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Smelling Lavender Really Can Relax You

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Anxiety is a worldwide problem, and in the U.S. it affects almost one-fifth of the adult population.1 Yet prescription treatments for anxiety are far from ideal and often present undesirable side effects.

SSRI antidepressants, often prescribed for anxiety despite questions about their effectiveness for this use,2 put patients at clear risk of suicide, mania and bipolar disorder, birth defects, weight gain and sexual dysfunction.3

When combined with other drugs, SSRIs can put patients at risk for serotonin syndrome4 and are increasingly suspected of contributing to osteoporosis.5 They’ve even been linked to a heightened risk of developing the dreaded intestinal infection, Clostridium difficile.6 Moreover, SSRI antidepressants have a “clinical effect delay” — it may take weeks for them to produce any response.”7

Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Lorazepam, the drug class widely prescribed for anxiety, are also not ideal. On top of sedation and motor impairment, benzodiazepines put patients at risk of addiction and, according to some reports, dementia.

Moreover, they account for as many as one-third of overdose deaths. A treatment for anxiety without the side effects of SSRI antidepressants and benzodiazepines would help many.

A New Study Shows Lavender’s Effectiveness in Relieving Anxiety

Investigators at Kagoshima University in Japan recently studied the effect of linalool, a component of lavender oil, in mice and found a significant reduction in anxiety without impaired motor coordination. Their results appeared in the October 23 issue of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.8

How could the researchers detect anxiety in the mice they were studying? The mice were put in a “light/dark box” in which they could choose between adjoining light and dark compartments. Mice with less anxiety spent more time in the lighted chamber, engaged in “exploratory behavior” said the researchers.

The researchers also put mice treated with linalool in a maze that consisted of two “open arms” and two “closed arms.” Again, mice with less anxiety spent more time engaged in “exploratory behavior” — in this case exploring the “open arms” parts of the maze said the researchers.

Linalool as Effective as Benzodiazepines in Study

Kagoshima University researchers compared the behavior of linalool-exposed mice to those exposed to nothing and those exposed to diazepam, a benzodiazepine commonly known as Valium. Mice exposed to linalool had roughly the same anxiety reduction as those on diazepam but they had no accompanying motor impairment as seen with benzodiazepines.

When the mice exposed to linalool were placed on a rotating bar, they could keep from falling off the bar for as long as control mice who had been treated with nothing.9 This, say the researchers, implies they experienced no significant motor impairment from the linalool.

This is not the first time linalool has performed as well as benzodiazepines in reducing anxiety. In 2010, a group of researchers in Germany writing in the journal Phytomedicine found that a lavender based preparation:10

“… is as effective as lorazepam in adults with GAD [general anxiety disorder]. The safety of silexan [a lavender based compound that was used in the study] was also demonstrated. Since lavender oil showed no sedative effects in our study and has no potential for drug abuse, silexan appears to be an effective and well tolerated alternative to benzodiazepines for amelioration of generalized anxiety.”

Aromatherapy Proved Effective in Study

In determining the anxiety reduction benefits of linalool, researchers at Kagoshima University also confirmed the effectiveness of aromatherapy, a mechanism that is still called into doubt by mainstream medicine despite its years of successful use. Here is how the researchers describe the way mice were exposed to linalool:11

“Linalool odor exposure was performed in a custom-made odor chamber. A piece of 2 cm × 2 cm filter paper treated with … linalool was placed at each of the four corners of an acryl box … A mouse was placed into an acryl cage with a wire netting cover … and was placed at the center of the odor chamber.

Mice were unable to access the odor source directly, but were exposed to odorized air. In this odor chamber, mice were exposed to linalool odor for 30 min[utes].”

To confirm that the drug effects were through the olfactory system and not a different means, researchers disrupted the ability to smell in some mice who would be used for control purposes, producing anosmic or the inability to smell. Effects from linalool were not observed in these anosmic mice who could not smell it, confirming the olfactory system as the route of transmission.

Researchers also found that linalool was mediated through GABA receptors, as benzodiazepines are, and not through serotonin (5HT) receptors which are used by SSRI antidepressants. Again, linalool closely approximates the action of benzodiazepines but without motor impairment, which is a major drawback to their use. That is good news for anyone who wants to feel a little less anxious without becoming fatigued, sedated or experiencing muscle weakness.

Other Lavender Actions Unlocked

Linalool may also have pain reduction properties (analgesia) speculate the researchers at Japan’s Kagoshima University, because it activates calcium channels which regulate aspects of pain processing:12

“In addition to the odorant receptors, T-type calcium channels (TTCCs) are also affected by linalool … Because the TTCCs contribute to the generation of action potentials in olfactory sensory neurons … the modulation of TTCCs by linalool may also contribute to linalool odor- induced analgesia.”

