Flu Jab: is it for you?

flu-seasonThe days are drawing shorter, the equinox gone, and winter is looming ever nearer – and with it, the prospect of employers and doctors’ offices across the country offering the ‘flu jab‘ to employees for free, or a paltry and heavily-subsidised fee. Changing rooms in malls hold flyers warning parents of the dangers of this particular virus, pregnant women are being enticed by authorities to get vaccinated, and posters in waiting rooms and hospitals across the country bear the cautionary slogan “Don’t let the flu get you!”

So just how dangerous is this virus, versus the vaccine itself? And what other measures can we take to prevent ourselves from being infected, or to lessen the effects should we be unlucky enough to actually get it?

True enough, influenza is more than just a bad cold. It can and does kill – albeit, generally in the malnourished and already very sick or old, with predisposing conditions. And it isn’t fun to experience, with symptoms including lethargy, muscle aches, fatigue, and headache. Nobody wants it; that much we can all agree on. So let’s take a look at exactly what is in the vaccine, and what we can do to stop it in a less toxic manner.

The Vaccines

This year’s vaccine contains several strains of virus, A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. It may also contain numerous other viruses, viral fragments, and viral DNA components unlisted and unknown, as per the research of the fabulous Janine Roberts. Her book Fear of the Invisible is well worth a read for information on viral contamination of vaccines, and the dangers these may pose (as has happened before, with the cancer-causing SV-40 virus contaminating polio vaccines for several decades). A review of this book will be included in the latest edition of WAVES.

The vaccines used this year are called Fluvax and Fluarix.

Assuming they even work (and evidence suggests they don’t!)…

CSL’s Fluvax is cultured on egg – making it unsafe for anybody with an egg allergy – and contains sodium chloride 4.1 mg, sodium phosphate – dibasic anhydrous 0.3 mg, sodium phosphate – monobasic 0.08 mg, potassium chloride 0.02 mg, potassium phosphate – monobasic 0.02 mg and calcium chloride 1.5 μg.
The following are present in each 0.5 mL dose: sodium taurodeoxycholate ≤ 5 μg, ovalbumin ≤ 1 μg, sucrose < 10 μg, neomycin ≤ 3 ng, polymyxin B sulfate ≤ 0. 5 ng and β-propiolactone ≤ 0.4 ng.

It is also, according to the datasheet, not suitable for people with any form of acute infection or febrile illness, and it also mentions the high levels of febrile reactions to the 2010 version, stating it should only be used in children over 5 years of age, although high levels of convulsions were also noted in 5-9 year olds, so to be cautious there, too. Sounds really good, huh? Oddly, it then goes on to contradict its earlier note and state that anybody with minor illness – with or without fever – should not be precluded from vaccination. So which is it – illness means it’s safe, or it’s not? Hmm.

It says it’s safe in pregnancy – according to an animal trial – yet there is no data on safety during lactation. So is it safe during this most precious time of life, or not? Given the extreme body burden most children are born with (see the EWG’s Ten Babies study, and later research, showing the average newborn comes into this world with an average 200+ toxic chemicals in its cord blood at birth!), is it really worth risking your child’s development and health, and adding even more chemicals and unidentified viral fragments to the mix?

For those wanting more information on this vaccine, this is the datasheet. I highly recommend anybody still consider the vaccine read it first, and consider the following information on alternatives.

Let’s move on to Fluarix.

GSK’s Fluarix contains the same strains of virus, plus potentially all the unknowns too, and according to the datasheet ‘Each 0.5 mL vaccine dose contains 15 g haemagglutinin of each of the recommended strains, in phosphate buffered saline. The vaccine preparation also contains other excipients including saccharose, d-alpha-tocopheryl acid succinate and traces of formaldehyde and gentamicin sulphate.’

As it is also cultured in egg, it is unsuitable for anybody with an egg allergy. As for pregnancy – one of the key target groups – the following statement should be enough to raise a few alarm bells. “Adequate human data on use during pregnancy are not available … However, as with all inactivated viral vaccines, the risks to the fetus are considered to be negligible … Adequate human data on use during lactation and adequate animal reproduction studies are not available. There is no known contraindication in the use of FLUARIX during lactation.”

In other words, we don’t know what it could do as we haven’t done the studies, but take it anyway because we say it’s safe. Nevermind the baby. Or the mother.

Another telling passage around the attitude of these companies comes during the list of adverse events/reactions (sorry, ‘undesireable effects’, as they call them here). “Spontaneous reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome have been received following vaccination with Fluarix; however, a causal association between vaccination and Guillain-Barré syndrome has not been established”. This is a great summary of the attitude you can expect to receive, should you be unlucky enough to experience a severe reaction – ‘it can’t have been the vaccine, there’s no proof, it’s all a big coincidence’. And you wonder why the number of reactions reported is so low!!

