Fighting the Flu Without the Shot
WebMD Live Events Transcript
With the shortage of flu shots this year, what can you do to ward off a winter's-worth of sneezing and fevers? A dose of WebMD Live might help. Integrative medicine expert Andrew Weil, MD, joined us on Nov. 4, 2004, with his tips for flu prevention and treatment.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
What dose of echinacea do you take for keeping a cold at bay?
For adults I recommend one teaspoon of echinacea tincture in a little water four times a day. If you use a capsule form, follow the dosage recommendations on the product. Echinacea is quite safe.
Dr. Weil, as a doctor, how do you avoid being around sick people?
I don't work in hospitals very much. I supervise an outpatient clinic and I wash my hands frequently. The main route of the flu virus is from hands to eyes and mouth. By the way, the flu virus can exist on inanimate objects, like doorknobs, for some time.
Do liquid hand sanitizers work as well as alcohol wipes?
I think alcohol wipes are preferable because they don't contribute to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibacterial products on the market are not as good an idea.
By the way, ordinary soap and warm water is fine if you wash long enough, about the length of time it takes to sing happy birthday.
Living on a college campus, what types of things can I do to avoid the flu, other than getting the flu shot?
Keep up good habits of nutrition; exercise, stress reduction and rest, all of which may be easier said than done when you're in college. I'd also recommend following the advice given above about the hand washing and taking astragalus during the flu season.
Would you advise taking astragalus if you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy?
Generally I discourage women from taking anything in the first trimester. Astragalus is completely nontoxic. I think it would be fine to take later in pregnancy.
Would you advise taking astragalus once you have taken a flu shot?
Again, it can't hurt, because astragalus has general immune boosting effects and can help against colds.
My husband will NOT get the flu shot. Friends have been telling him that the mercury in the shots, plus the flu itself, can make him deathly sick, and also can affect his health in other ways. I always get the shot, and nothing affects me at all. What can I tell him to get him to listen to me and get the shot? We live with my elderly parents, and I am afraid of giving it to them.
A mercury compound has been used as a preservative in some vaccines, but I don't think that's true for the flu shot. In any case, this is being phased out. I think the risk of flu shots is minimal.
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