Bali Belly and Raspberry Cordial
This is a transcript of The World Today broadcast at 12:10
AEST on local radio (This as ABC radio)
Rasberry juice used to fight off stomach infections
The World Today - Wednesday, March 21, 2001 12:28
COMPERE: Well, let's take a good news story for a bit of a change.
One of the most common but serious afflictions in young children,
gastroenteritis, could be prevented with simple raspberry juice, it seems.
That's the remarkable discovery from a chance overhearing of a conversation in a
cafe in southern New South Wales. The conversation led to laboratory experiments
at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga campus, which show apparently that a
range of common stomach bugs such as e-coli are actually killed off by raspberry
juice or raspberry juice cordial diluted to as low as 10 per cent strength.
Human trials are now being planned to try and prove that routinely drinking
raspberry juice could act as a preventative against outbreaks of stomach
infections in places like schools amongst children, or for children and adults
This morning I spoke to the leader of the research team, Dr Heather Cavanagh.
HEATHER CAVANAGH: This was based on a coffee room conversation regarding the
anecdotal use of raspberry cordial by local farmers when I first arrived in
Australia. And I have to admit I thought they were pulling my leg. I thought it
was like the five o'clock wave in Wagga. However once they had started talking
about it, people from Queensland started telling me that they recommend
holiday-makers use raspberry cordial. People from Perth starting telling me that
the local pig farms use it. And it seems to be just widespread throughout
COMPERE: I believe the budgerigar breeders have it on their website that young
budgies should be fed this.
HEATHER CAVANAGH: Yes. The Budgerigar Council of Victoria on their website
recommend that "adding a few drops of raspberry cordial will help keep your
budgies' water clean and bacteria-free" is the quote.
Obviously the belief in it is very strong. One raspberry cordial manufacturer
has actually gone as far as producing a powdered raspberry drink powder - a
powdered raspberry drink so that it's much easier for the farmers to add to the
drinking troughs and into the water.
COMPERE: Now, you've done some laboratory experiments which tend to back up this
HEATHER CAVANAGH: Yes, without doubt. We have tested in the laboratory the
activity of this raspberry cordial down to a one-in-10 dilution, which is much
weaker than the manufacturers recommend, and we've found that it will kill the
common food borne pathogens like E. coli and salmonella. It's also very
effective on stapharius mycobacterium, which is one of the causes of TB
[Tuberculosis] and clostridium, which is a common source of wind infection.
We are very interested in taking it on into clinical trial, and we're also very
interested in looking at the effect on parasites like giardia, to know if things
like the Sydney outbreak a couple of years ago can in fact be helped by
COMPERE: This of course has a very serious side because gastroenteritis, as I
mentioned in the lead, is one of the most common baby afflictions. Not only
that. In the developing world it's one of the most common killers.
HEATHER CAVANAGH: I mean, I have to qualify this by saying that we have no idea
of the effect on people once you actually have the infection. I mean, that's
something we would very much like to look at.
At the moment all we can really say is that having the raspberry cordial in the
water when you're drinking it is much more likely to reduce your chance of
picking up gastroenteritis. So at the moment we're looking at it as a kind of
preventative. However, clinical trials may show that in fact it can be used as a
COMPERE: Well, certainly prevention is better than cure always.
At what strength must you use this? I mean, obviously you can't have it really
HEATHER CAVANAGH: No. The maximum strength that it's effective is one-in-10.
However, using it at the manufacturers' recommended strength, which is one plus
four, so, one in five, is perfect. That will keep your water clean.
COMPERE: But presumably you'd also have to buy a cordial that's got a fair
amount of raspberry juice in it.
HEATHER CAVANAGH: Yes. You must buy the cordials that have at least 35 per cent
COMPERE: What about pure raspberry juice? Is that even better?
HEATHER CAVANAGH: Yes. It works just as well. There's no problem with the
raspberry juice. And obviously that's where the activity is coming from, because
the results of using pure raspberry juice mimic the cordial exactly.
If there's a tummy bug at school and perhaps you want to give them that extra
chance of not catching it, raspberry cordial may be the way to go.
COMPERE: It certainly is. Raspberry cordial - the miracle.
Well, Dr Heather Cavanagh is a lecturer in biomedical science at Charles Sturt