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Dr Newsom (September 2002 JRSM1) states that he found 266 items relating to umckaloabo on the Internet. Searches in medical databases yield more information on this herbal medicine, and go some way towards answering his question, ‘did the cure work?’. Since Stevens' days, several clinical trials of this remedy (which has been commercially available in Germany for about 50 years) have been published2,3,4,5. Most of these studies are methodologically weak and therefore inconclusive. Yet their results collectively imply that umckaloabo is effective and probably safe in treating upper respiratory tract infections, particularly in children. Perhaps Stevens had a point after all?