No flu shot for you? Don't panic. Vitamins, herbs, walnuts, and raw garlic can ward off the flu virus, some say. A few chiropractors even promise to boost immunity with an adjustment.
But what works? Very little of it, doctors say. In fact, "people who trade on other people's misery and fear are charlatans," Bennett Lorber, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, tells WebMD.
As a parent you know how hard it can be for children to understand stressful situations, such as the current situation of novel H1N1flu. Stressful situations often cause children to worry and have many questions as to why it is happening and how it can be fixed. It is important to remember to take care of your health and well-being as well as the health of your children. If you cope with a stressful situation well, your children will also cope better. Your confidence and calm attitude will help your...
Prescriptions: When it comes to flu virus protection, only the flu shot and FluMist actually work. "FluMist [the inhaled vaccine] is very good protection, as much as the shot ... but FluMist is in short supply this year, too," says Gio Baracco, MD, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
However, even though the antiviral medicines may help you feel better, you can still infect other people until the drug has taken full effect. You'll be up, going to work or daycare, yet spreading the flu virus to others.
Supplements: People swear by supplements and herbs -- like echinacea, zinc, garlic, ginseng, and large doses of vitamin C -- to strengthen the immune system. But most doctors have trouble taking it seriously.
"To my knowledge, none of these has been shown to work very well for prevention," says Baracco. "And once you're sick, they really make no difference whatsoever in fighting a flu virus."
"There's no reason to believe that herbal remedies will prevent flu," Lorber tells WebMD. "Echinacea has been well studied now, and shown to do no good."
Lorber advises taking a daily multivitamin year-round to stay healthy and fight off a flu virus. "A multivitamin is the only commercially available product with any immune-boosting value," he says. A study published last year showed that taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement decreased the number of respiratory infections in people over age 45 with type 2 diabetes.