About a year ago, I wrote a blog about the flu. And 'tis the season again for flu, so I’m gonna give you my new and improved version/answer for this topic. Lots of good info to follow.
Social media outlets are frenzied over the flu shot debate (not to mention the vaccine debate in general). “To get or not to get the flu shot”. As a physician, I am often asked this exact question. My answer is that it is a complicated decision and depends on your beliefs, your genetics, and your current health. As an integrative physician, my goal is both to inform you and to get at the root cause of a condition and build your health from the ground up.
Like antibiotics, vaccines have been touted as a medical breakthrough that has saved many lives. And they undoubtedly have! However, the country’s one-size-fits-all, and sometimes extremely high number of mandatory, vaccination policies are not necessarily in the best interest of your individual health.
Many of the ingredients added into vaccines are known carcinogens and detergents that have harmful or unknown effects on the human body. Package inserts for Fluarix and Fluvirin even state that they are uncertain as to whether or not your fertility will be affected by the vaccine (fertility has been steadily declining over the past several decades).
Let’s learn more about what ingredients are in these vaccines and specifically, what is in the flu vaccine?
Aluminum gels or salts of aluminum, which are added as adjuvants to help the vaccine stimulate a better response to the vaccine. Aluminum is a recognized neurotoxin that can adversely affect the central nervous system and cause cognitive deficiency and dementia if it enters the brain. Numerous studies have linked aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease.
Antibiotics, which are added to some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs (bacterial) during production and storage of the vaccine. The antibiotics hidden in the flu vaccine include neomycin, streptomycin, or penicillin, which can cause severe allergic reactions in many people.
Egg protein is found in influenza vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs. Beware if you can’t eat egg products without poor reactions.
Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines. Formaldehyde is used in “inactivated” vaccines which are almost all of the flu vaccines available on the market. It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. Formaldehyde is a powerful chemical used as a disinfectant and preservative in mortuaries and medical labs. It is listed as a human carcinogen in the 13th Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol, which are used as stabilizer in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain unchanged when the vaccine is exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity.
Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose to prevent contamination and growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Studies have demonstrated that thimerosal can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases by suppressing the overall immune system and causing systemic inflammation. Due to the controversy concerning this additive, some companies have started producing thimerosal-free vaccines, which are available in a limited supply at certain pharmacies. However, most of these “thimerosal-free” vaccines have less mercury in them they actually still have some mercury in them that are technically still at toxic levels.
Polysorbate 80 is a detergent used to help drugs and chemicals cross the blood-brain barrier. Unfortunately, this stabilizer is also used to treat chronic kidney failure and can contribute to liver toxicity. Polysorbate 80 was also shown to cause “severe non-immunologic anaphylactoid reactions” in this study from 2005.
Do you really want these potentially toxic substances injected into your body, or worse, your child’s body?
Now, let’s look at the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing illness.
According to the CDC, the 2014-2015 flu vaccine had reduced an individuals risk of visting a doctor due to the flu by 23%. That does not mean that it was 23% effective. It just means that it reduced flu symptoms enough to avoid wanting to go to the doctor by 23% (BTW that is about the rate of placebo). Going back in time a little more, according to a study in 2008, the influenza vaccine was only 59% successful and benefited only 36% of the healthy children over the age of 2 who received it. Another study from 2008 indicated that the number of children’s doctor visits or hospitalizations did not differ between vaccinated and non-vaccinated children measured over two consecutive flu seasons, suggesting that the influenza vaccine had very little effect on children’s overall health status. Additional studies show that flu vaccines do not prevent influenza transmission to the patients of healthcare workers. To be fair, the rate is reportedly higher in other years.
The bottom line is that vaccination is not a foolproof way to avoid disease. The shots do cause side effects, and sometimes those side effects are serious.
The NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) continues to ask “is the atypical manipulation of the immune system with more and more vaccines in early life setting some children up for chronic disease and disability? Is less better?”
They point out that American children are the most highly vaccinated children in the world (receiving 49 doses of 14 vaccines before the age of 6), and are also among the most chronically ill and disabled. The CDC admits that one in six U.S. children is now developmentally delayed. During the past quarter century, the number of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma, and diabetes has more than tripled. More than twice as many children have chronic brain and immune system dysfunction today than did in the 1970s when half as many vaccines were given to children.
Number of reactions from flu shots, reported to VAERS: 93,000
Number of deaths following a flu shot according to VAERS: 1,080
Number of days of missed work saved by getting the flu shot: 0.13 days according to (Cochrane).
According to the CDC, this study, suggests that 40,125 lives were saved by the flu vaccine over a 9 year period and that about 88% of those were in people older than 65 years of age.
You be your own judge. Everything in medicine is risks versus benefits.
Natural Alternatives for Preventing & Treating the Flu (or a simple cold):
The best treatment for any flu (or cold) is always prevention, which includes supporting your immune system. Eating well, getting proper rest and exercise are paramount. What else can the average busy American do to minimize their chances of getting sick this fall and winter?
Here are some simple suggestions:
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
This is the number one way to prevent the flu and other respiratory infections. You must scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds in order to kill viruses. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to sing the ABC’s one time through. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands.
Heal your gut
Your gut is the gateway to health. 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Make sure your gut is in good shape and take a high quality, multi-strained probiotic.
Reduce alcohol and sugar consumption
Even moderate alcohol consumption suppresses the central nervous system, and therefore your immune system. Consuming too much sugar can suppress the immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off infections like the flu.
