Old Wives’ Tales – Flu Remedies: myth or wonder cure?

It’s that time of the year again; chain messages with lengthy instructions on how to cure any ailment are circulated. More often than not, the flu remedies are somewhat strange, or downright dangerous.

Mopani Pharmacy Responsible Pharmacist, Corné Cilliers, broke each one down, according to its merits, so you will know which are safe to try at home, and which you should rather disregard.

The Flu Cure

Corenza C, Linctagon-C and ACC 200 – three times per day

ACC 200 is indicated for cystic fibrosis and respiratory illnesses that are associated with sticky mucus, not necessarily the flu. It is also used as a counteractive medicine against paracetamol poisoning – this means, that it will counteract pain and fever medication that contains paracetamol, such as Panado.

The active ingredient in ACC 200, acetylcysteine, may trigger asthma, cause nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, ringing in the ears and a skin rash. Persons with a predisposition for ulcers, should avoid using ACC 200.

Corenza C contains an antihistamine that dries up your mucus, as well as aspirin. Aspirin is contra-indicated for persons with ulcers and/or asthma. Keep in mind there is a Corenza Para-C with paracetamol that contains no aspirin available.

Linctagon-C contains Pelargonium extract, known to relieve symptoms of the common cold and is safe to use for diabetics. It also contains vitamin A, C and Zinc to boost the immune system.

Since ACC 200 thins out mucus, and Corenza C (cannot be used by epileptics) dries it up, these two in combination effectively works against each other. As both are contra-indicated for persons with asthma and ulcers, the two in combination may be dangerous.

Corné recommends: Linctagon-C and Corenza C in combination can work well as a natural antibiotic. It is safe to use after a meal, but using it three times a day may be wasteful as the body can only absorb a certain amount of nutrients per day. Excessive water-soluble vitamins will be flushed out via your urine, and too many fat-soluble nutrients may store in your liver. Never use ACC 200 without consulting a doctor and make sure you do not use it in conjunction with contra-indicated medicines.

Upper respiratory infection / flu

ADVIL CS and ACC 200

Advil CS is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory agent, used for pain and fever. It is however contraindicated for persons with asthma and/or ulcers. This combination can work well, but should be taken only under advisement of healthcare professionals, and definitely on a full stomach.

Cold / Chronic Cough / Sinus infection

Tablespoon of honey with half a teaspoon of cinnamon, daily, for three days

As mentioned in a previous article, raw honey contains pollen, pieces of beeswax and propolis within the honey. These all contribute to it’s immune-boosting properties and high vitamin and mineral count. Always buy local raw honey as it will contain pollen indigenous to your area, therefore help you fight allergies to pollen in the air. Imported honey has to go through a radiation process when it enters the country, therefore rendering it the same as commercial honey.

Commercialised honey has no pollen, beeswax and propolis, and very little nutritional value.

Cinnamon helps to clear congestion and warms the body. It boosts blood circulation. Half a teaspoon in safe to use. The combination of high doses of cinnamon and blood thinners may lead to bruises and nose bleeds.

Corné recommends: This is safe and helpful! Just make sure your honey is raw and local, and watch out for blood thinners with cinnamon, or consult your pharmacist.

Flu – to sweat it out with a Hot Toddy

One or two shots of brandy, a sprinkle of cinnamon or ginger, tablespoon of raw honey, juice of half a lemon, boiling water (enough to top off your mug)

The Hot Toddy is a recipe that has been used for so long, we aren’t even sure where the name originated. Some say it was named in the 1700’s, after a Tod’s Well in Edinburgh, Scotland, where many pubs sourced their water. Others say it was named after an Irish doctor in the 1800’s, Dr Bently Todd – known to prescribe hot brandy, spiced with cinnamon for his cold and flu patients.

One thing that most doctors will agree with: hot beverages soothe a sore throat and stuffy nose. Most of its ingredients have health benefits and are used in other cold and flu remedies.

Corné recommends: This is safe – with caution.

You can choose to include or omit the brandy. Alcohol can help to soothe the body and help you relax, but can have a dehydrating effect or may be too strong for some to handle. It is not recommended for children. If you are using this mixture, do not use it along with any other medication. Some recipes for a Hot Toddy will call for added Disprin. This should rather be left out as aspirin in conjunction with alcohol could be dangerous. Try to add in the raw honey last, after the mixture has cooled down somewhat, to not destroy its health properties by the intense heat.

Aching body

Epson Salt Bath – cup of salt in a hot bath, afterwards – straight to bed

There is no concrete scientific evidence of this working, however, many people have remarked on the relief for multiple symptoms, especially muscle fatigue, after soaking in an Epsom salt bath.

Corné recommends: Safe in general. There are contradictory recommendations for persons with both high and low blood pressure in this regard. If you suffer from high or low blood pressure, test it out for shorter periods of time, and monitor your blood pressure before and after to see if you are at all affected.

Inhalant for better breathing / stuffy nose

Put Vicks VapoRub on the edge of the bath, run it with hot water and keep the bathroom door shut, so you can inhale the steam / cover your head with a towel over a bucket with hot water and Vicks.

Vicks VapoRub is not safe to heat or microwave. It should not be used in or near hot water. Use of petroleum-based over-the-counter remedies such as Vicks VapoRub to alleviate symptoms of rhinitis is common and can be effective, but carries risks of adverse side effects. By using this method, you risk contracting Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia (ELP), an uncommon condition that results from accumulation of exogenous lipids in the alveoli.

