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Some Turn To Homeopathic Remedies To Combat Flu



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Some Turn To Homeopathic

Remedies To Combat Flu

HARTFORD –– This season’s hard-charging flu epidemic has been one for the books.

Several Connecticut hospitals have tightened restrictions on visitors, going as far as to provide masks and waterless handwash in waiting areas to cut down on the spread of the disease. And patients are flooding emergency rooms.

“We’re on a pace to have our busiest December on record,” said Shawn Mawhiney, spokesman for the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich.

From December 1 to 17, the eastern Connecticut hospital has seen 2,362 patients go through its emergency room, a 22 percent increase over the same period last year, Mawhiney said.

With vaccines in short supply, medical experts said there are some homeopathic measures people can take to help ward off this particularly harsh bug, which has already claimed one life in Connecticut and more than 40 nationwide.

“The vaccine’s not perfect,” said Dr Amalia Punzo, director of integrated medicine at Hartford Hospital. “People think ‘I’m vaccinated, I can go to the mall.’ There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be protected.

“I’m not a panic person, I’m not an alarmist, but this one scares me,” Dr Punzo added. “This is one of the things where you have to pay attention to prevention.”

Dr Punzo, a medical doctor and board-certified homeopathic doctor, explained that homeopathy is based on the law of similars –– like treats like.

“You administer to someone a substance which in nature which would cause the exact symptom of what you’re trying to cure,” she said.

For example, a derivative found in red onion is used to treat the watery eyes and runny nose of allergies and colds.

One homeopathic remedy in demand these days is influenzium, which is prepared the same way the vaccine is and from the same viral strains. A sugarcoated pellet, influenzium can be taken in small weekly doses by healthy people during the flu season as a preventive, then in more concentrated, frequent amounts if flu symptoms arise, Dr Punzo said. It is available by prescription.

An over-the-counter remedy to counter and treat flu symptoms is oscillococcinum, which is derived from duck livers and is available in health food stores, Dr Punzo said. It is taken in high, frequent dosages if flu symptoms develop.

“It reduces the symptoms and you don’t have [the flu] as long,” Dr Punzo said.

The small homeopathic pharmaceutical companies have felt the effect of this flu season. Joe Lillard, owner of Bethesda, Md.-based Washington Homeopathic Products, said the 300 to 400 orders he has taken for influenzium are three times what they were last year.

“Just about everybody that calls wants a dose,” Mr Lillard said.

Hartford Hospital’s Dr. Punzo, whose job it is to put together treatments that blend the best of conventional and alternative medicines, said naturopathic remedies can also help fight the flu.

The castor oil despised but swallowed regularly many generations ago promotes healthier mucus, the body’s first line of defense, Dr Punzo said. The taste has improved slightly because cherry- and lemon-flavored castor oil is now available.

Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are also helpful in building up immunity.

Dr Punzo admits there is still some prejudice from the conventional medical community to homeopathy, a discipline around for nearly 200 years.

Homeopathic medicine took root in American society in the mid-1800s when it was brought over by European doctors, most notably German physician Samuel Hahnemann. By 1900 there were more than 20 homeopathic medical colleges. The first American medical society was a homeopathic organization, Dr Punzo said.

“Homeopathy has been around a long time. There’s a lot of solid science. A lot of research,” Dr Punzo said. “All the remedies are FDA approved. It’s not made by witch doctors.”

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