Alternative Medicine

Are there alternative treatments for the flu?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Each year, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans are infected by the flu, which has no cure, and it makes them sneeze, cough, ache and just plain feel terrible [source: CDC]. Various viruses can cause the flu, and alternative medicine practitioners typically aim to boost the body's natural defenses rather than suppress the symptoms. Instead of just treating the illness and its symptoms, alternative medicine practitioners aim to treat the unique patient, offering individually tailored remedies.

    Alternative therapies a flu sufferer might consider include herbal medicine, homeopathy, nutritional therapy or bodywork methods such as aromatherapy, massage and reflexology. Ayurvedic medicine is something else someone with the flu bug might investigate. Its premise is that the flu virus can only harm someone whose whole constitution is out of balance, so it attempts to bring the body's constitution back into balance. Finally, hyperthermia is yet another alternative flu treatment: It increases your body temperature to help your system eliminate the flu virus, which doesn't fare as well at high temperatures.

    Some people turn to alternative treatments for themselves or their children to avoid any ill effects that medication may cause. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some cautions for parents of children taking Tamiflu. Tamiflu is an anti-viral drug that must be taken within 48 hours of initial flu symptoms to shorten the severity of the virus. Reports from Japan of abnormal behavior in children taking Tamiflu prompted the FDA to issue a warning to parents. The initial reports from the Japanese health ministry in 1999 included confusion, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, self-injury and accidents in children under the age of 17 who were taking Tamiflu [source: Hitti]. When the number of young people experiencing problems with Tamiflu escalated over a six-year period -- including 15 deaths related to the drug -- the FDA decided in 2006 to add a warning to the drug's label [source: Hitti]. Parents now are cautioned to watch for unusual behavior that could start within one day of their children taking Tamiflu. For this reason, some choose to skip medication altogether in favor of alternative treatments.

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