Joseph Mercola, DO
August 22, 2009
More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side effects such as nausea and nightmares. Studies of 103 children showed that 51 to 53 percent had one or more side effects from the medication. The most common side effect was nausea (29 percent), followed by stomach pain or cramps (20 percent) and problems sleeping (12 percent). Almost one in five had a “neuropsychiatric side effect,” such as inability to think clearly, nightmares and “behaving strangely.”
The UK has set up a hotline and Web site that allows people with flu symptoms to be prescribed Tamiflu without having to see a doctor. It’s estimated that about 150,000 people have received the drug through the hotline/Web site so far. Now the British Medical Association’s lead expert on swine flu, Peter Holden, has said Tamiflu is being overused and does not need to be given to everyone with mild symptoms. In fact, he pointed out that in people who are not in high-risk groups, the swine flu virus “typically causes mild symptoms and does not require a course of Tamiflu.”
Before you take a medication, or give one to your child, it’s always wise to examine the benefits versus the risks. In the case of swine flu, most often the symptoms are mild and resolve on their own. Taking Tamiflu, on the other hand, caused side effects ranging from nausea to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as inability to think clearly, in over half the children who took the drug.
Tamiflu is NOT a Safe Drug … And it’s Not Very Effective Either
You may be able to justify taking a flu drug like Tamiflu if you’re only risking a bit of stomach upset and it truly worked to get rid of the flu — but that’s often not the case with Tamiflu. The drug is part of a group of anti-influenza drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which work by blocking a viral enzyme that helps the influenza virus to invade cells in your respiratory tract. Serious side effects include convulsions, delirium or delusions, and 14 deaths in children and teens have been reported as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections. Japan actually banned Tamiflu for children in 2007 because of the steep risks.
It was also around this time that the U.S. FDA began reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu. Further, the drug commonly causes a myriad of side effects that, ironically, resemble the flu symptoms the drug claims to treat, including:
For risking all of these side effects, what do you get in return? Well, when Tamiflu is used as directed (twice daily for five days) it can only reduce the duration of your flu symptoms by 1 to 1.5 days, according to official data! So to summarize this more clearly, if you take Tamiflu you’re taking a drug that has a chance of killing you, was banned in Japan, is loaded with side effects that mimic the flu itself, costs over $100 and at best can only provide 36 hours of symptom relief.
While this scenario is not likely to offer much of a benefit to you, it does offer major benefits to Tamiflu’s manufacturers. The Financial Times reports that governments around the world have previously stockpiled 220 million doses of the drug in preparation for a pandemic that has yet to appear — at a cost of $7 billion.
What Can You do to Avoid the Flu … And Tamiflu?
I strongly believe taking Tamiflu to protect yourself against swine flu or any flu could be a serious mistake. In addition to the dangerous side effects I mentioned above, there is also growing evidence of resistance against the drug … which is just one more reason not to bother with it.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to boost your immune health and fight off flu viruses naturally. I’ve posted this list before, but it’s so important I’m adding it here again. Please familiarize yourself with these top flu prevention tips, and share them with your friends and family members as well. These are the steps that will keep you strong and healthy … something a flu drug will rarely do:
Optimize your vitamin D levels
Optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu — not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are therapeutic at 50-70 ng.ml and done by a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp.
For those of you in the US, we hope to launch a vitamin D testing service through Lab Corp that allows you to have your vitamin D levels checked at your local blood drawing facility, and relatively inexpensively, soon. It the meantime, you can also take part in the D*Action Project to have your levels tested as part of a five-year study for public health.
If you are coming down with flu-like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell, believe the dose could even be as high as 1,000 units per pound of body weight for three days. However, most of Dr. Cannell’s work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. The best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml.
Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods
Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness.
Get Enough Rest
Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. rest.
Use Effective Tools to Address Stress
We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using a tool such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.
Take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil
It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are in trans fats and processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this — antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Also be careful not to over-wash your hands, which can damage your skin and allow an entryway for pathogens.
Eat Garlic Regularly
Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don’t enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.
Avoid Hospitals and Vaccines
In the case of swine flu, I recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to this new bug. Vaccines, when available, will likely be ineffective and may lead to crippling paralysis like Guillain-Barré Syndrome just as it did in the ’70s.
The Times Online July 31, 2009
Eurosurveillance July 30, 2009 Volume 14, Issue 30