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A surprisingly common herb, Herb Robert benefits health in many ways! Discover why and how to use it, and whether it’s for you.
Herb Robert is an impressive plant found throughout Great Britain, Europe, and North America.
You’ve probably seen it about at some point, as it is a common weed and is even considered invasive in some places. One can easily recognise it in Spring, Summer, and Autumn due to its bright pink flowers and reddened stems, and in winter by its palmate leaves which divide into 3 sets. Herb Robert benefits health in many ways and today we will discover how.
You may also know this under other names like “Fox geranium“, “Red Robin“, “Stinky Bob“, or “Death come quickly“. The latter (almost frightful) name comes from folklore beliefs, including that death would follow those who brought the herb indoors. And its association with the name Robert, which is a nickname for “Hob” – a mischevious mythological spirit from England (specifically the midlands and further north), didn’t help with its spiritual reputation!
People use this plant for many medicinal purposes, and it makes a great addition to your kitchen herb collection! Why not try Making Your Own Pesto With It?
It makes an excellent herbal tea with dried or fresh parts, particularly the leaves, stems, and flowers. I generally use 2 tsp of the fresh plant per cup. Here is a guide on how to identify it. Herb Robert tea benefits us like other prepartions do, too.
Scientific Name: Geranium robertianu
Distribution: Great Britain, Europe, North America (Specifically Eastern), Parts of Africa and Asia.
Identification: Red stems and (sometimes slightly reddened) palmate sets of leaves, divided into 3. Distinctive bright pink flowers appear throughout Spring, Summer, and Winter.
Nutrient Composition*: Vitamin A Carotenoids, B Vitamins (likely B2, B6, and B9), Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Germanium. (*Limited Information Available)
Benefits of Herb Robert
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Power
Some of the most notable benefits of this herb are the anti-inflammatory activities and antioxidants that it offers. Traditionally, one use was as a toothache remedy, for example. This demonstrates how it could reduce inflammation and possibly scavenge free radicals involved in cellular damage, depending on the cause.
A scientific study conducted in Portugal – where the herb has been used for a long time – found rather impressive results (^). 3 common free radicals used in plant studies were effectively reduced by both leaf and stem extracts of the plant. This includes the hydroxyl radical OH˙, which has been linked to many harmful conditions and diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, and atherosclerosis (^). Interestingly, it also reduced lipid peroxidation (which is related to harmful TRANS fats and cell damage), and ferric acid (which actually forms OH˙)!
Nitric Oxide as a Beneficial Free-Radical
Nitric oxide is one of the most well-known free radicals. However, it is an important part of our life as an aerobic species, and having too little (or too much) can have negative health effects. Simply, it plays important beneficial roles in cell signalling for many biological processes.
Most notably it is a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes arteries and blood vessels, allowing them to widen. This boosts blood flow throughout the body, this is particularly important for those who are active. Nitric oxide is essential for healthy metabolism and free-radical regulation, too (^)!
Herb Robert leaf and stem extracts both scavenged amounts of this free-radical in chemical models. When there are excess amounts in the body, for example possibly in low blood pressure when standing (orthostatic hypotension), this might be beneficial (^).
As we can see, one of the great reasons for Herb Robert’s health benefits is its ability to scavenge free radicals from our body. This reduces levels of inflammation and how to prevent numerous diseases, including those that chronic inflammation is responsible for.
Regular consumption could therefore help to enhance immune system function, too.
Herb Robert benefits health for another great reason because it directly supports our immunity. It has powerful components which give it the ability to fight unwelcome bacteria and prevent illness.
A 2017 study conducted in Wrocław, Poland, tested Herb Robert essential oil against several types of bacteria (^). These included pathogens that infect humans, plants, and animals.
The results of the study help us understand the historical uses of the herb against certain infections. Most significantly, they showed that the oil from Herb Robert leaf could kill and inhibit all types of bacteria tested.
Types of Bacteria
You’ve probably heard of E. coli, which is a serious infectious bacteria most often coming from unsanitary food sources. Another common type is Staphylococcus aureus, known to cause skin and respiratory infections (dubbed “staph infections”). In a concentration range of 5 to 10 mg/mL (oil / distilled water), the oil showed significant antimicrobial actions against these.
Another effective bacteria is Streptococcus mutans, which you probably haven’t heard of directly, but can cause tooth decay. Here is a list of other bacteria tested:
- Streptococcus (S.)
- Bacillus (B.)
