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Alternative flu prevention popular
Oct 22, 2004 12:00 am
The alternatives to getting a flu shot in this year of critical shortages of the vaccine are receiving more attention now that only those most at risk will get vaccinated against the virus.
Health food stores and other alternative healing techniques are some of the options available to those otherwise healthy individuals who are not in the high risk categories.
Health food stores typically carry herbal or homeopathic remedies for the cold and flu, which do not have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in treating disease or illness. Some say the effectiveness of the products seems to depend on whether or not the patient believes it will help, but one local business person disagrees.
"I think it will help you, if it's going to help you, whether you believe it will or not," said Hazel Swafford, manager of the Corn Crib on West Main Street. "Some people would rather go to the doctor, but if they would read, study about what it does, they would know how it helps."
Swafford explained overall natural health starts with good colon, digestive and immune systems.
"It works because I've tried it," she said.
Swafford said she carries a variety of preventatives including herbs such as echinacea and goldenseal and other remedies like colloidial silver, which acts as a natural antibiotic.
"We have several things, but I don't know how it would compare to the flu shot," she said. "We have the herbs. We have formulas with it already in there. We also have herbal teas, green teas and tea for respiratory health."
Vitamin C is also a big seller, Swafford said. Vitamin C is believed to help boost the body's immune system, in some measure protecting against infection.
For those who prefer to stick to more conventional methods of prevention, pharmaceutical companies have released several new options in recent years.
New products approved for use in the United States by the FDA include flu mist and tamiflu, both more costly treatments than the average $10 flu vaccine.
Flu mist and tamiflu are not covered by many health insurance plans, although the price of flu mist has been reduced in recent days with the flu vaccine shortage. Some health insurance carriers are also said to be considering covering at least part of the cost of the more expensive treatments.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tamiflu innoculates the patient against the A and B strains of influenza and prevents infection among household members when one household member is diagnosed with the flu.
But Wilson County Health Department Director Paula Campbell said in the absence of the flu vaccine, the best prevention remains good hygiene.
"Get plenty of rest, eat your fruits and vegetables, take care of yourself," Campbell said. "But most importantly, wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and if you are sick, stay home."
Staff Writer Corinne Galeano can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 15 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.