Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Holistic Treatments for Colds

ABC News interviewed some holistic medicine doctors on their beliefs about how to treat the cold and flu. I think it's pretty interesting. The answers are not exactly what the AAP and CDC would say. I am curious to hear if any of you follow this advice.

David Rakel, M.D., director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrative Medicine in Madison, Wis.

Cold treatment: At the first sign of symptoms, the goal is to attack the virus early because it replicates the most within the first 48 hours, pointed out Rakel. He might drink more green tea, which appears to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. And he would also drink three big glasses of orange juice to get more vitamin C.

Besides consuming more liquids, Rakel might take 20 to 30 milligrams of zinc acetate lozenges twice a day to improve his immunity. He takes zinc only for the first two or three days of a cold, when he feels it's most effective. He might add andrographis, an herb that's sometimes called "Indian echinacea." He would take 400 milligrams of this immune-stimulating herb three times a day.

Flu prevention: As a family practice physician, Rakel is around a lot of flu, a reason he gets the yearly shot. His main concern is that the vaccine has very small amounts of the preservative thimerosal in it.

Flu treatment: Rakel doesn't recommend Tamiflu, the prescription antiviral drug. "It's the best medication we have in case of a flu pandemic, but it might only shorten flu duration by a day."Instead, he would use a black elderberry extract, a remedy found in a few small studies to help shorten the length and severity of flu. Adults can take one tablespoon, four times a day for the first three days of flu symptoms. Beyond that time frame, he feels it's less beneficial.

Lynne Shinto, N.D., naturopathic physician for the Neurology Wellness Clinic at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.

Cold treatment: When she gets a cold, her philosophy is to let it run its course. She'll turn to the usual suspects: bed rest, more fluids and chicken soup -- or because she's Japanese-American -- miso soup with shiitake mushrooms, fungi known for their immune-strengthening compounds. These approaches may make the symptoms feel better, she admits, but they likely won't make a cold go away faster.

Flu prevention: Shinto doesn't get the flu shot and neither does her young daughter. "I'm not opposed to it, but we're very healthy people and don't get sick a lot."

Flu treatment: She follows the same treatment advice for a cold. And if Shinto's sinuses are congested, she turns to an "old naturopathic therapy" thought to stimulate the immune system. Called hydrotherapy, she might stick her bare feet in hot water for three minutes then in ice-cold water for 30 seconds, and she repeats this hot-cold sequence three times.

I haven't tried a lot of these methods. My kids did get the thimerasol free version of the flu shot last year. However, they both got the flu. I am assuming it didn't last as long as it would have without the vaccine, but who knows! I have horrible sinus infections and I am wondering about the cold/hot feet thing and whether that works! What are your thoughts about holistic medicine and the cold/flu?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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