- Pectobacterium (P.)
If you want to know how it does this, Herb Robert contains beneficial phenolic acids, oils, vitamins, flavonoids, and tannins! These help to make the essential oil and the herb antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic. Interestingly, they may explain its light, slightly bitter flavour, too!
Could Lower Blood Pressure
The aerial parts of this plant, including the leaves, flowers, and stems, could also help to to combat hypertension. Hypertension is a state of high blood pressure, and the effects that lower this pressure are described as antihypertensive.
For many years and even today, people have used this plant in herbal and folk medicine to treat hypertension.
There is limited scientific data on this topic, despite several citations of being used for this purpose. Research articles have commented on its effect on blood pressure (^)(^), and an interesting article from herbsarespecial.com mentions are being an adaptogen (^). This means that it helps to regulate and balance natural physiological processes, which could benefit blood pressure imbalances.
Furthermore, germanium, a trace element found in this plant may add to this effect. (We’ll discuss this more later).
It would appear, therefore, that one of the potential benefits of Herb Robert is a natural reduction of hypertension.
Supports the Gallbladder, Urogenital Tract, and Sinuses
These are some of the herb robert health benefits that are closely interlinked. It reduces inflammation, improves metabolism, and helps with organ function of the gallbladder and urogentical system.
A meta-analysis on how the human microbiome (beneficial and functional bacteria) affects metabolism mentions multiple traditional uses of Geranium robertianum (^). In particular, it is used to treat inflammatory conditions of the gallbladder and urogenital tract. When made into tea, the herb is also a recommended treatment of sinus diseases.
How Does It Work?
Remember how I mentioned tannins being present in this herb? Well, ellagitannins are one such type, that the gut microbiome benefits from. When we consume these polyphenols, bacteria metabolizes into urolithins. These in turn have beneficial effects which fight inflammation, and thus help to prevent illness.
In general, ellagitannins and their metabolites (such as urolithins) are not absorbed very well. In other words, they have poor bioavailability. However, it would appear that in Herb Robert this bioavailability is increased!
Urolithins benefit the gallbladder and urogenital system possibly due to the fact that they accumulate in those areas the most. Additionally, one way that the urinary bladder and tract benefits is due to the diuretic properties of the herb. This can help to detoxify the body.
What this about Germanium?
If you read about the herbal and traditional uses of this herb, you’ll no doubt come across people speaking about germanium.
This is a mineral found in some plant sources like garlic, ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, and aloe. We also find it in the minerals germanite and argyrodite.
There are organic and inorganic types. Inorganic germanium is highly toxic, whereas organic germanium types (such as from food sources) is safer and beneficial (^).
At the same time, there are many heatlh claims related to this mineral, which include:
- Boosts Energy
- Improves Immunity
- It’s Adaptogenic
- Fights Cancer
- Supports Heart Health
- Reduces Inflammation
Some of the benefits of Herb Robert could be because of organic germanium.
Research and studies do support some of these, whereas some research does not support certain benefits or is lacking. Research I have found demonstrates.
Immunity and Vitamin E
One study showed impressive genetic effects, increasing genetic expression in hepatic cells (^). This activated immune functions, improved lipid cycle (metabolism of fat), and significantly increased Vitamin E by upregulating proteins (α-tocopherol transfer protein) which transport it into lipoproteins to be delivered around the body! This also helps to fight free radicals and support your immunity.
These Herb Robert health benefits add to how it is useful for improving overall health.
Digestion, Gut Flora (Microbiome), and Colon Cancer
However, another study throws something new into the mix. It turns out that organic Germanium elevates the levels of an enzyme known as beta-glucuronidase.
Increased levels of this enzyme was considered to be a prime factor in colon cancer formation in a study conducted in South Korea (^). This suggests that high amounts of organinc Germanium (Ge-132) alone could increase the chance of colon cancer.
However, a diet containing more raffinose alongside this had significant beneficial effects (^). Raffinose is a family of carbohydrates found most abundantly in beans. Other sources include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, whole grains, and other vegetables.
In rat studies, a diet of 5% raffinose and 0.05% germanium eliminated the increase in beta-glucuronidase, and greatly increased levels of Bifidobacterium and to a lesser extent Lactobacillus bacteria in the microbiome. These bacteria are vital for a healthy digestive system, helping to digest fibre, produce vitamins, absorb nutrients, and prevent infection. This increase also explains the possible effect of softened stool caused by raffinose and germanium.
