Risks and Choices for this Year's Flu and Cold Season Safer Medicines are a Real Option*

Doctors and public health officials agree that the most important and effective way to reduce the problems caused by this year's flu and cold viruses is by washing hands more frequently.

Soap is the recommended drug of choice to prevent the spread of infectious agents.

Treating the person who becomes infected with this year's viruses, however, is a more complicated decision.

Conventional antiviral medications may be indicated in severe cases of influenza, but these powerful drugs are not indicated for use for the average case of the flu or common cold. In fact, the antivirals will lead to resistant strains of viruses and decreased efficacy of these drugs when they are really needed.

The challenge to consumers and doctors is that antiviral medication is usually more effective when taken early in the onset of disease, though this is usually before one knows whether the person will get seriously ill or not. A conventional flu treatment is known to cause serious side effects, including hallucinations in children (its use in children was banned in Japan in 2007), neurological conditions in adults, and various serious complications from interactions with other drugs that people take. In the light of these significant potential problems, consumers and doctors have a difficult decision to make on what risks they want to take.

The BMJ (British Medical Journal) reported in August, 2009, that the normally popular flu vaccination programs are experiencing some significant
worldwide resistance from the public as well as physicians. Over half of
the health care workers in Hong Kong are refusing to get the swine flu vaccine, and at least 25% of Canada's population is expressing resistance to get this year's flu shot.

The Hippocratic tradition in medicine encourages the use of safer methods before resorting to more powerful drug treatments, as widely summarized by Hippocrates' most famous dictum, "First, do no harm." Some consumers and doctors are therefore exploring safer methods, such as homeopathic medicines, to treat cold and flu symptoms.

"Few people know that homeopathic medicines have a 200 year history of safety and gained widespread popularity throughout the United States and Europe in the 19th century due to its successes in treating the infectious disease epidemics of that era, including cholera, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza," says David Riley, MD, internal medicine physician and editor in chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine magazine.

In addition to the historical evidence, Dr. Riley noted, "There have been numerous scientific studies that verify the efficacy of homeopathic medicines. One double-blind and placebo controlled randomized study showed that a homeopathic medicine called Engystol (injection solution dosage form) reduced by over 30% the length and the severity of influenza and the common cold symptoms." These positive clinical results are consistent with the basic science research has showed that Engystol ampoules increases immune function through increasing the percentage of interferon-producing lymphocytes.

The effectiveness of another homeopathic remedy, called Gripp-Heel (tablet and injection dosage forms), was compared with that of conventional treatments in a prospective, observational cohort study in 485 patients with mild viral infections and symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, cough or sore throat. As evaluated by the practitioners, 67.9% of patients were considered asymptomatic at the end of Gripp-Heel therapy vs. 47.9% of patients in the control group. Practitioners judged homeopathic treatments as 'successful' in 78.1% of cases vs. 52.2% for conventional therapies.

Tolerability and compliance were 'very good' given for 88.9% of patients in the homoeopathic group vs. 38.8% in the conventional treatment group.

For consumers who want to consider taking safer medications, homeopathic medicines, available through health practitioners, provides a real option for treating symptoms of flu.

Ask your doctor, your chiropractor or integrative health care provider who specializes in complementary or alternative medicine, about Engystol®, Gripp-Heel or any other Heel medicines. Selected pharmacies nationwide also carry safe and effective Heel products.

S. Roan. Overuse of antivirals could make H1N1 pandemic even worse. Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2009. http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-tamiflu24-2009aug24,0,4664654.story Roan, 2009.

Zosia Kmietowicz. Opposition to swine flu vaccine seems to be growing
worldwide. BMJ 26 August 2009;339:b3461.

Heilmann A. A combination injection preparation of a prophylactic for flu and common colds. Biologische Medizin, 21, 3:225-229, 1992 (also published in Biological Therapy, XII,4, 1994).

Engbergs H. Effects of the homeopathic preparation Engystol on interferon-y production by human t-lymphocytes. Immunological Investigations. 35,1, February 2006:19-27.

Rabe, M. Weiser, P. Klein, Effectiveness and tolerability of a homoeopathic remedy compared with conventional therapy for mild viral infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2004 Sep;58(9):827-32.
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