The link to the datasheet for this one is here, and again, it’s time to move on.

But before we look at alternatives to the vaccine, let’s have a closer look at what some of these ingredients are.

Neomycin – An antibiotic found in numerous vaccines. Can impede the absorption of many vital vitamins and minerals, including B6, which it can deactivate (interesting to note its inclusion in MMR, and the number of autistic individuals unable to process B6 adequately). Linked to various nasty side effects, and not adviseable during pregnancy.

Polymyxin B sulfate – Another antibiotic with various side-effects known. Warnings include not using it with neomycin or gentamicin, as it can increase their risks of creating adverse effects. (So why do we see both Polymyxin and Neomycin in Fluvax?)

Formaldehyde – Embalming fluid. Known/probable human carcinogen (causes cancer), mutagen (causes DNA mutation), possible teratogen (toxic to developing foetus), developmental toxin, particularly to reproductive system, kidney, liver, central nervous system. MSDS lists numerous other effects from exposure. Obviously effects will vary depending on level of exposure and route of exposure, but do you really want to be injecting yourself with that?

Gentamicin – A very powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic, with serious potential side-effects, including dizziness, numbness, twitching, seizures, nerve damage. Contraindicated for injection during pregnancy (alarm bells ringing, yet? Any of these effects sounding familiar?)

Yummy.

So what alternatives are out there? How can you prevent this illness in the first place, and alleviate its effects should you happen to come down with it, or any other virus this winter?
Nutrition

The most simple and logical place to start, is to look at nutrition. As Hippocrates famously said, ‘let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food’. Or to put it more bluntly, you are what you eat. If you put nutrient-void highly-processed additive-laden crap into your body day after day, at the expense of whole, unadulterated, nutrient-dense foods from nature, chances are you’re not going to be very healthy. And you will be far more predisposed to illness, as your immune system won’t have the necessary tools to fight off any invaders, and your body will lack the nutrient stores that allow it to cope with the onslaught. Pretty simple.

The best rules are: Eat seasonally, eat locally, and eat organically. And if you can’t do all three, do at least one or two!! Ask yourself before you put something in your mouth, “Would I find this in nature?” Have you ever seen a pizza tree? Bright-orange Twistie-type chip snacks growing out of the ground? Fluorescent lollies growing on a bush? Waterfalls of neon blue sports drink? Do your body a favour and use the things it’s evolved to process and work with – your immune system will thank you for it for many years to come.

A few nutrients and foods in particular tend to prove important in the fight against the dreaded flu. Let’s take a quick look at these.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most well-known nutrients for the immune system, and with good reason. Being an electron donor, it is one of the body’s chief antioxidants, playing a role in many dozens of processes throughout the body, and is involved heavily in the detoxification and immune systems. High doses often prove excellent for warding off illness and often shortening the duration of it, whether that be the common cold or the most serious of disease.

The best forms to look out for are sodium ascorbate, due to it being well-tolerated in the body with minimal gut discomfort (as opposed to calcium ascorbate, linked to arterial disease), or lipospheric Vitamin C, which is lipid-coated, bypassing the gut and dumping the vitamin directly into the cell, so to speak. This is what led to the highly publicised recovery of farmer Alan Smith from ‘swine flu’ and leukaemia in 2010, when he was on death’s door with doctors wanting to turn off his life support!! Lucky for him, his family intervened, and he went on to make a full recovery.

Vitamin D

Many cases of flu can be easily averted (and treated) by ensuring a person has adequate Vitamin D stores. This is a nutrient also known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’, due to it being produced in the oils of the skin when they come into direct contact with sunlight. Considering it plays a role in many vital functions of the body, particularly immunity, and deficiency is not only linked to scores of extremely serious illnesses, but rife throughout the world, this is one we need to be aware of.

Vitamin D is only produced when the skin comes into direct contact with UV-B rays. These are only at ground level when the sun is at a certain angle, and during a certain time of year, when the body stores are built up (Vitamin D is fat-soluble, and therefore storable by the body). That time? The dreaded mid-day period in summer, between the hours of 11-2 – right when we’re all told to cover up, slather ourselves in toxic chemical sunscreens, and avoid the ‘death star’! The darker the skin, the longer you need to produce adequate amounts. For fair-skinned people it can be as little as 5 minutes a day, for darker skinned people it can be up to an hour of exposure.

Burning is not the idea, however – the oils in which the vitamin is produced are burnt off during the sunburn process. Instead, aim to head for the shade once you’ve had your time in the sun, to allow for absorption into the body. And no, sunlight through glass or moisturisers does not count!

