• By: Michelle Ndiulor: Love Oak Pharmacist Resident

Facts Behind Flu Remedies

The 2017-2018 Flu season is now in full swing. Up to 46 states in the United States have reported widespread flu activity.(1) The Dallas Morning News also recently reported that the death toll related to the flu is now up to 38 individuals. With flu season upon us, there has been talks of various treatment options including homeopathic products on social media including Oscillococcinum and Sambucol. So how do these medications compare to the prescription medication, Tamiflu, in fighting the flu?


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To many, Oscillococcinum is considered an alternative natural treatment to prescription medications such as Tamiflu. Sometimes referred to as the “over the counter Tamiflu”, there has been a lot of buzz about this natural product. Below is some information about the natural remedy.


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Sambucol is another homeopathic product that has been all the rave this flu season. Some other common names of this product are Common Elder or American Elder. Below is some information about the natural remedy.


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Tamiflu is a prescription drug medication used for the prevention and treatment of the flu. Below is some information about the medication. Tamiflu and other prescription antiviral therapies are especially recommended for use in individuals who are more likely to suffer from complications from the flu which may include older individuals and children.

How Should I Treat the Flu?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two main types of flu that are seen during flu season are Type A and Type B flu. Type A is seen more commonly and can be found in birds and humans. Type B flu is less commonly seen and is almost exclusively seen in humans.(1) It is thought that type B flu is generally less severe than type A flu, although it can be just as severe.(4)

Generally speaking, if you have flu-like symptoms it is important to get tested. The earlier you know your flu results, the better. Once the flu has been diagnosed, talk with your healthcare provider to see if prescription medications such as Tamiflu are the best option for you. Once prescribed any medication, complete the medication course as directed by your healthcare provider.

What about Oscillococcinum or Sambucol?

Oscillococcinum and Sambucol are homeopathic products. Homeopathic products are generally highly diluted and provide very little of the active ingredient. These products are generally safe for use and may be used if an individual wishes to take them. However, these products are not a replacement for prescription medications and should not be used as such. Doing so may delay getting appropriate treatment for the flu, which could lead to worsening symptoms and potential complications from the flu. These products may provide relief from flu-like symptoms for a short period, but is not likely to fight off the flu virus.

How Do I Prevent the Flu?

To prevent the flu:

  • Get your flu shot each year to lessen your risk of getting the flu

  • It is still recommended to get the flu shot even with this year’s vaccine missing the most recent strain of the flu virus. Getting the flu shot will still help in lessening symptoms of the flu and decrease your chances of getting ill from other flu viruses present

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water

  • Stay away from those who may be sick

  • Use disinfectants to clean any surfaces that may have the flu/cold virus on them


(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current & Past Flu Seasons. January 4, 2018. Accessed January 10, 2018.

(2) Wong, Cathy, ND. Health Benefits of Oscillococcinum: A Homeopathic Remedy for Flu? September 6, 2017. Accessed January 10, 2018.

(3) Lexicomp Online®, Lexi-Drugs®, Hudson, Ohio: Lexi-Comp, Inc.; January 11, 2018

(4) WebMD. Types of Flu. advanced-reading-types-of-flu-viruses#1. Accessed January 18, 2018.


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