In an earlier linalool study in mice, researchers at Kagoshima University explored similar, pain mediating functions:13

“Various folk remedies employ certain odorous compounds with analgesic effects. In fact, linalool, a monoterpene alcohol found in lavender extracts, has been found to attenuate pain responses via subcutaneous, intraperitoneal, intrathecal, and oral administration.

However, the analgesic effects of odorous compounds mediated by olfaction have not been thoroughly examined. We performed behavioral pain tests under odourant vapor exposure in mice. Among six odourant molecules examined, linalool significantly increased the pain threshold and attenuated pain behavior …

These findings reveal central analgesic circuits triggered by olfactory input in the mammalian brain and support a potential therapeutic approach for treating pain with linalool odor stimulation.”

Linalool, because it is administered through the sense of smell, as aromatherapy, may be useful for those who struggle with “oral or suppository administration of anxiolytics, such as infants or confused elders,” says Kagoshima University researcher Hideki Kashiwadani.14

Lavender Aromatherapy Can Ease Presurgical Anxiety

Studies that confirm the anxiety reduction problems of lavender oil are especially good news for the many people who fear medical procedures, especially surgery. Side effect-free treatments like lavender are immensely preferable to the benzodiazepines, painkillers and anesthetics usually used for “pre-op” fear.

These less natural treatments can often prolong recovery from medical procedures and surgery through longer hospital stays and slower wound healing. Here is what researchers wrote in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology:15

“Aromatherapy may offer a simple, low-risk and cost-effective method of reducing preoperative anxiety … Given the adverse effects of preoperative anxiety and the simplicity of aromatherapy, health care providers should consider the use of preoperative lavender aromatherapy in the ambulatory surgery setting, in which a short preoperative waiting time necessitates a convenient method of anxiety reduction.

While the researchers, writing in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology, affirm linalool’s role in reducing anxiety, they note that linalyl acetate, a different component found in the lavender plant, has pain relieving properties and “is recognized as a narcotic.” Lavender has been successfully used in a variety of medical settings say the researchers:16

“Lavender aromatherapy was shown to reduce anxiety in patients in the coronary intensive care unit (ICU), dental office, before open-heart surgery, general surgery, intrauterine device (IUD) insertion, during peripheral venous cannulation, and after myocardial infarction and percutaneous coronary intervention.”

The use of lavender aromatherapy may be especially valuable “in the ambulatory surgery setting, in which preoperative waiting time is brief and a convenient method of reducing anxiety is needed,” write the researchers.

Lavender Oil Fights Bacterial Infections Without Causing Resistance

Lavender has another important action –– it combats bacteria. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website, lavender oil has “broad-spectrum antibacterial activity” including against the dangerous bacteria S. aureus and multidrug-resistant E. coli.17

This is especially important as the problem of antibiotic resistance grows from the overuse of antibiotics in medical settings and in livestock. Antibiotic resistance has become a major threat to public health worldwide, and the primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the overprescription and widespread misuse of antibiotics.

They are routinely given to food animals on cramped “factory farms” to keep disease from breaking out. Antibiotics are also irresponsibly prescribed to humans for viral infections such as the flu, for which they have no effect, a practice that should stop.

Many Antibiotics Have Been Removed From the Marketplace

Despite all that is known about the dangers of antibiotic resistance, antibiotics are added to personal hygiene consumer products such as soaps, wipes, gels and sprays, as well as household products like dish detergent and even laundry detergent. Even cutting boards have been treated with antimicrobials.

Products with antibiotics added to them do not get you “cleaner” than soap and water but allow consumer companies to call their products “new” and “improved” and charge more for them. Meanwhile, 2 million people a year get antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in the U.S. and 23,000 die,18 making antibiotic-resistant bacteria one of our most pressing public health problems.

For example, in 2014, mega poultry producer Foster Farms was linked to a 29-state outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg in a striking example of the dangers of antibiotic resistance.19 Six-hundred thirty-four people were sickened, and federal lawmakers urged that the operations be shut down.

Lavender oil’s ability to fight bacteria and especially antibiotic-resistant bacteria is also great news for anyone who has experienced any side effect from taking antibiotics, especially those containing fluoride. In fact, many antibiotics containing fluoroquinolone (flouride) have been removed from the marketplace due to their horrific side effects.

Omniflox,20 Raxar,21 Trovan,22 Zagam23 and Tequin24 were withdrawn from the market several years ago. Levaquin’s maker, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, quietly halted production of this antibiotic in December 2017, telling an Indianapolis TV station in July 2018 that it had done so out of “safety concerns.” However, the drug hasn’t been pulled from shelves yet, so it’s possible it could still be available until 2020.25

However, Cipro, Avelox and Floxin continue to be prescribed for a variety of infections, both major and minor. Cipro is by far one of the favorites, despite new FDA warnings about serious side effects associated with the drug, including neurological problems such as delirium and memory impairments, as wel as serious dips in blood sugar, and my advice to you is to avoid it.

