Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). This life-threatening condition resembles a
severe case of eczema
in which cell death causes the epidermis to peel away. The condition began
five days after starting a self-prescribed, 10-day, just-in-case course of
Tamiflu (oseltamivir). He had never suffered from eczema, or any other
allergies, before this. He stopped taking Tamiflu, but it took three months
of intensive treatment to heal and restore his skin back to normal.
SJS is only one of the many adverse drug reactions listed on the package
insert by the drug's manufacturers Roche. The list also includes nausea,
vomiting, diarrhoea, abdom-inal pain, headache, hepatitis, elevated liver
enzymes, rash, allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, cardiac arrhythmia,
seizure, confusion, aggravation of diabetes and haemorrhagic colitis.
There are also serious official concerns that Tamiflu may even have
dangerous neuro-psychiatric side-effects, including self-harm, more commonly
affecting children and teenagers (Waknine Y. Tamiflu may be linked to risk
for self-injury and delirium, 2006; www.medscape.com/
In response to the many enquiries regarding swine flu I've received, here's
what I've found out so far.
Plant-derived polyphenols are powerful anti-oxidants as they are able to
bind viruses. A number of reports-albeit of laboratory and animal studies,
so they may not apply to humans-describe the antiviral activity of
polyphenols against the influenza virus (Antiviral Res, 1993; 21: 289-99;
Antiviral Res, 2007; 76: 1-10). The main dietary sources of polyphenols are
fruits, vegetables, wine, chocolate, coffee and ordinary tea (Camellia
sinensis). The differences between green, black and oolong teas lie in their
fermentation process. Green tea is the most well studied due to its many
health benefits (see Diet, page 10), including antiviral activity (Mol Nutr
Food Res, 2007; 51: 116-34).
Cistus incanus (pink rockrose), a shrub found all over southern Europe and
the Mediterranean, is a rich source of polyphenols (Phytochemistry, 1991;
30: 981-5). As a standardized extract, it is used with success in Italy,
Greece, Spain and Turkey as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antiviral,
antifungal and anti-spasmodic agent (Cell Biol Toxicol, 2000; 16: 83-90;
Therapie, 1999; 54: 731-3; Planta Med, 1994; 60: 34-6; Fitoterapia, 1982;
Nearly a century ago, the Canadian rockrose (Helianthemum canadense), known
in homeop-athy as Cistus Canadensis, underwent pathogenetic tests, or
'provings'-where a preparation is given to healthy volunteers to produce a
symptom pattern and, therefore, the plant's curative power, as like treats
like-which resulted in the following homeopathic indications that,
interestingly, are also reminis-cent of swine flu symptoms: sore throat on
inhaling even slightly cold air, sniffling, hemicrania (a headache
disorder), coldness in the chest, haemorrhage in the lungs, asthmatic when
lying down (trachea feels narrow), preceded by a crawling sensation all over
the skin and colds that are centred in the posterior nose (Boericke W.
Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica. Philadelphia, PA: Boericke &
Tafel Inc, 1927: 211-3). The suggested potencies for Cistus Canadensis range
from the first to the 30th dilution.
Recently, researchers at the Institute of Trans-fusion Medicine,
Charit'e-Universit"atsmedizin Berlin, in Germany, compared an extract of C.
incanus (ECI) with an extract of green tea (both as capsules) in 300
patients with respiratory
tract infections. When the patients scored the severity of their symptoms,
the results showed that their subjective symptom scores, as well as their
objective recorded fever scores, had all decreased over the course of
treatment with ECI, although the green-tea extract resulted in a less
significant decrease in symptoms (Phytother Res, 2009; 14 May; DOI:
The ECI used in the trial was more than 26-per-cent polyphenol, using a
method from previous analyses (Methods Enzymol, 1999; 299: 152-78). In terms
of side-effects, 10 patients in the ECI group experienced nausea, nine had
dizziness and two had stomach complaints whereas, in the green-tea group, 26
patients had nausea, 15 had dizziness, two had stomach complaints, two had
vomiting, two became hypotensive and one had diarrhoea.
In Germany, the reports claim that the swine flu sufferers who have taken
ECI (dispensed by 50,000 state-registered naturopaths) achieved
significantly quicker relief from the severe respiratory distress associated
with the condition, compared with those who have taken Tamiflu. However,
this information, albeit wide-spread, is nevertheless anecdotal, as no
official comparative study has been carried out.
Harald Gaier, a registered naturopath, osteopath, homeopath and herbalist,
practises at The Allergy and Nutrition Clinic, 22 Harley Street, London, and
the Irish Centre of Integrated Medicine, Co. Kildare (www.drgaier.com).
Vol 20 07 October 2009