Reduce your stress
Stress is known to suppress our immune systems. Consider meditation, yoga, or acupuncture for additional relaxation techniques. Did you know that 1 minute of laughter elevates your immune system response for up to 24 hours? Meanwhile 1 minute of anger depresses your immune system response for up to 6 hours? I guess if you come in contact with a person who you realize has the flu/cold then maybe the best medicine might be to go to a comedy show or watch your favorite comedy movie or just invite your funniest friend over… but don’t tell them you have the flu ;-)
Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night
Your body relies on sleep to recuperate from daily exposure to toxins. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function.
Take glutathione, turmeric, and liposomal vitamin C
Antioxidants are very important for your immune function. Glutathione is the chief antioxidant in your body, responsible for enhancing your immune system and helping your liver with detoxification. Curcumin is the orange pigment in turmeric and a potent antioxidant that improves joint health and cardiovascular function. Vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection, and supports optimal immune function.
Eat a clove of garlic every day
Give your immune system an added boost with garlic. It's cheap, easy and effective. Using parsley with garlic when you cook will diminish the garlic taste.
Optimize vitamin D
Vitamin D is a powerful immune system modulator. Optimal levels for best immunes system function range from 50 to 70 ng/mL. For many that can mean taking 5000 IU per day; however, I don’t recommend this unless you are followed closely by a physician and if you do take it, then it should be balanced out with the K vitamins to create optimal vitamin D homeostasis in the body.
Consider a zinc supplement
Zinc is another powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in immune health. Within the immune system, zinc is needed for gene regulation and functioning of neutrophils, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes. Individuals with a zinc deficiency are highly susceptible to a number of pathogens, including the influenza virus.
Get plenty of exercise
Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation and relieving stress. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Exercise can also enhance your immune system by relieving stress and slowing the release of stress hormones in the body. Exercise should be mild to moderate in intensity (not vigorous) from a purely immune system stand point.
Start your day with a fresh squeezed glass of lemon water and raw honey.
The lemon helps to alkalinize the body and the raw honey contains natural antibiotics and antifungals. Raw honey is also an excellent cough suppressant.
Despite your best efforts, if you still feel that you are coming down with something, or it's progressing quickly, call us right away (818-957-6909) for one of the IV’s mentioned below.
Many people opt for the wait-and-see approach. Sometimes this works, but if you wait too long, you can end up much sicker and recovering for quite a while longer than if you started treatment sooner.
Hydrogen peroxide can be given as an IV, and is very effective for respiratory infections. If given at the first sign of a respiratory illness, an IV of hydrogen peroxide can typically abort an infection.
Vitamin/Mineral IVs: Has vitamins and minerals in it, specifically high dose vitamin C, which is particularly effective for respiratory and viral infections.
Ozone therapy has been safely and effectively used in European countries for decades. It works for both acute and chronic infections but is particularly effective for viral infections.
These IV treatments are great if you find yourself sick with the flu, a cold, or another viral/bacterial infection.
If you get the flu, please also take homeopathic Oscillococcinum 1 vial every 20-30 minutes for a few hours until severe symptoms taper off then take 1 vial every 1-3 hours until all better.
So, Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
There is quite a quandary surrounding recommendations for immunocompromised individuals such as those with autoimmune diseases who are on immune-suppressing medications. The original thought was that they would be at higher risk of getting the flu and would benefit from getting vaccinated. However, recent studies have shown that the flu vaccine is less effective in these immunocompromised individuals. Given that thimerosal has been implicated in triggering autoimmune disease and that those with autoimmune diseases are three times more likely to develop another autoimmune disease, it would seem that the risk of getting a flu vaccine far outweighs any potential benefits.
Certainly those with chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, asthma, or COPD may want to weigh the risk with the benefits, as it might be potentially life-saving in those individuals.
If you do elect to receive a flu shot, I would highly recommend a thimerosal-free vaccine (still has some thimerosal in it though), which are available in a limited supply. If you don’t already know your MTHFR gene mutations, I would definitely get them checked. If you have any mutations at this gene, it is difficult for your body to eliminate mercury from your system, even in trace amounts. I would also caution you against taking any over-the-counter pain medications, such as tylenol, advil, or aspirin, in conjunction with your vaccine. These have been shown to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines by limiting your body’s proper immune response.
If you do decide to get the flu vaccine, then most CVS or Walgreens type of minute-clinics or urgent care facilities are happy to do it.
If you do decide to get the flu vaccine, then there are some homeopathic remedies that one can take to mitigate potential side effects (these are available in the office if you can’t find them at your local health food store.)
- Thuja 5 pellets under tongue twice daily x 7 days after EVERY vaccination.
- Alumina 5 pellets under tongue three times daily x 7 days after EVERY vaccination with aluminum in them (if not sure then take as precaution).
- Influenzinum 5 pellets under tongue twice daily x 3 days for after flu vaccination.
- Gelsemium 5 pellets under tongue twice daily x 3 days for after flu vaccination.
Once again, the decision to receive vaccinations of any kind is highly individualized. My goal, as always, is to empower you with the knowledge to make the best and most informed decision you can for yourself and your health.
Medical Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. The information is a result of years of practice and experience by Yoshi Rahm, DO. However, this information is NOT intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other health care professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging.
Do not use the information provided in this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other health care professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.
Information provided in this article and the use of any products or services related to this article by you DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Yoshi Rahm, DO or any other physician featured in this article. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.