Understanding Avian Influenza
South Korean dish may cure bird flu, researchers say
A spicy South Korea dish known as kimchi may be a cure to the dangerous bird flu that has broken out across Asia, say some researchers at Seoul National University. The scientists fed the dish, made of fermented cabbage and hot spices, to 13 infected chickens, and 11 of the birds recovered from the disease. While the scientists have no idea why kimchi may cure the disease, they are exploring the question.
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Scientists at Seoul National University say they fed an extract of kimchi to 13 infected chickens - and a week later 11 of them had started recovering.
The researchers said the results were far from scientifically proven and if kimchi did have the effects they observed, it was unclear why.
South Koreans are reported to be eating more kimchi as a result of the study.
"I'm eating kimchi these days because I've heard in the media that it helps prevent bird flu infections," one man said.
Love it or loathe it, once you have eaten it, you will never forget it.
Kimchi is made by fermenting cabbage with red peppers, radishes and a lot of garlic and ginger.
The idea that it could help poultry to fight off bird flu sounds like a dubious folk remedy.
But the theory is being floated by some of Korea's most eminent scientists.
"We found that the chickens recovered from bird flu, Newcastle disease and bronchitis.
The birds' death rate fell, they were livelier and their stools became normal," said Professor Kang Sa-ouk.
There was an increase in kimchi consumption two years ago, when thousands of people in Asia contracted Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Kimchi was reported to have helped to prevent Sars.
The claim was never scientifically proven, but according to some Koreans, people in other countries followed their example and started eating kimchi.
"After the Sars outbreak, I went to China and I noticed that the Korean restaurants there sold most of the kimchi they'd made that day," a Korean man said.