Looking for the connection between birdflu and sauerkraut?
Hard to find, isn't it? It is if you want to read more than rewrites of that one notice that came out of Korea back in 2005.
And if you did read the original you'll know that it should be bird flu kimchi or - if we want to get really accurate - bird flu and kimchi extract.
So what was it all about?
Scientists at Seoul National University say they fed an extract of kimchi (kimchi is a dish of fermented cabbage and other vegetables) to 13 chickens infected with bird flu, Newcastle disease and bronchitis - and a week later 11 of them had started recovering.
I worry about the words "started recovering". Did no one ever follow that up and find out what eventually happened to the chickens? Did they continue to recover? It is said that "their death rate fell" but with only 11 chickens "starting to recover" it is hardly a valid scientific study.
Even the researchers themselves said that the results were far from scientifically proven and if kimchi did have the effects they observed, it was unclear why.
A few interesting links if you want to study this further. They're out-of-date but do make interesting reading.
And The Korea Times (05-18-2008) is telling people to wash their hands with reference to combating bird flu. Absolutely no reference to eat kimchi or sauerkraut. Bird flu is still very common in Korea with frequent outbreaks so if the experiment had been truly successful, surely 5 years later they would be using that technology. They're not. Korea imports Tamiflu.
The closest statement I can find on the study that is not just a rehash of what everyone else was saying is this: "A Korean research team has shown that kimchi may fight the bird flu. In an experiment with three groups of chickens infected with the bird flu virus, the recovery rate of the two groups that received a bacterial culture present in kimchi (11 of 13 recovered in both groups) far exceeded the group that did not receive the culture. All 13 chickens died in the latter group."
They give a link to the Korea Times as a reference but unfortunately I can't search that far back into their archives. But that statement above is the first and only time I've heard reference to 3 groups of birds.
If you do a search for bird flu sauerkraut at Pubmed, the US research database where most scientific findings end up, you won't find a single reference to it.
You will find thousands of references to bird flu and you will find thousands of references to sauerkraut but todate (Aug 2014) their isn't a single reference where both are mentioned.
For me, that is the most convincing evidence that the intial "study" was so flawed that no serious researcher even feels it is worth quoting.
Sauerkraut is a good lactic acid fermented food, as is kimchi, and eating either will do you nothing but good. They'll both build your resistance to infection and boost your immune system.
But as yet, I'm not prepared to believe that either will save me from the next great pandemic - where it is bird flu, swine flu or any other type of influenza.
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