Zinc

This is a vital mineral for immune health, lacking in most kiwi’s diets – due primarily to the fact that it’s so lacking in our soils!! Useful both as prevention (it’s an essential mineral) and during illness, it is used in dozens of systems of the body, as well as the immune system. There are few good food sources here in NZ, so I tend to recommend supplementation – either on its own, or with other minerals (including copper for most people, but without copper for anybody with any form of learning or behavioural disorder, including ASD, ADD, ADHD, ODD…).

Other foods

Colostrum

Bovine colostrum is another food that is known to be effective at preventing the flu – in fact, according to an Italian study it’s three times more effective than the flu vaccine itself! This is because it contains high levels of immunoglobulins, or antibodies, against a number of common pathogens. It heals leaky guts and builds immune systems, making it a great addition to the winter regime. Ensure it is ethically and sustainably produced, however, with the calves having their share first, and preferably produced organically and without the use of vaccination to force the animals to produce specific antibodies, as is the practice in some places.

Echinacea

This is a fantastic herb for modulating the immune system. Containing a number of active alkylamides and other constituents, it regulates immunity, meaning it boosts a poor system and dampens an over-active one. Combinations of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia are generally recommended, and liquid extracts are particularly good – the tinglier they make your tongue, the higher the alkylamide content and the stronger the effect. Kiwiherb are a great brand to look out for.

Olive Leaf

This is another fantastic herbal supplement, often recommended alongside Echinacea. It is used as a potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and is a potent antioxidant, making it a powerhouse of immune support to help you through the winter and to fight off any infection. Great during colds and flu, anecdotal evidence from herbalists and traditional useage suggests it can speed recovery times and alleviate symptoms very quickly.

Colloidal Silver

This is a useful antibiotic, which can prove very effective when used sparingly and in the correct circumstances. Whilst it won’t work against viruses, if a person is suffering a secondary bacterial infection small doses taken orally can be helpful to aid the body’s response.

Other simple, common sense measures to take:

1. Wash your hands!! This can stop the spread of germs in its tracks. Friction is necessary – more so than soap, according to a recent study – and dry your hands properly, as germs grow in water.

2. If you blow your nose on a tissue, flush it down the toilet or put it in a specific bin and then flush it or throw it out with the waste. Don’t leave it sitting around!

3. Sneeze into your elbow to avoid spreading germs meters into the air, or onto your hand (that you’re then going to touch the phone with, or the light, or the door handle, or the railing on the train station platform, or shake that man’s hand with…)

4. If you get sick, sleep and drink plenty of water. Don’t try to ‘soldier on’ and run your energy reserves even lower, while spreading bugs to your co-workers – take the time off, allow yourself to recover properly, and stop the spread. Actually, just drink plenty of water and sleep well anyway.

5. Eat well. I know we covered that above, but it’s important.

6. Rid your home of toxic chemical cleaners and other household products. The burden on our bodies to detoxify and deal with the myriad chemicals we live with today is absolutely enormous, and the fact is, for many of us we simply cannot get rid of them. Throw out the junk and switch to cleaner, safer, eco-friendly brands, and old-fashioned stand-bys like soap nuts, baking soda, and white vinegar. Take some of the pressure off your body and your immune system and watch the change in how you feel.

7. Open the windows! Air your house out as much as you can, even in the depths of winter – oxygen helps your body’s fight against the bugs, and circulating stale air can spread airborne germs like nothing else. Freshen your home, wake yourself up, and let the air blow through.

8. Be happy! Have fun, enjoy life, go out with friends, dance, sing – do whatever makes your ‘soul sing’. The importance of being satisifed and happy on a person’s immune system and health cannot be overstated. Stress and worry are killers – so get out there and have fun.

And something to ponder, finally…

Whilst our current ‘germ theory’ of disease tends to be accepted, there was opposition when it was first put forward, and that opposition continues to today. This is known as the Pleomorphic Germ Theory, which Antoine Bechamp spoke of over a century ago. Essentially, the idea that germs change shape and form according to the condition the body is in. Supposedly, on his deathbed, even Louis Pasteur uttered the words that ‘it’s all about the terrain’ – a healthy terrain means healthy bugs, whereas an unhealthy one will cause the bugs to change shape into pathogens and create illness. Koch’s Posulates certainly make sense and are unanswered by current theory. I’ll leave you with these to ponder:

For a specific bacterium to be the cause of a disease, it must:

1. Be found in every case of the disease
2. NOT be found when the disease is NOT present
3. Be able to exist outside the tissues
4. Produce the disease when the host is exposed to it

…every single one of which has proven false. So, is the flu jab for you? You decide!