The men and women were relatively young, with an average age of 19. They were being treated in 11 different medical facilities across four Chinese provinces during the height of the pandemic, between July and November of 2009, to prevent spreading the flu, not because their symptoms were severe.
Within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patients were assigned to one of four five-day treatment groups. One group was given 75 milligrams of Tamiflu twice a day in capsule form; a second group received 200 milliliters of M-Y four times a day in liquid form; a third group took the same dosages of Tamiflu and M-Y together; and a fourth group received no treatment.
All of the herbs were screened for quality, and the M-Y mixture was deemed to meet Chinese safety standards.
The results: Both M-Y and Tamiflu were effective at eliminating fever, whether administered on their own or in combination.
All three approaches helped to resolve fever sooner than no intervention whatsoever, the authors said, noting it appeared that fever dissipated fastest when M-Y and Tamiflu were given together. However, none of the treatment methods appeared to be superior in terms of overall viral control, and side effects were minimal in all cases.
Even though the ephedra-containing herbal is not readily available in the United States, the M-Y herbal formula is available in many countries besides China, including Korea, Japan, India and Germany, the study authors noted.
Duffy MacKay, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents the dietary supplement industry, believes that fears over ephedra's use as a weight-control agent have overlooked "its more traditional and much safer" role as a medicine against lung inflammation.
MacKay said that in
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