Patrick B. Massey, MD, PH.D., medical director for complementary and alternative medicine at Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and president of ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy, shared in the Daily Herald that he is often asked in winter is “should I get the flu shot?” He answered that his answer varies. Some people need all the protection they can get and others not as much. Truth be told, it is rare that the flu shot actually prevents the flu. Fortunately nature has provided some natural options to the flu vaccine. There is reasonable medical research that some foods, herbs and supplements may be effective in the prevention and treatment of influenza.
Glycyrrhiza lepidota is the name for the American licorice plant. The active ingredient is a group of compounds termed glycyrrhric acids. Licorice stimulates the production of anti-viral compounds called interferons. It also has anti-inflammatory properties so the symptoms of the flu may be blunted. The most interesting aspect of licorice root (at least to me) is that it actually prevents the influenza virus from getting into the cell, reducing the risk of the cell actually becoming infected. Overall licorice root is safe, however the glycyrrhric acids may cause high blood pressure.
Ginseng is an herb that is often used in Oriental medicine. Ginseng is classified as either red or white. Heat white ginseng and it becomes red ginseng. A number of medical studies have shown that red Korean ginseng helps to significantly reduce the symptoms and duration of upper respiratory tract infections. Although not shown specifically to reduce the incidence of influenza, it is historically used during influenza season to maintain health. Red ginseng can cause an increase in blood pressure in those with high blood pressure. Insomnia can be an issue as well as migraines in those who are sensitive to the effects of red ginseng. Read more