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Elderberry versus Tamiflu?

Go team Sweet’s Syrup!!

You can probably guess my answer being an Integrative Physician.  I figure since pharmacists say “only 2 % “ of children have a risk of psychosis as a side effect I don’t want my kids to be one of those 2%.  As a friend posted on my page, Siri says there are 73.9 million children ages 0-17 in the US.  2% of that is 1,478,000.  Um.  No thanks! In my blog, I explain why I wouldn’t get a flu shot either but I digress.

So since I have plenty of evidence as to why the flu shot is not effective, we all know that whether you get the flu vaccine or not, you can indeed get the flu, even if the same strain is found in the flu vaccine.  “They say” that it won’t be as severe or you won’t have complications if you get the flu vaccine but the data does not support that either.  So now you have a choice to do Tamiflu or go au natural and try some elderberry syrup. 

I personally go for elderberry syrup and think it is reasonable for your average healthy person to go for the natural route.   Sweet’s Syrup is a local favorite but also having people reach out from other states for her special concoction!  A lot of health minded mamas are making their own as well. I am not one of those so I buy mine.  Not only is elderberry syrup delicious but it has anti- viral effects and can treat influenza A and B viruses.  Since only about 14-26% of flu- like illness is actually flu , then it is nice to know that elderberry helps with other upper respiratory viral infections too!    Elderberry syrup is appreciated around the world for their anti flu properties. 

Risks for elderberry syrup?  Most elderberry syrup contains honey which should not be given under age 1 for risk of botulism from the honey rather than the elderberry itself.  Also one should not eat raw elderberries as you will have a major tummy ache.  While there may be a few side effects,  like allergic reactions and tummy aches, none are like that with Tamiflu. 

Some people may benefit if given Tamiflu very early on but the overall studies are not very appealing.  Clearly this needs to be a decision between you and your doctor.  I am not prepared to write a thesis on this but have found Tamiflu may have issues with psychosis. It is even contraindicated in Japan for that reason and in similar studies found it causes respiratory issues.  There are issues with sudden death in sleep.  There are reports of at the cause of flu related deaths, would we find more deaths that may have been precipitated by Tamiflu? Many stories making the news sound awfully fishy for this.  Even the WHO (World Health Organization) downgrades Tamiflu on the drugs list after reviewing the evidence.   

I am sure there are some favorable studies for Tamiflu, but everything is a risk and benefit decision and I am clearly biased here.  I have prescribed this medicine when patients choose that it is worth the risk.  I do know people who swear it made them better faster. Yay!  I want everyone to have the right to choose and I pray for good outcomes for everyone.  However, they should know alternatives and that is the purpose of this article.

Some studies show Tamiflu only reduces symptoms by one day!  Elderberry has evidence to suggest it may help resolve symptoms 4 days earlier!   The cost for these large jar of Sweet’s Syrup for around $30 that can be used for the whole family.  Big difference in cost and time for symptom relief! 

If you get the flu, avoid Tylenol for reasons I post in this blog.  More specifically related to the flu, is that fever decreases replication of the virus.  We lower the temperature and the flu virus thrives and replicates.  No Bueno!  We also decrease glutathione that is our body’s most potent antioxidant.  We want more of that when sick, not less.  For alternatives to Tylenol check out my blog on this.

How to stay well during the flu season , read blog here.  Basically, Sweet’s Syrup is important here.  What to do if it hits you or your family members? Read here.  Again, Sweet’s syrup plus some homeopathy and vitamins. Can you see the pattern here? ;-)  Just like the flu vaccine doesn’t often work, see the studies here, homeopathy doesn’t always work but is completely safe and may work.  Regardless of choosing Tamiflu or elderberry syrup, it is important to recognize dangerous signs of deterioration or respiratory distress and seek medical care when appropriate.  

Eventually I truly believe the medicine will come around and realize that our bodies are divinely made with crazy cool mechanisms to heal.  We need to learn to support our immune systems rather than suppress it automatically. There is a time and place for modern medicine  Now to find a balance which will require the art of medicine in combination with evidence. 
and I am grateful for it.

Ok as a disclaimer, you can see that I am partial to Sweet's Syrup because I know she uses the best ingredients and that is what I sell in my office!  It is all organic and made with love. However lots of mamas are making it homemade and I know some other awesome doc's who make some cool concoctions. There are really good variations out so there just get you some!

Here are a few additional links related to the harms or lack of efficacy for Tamiflu.

"Drug company Hoffmann-La Roche (OTCMKTS – RHHBY) bilked U.S. federal and state governments out of $1.5 billion by misrepresenting clinical studies and falsely claiming that its well-known influenza medicine Tamiflu was effective at containing potential pandemics, according to a recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit". .

Tamiflu & Relenza
(anti viral neuraminidase inhibitors, not vaccines)

Cochrane Review
"... Dr David Tovey, Editor-in-Chief of The Cochrane Library, commenting on the release of the updated Cochrane Review, said: “We now have the most robust, comprehensive review on neuraminidase inhibitors that exists. Initially thought to reduce hospitalisations and serious complications from influenza, the review highlights that [NIs are] not proven to do this, and it also seems to lead to harmful effects that were not fully reported in the original publications. This shows the importance of ensuring that trial data are transparent and accessible.”

The publication of this review has generated widespread attention from media worldwide, leading the health news agenda in the UK on the day of its release and receiving national coverage in Australia, Canada, the US, and various countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. A selection of news stories is available here, with some key pieces highlighted in the ‘Related resources’ section below..."


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