Amid Flu Fears, Coloradans Seek Alternative Remedies

Some Turn To Homeopathy

With the H1N1 virus on the rise in Colorado and a vaccine still weeks off, people are seeking out alternative remedies that claim to fight the flu.

Certified classical homeopath Sue Boorn, of Denver's Consulate Healing Center, has seen an uptick in clients seeking natural treatments to alleviate or prevent H1N1 symptoms.

"I have a lot of clients who ask me what can homeopathy offer them in regard to flu and swine flu," said Boorn. "[There is] much more interest this year around that."

Last spring, the Food and Drug Administration sent out warnings about the prevalence of new products that purport to cure or alleviate H1N1 symptoms. Indeed, many so-called remedies found online appear to be gimmicks, but Boorn said the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines in fighting flu has been well-documented.

Boorn said during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, doctors administered natural drugs like Oscillococcinum or Oscillo, made from duck liver extract, to sick patients. Boorn said data from homeopathic medical journals shows that mortality rates among the patients dropped to well below 1 percent.

"Those people who had homeopathic remedies, it was very effective for them in saving lives," Boorn said.

Boorn said during last spring's H1N1 outbreak in Mexico, Oscillo and other alternative medicines were effective in reducing H1N1 symptoms when given within 48 hours of the onset of flu-like symptoms.

But Boorn said different symptoms call for different homeopathic medicines and she cautioned against trying the medicines without seeing a homeopath first. On its Web site the American Institute of Homeopathy warns consumers against buying over-the-counter alternative medicines that claim to prevent H1N1, saying the medicines may be in violation of state and federal law.

Alternative medicine is not the only field benefitting from increased interest due to the H1N1 virus. Richard McCullough sells air-purifying ultraviolet lamps from his Aurora home and has started marketing the lamps as a new way to keep the virus out of your home.

McCullough said the lamps can be installed in forced-air systems and the intensity of the UV light zaps up to 99 percent of germs in the air.

"You turn it on, leave it and don't worry about it and it cleans the air," he said. "It does help kill swine flu virus," he said.

McCullough was marketing the lamps as mold-killers but said they could be just as effective at killing the virus that causes H1N1. He said many hospitals install the lamps in their ventilation systems to cut down on the circulation of germs, and some U.S. government offices are required to have air purifiers in ventilation systems.

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