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Umckaloabo is the Zulu name for the native geranium root used by tribal healers for hundreds of years to remedy colds and respiratory infections. Because Umckaloabo is quite a mouthful, Nature’s Way -the company that has introduced this product into U.S. markets - decided to shorten it to "Umcka". The scientific name of the South African geranium is Pelargonium sidoides.1 Umcka first came to the European shores in the late 19th century. When antibiotic drugs came on the scene in the 1940s, Umcka fell into disuse until the1970s, when the adverse effects from overuse of antibiotics led German researchers to look for alternatives.
Today this herb is available in an extract form, made from the roots of the Umckaloabo plant. Its use is indicated for acute and chronic infections of the respiratory tract, such as the common cold, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.2 Nature’s Way is involved and in control of production from field to store shelf. It is a matter of pride for them to make use of as little mechanical assistance as possible. The work to cultivate and harvest is done by hand, providing employment to many. The plants are organically grown in dedicated fields and greenhouses in the plant's natural environment outside of Capetown, South Africa. Research determined that the perfect time to harvest for maximum potency is after three to five years of growth, and crews are busy planting about 800,000 new plants each year to replenish the supply. This level of care means that plants in the wild are not endangered to meet the world‟s demand. Great importance is attached to purely biological production for plant cultivation. The fertility of the soil is maintained and even improved by this natural way of farming. There are no artificial fertilizers or chemical pesticides used.
The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by a virus.3 Possible symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, headache, and a scratchy throat. Although a cold should not last more than 7 to 10 days on its own, the possibility of a secondary super-infection, either viral or bacterial, is cause for concern. This is when symptoms start off as a cold but progress into something more severe, such as sinusitis, bronchitis, or tonsillitis. This is where Umcka's properties really shine!
Studied in the lab, the active constituents of Umcka have strong antibacterial and immune- strengthening activates.4 What happened when researchers performed clinical trials with people? Great infection-fighting results! There have been 17 clinical studies, using over 5,000 people (with over 2,500 of those being children), that have demonstrated the effectiveness of Umcka. For example, a recently-published study using 476 subjects compared Umcka to a placebo in supporting adults with acute bronchitis. Using Umcka significantly reduced the severity of symptoms, such as coughing, headaches, and chest pain. The amount of work missed due to the illness was also shortened by two days. Side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, were slightly more common with Umcka than with the placebo but, overall, the few reactions experienced (0.9% of participants; compare that with 23 -39% of participants who experience reactions in acute bronchitis trials where antibiotics are used) were very mild.5
Another study using 143 children, ages 6 to 10, with tonsillitis, found similar results. After four days, the symptoms experienced by those taking Umcka decreased almost four times as much as those on the placebo. Those taking Umcka had far better symptom-relief from swelling of the throat, tonsils, and lymph nodes, difficulty swallowing, fever, painful limbs, and headaches. The investigators found freedom from symptoms or marked improvements on day four in almost 90% of those subjects using Umcka, while only 17% of those taking the placebo found similar results. In fact, a quarter of the participants in the study experienced an improvement after one to two days. The researchers concluded that Umcka is effective, well-tolerated, and safe for the initial treatment of non-streptococcal tonsillitis.6
Umcka works on several different levels when combating a cold and the possibility of more serious respiratory infections:
Boosts Natural Immunity: Umcka has the ability to stimulate the production of important immune substances, such as interferon and tumor necrosis factor.2,4 Interferon‟s job is to send a signal to nearby cells that a virus is in the area and if the cells become infected, they are ordered to self- destruct. This act prevents the virus from replicating itself within the cell and then infecting the surrounding cells. Tumor necrosis factor actually destroys virus-infected cells and sparks other immune cells into action. The ability of Umcka to strengthen overall immunity and promote cells to become virus-resistant is very important in preventing and healing respiratory infections.4
Reduces Adhesion: For any virus or bacterium to cause an infection, it must latch onto a tissue inside the body. Therefore, if the bug is blocked from attaching and eliminated or zapped by the immune cells, the infection either does not manifest, or it stops spreading. It has been found that Umcka can actually block the adhesion of viruses and bacteria to the mucus membranes of the body.
Expectorant: Umcka works as a natural expectorant, helping to eliminate excess mucus from the respiratory tract. This helps alleviate annoying symptoms and make a less-desirable breeding ground for further infection.
In the U.S., 42 million work and school days are lost each year to the common cold.7 We have a, clinically-proven infection-fighting herbal remedy at our fingertips to help shorten the duration of our sick days! This valuable remedy is available in many different forms including: drops, syrups, chewable tablets and a soothing hot drink. At the first sign of infection, reach for an Umcka remedy, follow the directions on the bottle, and know you are on your way to recovery! Look for the Zulu shields on the front of each carton of Umcka® ColdCare and Umcka® Cold+Flu products. Along with a healing diet, fresh air, and stress management, Umcka has become a well-known remedy to combat a slew of respiratory infections.
1 Helmstadter A. Umckaloabo – Late vindication of a secret remedy. 1996. Pharm Historian 26:2-4
2 Herbert Kolodziej and Schulz, Volker. Umckaloabo. From traditional application to modern phytodrug. Translation from: Deutsche Apotheker Xeitung 2003 (143/12):55-64
3 J Virol, 76, 12:6004-15, 2002.
4 Kolodziej, Herbert. Kayser, Oliver et.al. Pharmacological profile of extracts of Pelargonium sidoides and other constituents. Phytomeidicne. 10(2003). Supplement IV 18-24.
5 Matthys, Heinrich, Eisebitt, Reinhard, et. al. Efficacy and safety of an extract of Pelargonium sioides in adults with acute bronchitis. Phytomedicine 10 (2003). Supplement IV; pp 7-17.
6 Bereznoy, M. Heger. Non-streptococcal tonsillo-pharyngitis in children: Efficacy of an extract from Pelargonium sidoides compared to placebo. Phytopharmaka VII (2002); Schultz V., Rietbrock N, Roots I, Loew. Darmstadt. P. 14-25. 7 Lancet 2003; 361: 51-59. January 4, 2003. Terho Heikkinene, Asko Jarvinen. “The common cold.”