Note on Dietary Amounts:
A diet too high in raffinose carbohydrates can cause flatulence and discomfort, as we do not contain the enzymes to digest then so they are instead fermented by gut bacteria. For most people with a healthy gut microbiome this shouldn’t be problematic, but if you have any digestive issues, do what works for you.
Raffinose – a member of the raffinose family – will break down at 118° Celsius (^), so thoroughly cooking food can reduce the content. Additionally, properly soaking beans can greatly reduce the percentage, making them edible.
Cancer Prevention and Detoxing The Blood and Body
Germanium is often recognised as an “oxygen carrier”. Research has shown that it helps to free the body’s supply of oxygen and enrich our supply. The therapeutic effect nourishes the blood with oxygen, which in turn can better deliver oxygen around the body (^).
It is known that cancer can only exist in an oxygen-deprived environment, which means that germanium may help to prevent cancer by regulating healthy levels of oxygen throughout the body! In other words, it helps to prevent oxygen deficiency that could lead to cancer formation.
Multiple other studies also support anticancer properties of germanium. For an example, one other research article mentioned Sanumgerman (a germanium compound) as a safe candidate for reducing oxidative stress and killing cancer cells (^)! Another study on 6 women with ovarian tumours showed that sanumgerman signficantly improved well-being and reduced pain, without any toxic or side effects (^).
“The prime cause of cancer is lack of oxygenation of the cells.” – Nobel Prize Winnter (x2), Dr. Otto Warburg, 1966.
Another impressive effect is that germanium compounds bond with negatively charged oxygen atoms. These can then capture toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, helping to detoxify the body.
Herb Robert Side Effects
Limited information is available on Herb Robert side effects.
In terms of germanium, Herb Robert naturally contains less than a supplement would. Even in medicinal uses, organic germanium is considered non-toxic, and poses no significant adverse side effects.
Apart from this, there is very little information on the safe amount to take, any interactions, or any side effects. I recommend taking these common precautions:
- If you have any medical conditions, especially those mentioned above, or take any medication, consult a healthcare professional before taking the herb
- Avoid in pregnancy and breast-feeding to stay on the safe side
- Start with a small amount, and look out for any side effects
- Even if you find no side effects, exercise caution and don’t have too much (just as you wouldn’t most things)
Whilst there is no standard dosage for this herb due to limited data, it’s important to never have too much of any medicinal herb.
You can use the herb as a tea – that’s how I like to do it, mixed with other foraged goods!
In general, it is used as 1-2 teaspoons of the fresh or dried herb (or 1 teaspoon of the root), or brewed to a 1X potency in homeopathy. This means a 1:9 ratio of the herb (or herbal tincture) to water, brewed once.
One interesting article also mentions taking 1 teaspoon of the herb with raw egg yolk! (Sounds great to me – really haha)!
Don’t forget that you can mix this in with your cooking, just as you might other herbs like basil! The flowers make a great visual addition, especially for simple dishes.
Herb Robert can be considered a natural medicine, and too much of anything can be detrimental, after all. Always follow dosing guidelines properly on natural products, and if you experience any side effects from the tea or other products, try to use less or discontinue use.
Herb robert tea benefits health, as does the oil and supplements. The best way to find this herb is simply to go out and look for it! Click Here to Buy Herb Robert Tea to save your time if you can’t find any growing near you.
Alternatively, stocking up isn’t a bad idea if you enjoy it: You Can Find 8 Boxes of The Stuff Here.
Phew! That is a lot of information… Back to basics 🙂
Herb Robert goes by quite a few names, and has a fascinating history. In folklore, this plant had a spiritual reputation and was thought to bring good luck, but at the same time, people associated it with superstitions.
People also believed that it shouldn’t be taken inside, as death would follow. Don’t worry, I’ve taken it inside and know the answer: I can confirm that this doesn’t actually happen! (Let’s hope it stays that way!)
It has many health benefits, making it an excellent medicinal herb as well as a general way to keep up vitality and boost your body and it’s immune system. You can use it fresh, in cooking, as a herbal tea, or in medicinal preparations (if you’re a herbalist).
We find many beneficial vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and compounds in Herb Robert. Understandably, Herb Robert benefits us by also providing a small nutritional “kick”.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something useful. Now, get out there and experiment with this herb (remember the precautions)! I would love to hear your ideas and you thoughts down in the comments, and will of course reply.
Until next time, stay healthy