Key ingredient in beer may help treat the common cold

Got a cold? Treat yourself to a cold one.

A new study, reports Agence France-Presse, suggests that a chemical compound in beer can help the human body fight the virus behind the common cold.

Of course, there are some important caveats. First, the study was conducted and published by Sapporo Breweries, a Japanese beer manufacturer, through its Sapporo Medical University. And secondly, an adult would have to drink about 30 cans of beer to get enough humulone, the compound said to have anti-viral properties.

The humulone found in hops, one of beer's three main ingredients, gives the alcoholic drink its signature bitter taste.

Still, if the research holds up under scrutiny, the extraction of humulone could have potential medical benefits. As AFP reports, scientists at the university said the compound was effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial virus.

"The RS virus can cause serious pneumonia and breathing difficulties for infants and toddlers, but no vaccination is available at the moment to contain it," said Jun Fuchimoto, a researcher from the company. "We are now studying the feasibility of applying humulone to food or nonalcoholic products. The challenge really is that the bitter taste is going to be difficult for children."

However, Time magazine notes that beer itself is said to have other health benefits, including increasing bone density and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's, dementia and heart disease.