Common ColdInfection

Ayurvedic remedies and swine flu

An article in US News & World Report lists several Ayurvedic practices for strengthening the body’s defenses against the flu.

Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman (photo), who is associate professor in the complementary and alternative medicine master’s program at Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, DC gives her perspective.

Is it worthwhile to do any of following Ayurvedic practices?

  • Eat nourishing, warm foods with “immune-enhancing” spices like tumeric.
  • Eat only organic foods because impurities in nonorganic foods impair immune function.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything cold during meals in order to improve digestion, which protects immune strength.
  • Do daily warm sesame-oil massage because sesame oil has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Dr. Fugh-Berman replies, “The statements… are not [based on] scientific evidence. There are some herbs that stimulate the immune system, but that’s not a good idea on a chronic or preventive basis.”

The bottom line?

The possibility exists that these and other Ayurvedic recommendations might be helpful. And, as stated by Dr. Matthew Anderson, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, New York, “We should remember that lack of evidence of effect is not necessarily evidence of lack of effect.”

However, studies, from an allopathic perspective, do not support their role.

“If you get sick, lie down and act sick,” Dr. Fugh-Berman advises. “Catch up on sleep, read, avoid gatherings.”

5/3/09 13:33 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.