Researchers in Taiwan recently analyzed the compounds in the plant and
exposed them to an H1N1 influenza virus in test tubes.
Some of those plant compounds showed stronger antiviral properties than an
antiviral flu drug called amantadine,
according to the scientists, who included Chia-Lin Lee of the Graduate
Institute of Natural Products at the College of Pharmacy of Taiwan's Kaohsiun
Lee's team didn't test the "devil's dung" compounds against flu in people or
in lab animals. And their lab tests were done before the current H1N1 swine flu
outbreak began, so the virus they studied was in the same family of viruses as
the "swine flu" that's made many people sick, but it's probably not the exact
Writing in the Journal of Natural Products, the researchers note that
a standardized extract from the plant may deserve further study. But they're
not recommending any products that contain that ingredient.
Earlier this year, the
FDA warned the public to be wary of any product that claims to diagnose,
prevent, treat, or cure the H1N1 swine flu.
Lee's study was funded by Taiwan's National Science Council and Department