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As a clinically active conventional physician, I am often asked whether natural products could have a positive effect, especially on the immune system in a wide variety of diseases. In order to answer this question conclusively, clinical studies would be necessary, which, however, are very difficult or expensive to carry out in the case of natural plant products, or have already been carried out in some cases. However, this question can be answered insofar as one gets to the bottom of the contents of the natural products.

The following excerpt is based exclusively on scientific studies and their results.

For example, the ingredient is licorice root glycyrrhizinic acid. This not only has an expectorant effect, but should also have an effect against bacteria and fungi (1). According to a study by the virological institute in Frankfurt (2), which was published in one of the most renowned medical journals “The Lancet”, glycyrrhizic acid, which has been proven in the laboratory, is said to prevent the SARS virus from penetrating our cells. There are also initial laboratory chemical indications that preparations made from liquorice are effective against herpes viruses (3). However, please only use licorice roots in consultation with your medical examiner, as the ingredients have an effect on endogenous hormones (such as cortisol and aldosterone). This can increase blood pressure and adversely affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, those who already suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney problems should not use licorice as a mono product. This also applies during pregnancy.

Science also dealt with the black and red currant . Animal studies have shown that these berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (4,5). Antioxidants are of great physiological importance. They inactivate reactive oxygen species in the body, the excess of which leads to oxidative stress, which in turn is associated with aging and the development of a number of diseases. Small, i.e. physiological, amounts promote the stress resistance capacity, health and life expectancy of humans.

Something similar should be for them cat claw (Uncaria tomentosa) apply. In clinical scientific studies, positive pain-relieving effects against rheumatoid arthritis have been found (6,7). In addition, they are said to have an antihypertensive effect.

The nettles are a genus of the nettle family (Urticaceae). A distinction is made between the large stinging nettles (Urtica dioica L.) and the small stinging nettles (Urtica urens L.). Nettles contain iron, vitamins (A, B, C, E), calcium, potassium, magnesium, silica, trace minerals, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and flavonoids (9). The stinging hairs contain acetylcholine, histamine, serotonin, formic, butyric and acetic acid. There is not a great deal of scientific work, but flushing is evident in inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract (9). A supportive treatment of rheumatic complaints is also being discussed. Interesting are laboratory experiments in which stinging nettle extracts can induce the cell death of tumor cells (prostate carcinoma cells) (10). Other studies are investigating the extent to which nettle extracts can be used in breast cancer (11).

The dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) is also a very interesting substance for science. In addition to the bitter substances, it also contains caratinoids, vitamins (B, C, E), potassium, calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Dandelion is said to have a purifying effect and support the liver in breaking down toxins. Italian scientists (12) confirmed the positive effect of these plants on the liver and gallbladder.

Questionable anti-cancer, antioxidant and protective effects of medicinal plants have also been studied. While turmeric had the strongest antioxidant effect, it was found that dandelion also had a strong antioxidant effect. Other researchers reported that a dietary supplement containing dandelion, among other things, could inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells (13). In a small study by Clare et al (14), 8 ml doses of dandelion leaf extract three times a day resulted in a significant increase in urine frequency and volume, demonstrating the diuretic effect.

The Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is best known for its calming effects, which is why it can help with insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness (15,16). This is made possible because certain components of the plant act on a messenger substance that science calls "GABA transmitters" (17). This messenger substance is increasingly released, among other things, especially in the case of chronic stress.

This could have another positive health effect olive leaf (Olea europea). It is said not only to have a positive effect against high blood pressure (grade I) (18), but also to have an antiviral and antibacterial effect (19). However, there are no reliable studies on humans.

The grey-haired cistus ( Cistus incanus ) is said to have antiviral activity due to its high polyphenol content, in addition to having an antioxidant protective effect (20). In 2009, a prospective, i.e. anticipatory, placebo-controlled clinical study with cistus was carried out at the renowned Charité University in Berlin (21). Patients with a cold (infections of the upper respiratory tract) were given a cistus extract. Cold symptoms and the inflammatory marker CRP decreased significantly in the cistus group, while there was hardly any noticeable improvement in the placebo group.

