Health agencies are busy pushing the new flu vaccine ahead of the winter season of coughs and colds-but drinking honeysuckle tea or soup could do the job just as well, a new study has discovered.
Honeysuckle, a Chinese herb, directly targets several flu viruses, including H1N1, or Spanish flu, and H5N1 (avian flu). It also protects against the seasonal flu viruses.
Although honeysuckle tea has been drunk in China for many centuries to help ward off flu, researchers from Nanjing University are the first to prove that it works. A molecule in the plant-known as MIR2911-represses flu viruses by targeting and killing genes that help the virus replicate.
It's believed to be the first time that a natural product has been proven to directly target a virus. And, unlike vaccines, MIR2911 molecules are living and dynamic, and better able to lock into a virus that is also changing.
(Source: Cell Research, published online, October 7, 2014)