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Natural Remedies Guru Sara Altshul Gets Swine Flu

14 Jun

{mosimage}Hey, everyone.

I love Sara Altshul – I met her when she was writing for Prevention Magazine – and her recent article:  What Happens when a Natural Remedies Guru Comes Down with Swine Flu seemed to me to strike just the right notes.  Rather than botch it up in translation, I’m going to paste it in here.  This comes from her terrific weekly column for, which you can find here.

When I wrote about ways to prevent the H1N1 flu virus last month, I never suspected I might actually catch the bug myself. I’m healthy, and I’m committed to my three-times-a-week gym workouts; plus, I eat well, and I take vitamins. So when, a few days ago, I started feeling flu-ish, I was pretty surprised.

Immediately, I took regular doses of echinacea, a known antiviral herb, and Sambucol, a black elderberry extract that’s been proven to kill 10 different strains of flu virus (though I don’t know whether H1N1 is one of them). I did not, however, order the two different Chinese herbs recommended by Martha Howard, MD, the director of Wellness Associates of Chicago, Center for Advanced Integrative Environmental Medicine, that I wrote about in my flu blog.

I was pretty disappointed when neither the echinacea nor the black elderberry staved off my symptoms, which came on with a bang: fever of 103, pounding headache—in fact, my entire body aches, a dramatic cough, no appetite, and extreme fatigue.

I headed to my doctor who confirmed that I had what “looks like H1N1″ to him. He didn’t even bother to test me; he just prescribed Tamiflu for my husband and me.

So I’ve been sick for three days now and my husband started getting sick yesterday. This is not a pretty sight.

What are the lessons here?
I’m always really disappointed when a natural remedy doesn’t pan out—especially when I’ve gone on record recommending them to readers. But I remind myself that echinacea and black elderberry, when I’ve taken them in the past to ward off cold and flu viruses, have almost always worked. The fact that they didn’t work this time says to me that this virus is just bigger and stronger than most.

In my experience, being knocked out by the flu (or any other illness for that matter) never comes at a good time. Right now, I’ve just scored three really wonderful projects and my brain is so addled that I can’t focus on getting started on any of them.

So I’m going to give my type-A tendencies a rest while I take a couple of days to recover. I have a pile of magazines and a comfy couch, and I’m also going to succumb to the luxury of watching some daytime TV (this may not prove to be so luxurious, but at least it’ll be mindless). Hopefully, I’ll be back on my feet in no time.

There’s more Sara to be found here – enjoy!  (And keep in mind, she wrote that pithy little piece with a fever of 103!)

All best,


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award