Flu: Fighting the Flu Without the Shot (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you feel the homeopathic flu solution from Dolisos will help ward off the flu this season?

WEIL:
The homeopathic flu remedies are harmless, but I have not seen good evidence for their efficacy.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Would colloidal Silver be of help?

WEIL:
Colloidal silver preparations are probably effective against some bacterial infections. I don't have any information about whether they would be helpful for flu.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What can we do for our young children to boost their immune system this flu season?

WEIL:
I think giving children a good multivitamin is important, especially if they're not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Teach them to wash their hands frequently, and I would consider giving a half dose of astragalus during the season to boost immunity.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Are folks with autoimmune disease at greater risk?

WEIL:
No.

MEMBER QUESTION:
When the SARS virus was in the news, a friend from the Philippines sent me an e-mail from her sister in Hong Kong for a recipe for making tea: 1 garlic clove, a few slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon honey. Does it sound like it would be good to prevent flu?

WEIL:
It can't hurt. Actually, this is the kind of soup Chinese people will add astragalus root to. It has a pleasant taste and that's the common way of consuming astragalus in China.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Green tea helps the immune system. What about the green tea supplements; are they as effective?

WEIL:
There may be an advantage to green tea supplements for people who don't want the caffeine in green tea, but I think it also depends on the brand and quality of the supplement. I generally tell people to drink good quality green tea.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I am worried about getting the flu shot for children because their immune systems are not fully developed and we don't know the long-term effects. Do I have it wrong?

WEIL:
I don't think that's a real concern. Immunizations can actually help the immune system mature, and I would follow the CDC guidelines about giving flu shots to children.

"I think giving children a good multivitamin is important, especially if they're not eating enough fruits and vegetables."

MEMBER QUESTION:
I had a total abdominal hysterectomy 3 weeks ago. How long will my immune system be compromised, and should I try to get the flu shot? I don't want to take it from someone else who may need it more.

WEIL:
I think your immune system should be just fine by now, and I think people under the age of 65 really don't need the flu shot, unless they have preexisting respiratory disease.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Let's say I get the flu, what should I do to lessen the length and severity of symptoms

WEIL:
First you should know there are three prescription drugs that effectively do this if you take them within 36 hours of first onset of symptoms. It would be a good idea to arrange with a physician how to get these drugs if you do get the flu.

Other than that, you can try the homeopathic remedies or black elderberry syrup, which shows some efficacy against flu, and treat the symptoms as needed.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What are the 3 prescription drugs available to fight the flu symptoms?

WEIL:
The first one is called Tamiflu; the second is amantidine; and the third is Relenza. These have somewhat different indications and effects, so it would be best to talk to your physician about which one to keep on hand or to have a prescription for in case you need it.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Does the flu mist work well? Why don't they recommend it for those over 49?

WEIL:
Flu mist does work well. It's a live virus vaccine as opposed to the shot, which is a killed virus. The concern in older people is they may be at greater risk for vaccine reactions from a live virus product because their immune systems are not as efficient. However, I think it's perfectly okay for people up to 65 to use the flu mist. Flu mist is available, although the supplies are also limited. It also costs more than the flu shot.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I understand that slippery elm is good for a flu-related sore throat, but in what format? I can't imagine a tablet will help once in the stomach.

WEIL:
There are slippery elm lozenges that you can buy in the health food store. You can suck on them and they soothe a sore throat.



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