Introduction

Geranium species are common throughout temperate regions and are used in many different parts of the world in traditional systems of medicine. 'Geranium oil' is also widely used, however this normally refers to the essential oil (EO) distilled from Pelargonium species rather than Geranium. In general, most species are used for similar disorders, although some of the different local indications for each are given in Table 7.1. Geraniums used medicinally usually contain high levels of tannins, which are responsible for the folklore use as haemostatics and astringents. They are used internally for haemorrhage and diarrhoea, and externally for wounds, grazes, sores and fissures (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 1983; Brendler etal, 1999). More recently various tannin-containing drugs, including Geranium species, have been used as antiinfective agents particularly for viral diseases (Serkedjieva and Hay, 1998) and antioxidant activity, which would be expected from the content of polyphenolic compounds, has also been demonstrated (Lamaison et al, 1993).

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