is possible to treat cold and flu symptoms with herbal products. In this article, we will explain which herbs can be used for this purpose and how.
Sambucus nigra (Black elderberry)
The flowers of the black elderberry plant have been approved by the German Commission E for the treatment of colds and flu. This effect of the plant is due to its phenolic compounds such as kaempferol, quercetin, isoquercitrin, rutin and chlorogenic. The antiviral activity of black elderberry extracts on influenza viruses has been proven by both in vitro studies and clinical trials. In addition to its antiviral activity, black elderberry, which also shows anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antioxidant activity, is a useful option in colds and flu with all these mechanisms. Products such as syrups, capsules, lozenges containing standardized extracts can be used daily at recommended doses, as well as tea prepared by adding 150 mL boiling water to two teaspoons of elderberry flowers can be consumed two cups a day in hot form.
Tilia cordata, T. platyphyllos (Linden)
The ripe flower states of early-flowering summer linden (T. platyphyllos) and winter linden (T. cordata) species, which flower about two weeks later, have traditionally been used for centuries to treat the common cold. Especially the infusion is often preferred by patients for its pleasant odor and taste. The plant produces a diaphoretic (diaphoretic) effect. The plant contains mucilage and tannin compounds. Since it contains mucilage, it can also be used as a chest soother. It also helps the patient to fall asleep more comfortably with its soothing effect on the CNS.
Hedera helix (Wall ivy)
Preparations containing wall ivy extracts are among the widely prescribed products in our country. They are approved by Commission E for use in the treatment of upper respiratory tract diseases and in the symptomatic treatment of chronic inflammatory bronchial diseases. Its effective compounds are saponins. It reduces the frequency and severity of cough in dry cough and the density of sputum in cough with phlegm. It can also be used safely in young children. A significant improvement in symptoms such as malaise, fever and sore throat has been reported in patients using a product containing wall ivy extract in combination with some other herbs.
Pelargonium sidoides (African geranium)
Extracts from the root of African geranium are frequently used in the treatment of respiratory tract infections. The fact that the plant is traditionally used in the treatment of tuberculosis suggested that it has antibacterial activity, and studies have proved that the plant shows significant antimicrobial activity in different strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi. The plant, which contains coumarin derivative compounds, has immunomodulatory effect as well as antimicrobial effect. EPs7630 extract produced by a special process is used in the treatment. Clinical studies have shown that it provides improvement in disease symptoms and shortens the duration of the disease. The side effect profile is safe and can be used in children.
Mucilage Containing Plants
Plants such as marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), mallow (Malva sylvestris), mullein (Verbascum sp.), feverfew (Plantago lanceolata), Icelandic moss (Cetraria sp.) cover the mucosal surface thanks to the mucilage they carry, creating a protective effect and helping to prevent coughing. Mucilaginous plants have no known serious side effects.
Preparations containing Essential Oil
Essential oil producing plants such as mint (Mentha x piperita), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Origanum onites et al.) are widely used in the treatment of colds and flu. Essential oils obtained from these plants can be used in different forms. Preparations such as nasal drops or ointment, lozenges, mist, mouthwash containing essential oil are sold in pharmacies. Menthol in peppermint essential oil provides nasal decongestion, and the patient’s complaints due to rhinitis decrease. Camphor from eucalyptus and Cinnamomum camphora stimulates cold receptors in the nasal mucosa. Furthermore, essential oils keep the nasal mucosa moist as they stimulate secretion flow. Maintaining the nasal mucosa moist is important in the common cold, as mucosal dryness inhibits ciliary movement. These plants are also included in the composition of cough preparations. Increasing mucus viscosity, supporting the voluntary control of the desire to cough (gastropulmonary reflex mechanism) and increasing the activity of the bronchial glands are the mechanisms by which essential oils are used in the treatment of cough.
Recipe for medicinal tea for colds, sore throat:
Mint leaf (Menthae folium) 20 g
Elderflower (Sambuci flos) 20 g
Thyme aboveground parts (Thymi herba) 10 g
Tea recipe for cough:
Marshmallow root (Althaeae radix) 25 g
Fennel fruit (Foeniculi fructus) 10 g
Icelandic moss (Lichen islandicus) 10 g
Above-ground parts of the grass (Plantaginis lanceolata herba) 15 g
Liquorice root (Liquiritae radix) 10 g
Thyme aboveground parts (Thymi herba) 30 g
Sweating tea recipe:
Linden flower (Tiliae flos) 25 g
Elderflower (Samcuci flos) 25 g
Preparation: 1 dessert spoon of the drug is added to a cup of boiling water (150 mL) and brewed for 5-10 minutes, freshly brewed tea is drunk slowly in hot form.
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