Corné recommends: This is dangerous. Its best use is to rub Vicks on your chest, back, under your nose and throat. Some have claimed some relief from using it on the soles of their feet. If you want to ease your breathing using steam, you can use Vapol Breathe Easy drops in a steamer/humidifier/purifier or in a bucket of warm water. You could also place eucalyptus oil on your pillow.

Cold and Flu preventatives

Swallow two to three garlic cloves with vitamin C

This is a healthy combination as garlic is known for its antibiotic properties, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that reduces the damage of harmful substances in the body, and common in cold/flu remedies.

Corné recommends: This is safe and helpful. To combat the smell of garlic on your breath, you can have some fresh parsley. Alternatively, try a garlic and parsley supplement along with your dose of vitamin C.

Two teaspoons of crushed ginger with half a teaspoon of nutmeg, mixed with warm water and a teaspoon of raw honey

Ginger eases cold symptoms, nutmeg is useful in nursing a fever. Coupled with raw honey, this can be an effective antimicrobial remedy.

Corné recommends: This is safe and helpful

One cup of boiling water, half a spoon of ginger, half a spoon of cream of tartar and honey or sugar to ease the taste. Drink as hot as possible.

This is a great remedy, as cream of tartar will help to return alkalinity to your body, which will create a hostile environment for the bacteria that caused an infection in the first place. The ginger will ease inflammation.

Corné recommends:  This is safe and helpful – However, this may not do much to a virus. This will be better for a bacterial infection. Try to use a spoon of raw honey as a chaser, because the taste will be awful.

Mix two parts Zam-Buk with one part honey and keep refrigerated. Consume a spoon-full each morning

Zam-Buk is composed of eucalyptus oil, camphor, thyme oil and sassafras oil. Zam-buk is not intended to be taken by mouth and no known studies are available of it being taken this way.

Corné recommends: This is dangerous. Never take something orally that was intended for external use only.

Stuffy / Runny nose

Runny nose – Finely chopped onion in a sealable container with three table spoons of sugar. Refrigerate after a few hours and consume a spoon-full each morning

Onion is a good expectorant and relieves symptoms of the common cold. Allium cepa is the homeopathic remedy used to treat the symptoms of cold and flu.

Corné recommends: This is safe. Just make sure to throw out the mixture after a few days and make a new one.

LENNON Products

Antimoondruppels for upper respiratory tract infections

This product is discontinued.

Corné recommends: Rather try the Lennon’s Cough mixture

Hoofmansdruppels for colds, flu and tummy aches

This product is indicated for cramps, colic and flatulence.

Corné recommends: This is safe, not that helpful. It will help if your tummy is upset, but it won’t do much for your cold or flu.

Ipekakuanha Tincture for dry cough and bronchitis

Unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence for thinning of mucus or easing of coughs.

Corné recommends: This is safe, but not effective, with caution – Some say that this product is used for inducing vomiting. Rather try the Lennon’s Cough mixture

Turlington: For a chronic cough and other issues related to lungs

This product is indicated for symptomatic treatment of coughs and chronic bronchitis, and as an antiseptic styptic when applied undiluted to small cuts and scratches. Turlington does not mix well with other liquids, so it is known to be mixed with sugar, egg yolk or condensed milk.

Corné recommends: This is safe and helpful

Witdulsies: For colds and flu

This is a non-narcotic anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic product that has a diaphoretic effect. In essence, it makes you sweat out your fever and lowers your blood pressure temporarily.

Corné recommends: This is safe, helpful – with caution, Not recommended for someone suffering from low blood pressure.

Paragoriese-Elikser: for colds and flu, tummy aches

This agent is indicated for the treatment of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and coughs. However, it is contraindicated for persons with the following conditions:

Persons with asthma, hypoventilation (slow ineffective breathing), alcoholism, delirium tremens (persons suffering from certain psychiatric disorders), hypothyroidism, liver disease or heart issues.

It contains opioids and may become addictive or exacerbate existing addictions. It is not recommended for children under the age of two.

Corné recommends: This is helpful, but only safe under advisement of your doctor or pharmacist.

Camphor oil: Various

External use only!

Camphor oils can be used in ointments for pruritis and pain. A thick layer of ointment can be applied to the throat and chest to alleviate a cough. Camphor ointment can be used for up to 8 weeks, directly on sore joints to ease osteoarthritis pains.

A table spoon of camphor oil may be added per 500ml of water used in a steamer/humidifier/hot water bowl, to inhale the vapours, up to three times a day.

Camphor should never ever be consumed for any reason. It is toxic and can be fatal. Signs of camphor toxicity may appear within minutes to a few hours, including burning of mouth and throat, nausea and vomiting.

Long term effects include liver damage. It is also contra-indicated for external use for breastfeeding and pregnant women, children under the age of two, and persons with liver disease.

Corné recommends: This is safe and helpful, just don’t overdo it and never consume it. Watch out for contraindications.

Many of these remedies are helpful but could ultimately be very dangerous. If you are told about any new wonder-cures, check with our pharmacist team first. We are happy to help.

You can buy most of the remedies that are labelled as safe, from Mopani Pharmacies as well, or order them from our Online Store.

We can deliver your medication, supplements, cosmetics, fragrances and other Mopani online shopping, nationwide. Contact us for info: mopani.co.za | crossing@mopani.co.za | Tel: 0137555500 | WhatsApp: 0661921703



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