Cold and flu season is in full force upon us…yuck! Have you been afflicted yet? I have and it seems that everyone in my life has… my office, my family, my friends. I just cannot go anywhere without the fear of picking up that pesky bacteria known as the common cold. Well, friends there is some relief to the common cold, this relief is called Umcka. And the Umcka Cold Care product line by Nature’s Way is what I am reviewing today in my on-going product review series.
Umcka, the name alone sounds odd. It sounds like something my baby girl, Barley cat spit up in her hairball… ahem, UMCKA… right? But, it’s not a hairball, it is an awesome cold remedy that has been proven to reduce severity and shorten the duration of the common cold.
The secret to Umcka Cold Care is a homeopathic remedy called Pelargonium sidoides, commonly known as African geranium and Umckaloabo (a name that got its roots from the Zulu language loosely meaning “heavy cough”.) The benefits of the African geranium have been around for centuries. Originating in South Africa, the African geranium was used by the Zulu, Basuto, Xhosa and Mfengi cultures for ailments ranging from a cough to upper respiratory tract irritations to gastrointestinal concerns.
It found it’s first claim to fame in Britain by Charles Henry Stevens in 1897. Stevens, having been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis left Britain for Africa upon the advice of his physician for “fresh air, rest and good food.” Instead, he found a cure. In his travels, he came across a healer from the Basuto tribe, Mike Kijitse who offered him a remedy prepared from their native plant, the African geranium. Largely healed and his tuberculosis in remission, Stevens returned to Britain and marketed his concoction “Stevens’ Cure” or “Steven’s Consumption Cure.” Stevens, a layperson, had a tough time marketing his remedy due to constant grief from Britain’s medical board. However, eventually “Stevens cure” gained popularity and widespread fame throughout Europe continuing into the mid-1900’s. When antibiotics were developed, it fell out of favor and was forgotten.
The African geranium regained popularity again in the 1990’s when it started to be touted as a remedy for treatment of bronchitis and symptoms of common cold. Today, Nature’s Way markets their Umcka Cold Care liquid formula as one “that reduces the severity of throat, nasal and bronchial irritations including cough, congestion and sore throat.” (http://www.naturesway.com/Product-Catalog/Umcka-ColdCare-Cherry-Syrup-4-oz) And, believe me, this it does.
The magic in Nature’s Way Umcka ColdCare products is the actual root of the African geranium plant (Pelargonium sidoides (EPs 7630)). Evidence from multiple clinical studies have found that this root greatly reduces the severity and symptoms of the common cold. One illustrative study I found in a prominent medical journal, finds that participants with common cold symptoms (i.e. nasal congestion, sneezing, scratchy throat, hoarseness, cough, headaches, muscle aches, and/or fever) that were given root of the African geranium plant as opposed to participants who were given a placebo reduced the duration of their common cold symptoms within 5 days and were “cured” within 10 days.
However, this study found that the key to get these benefits was to start the remedy early. So, it is suggested to have Umcka on hand for when a cold develops. If you start late, it Umcka likely will not be effective. This study also found that the degree of improvement in cold symptoms with Umcka is “far better than other available over the counter treatments.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183890/).
Nature’s Way directions for Umcka Cold Care Cherry syrup are as follows:
“For best results, use at first sign of symptoms and continue to use for an additional 48 hours after symptoms cease.
Adults & children 12 years of age and older: Take 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) 3 times daily.
Children 6-11 years of age: Take 1 teaspoon (5 mL) 3 times daily.
Children under 6 years of age: Consult a doctor.” (http://www.naturesway.com/Product-Catalog/Umcka-ColdCare-Cherry-Syrup-4-oz)
Some, like my husband, are skeptical that Umcka actually works. In fact, every time that I take it and then tell my husband to take it, stating “it is clinically proven to work,” he backs away finding it mysterious and skeptical. One reviewer, Steven Salzberg of Forbes magazine in 2014 trashed Umcka stating that the clinical studies were only done in Russia by Umcka and claimed that “homeopathic preparations are so dilute that they contain little, and sometimes none, of the active ingredient.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2014/11/17/the-top-five-cold-remedies-that-do-not-work/#2b6edc9b2772)
I discovered Umcka in 2013 and have been using it when I feel a cold coming on ever since. I believe with the help of Umcka I have remained relatively healthy throughout many cold and flu seasons. My cold’s have been largely non-existent or haven’t lasted very long. Further, I have spent the better of the last four hours deeply digging into the nether regions of Google finding support for my love of Umcka. I found more studies and research than the single conclusory statement by Mr. Salzberg. Thus, while I greatly respect his opinion, I disagree. Studies have found that there are no real adverse side effects to Umcka. And, as evidenced above, it has a great history. So, why not try it?
*All views expressed in this blog post are my sole opinion. Further, I have not been asked or endorsed by Nature’s Way in any manner. This blog post is not a replacement for medical care. Please always follow the advice of your physician.*
Sources: naturesway.com; examine.com/supplements/pelargonium-sidoides; wikipedia.org; herbs2000.com; herbalafrica.co.za; cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume7/06%20June/Chapter_17.pdf; ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; webmd.com and forbes.com.