Question: I get the flu every winter whether I have the flu jab or not. Can you recommend any alternative remedies to prevent or treat flu effectively? Also, a female friend of mine seems to get allergy-like sneezing and watery, itchy eyes around November and December. What could that be? And can you suggest any natural treatments? J.F., Epping
Answer: The herbal remedy Green Chiretta (Andrographis paniculata) has been shown to be both preventative and curative for flu and related conditions.1 In one trial of 179 patients with upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) like flu, a standardized extract of the herb was significantly more effective than a placebo at improving cough, headache, nasal symptoms and especially throat symptoms. The herbal extract was taken three times a day for three days.2
Other studies have confirmed these results, showing Andrographis to be effective for reducing symptoms of flu and URTIs with negligible or no side-effects. According to one review of the evidence, A. paniculata “may be an appropriate alternative treatment of uncomplicated acute upper respiratory tract infection”.3
A number of studies have also reported a prophylactic (preventative) effect. Moreover, the herb may even have beneficial effects against diseases like cancer and conditions induced by
the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).4
Supplements of the herb can be purchased online from Amazon (Andrographis Herb Paniculata Pure Herb Capsules 100 X 500mg).
I suggest you take this supplement from now until the end of the flu season as directed on the label.
As for your friend with winter allergy-like symptoms, it may be that she has an allergy to mould spores, such as Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Mucor and Penicillium. Given the right conditions, these mould spores can become airborne in UK winter temperatures. In this case, I would recommend another herbal, the homeopathic remedy Galphimia Glauca, which has an interesting story behind it.
During a plant-gathering expedition in the 1870s through tropical South America, the Saxon homeopath, pharmacist and author Dr Willmar Schwabe (1839–1917), together with his colleagues, came across the Cinturão Largo tribe living deep in the Amazonian rainforest. These people used a snuff they made from the dried and pulverized yellow leaves of a plant. The plant was Galphimia glauca (also called thryallis and gold shower). The snuff produced vehement sneezing and was used by the tribespeople to clear congested nasal passages. A copious supply of this plant material was shipped back to Germany—and is still being sent on a regular basis today.
Because it can provoke such fierce sneezing, the herb is now used in homeopathic preparations to cure allergic rhinitis. I have found it to be thoroughly reliable for stopping symptoms of allergies such as hay fever, and there are several clinical trials to support its use for this.5 In one high-quality trial, Galphimia Glauca 4DH was significantly more effective
than a placebo, with therapeutic success reported in 83 per cent of the patients
taking the remedy.6
In another study of more than 200 hay-fever patients suffering from nasal and eye symptoms, Galphimia Glauca 6DH (prepared in the usual homeopathic manner, with succussion—shaking the preparation at each stage of the dilution) was compared with Galphimia glauca as a straight dilution of 10 (the same degree of chemical deconcentration but no succussion) and a placebo. The results showed that the succussed Galphimia Glauca 6DH was far superior in effectiveness to the placebo and the unsuccussed dilution of Galphimia glauca, which were both similar in efficacy.7
In a pooled analysis of 11 Galphimia Glauca studies involving a total of 1,038 hay-fever sufferers, the researchers concluded that the remedy was consistently superior to a placebo and at least as effective as the standard antihistamines.8 The remedy also appears to be effective for bronchial asthma, atopic eczema, hives, nettle rash and allergy-related stomach complaints.5
If your friend’s symptoms are seasonal, as they seem to be, I suggest that she begin taking 15 drops of Galphimia Glauca4DH twice a day between meals at about two weeks before she expects her symptoms to begin, and continue taking that dosage for the entire time she expects to be affected.
Galphimia Glauca is available from homeopathic pharmacies such as Ainsworths (www.ainsworths.com; tel: 01883 340 332).
Homeopathy in action
Galphimia Glauca is an effective all-round anti-allergic remedy and a perfect model of homeopathy in action:
- what it can cause in straightforward ‘material’ doses—uncontrolled sneezing—it can cure in small, diluted doses
- it does not lose its curative effect at higher potencies, such as LM—which stands for the Roman numerals for ‘50,000’, which means the dilution is 1 part in 50,000—but only if it’s serially diluted and properly succussed as prescribed by homeopathy
- there appears to be a slight yet measurable trend showing that the greater the dilution (i.e. the higher the potency), the more effective the remedy
- as is usual with homeopathy, there are no deleterious side-effects
- it is not ‘isopathic’—which means it doesn’t work like a vaccine. With vaccines, a minute amount of pollen would be used to desensitize a patient’s predisposition to react to pollen. But like most homeopathic preparations, Galphimia Glauca’s efficacy is based on a broad, non-specific ‘law of similars’ that allows it to reliably deal with a very wide range of ‘similar’ problems. Put another way, in homeopathy, like heals like.