The purpose of this blog has been to highlight preventative medicine which is both effective and inexpensive.  Although the focus is on natural and holistic forms of treatment, we should consider modern allopathic modalities of prevention and investigate whether these interventions work harmoniously with the body.  It is with this eye to detail that we examine flu shots.

Flu season hits every fall and the allopathic medical community attempts to save people from undue suffering and even death through injection of a vaccine.  According to the CDC, great effort is taken to select the one or multiple strains of the virus for manufacturing into a vaccine; however, it is still an educated guess that may not offer any resistance to the receiver if a different strain were to spread.  Viruses mutate quickly and many strains of influenza exist at any one time.  Although the selection process is well thought out, no industry or government agency can guarantee protection from the flu via a vaccine.  The only sure thing for protection from the flu is to strengthen one’s innate immunity prior to exposure to the flu or any other infection.  More on that in a moment.

In consideration of receiving a flu shot, we must first ask whether they impart a significant advantage to the individual.  It is estimated that 5-20% of the U.S. population contract the flu every year which can be fatal in weak individuals who do not get timely medical care.  Vaccines have long been touted as essential to safeguarding the public but research suggests that the flu vaccine offers little benefit.  Evidence based medicine is showing us that what makes sense in theory (vaccinating for the flu) bears little actual results when the practice is implemented.  Worse yet, Canadian research has indicated that receiving a flu vaccine might actually increases your risk of getting H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu. 
Vaccines have another problem associated with them that should give us pause regarding their widespread use in public health, especially among children and the elderly.  In order to create immunity without actually causing an infection or symptoms, microbes within the vaccine are either destroyed or attenuated.  These dead or weakened pathogens are often not sufficient to trigger an immune response so an adjuvant is added to irritate the immune system into action.  Commonly used adjuvants include mercury (known as thimerosal), aluminum, and formaldehyde.  Although the effect of these toxic substances is stated to be negligible, it can be wisely argued that no dose of these substances, no matter how small, is safe for the body.

Given the dubious benefit of the vaccine and the unavoidable toxic exposure, many choose to forgo the shot and shift their efforts towards lifestyle changes and remedies that strengthen the immune system.  This approach is more in line with holistic thinking and, when done properly, is the safest and most effective means to prevent most any disease.

Among the more startling pieces of research on preventing and treating the flu is the use of Vitamin D.  Our levels of this critical nutrient go down during the darker fall and winter months leaving us deficient if we don’t supplement with a remedy like cod liver oil.  This explains, in part, the prevalence of the flu during our winter months.  One study from Japan indicates that Vitamin D may be as effective as the flu shot for preventing the illness.  Vitamin D from a dose of cod liver oil is well absorbed and utilized and ranges in dose from 1,000-2,000 IU.  If your Vitamin D levels are really low (as diagnosed by a blood test) 8,000 IUs or more daily may be appropriate.

Other immune tonics include high-potency Echinacea, elderberry syrup, Vitamin C, and garlic.  An old Chinese medicine remedy for early stage upper respiratory infections is to boil ginger with the white part of scallions for twenty minutes in a few cups of water and drink hot.  Getting enough sleep, exercise and avoiding sugar are also key preventative strategies.

Deciding whether to be vaccinated or not is a personal choice so be educated and proceed with the knowledge of all your options.  This, combined with an emphasis on preventing disease is the best form of cheap medicine.

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