If you feel yourself coming down with a cold you may be better off skipping paracetamol – and reaching for the curry powder instead.
A leading nutritionist claims fenugreek, a common ingredient in Indian cuisine, is a ‘winter elixir’ whose antiviral properties not only alleviate cold and flu symptoms but also prevent the conditions starting in the first place.
The spice, also called Greek hay and wild clover, has been recognised as having medicinal properties for centuries.
The common cold strikes 930,000 Britons on average, on any day in winter. But a cure has long evaded doctors because the virus mutates rapidly from patient to patient.
During a three-month winter period 20 volunteers, ten with colds and flu symptoms and ten without, consumed half a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds twice a week in a curry.
The cold-afflicted volunteers reported immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat and tiredness.
Volunteers who were fit and healthy at the outset remained that way for the duration of the trial, despite usually coming down with a cold at least once in the same period.
The test was conducted by the Anglo-Indian chef Gurpareet Bains, author of Indian Superfood.
He plans further clinical trials with the help of an American university.
He said: ‘We already know that some foods and spices can help alleviate the symptoms of the cold, but the results of these studies show that fenugreek is significantly more beneficial. I couldn’t call this a miracle ingredient – but it’s not far off.’