In summary, there is clear scientific evidence that "medicinal plants" can often have an amazing and positive effect on certain diseases. They should generally be taken preventively and ultimately always in line with evidence-based (scientifically backed by clinical studies) medicine. If one refers to pharmacological data, clinical studies and empirical knowledge, a profile can be seen that shows the importance of medicinal plants. Studies have been made worldwide that have tested the effectiveness of medicinal plants. To date, more than 10,000 of them have been scientifically examined. Most medicinal plants are usually harmless in the recommended dose, even if side effects sometimes occur. Some can cause allergies. Medicinal plants contain many substances, known and unknown. The effect is likely to be the interaction of the individual substances that influence each other - both in terms of strength and over time. It is also important to inform your medical examiner about your “herbal medicinal products”.


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  2. Cinatl J et al. Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus Lancet. 2003 Jun 14;361(9374):2045-6
  3. Hirabayashi K et al. Antiviral activities of glycyrrhizin and its modified compounds against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in vitro. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1991Jan;39(1):112-5.
  4. Tabart J et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Ribes nigrum Food Chem. 2012;131:1116-1122.
  5. Staszowska-Karkut M and Materska M. Phenolic Composition, Mineral Content, and Beneficial Bioactivities of Leaf Extracts from Black Currant ( Ribes nigrum ), Raspberry ( Rubus idaeus ), and Aronia ( Aronia melanocarpa ). Nutrients 2020, 12, 463;
  6. Mur, E. et al. Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis . The Journal of Rheumatology , 2002, 29(4):678-81
  7. Piscoya, J., et al. Efficacy and safety of freeze-dried cat's claw in osteoarthritis of the knee: mechanisms of action of the species Uncaria guianensis . Inflammation Research , 2002; 50(9):442-8.
  8. Tabassum, N. & Ahmad, F. Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertension . Pharmacognosy Review , 2011 5(9):30-40.
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  10. Levy, A. et al. (2014): Urtica Dioica Induces Cytotoxicity in Humane Prostate Carcinoma LNCaP Cells: Involvement of Oxidative Stress, Mitochondrial Depolarization and Apoptosis. In: Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 711-717.
  11. Fattahi, S. et al. (2013): Antioxidant and Apoptotic Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Urtica dioica on the MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Line. In: Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 14, pp. 5317-5232
  12. Menghini L et al. Antiproliferative, protective and antioxidant effects of artichoke, dandelion, turmeric and rosemary extracts and their formulation, Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2010 Apr-Jun;23(2):601-10
  13. Jiang J et al., Suppression of growth and invasive behavior of human prostate cancer cells by ProstaCaid: mechanism of activity, Int J Oncol. 2011 Jun;38(6):1675-82
  14. Clare BA et al, The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folium over a single day. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2009 Aug;15(8):929-34
  15. European Medicines Agency (2013): Assessment report on Melissa officinalis L., folium, EMA/HMPC/196746/2012
  16. Soltanpour, A. et al. (2019): Effects of Melissa officinalis on anxiety and sleep quality in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery: A double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Vol. 28, pp. 27-37
  17. Scaglione F and Zangara A (2017) Valeriana Officinalis and Melissa Officinalis Extracts Normalize Brain Levels of GABA and Glutamate Altered by Chronic Stress. In: Journal of Sleep Disorders and Management, Vol. 3, pp. 1-7,
  18. El Sedef, N., and Sibel Karakaya. "Olive tree (Olea europaea) leaves: potential beneficial effects on human health." Nutrition reviews 67.11 (2009): 632-638.
  19. Omar SH. "Oleuropein in olive and its pharmacological effects." Sci Pharm. 2010;78(2):133-54
  20. Attaguile G et al., Antioxidant activity and protective effect on DNA cleavage of extracts from Cistus incanus L. and Cistus monspeliensis L., Cell Biology and Toxicology, 2000;16(2):83-90
  21. Kalus U et al., Cistus incanus (CYSTUS052) for treating patients with infection of the upper respiratory tract. A prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical study. Antiviral Res. 2009 Dec;84(3):267-71
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