Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:
Flu season got an early start this year, and public health officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated. But just how good is the evidence on the effectiveness of the flu shot?
One way to reduce your risk of colds or flu is to wash your hands frequently after touching door knobs, gas pumps, elevator buttons and other items that may carry virus. The downside from frequent hand washing may be dry hands or even painfully cracked fingertips. What home remedies can help?
We welcome listener questions and stories about their handy home remedies for many common conditions.
Health news this week includes a wonderful story in the BMJ about a beagle who can sniff out C diff with surprising accuracy. Watch the video!
Guest: Tom Jefferson, MD, is Coordinator of the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group.
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  1. Robert
    Reply

    With the modern medicine problems related to vaccine administration my trust is zero.
    When I was a child a vaccination almost killed me at an age of two, if not for herbs given by my Grandma “witch Lady” I would survive another month. Therefore I have in my blood respect to the real natural herbal remedies not the sick establishment looking for illness to bank on it. It is beyond my intuition how this racket was developed to XXI century; and we consider our selves civilized not savages.
    What ever happened to new development in Australia or N. Zeland, they came up with micro patch like element to once finger giving dose safe enough to risk the cure:)

  2. Karen
    Reply

    >The Peoples Pharmacy is good about providing a wide range of medical opinion and should not be held responsible for views outside established ones.
    Agree on the first half, not on the second.
    If the PP is going to be making money providing health-related info, I think they could be doing a much better job than they do about evaluating and explaining what they offer.

  3. JEB
    Reply

    Well said, Lucy. The Peoples Pharmacy is good about providing a wide range of medical opinion and should not be held responsible for views outside established ones. They were well ahead in pointing out the bad side effects of statins that the mainstream medical folks were way too slow to acknowledge or even to inform their patients of. But, like you, I would also like to hear somebody on the other side of the issue.

  4. Lucy
    Reply

    Once again, the People’s Pharmacy has had a guest on who seems to delight in being a maverick. The previous email suggested we read a blog written in response to an article in the Atlantic. The blog is great, very well written and brimming with interesting insights relating to Tom Jefferson’s possible motivations for his unorthodox stand on vaccines.
    I think the People’s Pharmacy should get another guest, someone who can analyze Tom Jefferson’s assertions and explain why so many other wonderfully intelligent researchers and infectious disease doctors take a different stand on the flu vaccine.

  5. Ed S.
    Reply

    Speaking as someone with a bit of familiarity with infectious disease epidemiology, I would take Dr. Jefferson’s commentary on influenza vaccines as expressed on you program this morning with a serious grain of salt. At the very least, he appears to be mixing apples with oranges – see http://tinyurl.com/brgbu6u for a very detailed discussion.
    I fear that Dr. Jefferson’s oversimplifications can be used as fodder by anti-immunization zealots, with adverse public health consequences.

  6. J. David A.
    Reply

    Several drugs can also cause the tips of the fingers to be dry and cracked. The skin changes may take some time to develop so may not be associated with the drug. Inderal (propranolol), other beta blockers and calcium blockers are the chief culprits. Neuroleptics such as neurontin may also cause problems in circulation, especially in combination with drugs like Inderal and Norvasc. Skin takes 3 weeks to heal from these insults so it takes that long to see if a drug was the problem.
    Gluten enteropathy/celiac can also have skin changes at the finger tips but will have other non – specific symptoms as well which are frequently misdiagnosed. Improvement temporarily on antibiotics may really confuse the diagnosis in a “Lyme” area.
    Aloe/burn plants have been a part of my house herbal arsenal for 40 years. As soon as possible after cooling the burn, slicing the spines off the aloe leaf edges on a cutting board and fileting the leaf gives 2 large surfaces to apply to a burn which has given good results even from severe burns which should have caused some scarring. Symptom relief is very good as well.
    In searching for anise oil one night at Walgreen’s for a child with head lice, the clerk reported most of their tea tree oil was being sold for head lice. I still found some Ouzo at the liquor store but might try tea tree oil next time if forced.

  7. J. David A.
    Reply

    The influenza topic was good to begin a discussion. Manufacturing techniques need to be discussed as well. The “strong” evidence about effectiveness of flu vaccination was obtained in the 70’s but unfortunately measured much of the immunity obtained from the native influenza infections which were epidemic in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
    Some of the combinations have been remarkably effective in the last decades while some seemed to do little. Patients will need access to quickly and safely prepared influenza and other viruses when deadly strains emerge. The Chinese poultry farmers have used the present medications for treatment to the point they rarely work. Switching from eggs to tissue culture methods should improve the reliability of manufacturing, improve speed of production and decrease contaminants which may be the cause of GB in ’76 and definitely have caused delay in availability some years (2005).
    One study of senior citizens in concentrated living towers in Florida did show a remarkable decrease of flu and pneumonia cases in the towers given active vaccine door to door by EMT’s (2002 I think).

  8. PH of Raleigh
    Reply

    We don’t need “advice” like this! While the CDC is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated to stop the spread of the flu, Dr. Tom Jefferson is proliferating the idea that the vaccine isn’t going to help. In his native England relatively few members of the public (usually only those over 65 and sick people) have the flu shot because the NHS only provides it for free to those groups. It is available to all at a cost but it not promoted as it is here. In the best of years there is an immense amount of sickness, days missed from work (which they can afford because sick pay is mandated, unlike here) and misery.
    In the worst influenza years bodies have to be stored in refrigerated trailers because there is not enough room in the morgues, and funerals take weeks or months to conduct. Even if the vaccination is not foolproof, do we as individuals need the misery of the illness, the cost of time lost from work, the cost of over-the-counter medicines to try to make us feel better, perhaps Tamiflu, a doctor’s office visit etc; and as a society, do we need the lost productivity, misery, possible complications, even deaths that could be prevented?
    Dr. Jefferson says that “flu shot” is a bad term to use. It is the term that Americans use and it quite adequately conveys the same meaning as “influenza vaccination” which he prefers to use but it is just his preference and he is just being pedantic and I believe it further shows his ignorance and narrow mindedness. In the future please consider more closely the credibility of your guests and the potential damage they can cause.

  9. rep
    Reply

    interesting

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