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Parents giving natural treatments a shot to help with flu and cold

Some parents say side effects of medications like Tamiflu are as bad as the sickness and include cramping, nausea vomiting, and even hallucinations. They're instead treating the flu with elderberry and other natural remedies.

Arezow Doost, KXAN, Mar 3, 2019

Over a small pot in her home, Lyndsay McLeod adds all the necessary ingredients.

"The base of it is elderberries and I also add clove and cinnamon and rose hips and ginger to the recipe," McLeod explained.

McLeod is using elderberries as a home remedy to treat a cold or even flu-like symptoms in her two children. She's part of a growing trend of parents looking to treat their children using a more natural approach. McLeod even started a company selling the elderberry remedy.

She thinks what sets her "Respect Your Elderberries," syrup and gummies apart is the raw honey. The mom of two started selling to neighbors looking for natural treatments.

"They still get sick, that happens. I think that's just part of their immune system developing, but I have noticed that the illnesses are shorter and less severe," said McLeod "I give it to my kiddos for just if they say that there is something wrong... their tummy hurts or they just aren't feeling well...maybe a little bit run down. I'll up the dosage just a bit and typically that will take care of it."

Some parents say the side effects of medications like Tamiflu are almost as bad as the sickness and include cramping, nausea and vomiting. They say they're treating not only the flu with elderberry, but colds and allergies.

"There aren't as many studies to show effectiveness, but they are starting to build that the data," said Pharmacist Rannon Ching with Tarrytown Pharmacy "People are starting to get more informed about them, but they're just a lot more accessible."

Elderberry syrup and gummies are not FDA approved. Eating elderberries raw can make you sick and if the berries are not cooked long enough they can be poisonous.

"Sometimes it's a coincidence," said Dr. Brian Temple with Beansprout Pediatrics "Sometimes elderberry or whatever other supplement they may have may lessen some of the symptoms, but it's never going to treat the flu. There's really only few things that will treat the flu which are time, rest, hydration and antivirals, as needed."

KXAN did reach out to the FDA to ask why elderberry syrup or gummies used for medical treatment isn't approved and if the agency has any warning about parents making it at home, but we are still waiting on a response.

"It is first and foremost still a food and you're not going to hear people warning you against eating too much elderberry jam, but it's essentially the same thing," said McLeod.

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