Colds/Flu: CAM Therapies for Specific Conditions
- Today, the top-selling remedy in France
for flu is Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic medicine, representing 50 percent of the market.
However, Oscillococcinum was not found to be effective in patients with severe
- Some phytochemicals, nutrients found in fruits and
vegetables, appear to be helpful for minor illnesses, such as colds.
- In conventional medical facilities where
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is offered, it may be the most reasonable first approach for
certain conditions, such as colds. Treatment with TCM generally produces
positive changes within one to three months.
- Americans now use herbs for a variety of minor conditions, the
most common being colds.
- Echinacea purpurea is an herb that is primarily used to
prevent and treat the common cold, flu, and upper respiratory tract infections;
to enhance immune system function; and to treat systemic Candida (a yeast-like fungi) infections. It is
thought to be a transient immunostimulant. There is good clinical research
support for its use in colds, flus, and upper respiratory infections, but
research on other applications is more equivocal. When using echinacea to
prevent cold and flu, or to relieve their symptoms, it should be taken in small
doses every few hours, with a maximum length of treatment of six to eight
successive weeks. Between any such treatment periods, you should abstain from
taking any echinacea for at least two weeks. A typical preparation and dose is
any one of the following three times a day: 0.5-1 g of the dried root, or a cup
of tea made with that amount of dried root; 325-650 mg of the freeze-dried
plant; 1-2 ml of E. purpurea juice stabilized in 22 percent ethanol alcohol; 2-4 ml (1-2 tsp.)
of a 1:5 alcohol solution; 1-2 ml (0.5-1 tsp.) of a 1:1 fluid extract; 100-250
mg of the dry powdered extract of 6.5:1 or 3.5 percent echinacoside. Among the
cautions and contraindications are its use in patients with autoimmune disease;
with tuberculosis, leukosis, collagenosis, or multiple sclerosis. Continuous
use may result in immunosuppression.
- Researchers have found that ginseng extract stimulates the immune system and
helps prevent colds and flu.
- Ephedra, a twiggy herb, has proven valuable in
treating colds. Ephedra can be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or
heart disease. It may cause or worsen hypertension, arrhythmiaÕs, stroke,
pheochromocythoma, thyrotoxicosis, glaucoma, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia,
palpitations, hyperglycemia, and can result in death.
- Influenza patients became symptom-free
more quickly than a placebo group when treated with botanicals and
- Classical homeopathy is considered a complete medical system,
capable of addressing a wide array of health problems, such as colds and flu.
Caution: Echinacea should not
be taken if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. It should not be taken if
you have an autoimmune disease (such as multiple sclerosis or lupus). Echinacea
may also interfere with drugs taken for immunosuppressive therapy, as well as
treatments for HIV and tuberculosis, since echinacea does temporarily stimulate
or enhance the immune system.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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