New research finds that two natural plant extracts provide bronchitis relief. Multiple clinical human studies show these herbs to be effective in treating bronchitis, even rivaling antibiotic treatment.
In this article
What is bronchitis?
When we catch a cold or flu, a common complication is bronchitis. This can the result of infections of viruses, bacteria and even environmental pollutants. As the infection increases, these can produce irritation and inflammation in our airways. These are also characterized as upper respiratory infections or URIs.
Bronchitis produces symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and mucus production. There are two general types – acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis will typically last a few weeks as a cough. A chronic case can last months or even years if not resolved.
Sometimes, chronic bronchitis will also produce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
Can herbs help bronchitis?
According to a 2023 study from the Charite University Epidemiology and Health Economics, two herbs in particular have been proven to treat bronchitis.
Extracts of Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium) and Armoracia rusticana (horseradish) were used to treat 384 bronchitis patients. These two plants have been known to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating properties. These have been shown to be beneficial for human health.
In particular, these two plants contain special compounds called isothiocyanates. These have been found to fight bacteria, reduce inflammation, and help our immune system work better.
The research used a natural formulation called ANGOCIN® Anti-Infekt N. This combines the extracts from nasturtium and horseradish herbs.
The Clinical Study
The researchers wanted to see if the combination of these two plant components in ANGOCIN® could help people with acute bronchitis feel better faster. They conducted a study to find out if this natural remedy could speed up the healing process and reduce bronchitis symptoms.
The study was carefully designed to make sure the results were reliable. It included 384 patients who were split into two groups. One group received the ANGOCIN® Anti-Infekt N treatment. The other group received a placebo (a dummy pill with no real medicine).
The researchers made sure neither the patients nor the doctors knew who was getting the real treatment or the placebo; this is called a “double-blind” study, and it helps prevent bias.
The researchers used something called the “bronchitis severity score” (BSS). This measures how bad the bronchitis symptoms are. The BSS added up scores for five important symptoms of bronchitis, like coughing and chest pain. The patients’ symptoms were measured during their visits to the clinic.
The results of the study were exciting. The group of patients who took the herbal compound showed much faster healing of their bronchitis symptoms compared to those who took the placebo. This was true after just three days of treatment. The patients who took the natural remedy had less coughing, less mucus production, and less chest pain. And these improvements lasted throughout the whole ten days of the study.
The combination of extracts of the Tropaeolum majus herb and Armoracia rusticana root significantly contributed to the improvement of bronchitis symptoms. This suggests that this natural treatment could be a valuable option for those suffering from bronchitis.
How does this Compare with Antibiotics?
Most doctors prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis. How do these herbs compare to antibiotic treatment?
A study tested this specific combination against antibiotic treatment.
A 2006 study from 251 health centers in Germany tested this same combination of nasturtium herb and horseradish root on 1,223 patients suffering from bronchitis and/or sinusitis. This group was compared with 426 control patients who were given antibiotic therapy.
The study found that treatment with the herbal combination was similarly effective compared to the antibiotic treatment. The symptom reduction scores were 78% for the herbal treatment group compared to 80% for the antibiotic treatment group.
Let’s discuss these two herbs in more detail.
Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium)
Nasturtium is a flowering plant that is often cultivated for its vibrant and attractive flowers. It is often found in household flower beds.
Beyond its visual appeal, this plant has been found to contain beneficial compounds. These have been used for their potential health-promoting properties for thousands of years in traditional medicines.
Nasturtium is particularly known for containing compounds called isothiocyanates. These are secondary metabolites with various health benefits. These compounds exhibit antibacterial properties, meaning they can help fight against certain harmful bacteria.
Additionally, isothiocyanates from nasturtium have shown anti-inflammatory effects. This means they can help reduce inflammation in the body. This anti-inflammatory action could be especially relevant for conditions like bronchitis. In bronchitis, inflammation in the respiratory system is a contributing factor to symptoms.
Historically, nasturtium has been used in traditional medicine for its potential to support immune function and combat infections. Its antimicrobial properties make it a candidate for addressing respiratory infections like bronchitis.
Armoracia rusticana (Horseradish)
Horseradish, scientifically known as Armoracia rusticana, is a root vegetable. It is known for its strong and pungent flavor. It is commonly used as a condiment in culinary dishes.
Horseradish also possesses medicinal properties utilized for various health purposes.
Horseradish contains compounds similar to those found in nasturtium, particularly isothiocyanates. These compounds also contribute to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Horseradish is also known to have immune-modulating properties. This means it can help regulate the immune system’s response.
In traditional medicine, horseradish has been employed as a natural remedy for various conditions, including respiratory issues. Due to its potential antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions, horseradish aids in alleviating symptoms associated with viral and bacterial infections.
Combining Nasturtium and Horseradish
The combination of these two herbs harnesses the synergistic effects of their respective compounds. Blending the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating properties of both nasturtium and horseradish produces increased potency.
This combination provides more comprehensive support for the body’s defense mechanisms. This is particularly effective in respiratory infections like bronchitis.
Nasturtium and horseradish are two plant-based herbs that have been recognized for their potential to promote health and combat infections. Their natural compounds, particularly isothiocyanates, contribute to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating properties.
The combination of these two herbs offers a proven holistic approach to managing acute bronchitis symptoms. This is accomplished by addressing both the underlying inflammation and potential infections. This makes the combination a promising option for those seeking natural alternatives for respiratory health.
This research gives us more evidence that natural remedies can be helpful for common health issues like bronchitis. It’s important because it offers people an alternative to traditional medicines, especially if they prefer natural options.
Albrecht U, Stefenelli U, Stange R. A combination of Tropaeolum majus herb and Armoracia rusticana root for the treatment of acute bronchitis. Phytomedicine. 2023 Jul 25;116:154838. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2023.154838.
Goos KH, Albrecht U, Schneider B. Efficacy and safety profile of a herbal drug containing nasturtium herb and horseradish root in acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis and acute urinary tract infection in comparison with other treatments in the daily practice/results of a prospective cohort study. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(3):249-57. German. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1296717. PMID: 16618018.
Clemente M, Miguel MD, Felipe KB, Gribner C, F Moura P, R Rigoni AA, B Parisotto E, T Piltz M, Valdameri G, Henneberg R, B Schonhofen C, S Carvalho JL, Fernandes LC, G Miguel O. Biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in people witha physical disability treated with a standardized extract of Nasturtium officinale: A randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2020 Oct;34(10):2756-2765. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6718.