This is the season when I get multiple calls and emails about how to treat and/or prevent colds and the flu. Just today I received an email asking my opinion on the flu shot and whether I recommend it. There are few subjects outside of religion and politics that polarize people like “to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.” I base my opinions on science, both time tested from ancient times like Ayurvedic Medicine, and modern evidence that is used in Functional Medicine.
So here’s my answer: I do not recommend the flu shot.
The flu vaccine does not work. Several years ago, our Canadian neighbors made flu vaccinations mandatory. The results? The incidence of flu infections rose. The problem is that the flu vaccine is based on strains of influenza that are from prior years (that’s the only way we know so far how to do this). Remember that viruses mutate. By the time we make a vaccine based on last year’s strain, it has mutated and we have a whole new set of viruses circulating.
The Cochrane Library (cochranelibrary.com) contains several large reviews on the efficacy of influenza vaccine in various populations. It’s difficult to recommend the flu shot because of the results of these studies. A member of the Cochrane research team, Thomas Jefferson, wrote the following “warning” at the bottom of a meta-analysis of several studies done on the efficacy of the flu shot.
“Warning: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found that industry-funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614424)
The article indicated that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin, and there is evidence of a widespread manipulation of conclusions for pharmaceutical industry profiteering. Jefferson goes on to say,
“We have conducted four reviews since the late 1990s. We calculated that you need to vaccinate between 33 and 99 people to prevent a single case of flu, depending on the match between the vaccine and the circulating strains of the virus. I want people held accountable for wasting taxpayers’ money on these vaccines. The reviews have been available for years and nothing has been done.”
Exceptions in the anti-flu shot argument are often made for the elderly and immune deficient. This same Cochrane review article states, “There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission” (Jefferson et al., 2014). This report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy starts by saying:
“In an effort to reduce influenza morbidity and mortality, over the last three decades the ACIP [Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] has expanded the populations recommended to receive influenza vaccine. These recommendations, however, often were based on professional judgment and not on scientifically sound data.”
People are faced with a tough choice right now, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? The newest flu vaccinations have no longitudinal outcome studies to show efficacy. The magnitude of the immunization campaign is staggering. Consider the taxpayer dollars going toward the marketing, the logistics of getting every healthcare provider mandatory immunizations, and the fact that there is no data to accurately predict an epidemic or pandemic that can cause tens of thousands of casualties in the form of reactions and even deaths. There were an estimated 4,000 cases of permanent paralysis from Guillain Barre Syndrome caused by the 1976 Swine Flu vaccine inoculation program (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/05-1007_article).
The issue of mercury as a preservative in the vaccine has not been resolved, raising the possibility that toxic amounts of mercury (associated with neurological disorders such as autism) may be introduced to our nation’s kids twice. (The first time when the kids have their mandatory childhood vaccines.)
Only 25% of medical professionals receive the flu shot each year. That means I am one of the 75% who believe there are better ways to prevent the flu. I am going to list some of those ways in this blog. You can try them or not. Do they all have studies to back them up? Some do and some don’t. Studies are most often funded by large corporations, like drug companies, who have something to gain. Many of these recommendations do not fall into that category, nor do they have nasty side effects.
The best way to prevent and treat colds and flu is to make your body inhospitable for these viruses.
- Good handwashing
- No hand sanitizers with alcohol in them.
- Antimicrobial essential oils are listed below: (make your own)
- Lavender Essential Oil
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Pinon Pine Essential Oil
Juniper Essential Oil
Aloe Vera Gel
Pure Aromatic Hydrosol
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink an Ayurvedic sleep cocktail at bedtime:
- Warm ½ c almond milk with 3 strands saffron, 1/8th tsp nutmeg, dash of cinnamon and cardamom. Sweeten slightly with a drop of stevia if you like after removing from heat. You may whip till frothy. Drink and sleep well!
- Vitamin D for both kids and adults (must be D3 and most absorbent with K2 added).
- 5,000 IU for adults in fall, winter and spring and 2,000 IU for summer.
- For kids, use 1,000-2,000 IU depending on their weight and age.
- If you already have a cold, take 50,000 IU for 2 weeks until the bottle is gone.
- Check level every 6 months for precise dosing.
- Buffered vitamin C, 1 gm a day.
- Trace Minerals: Zinc and Selenium are necessary to maintain immunity health. Fern Bio-Multi-Min (1 each meal).
- Fish Oil (I recommend Omega Plus for its purity and the ratio of EPA to DHA for immune and brain health).
- Coconut Oil 2 TBSP day
- Benefits include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer care, dental care, and bone strength.
- These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, and its properties which are antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and soothing.
- ImmunoMod helps the immune system respond appropriately when its compromised.
- Sea Salt, 1 tsp a day.
- Exercise: make sure you have 5 sweaty tee shirts a week.
- Pranayama: See Dr. Keesha for a dedicated practice of conscious breathing for health.
- Meditation: check out our recorded meditations such as the Stress Busting Tool Kit or try the free guided meditation at com. According to the World Health Organization, stress is one of the primary barriers to good health.
- Massage: 4-8 times a month to stimulate lymphatic flow.
- Sweat 30 minutes a day (an infrared sauna is a great investment).
- Keep a clean diet free of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Pay attention to food sensitivities. The best diet is a supplemented Paleo-Mediterranean diet.
- Drink an Ayurvedic sleep cocktail at bedtime:
Have an oncoming cold or flu-like symptoms?
- Build your own steam tent: Boil water on top of the stove in a pot, take it off of the heat, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, and put a towel over your head and the pan to form a steam tent and breathe in the mist. This will make you cough a lot as things open up.
- Drink hot fresh ginger tea with honey and lemon in it every 30 minutes.
- Boil fresh ginger (the more you use the stronger it will be) in water for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon and honey to taste. May add black pepper (pippali is best) for copious mucous congestion.
- Make a paste with black pepper, honey, and ginger and lick it off the spoon three times a day.
- For sinus congestion:
- use a neti pot with ¼ tsp turmeric added to the saline.
- Herbal antibiotic for green or yellow colored mucous:
- Goldenseal, osha, turmeric, and neem mixed in equal parts. Fill 00 sized capsules and take 2 caps two times a day.
- Avoid all dairy products and cold/raw foods or drinks.
- Take a bath each night using detox salts (recipe for a yummy blend here) to remove toxins from body through skin. Make sure to use a lymphatic brush first to loosen everything.
- Don’t allow yourself to become constipated. You must have at least one bowel movement a day to remain healthy. Use Triphala Plus ( 2-4 per day as needed) and Calm and Clear, 1 scoop every bedtime.
- Consider a juice fast monthly to feed your cells. Green veggies only with plenty of parsley and cilantro for detoxification. Add lemon, garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, sea salt, turmeric, and ginger for an extra boost to the immune system.
- Use a probiotic You need AT LEAST 50 billion colony forming units (cfus) per day of at least 4 different strains of good bugs. Rotate the brand you use frequently. If you have been on antibiotics, make sure the probiotic you take is in the trillions.