The Health Benefits of Umcka: Stops Viral and Bacterial Infections
Umcka, also known as Umckaloabo is an herbal extract that has been shown to work against colds, flu, sinusitis, tonsillitis and antibiotic-resistant ear infections. It has shown both antiviral and antibiotic properties in killing both viruses and bacterial infections.
Natural Antiviral Remedies From Plants
There are numerous natural remedies that people take, and everyone seems to have their own favorites that work for them. Umcka is one and elderberry extract, known both as Sambucus and Sambucol, is very popular. Sambucus comes from the elderberry bush. You can read about elderberry extract (Sambucus) in the article Fight the Flu With Sambucus. Some people feel that a remedy cannot work unless it’s an actual medicine prescribed by their doctor. Most of us have now heard of Tamiflu. Large companies and governments are stockpiling Tamiflu for the upcoming flu season. To get Tamiflu you have to have a prescription from your doctor and it works to decrease the severity and duration of the flu. Tamiflu is actually another natural remedy that comes from a plant. The main ingredient in Tamiflu comes from the star anise plant and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years.
History and Discovery of Umckaloabo
Umckaloabo (umcka) comes from the root of the Pelargonium sidoides or South African Geranium, and is native to South Africa. The Zulu culture of Africa have used this herbal remedy for centuries. In 1897, Englishman Charles Stevens contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and left for the warmer climate of South Africa. While there he met a native healer by the name of Mike Kijitse who gave him a traditional cure known as Umckaloabo. When Mr. Stevens returned to England, his doctor pronounced him cured.
The Umcka Studies
In October 2008, the British government Department of Health granted an official license for this herbal remedy to be marketed and sold as a cold and flu medicine in England and carries the brand name of Kaloba. In the United States Umckaloabo is sold as Umcka by Natures Way.
According to NHS Evidence, the Umckaloabo herbal remedy is thought to be effective in the treatment of acute respiratory infections.  They reviewed eight random trials with accepted methodologies. Two trials showed that Umckaloabo was effective in relieving all symptoms in adults with acute bronchitis and in particular with cough and sputum production. A third study showed that it was only effective for treating sputum production. The final word with these studies is that the Umcka herbal preparation may be effective in relieving symptoms in acute bronchitis in adults and children, and sinusitis in adults. The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by a virus.
Another placebo-controlled study with 468 adults with bronchitis received 4.5 ml (milliliter) of the Umcka extract or a placebo for 7 days. Significant differences were found between the two groups, with the Umcka extract group reporting less severity of bronchitis symptoms. At the start of the test, 67% of the participants were unable to work. By day 7 only 16% of the Umckaloabo extract group was unable to work while 43% of the placebo group was still unable to work. 
A study with 143 children who had tonsillitis (group A [beta]-hemolytic streptococcus-negative tonsillopharyngitis) were randomly chosen to have 1 ml of the Umckaloabo root extract or the placebo 3 times per day for 6 days. By the fourth day, the Umckaloabo extract group was statistically superior. By the sixth day 81% of the children in the Umcka extract group were able to return to school and only 21% of the children in the placebo group were able to return to school. 
How Umcka Works
Studies have suggested that Umckaloabo exhibits both antimicrobial and immunomodulatory effects. Immunomodulatory means it changes the immune system; in this case it would cause the immune system to attack the virus or bacteria cells. Antimicrobial is a substance that inhibits or kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. If in fact the root extract of the Pelargonium sidoides did cure Charles Stevens of pulmonary tuberculosis, that means that Umcka can cure a disease caused by a bacteria, since tuberculosis is caused by bacteria. Studies have shown that Umcka has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and immune-boosting properties.
When boosting the immune system and fighting viruses, Umcka works much like the elderberry extract (Sambucus or Sambucol) as a natural immune booster, preventing the virus cells from replicating and also destroying the virus cells. Boosting the immune system helps the cells become more resistant to viruses.
Where Umcka seems different than elderberry extract is in its ability to destroy infections not only caused by a virus, but also infections caused by bacteria. This is important since a main concern with a cold or flu is that they can turn into a bacterial infection such as pneumonia.
Umcka is also a natural expectorant, helping to eliminate the excess mucus from the sinuses, chest and the entire respiratory tract. By eliminating the excess mucus, it also eliminates a breeding ground for more infection to grow.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure what it is that makes the Pelargonium s. extract exhibit both antiviral and antibacterial properties, but studies are very positive at this time.
The studies found that Umcka works best when taken within 48 hours of the start of the cold or flu. The sooner the person takes the extract, the better it works.
There have not been any negative side effects from the Umcka extract except an occasional allergy if the person is allergic to plants in this family. There are no known supplement or food interactions. There has not been any safety testing in children under 6, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease. Clinical studies have only involved taking this extract no longer than 7 days. This should not be looked at as an alternative to an antibiotic if you are sick for more than 7 days, have a high fever or chest pains.
© 2009 Sam Montana
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 NHS Evidence is a web-based service that provides easy access to high quality clinical and non-clinical information about health and social care.
 Matthys H, et al. Efficacy and safety of an extract of Pelargonium sidoides (EPs 7630) in adults with acute bronchitis. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(suppl 4):7-17.
 Bereznoy VV, Riley DS, Wassmer G, Heger M. Efficacy of extract of Pelargonium sidoides in children with acute non-group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus tonsillopharyngitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003;9:68-79.