Stores offer natural alternatives to fighting flu

Posted: 7:00 PM EST Jan 13, 2013   Updated: 6:20 PM EST Jan 14, 2013

The emergency room isn't the only place to go for help with keeping the flu at bay.

 "We've had significant volume probably since Christmas, maybe a little bit before. People are definitely sick," said Dr. Anne Ambarian, a family physician at Patient First in Spring Twp., Berks Co.

The best advice to fight the dreaded virus is to get a flu shot, Ambarian said.

"Even if you get the flu while you've had the flu shot, your symptoms are not as bad as they otherwise would have been," said Ambarian.

Not everyone, however, is lining up to get the shot. People like Cindy Boyer are opting for a more natural way to protect their immune system.

"People want to come in because they don't have as much faith in the flu shot and so they're looking at products that they can use to help prevent," said Boyer, co-owner of Nature's Garden Natural Foods and Shoes in Exeter Township.

One natural remedy comes in an herb called Echinacea, said Boyer, who noted that the herb's roots are used to treat colds and infections. Echinacea also increases the amount of killer T-cells in your body that destroy bacteria and viruses.

Many people also take over-the-counter remedies like Anti-V and Cold-Check. Netty-Pots, said Boyer, can help clear one's nasal cavity.

One of the best ways to help the body's immune system, said Boyer, is Vitamin D3.

"Vitamin D3 is the form that we know that we absorb the best," said Boyer.

The medical community, Ambarian said, does not discourage people from trying other remedies, but doctors still recommend people get the flu shot, even if you do it for others.

"If you're going to be around an infant, if you're going to be around somebody over 65," said Ambarian.