Afrigetics Botanicals explores medicinal capabilities of Southern African herbs

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07 Jan 2022 — The Pelargonium sidoides plant has “significant commercial and healing potential in the world of natural cold and flu phytomedicines,” Steven Hurt, CEO and director of South Africa-based Afrigetics Botanicals, tells NutritionInsight.

Pelargonium sidoides is a small shrub that grows abundantly in the sun-warmed, stony soil of the South African Eastern Cape and Lesotho grasslands.”

It is locally known as African geranium and can be found nestled beneath tall grasses and aromatic floral neighbors on coastal slopes.

Pelargonium’s three-way effect
Pelargonium sidoides has a three-way effect: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and it works as an expectorant, Hurt explains. The plant is antibacterial, preventing bacteria from attaching to cells in mucous membranes.

Hurt continues the product’s antiviral function prevents viruses from attaching to the mucous membrane cells and stimulates the body’s immune system in such a way that both bacteria and viruses are prevented from multiplying.

Lastly, it works as an expectorant by allowing the body to expel contaminated mucus, making conditions less suitable for the multiplication of bacteria and viruses.


Pelargonium sidoides is antibacterial and antiviral and work as an expectorant.

“The active ingredients in the Pelargonium root prevent bacteria from attaching to the cells in the mucous membranes of the lungs. And similarly, they prevent the viruses from docking on the surface tissue of the lungs because they stimulate the cilia.”

“The cilia’s role in the lungs is to keep the airways clear of mucus and dirt. Therefore, it enables one to breathe without irritation. As the Pelargonium plant stimulates the cilia, the body can easily move the mucus which contains the bacteria and virus.”

Therefore, Hurt argues that this herbal extract is suitable for reducing the duration and severity of a cold or flu, as well as treating tonsillitis, bronchitis and sinusitis.

Hurt adds that the efficacy of the Pelargonium sidoides extract against a number of bacterial and viral infections has been well researched. this extract has been the subject of over 20 clinical studies involving more than 9,000 patients, including children as young as one-year-old.

NutritionInsight previously highlighted the need for ingredients to have solid clinical backing.

Sustainably sourced: Regrowth of plant
Afrigetics Botanicals harvests the root of the Pelargonium sidoides plant. A small portion is broken off and put back in the soil during harvesting, therefore, ensuring the plant lives on. Hurt adds that the plant can regrow itself. Consequently, it is a sustainable plant extract to harvest.

To ensure sustainable harvesting, Afrigetics collaborated with Fairwild Foundation, an organization that implements a sustainable and fair trading system for wild-collected plant ingredients and their products.

When harvesting the Pelargonium sidoides plant, a small portion of the root is broken off and put back into the soil – ensuring regrowth (Credit: Afrigetics Botanicals).

Hurt adds that training regimes and collection support within the network are ensured through this collaboration. People are trained on how to harvest the plants to enable them to regrow.

This concept is echoed by Innova Market Insights’ number one Top Ten Trend for 2022 “Shared Planet”. This trend highlights that “planetary concerns outstrip personal health when it comes to consumers’ food priorities” and brands are reevaluating their impact on the environment.

Sceletium tortuosum treats stress and insomnia
The Sceletium tortuosum plant traditionally grows in the dry regions of Southern Africa such as Namibia and portions of the Kalahari desert. It was traditionally used by the San people in this region, adds Hurt.

Sceletium tortuosum is claimed to induce a feeling of “general happiness,” and Hurt states that researchers have found that this extract proved to be a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This, in turn, impacts feelings of stress and anxiety positively. The extract is also claimed to improve cognition.

Discussing its safety, Hurt highlights there are no reports or indications that the extract is toxic. However, he adds that one can feel very sleepy when a large amount of the extract is consumed.

Considering this, Pharmactive’s standardized saffron extract, Affron, was shown to promote restorative sleep and improve low mood-related issues.

By Nicole Kerr

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