Lavender Oil Also Fights Fungal Infections

Lavender also fights fungal infections. Lavender oil’s antifungal properties are great news because various fungi are becoming as tough to treat as antibiotic resistant bacteria. Already, there are relatively few antifungal drugs, and they oftentimes have side effects.

The rise of antimicrobial resistant strains of bacteria, fungi and viruses has become a widespread problem due to the overuse of antibiotics in both animals and humans. Scientists tested lavender oil and also found it to be lethal to a range of skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various species of Candida.

Dermatophytes cause infections of the skin, hair and nails, and Candida species can cause mucocutaneous candidosis, also known as thrush. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):26

“Invasive candidiasis is a common health care-associated infection: It’s estimated that approximately 46,000 cases of healthcare-associated invasive candidiasis occur each year in the U.S. …

Candidemia, the most common form of invasive Candidiasis, is one of the most common bloodstream infections in the United States, The incidence of Candidemia is approximately 14 per 100,000 people in the Baltimore area and 10 per 100,000 people in the Atlanta area, but the incidence and the distribution of Candida species causing infection vary substantially by geographic location and patient population.”

Other Lavender Oil Benefits Are Medically Recognized

Lavender oil also accelerates wound healing, protects against neural damage and oxidative stress, protects against heart attacks through its antioxidant effects and can inhibit seizures.27 It has even improved spatial performance in an Alzheimer’s disease model and reduced falls in the elderly.28

With linalool’s newly confirmed ability to reduce anxiety, we again see the superiority of older, safer treatments. Time and time again medical science comes back to the age-old truth that simple, holistic remedies like lavender oil provide benefits where the drug companies cannot, and with few or no side effects.

If more people knew the truth about how easy it is to maintain your health naturally without the so-called “help” of the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. might be able to escape the failed paradigm of “sickness management” that now passes for health care.

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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Homemade Miso Soup With Vegetables

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homemade miso soup

Sometimes when the weather is chilly or you’re simply feeling under the weather, there is nothing better than a warm brothy soup. This miso soup combines nutrient-rich bone broth with the probiotic benefits of miso. And you get the benefits of vitamins and minerals from vegetables too. Make a big batch for the whole family or just one bowl for you!

What Is Miso?

Miso is a potent paste made out of fermented soybeans. But isn’t soy bad for you, you ask? Yes and no. Soy beans, like any legume, contain a large amount of phytic acid which interferes with nutrient absorption. They also contain phytoestrogens, which have their own negative side effects.

However, miso is fermented soy. Fermented foods contain bacteria which has eaten the sugars and starches present in the food. This process preserves the food and also gives it probiotics, enzymes, and additional vitamins. It makes the food more easily digested and the nutrients easier for the body to use.

There are several different colors of miso available, and all of them are just fine for soup making. Generally, the darker colored the miso, the stronger the flavor. I can usually find miso in the ethnic food section of my grocery store, but there are also some good organic options available online.

How to Make a Quick Miso Soup

To make miso soup, add a few teaspoons of miso paste is to a broth with spices and vegetables. Traditionally, dashi, the broth used for miso soup, is made with dried bonito (a type of fish) flakes and kelp. While you are welcome to do it this way, you can also use a good chicken bone broth like the one sold at Kettle and Fire.

Then, just top with additional seasonings, some vegetables, the miso, and sometimes a hard-boiled egg.

One note on adding the miso — it works best if you remove about ¼ cup of the warm broth from the pan and whisk in the miso paste with a fork before returning it to the rest of the soup. Once you add the miso, just warm the soup gently. Don’t boil it or you’ll destroy all the gut healthy bacteria in the miso!

If you’d like to try your hand at making dashi, the traditional fish and kelp broth for miso soup, this video is a good one.

No Time to Make From Scratch?

If you want to make life even simpler, Kettle and Fire also sells a delicious miso soup that’s all ready to go. Just heat it up and add any vegetables you like.

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Homemade Miso Soup Recipe

It’s easy to make miso soup at home using a good chicken bone broth, miso paste, and vegetables.

Ingredients

  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ginger (grated)
  • 3 mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 TBSP miso paste
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 1 egg (optional)

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the broth, minced garlic, onion powder, grated ginger, and sliced mushrooms.

  • Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.

  • Allow the broth to cool slightly.

  • Remove ¼ cup of the warm broth to a small bowl and whisk in the miso paste.

  • Return the broth/miso mixture to the pan with the rest of the broth.

  • Turn the heat on low and add the spinach, heating just until warmed.

  • Top with the green onion and hard boiled egg if desired.

Notes

Other vegetables you can add: baby bok choy, daikon, cabbage, kale, chard

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 675mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 35.3% | Vitamin C: 10.5% | Calcium: 5.4% | Iron: 14.7%

Have you ever used miso? What do you do with it?

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