The FDA wants you to know that herbal supplements have not been approved to fight swine flu, or really anything. Still, some internet pharmacies want you to believe that a pill of twigs is the answer to all your unlikely health ills. And like all good scams, some of their products are dangerous…
We found one ad selling colloidal silver that claims the metal is, “the answer to prevent or treat Swine Flu, MRSA, and other bacterial or viral infections, and superpathogens.” Colloidal silver may have mild antiseptic powers, but it has no proven use against any illness. And even low doses can build up to toxic levels in the body. And silver ingestion can cause adverse affects, including a permanent bluish discoloration of the skin, nails and whites of the eyes; birth defects; and in severe cases organ damage and neurological disorders.
There’s also little evidence that “immune boosting” herbs and other supplements can help prevent flu. There is scanty evidence that elderberry can ease the severity of flu symptoms. And the homeopathic flu remedy, Oscillococcinum, also lacks convincing evidence.
We’ve also seen Internet sites offering generic Tamiflu without a prescription for the treatment of H1N1 flu. In the past, similar offers have been found to contain just vitamin C, and other ineffective ingredients. The only FDA approved treatments for swine flu are the prescription antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). And those medications should be taken only when you need them and with a doctor’s prescription.
So what should you do if you think you have swine flu? Well, first, calm down because you probably don’t. Fight the urge to rush to the internet for an immediate cure and instead make an appointment with your doctor, who can prescribe, you know, medicine.
Avoid supplements claiming to help with swine (or any) flu [Consumer Reports Health Blog]