False information can spread like wildfire, particularly during times of fear and uncertainty. Right now, there is misinformation circulating about elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and COVID-19.

Elderberry extract is being falsely accused of triggering a cytokine storm or cytokine release syndrome (CRS), an intense inflammatory response that can be deadly. During the SARS epidemic, CRS caused severe lung damage and was a driving factor in many fatalities.

Elderberry

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A fever can actually benefit a sick person, and both traditional healthcare practitioners and now even modern researchers have attributed tendencies to over-treat to “fever phobia”–a fear that fever is harmful, which likely originated after the introduction of anti-fever drugs like Tylenol.

Fever is a protective adaptive response that should be allowed to run its course under most circumstances. This approach has been supported by several recent randomized controlled trials.1


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“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.” Alexander Smith

In Western tradition, boneset is perhaps the single most important herb for combating the flu. There have been six major influenza pandemics (worldwide outbreaks) since 1889. The 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish flu”) was the deadliest pandemic in history. Approximately 5% of the world’s population was infected, and the number of deaths has been estimated at 50 million (CDC).

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) might be the single best herbal remedy for influenza. During the severe “Spanish Flu” pandemic, boneset was one of the safest and most successful remedies employed and contributed much to the successful management of the disease under the Eclectic treatment.


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Commentary on the Widely Disseminated Article entitled “Dietary Supplement Use During Chemotherapy and Survival Outcomes of Patients with Breast Cancer Enrolled in a Cooperative Group Clinical Trial (SWOG SO221)” Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, December 2019

The DELCaP study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology evaluating the use of dietary supplements during chemotherapy, has alarmed many patients and raised troubling questions for health practitioners.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate associations between ‘antioxidant’ supplement use and breast cancer outcomes in light of the widespread use of supplements during cancer therapies and the ongoing debate over concerns that antioxidants could reduce the cytotoxic effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by chemotherapy agents. The authors claim that the use of dietary supplements before and during chemotherapy is associated with an increased risk of recurrence and, to a lesser extent, death.1 


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The Traditional Medical System Perspective

Long before the advent of modern conventional medicine, traditional doctors in the East and Western herbalists from the Vitalist and Eclectic traditions were using plants to help people overcome infectious acute diseases. The constellation of symptoms that the patient presented with were considered to be caused by the entrance of pathogenic influences into the body, and appropriate herbal remedies were administered to alleviate symptoms while addressing underlying constitutional imbalances.


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For more than four decades I’ve been involved in the dietary supplement business, from my humble beginnings working in a natural foods store to creating my own line of the highest quality supplements available on the market.

It has been a long, challenging, and educational road. And I understand—from an insider’s viewpoint—just how difficult it is to know whom you can trust when it comes to choosing the most effective dietary supplements.


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