It’s that time of year when everyone is contemplating that eternal question – should I get a flu shot? I am asked this frequently and here are my views on the topic. Flu shots/vaccines are intended for those individuals who cannot tolerate contracting the flu. This does not mean those individuals who do not want to get the flu, none of us wants to get the flu; but the vaccine is for those individuals for whom contracting the flu would be life threatening. This typically means individuals who have immune system disorders or diseases and seniors or children in very poor health as well as caregivers to those who have chronic disease.
What’s the problem with the flu vaccine?Have you ever read the ingredients in the flu vaccine? Believe me you don’t want to! Some of the typical ingredients include: thimerosol (mercury), lead and other preservatives which are known to be toxic to nerve cells. If you would like to know more, check out the website www.novaccine.com which details all the ingredients in the different flu vaccines. Remember the flu vaccine is being injected into your skin and then disperses quickly into the blood stream. When a substance goes directly into the blood stream it bypasses the first line of defense of the immune system. We are first exposed to the flu through the oral and nasal mucosa (the mouth and nose). When we get the flu shot, this part of the immune system is ignored and our body cannot mount a full immune response and make all the antibodies needed for full protection.
A flu vaccine nasal spray is now available which I first considered to be a better alternative as it does stimulate the nasal and oral immune systems. But we now see there are many potential issues regarding the nasal spray including:
- the most common side effects from the vaccine are the same as the flu, so why get the vaccine?
- it contains live virus so it can replicate in the body and become the flu
- this live virus stimulates the body to sneeze and cough thereby providing a wonderful way to transmit the virus to others (this could actually increase the spread of the flu instead of limiting it)
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a long time vaccine researcher, has reviewed many studies looking into the efficacy of flu vaccines and much of the data shows the vaccine does not offer the support it promises. For more information on this subject, see www.whale.to/vaccines/sherri.html.
Here’s the real kicker we do not often contemplate – Are there benefits to contracting the flu?Well yes, there are. Every time we contract a virus we are challenging the immune system and building antibodies to antigens (infectious or harmful agents). Being exposed to viruses does make us better able to mount an immune response (make new antibodies) that later help us fight off more infections. We are all familiar with how small our world is getting in terms of health and virulent infections. We have now lived through the scares of SARS and more recently the bird flu. How do we combat these infections? We do so by keeping our immune systems strong; being challenged by seasonal viruses; and helping our body mount a full immune response. This is exercise for the immune system.
All parents know that children are sick often between the ages of 2 and 5. During this time their immune systems are developing and learning how to work. They do so by being exposed to the public, contracting infections, and developing antibodies. There is a large body of research that now proves that children raised on farms and around animals develop a more sophisticated and better functioning immune system because they are exposed to so many immune system challenges which they learn to cope with.
None of us likes to be sick. We would all prefer feeling good all the time. But since this is not possible, let’s see how we can maintain our health to the best of our ability. During the fall, I recommend that everyone take extra care in building the immune system. Take extra vitamin C, add some real vitamin A not beta carotene to your supplements (except for pregnant women), and zinc. These are the basic vitamins needed for the immune system. Then depending on your exposure to others who are sick (especially important for families with younger children), take herbal immune builders. These include: larch extract, elderberry syrup, Esberitox, Wellness Formula, Airborne (or preferably the healthier alternative available at natural food stores). Include these when those around you are sick or take for one-two weeks each month during the fall and winter to prevent viral infections.
Are there natural flu vaccines? Yes, there are homeopathic formulas that can stimulate the immune system to make antibodies and at least theoretically provide protection against contracting the flu. I have used some seasonal homeopathic formulas over the years and now have gone to a general homeopathic formula called mucoccocinum. This formula is comprised of various strains of the worst flu epidemics of the 20th century including influenzinum and klebsiella pneumoniae. These are at a 200K potency meaning there are no molecules of these viruses left in the dilution so no worry about spreading the viruses to others. At this potency only the resonance of the viruses are left which stimulate the body to mount a reaction to these viral agents without overwhelming the system. These are oral tablets thereby stimulating the oral/nasal immune systems and do not contain any heavy metals, chemicals or noxious ingredients. They can be taken as prevention or treatment of the flu, bronchitis or upper respiratory infections.