Welcome to fall! It’s the time of year when the warmer weather gradually gives way to the cold, the trees put on a fantastic show of colours, and the flu clinics are in full force.
You may have been at the receiving end of pressure from your friends and family to get the flu shot “for the good of the masses”. But if you find yourself asking “is the flu shot harmful to me?” or “does the flu shot actually work?” you’re not alone. But research has been done which can answer these questions for us.
The Immune System
Your immune system is made up of a wide range of cells, proteins, and other chemicals, which attack and help keep foreign invaders away. Harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites are kept at bay by the constant vigilance of this important defense system.
When we keep it healthy, it is naturally effective in preventing many infections from getting out of hand or even starting in the first place. But those that promote vaccines aren’t content with this – the thinking is that we need to force the immune system to mount a defense against a “phantom” invader, so that, when the real thing comes along later, the immune system is ready for it.
Are Vaccines Effective?
Vaccine campaigns were instituted to achieve so-called “heard immunity”, usually without any existing evidence at the time that they were effective. The idea is that if most people are vaccinated, then the virus is unable to get a toe-hold in the population and cause an epidemic. It sounds great in theory. At least in the case of the flu vaccine, studies have failed to show that it can actually prevent deaths from the flu or even prevent getting the flu.
Death rates from infectious disease declined in various countries between the 1850s and 1960s, and reached an all-time low BEFORE vaccination programs were instituted, because of improved living conditions, sanitation, and hygiene. Believe it or not, the vaccines made no impact on the rate of decline. In the case of the flu vaccine, as vaccine coverage increased, there was no improvement in death rates from the flu.
Are Vaccines Harmful?
Vaccines are often made with potentially toxic substances, like aluminum, antibiotics, egg protein, formaldehyde, MSG, and thimerosal (which contains mercury). Vaccines are known to cause adverse events – some minor like headaches, diarrhea, swelling, fever and some severe, like seizures and neurological conditions. Keep in mind that this information comes from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), not exactly an anti-vaccine organization.
What Can I Do Instead?
If you’ve decided that the flu shot is not for you, thankfully, there are some great natural ways to boost your immune system to help prevent the flu. The great thing about them is that many will help against other infections as well.
There is a homeopathic remedy, called Influenzinum, that is made from the same strains of the fluas is the vaccine for that year, but without the toxic additives that the vaccine contains, and has not been linked to adverse reactions. Best of all, it can be used to prevent AND treat the flu. A similar homeopathic remedy, called Oscillococcinum, works for prevention and treatment of all flu-like illnesses.
But one of the best ways to boost immunity and prevent the flu is through good nutrition. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu. Vitamin C is an excellent all-around immune booster and adequate protein intake is essential. Protein is used by the immune system to make antibodies that fight infection. Zinc helps to strengthen immunity and inhibit bacterial growth.
Botanical medicines, like astragalus root, reishi mushroom, and schizandra berry are great for preventing colds and flus. Echinacea, andrographis, licorice, and elderberry can be used to treat colds and flus if you get it. If you feel the pressure to get vaccinated, remember that the choice is still yours to make, for you and your children. Nature offers safe and effective options for the prevention and treatment of many seasonal infections, not just the flu. Your friends and family members mean well, but ultimately, no one knows more about your health needs than you do.
Until next time, this is Dr. Pat Nardini, putting “Your Health First!”
Dr. Pat Nardini, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto, Canada. His practice focuses on promotion of the overall health of his patients through a wide range of naturopathic methods. He has been in private practice now for over 10 years and specialises in thyroid conditions, primarily Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Read and see more naturopathy health articles and videos to learn more about Dr. Nardini, his modalities, and how naturopathy can help you.
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