Canadian health authorities are funding a large study to investigate the efficacy of a ginseng-based product to fight the common cold.
Tests on Cold-fX, made by Edmonton-based CV Technologies, will be conducted jointly by the University of Alberta, which is to recruit 500 people for the trial, and medical officer of health (MOH) Dr Gerry Predy.
The trial will measure the effect Cold-fX has on strengthening the immune system and preventing colds and flu, as well as its abilit to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Around 500 healthy adults with a history of recurrent colds and flu will be given the remedy for four months.
"Institutionalized older adults in five nursing homes who took Cold-fX for up to 12 weeks reduced their risk of getting influenza and respiratory syncytial virus by 89 per cent. We now want to try it in a healthy adult population," said Dr Predy.
CV Technologies president and chief scientific officer Dr Jacqueline Shan and a group of 25 scientists developed the product over a 10-year period, spending $15 million in research and development. The firm has also patented a proprietary technology, ChemBioPrint, to identify the active components in North American ginseng, used in the product.
Research has identified more than 200 different varieties of ginseng, making it difficult to compare the numerous extracts available on the market. A study out yesterday found that the herb could have dangerous effects on the fetus if taken by pregnant women. The study authors called for further investigation into the plant's different active agents.
Cold-fx will be one of the first nutraceuticals to be registered under Canada's new natural health product regulations, entering into law in January next year.
Ginseng is also thought to enhance stamina and reduce feelings of fatigue and physical stress. Recently it has been found to have an anti-cancer function and to normalise blood glucose levels, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing risk of obesity.