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Ask the Experts

Does Myrtol Help Treat Colds?

by Jeanine Barone  

Q: Will the herbal remedy Myrtol 300 treat colds, as advertised?

A: It probably won’t shorten a cold, but it may help reduce coughing and nasal congestion by thinning and loosening mucus and making it easier to bring up phlegm.

Myrtol 300 (also called GeloMyrtol or GeloMyrtol Forte) is marketed as an alternative herbal treatment for not only colds but also sinusitis and bronchitis. It has been made in Germany for decades and is sold in more than two dozen countries, including Canada and recently the U.S. Its active ingredients are said to be a proprietary blend of essential oils derived from sweet orange, eucalyptus, myrtle, and lemon.

Since it is sold as a dietary supplement here, the FDA does not allow its marketers to make explicit health claims. Instead the package states, more vaguely, that it “supports healthy mucus production” and “helps to maintain respiratory health” (such “health maintenance” claims are allowed on supplements). In Canada, however, it is allowed to make claims about relief of sinus and bronchial congestion and coughing on its package.

Lab studies have found that Myrtol or ingredients in its oils (such as limonene and monoterpenes) have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Among the clinical trials was a 2013 German study in Drug Research, which involved 413 people with acute bronchitis. Those who took Myrtol for two weeks had reductions in coughing and congestion compared to those taking a placebo. In 2016, a Russian study focused on 60 children with acute sinusitis, half of whom took Myrtol plus conventional treatment for a week; the other half got just conventional treatment. The supplement group had significant improvements in coughing and congestion compared to the control group.

Myrtol is not cheap: It costs about $1 a pill, and you’re supposed to take it three or four times a day while you are sick. For colds, it’s not clear that it works better than simple cough drops, zinc lozenges, or an expectorant (such as Mucinex)—or even chicken soup or tea with honey. If you think you have sinusitis or bronchitis, you should consult a health care provider, who may (or may not) say that Myrtol is an option.

Also see Can Supplements Fight Colds?