Quiz

Plants and Trees With Real Health Benefits

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD

Disclosures

May 30, 2017

Chinese Star Anise

Influenza has been and continues to be a dangerous threat to millions of persons every year. It is now estimated that the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed 20-40 million persons. Despite the availability of vaccination, influenza remains a serious threat to both adults and children. In 1999, a new drug, oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), became available for treating patients with or at risk for complications from influenza. The drug is derived from shikimic acid, contained in Chinese star anise and other botanical sources such as the seeds from the sweet gum tree and pine needles. How beneficial is oseltamivir? There has been speculation about its actual value; although it may shorten the duration of symptoms, a recent Cochrane review questions the overall benefit from this agent.[11,12] Moreover, as practitioners know, vaccination rather than drug treatment is a better overall strategy for influenza.

Figure 7. Image from istock

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