According to JoinTogether.org, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering ways to control purchases of cough syrup in an effort to prevent abuse. Options include requiring a prescription for purchase, moving it behind the pharmacy counter (as was done with pseudephedrine) or making it illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy.
Consuming large amounts of cough syrup, or “Robotripping”, has become a way for teenagers to get high. The active ingredient, dextromethorphan (DXM), is safe when used as recommended. When taken at many times the recommended dosage, it can cause a feeling of euphoria, raise blood pressure and heart rate, and cause fever, according to JoinTogether.org. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requested the prescription option, JoinTogether.org reported today, citing an increase in emergency room visits due to overdoses of DXM. However, the FDA’s advisory panel voted 15-9 against this option, concerned in part about the increased workload on doctors and pharmacists. The FDA usually follows the advisory panel’s recommendations, but is not obligated to.
So what are the options for consumers wishing to avoid feeling like a trip to the pharmacy involves a trip through airport security wannabes?
One option that is especially prolific in Indiana is red clover. Red clover is identified by its light purple flower and a chevron-type pattern on its leaves. Due to chemical treatment, gathering from the wild is not recommended–and the flowers are dying this time of year, anyway.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the flower tops are used in extracts, capsules, liquids and teas.
“Historically, red clover has been used for cancer and respiratory problems, such as whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis,” the agency’s “Herbs at a Glance: Red Clover” page notes. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm or deny its effectiveness.
Whooping cough, which has claimed the lives of 8 California infants this year, should be treated by a medical professional.
Another option, NCCAM reports, is European elderberry.
“A few studies have suggested that a product containing elder flower and other herbs can help treat sinus infections when used with antibiotics, but further research is needed to confirm any benefit,” reads the agency’s “Herbs at a Glance: European Eder” page.
In his book Osage Medicine: Ancestral Herbs and the Illnesses They Treat, Osage traditional healer LoHaWaTi AnKa describes the use of marshmallow (the root of the plant, not the s’mores ingredient) and mullein to treat coughs.
“I later came to understand that marshmallow is an excellent remedy for colds, flu, coughs, and sore throat,” he writes after describing the herb’s use as a treat for fatigue. “When added to water, this herb becomes a tasty gel and is fun to eat.”
He also describes mullein’s use as an early vapor therapy.
“When people had a hard time breathing, mullein would either be smoked and inhaled or burnt and the smoke contained in a tent where it had to be breathed,” he writes. “Mullein was used in this way for colds, coughs, asthma, shortness of breath, and for coughing up blood from the lungs.”
Coughing up blood is a symptom of tuberculosis and should be treated by a medical professional.
Aditionally, this Examiner has seen osha root used in a manner similiar to mullein vapor treatment.
This article is intended as a guide, not to diagnose or treat a medical condition.
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