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Coconut Oil Better Than DEET to Fight Insects





Hematophagous arthropods are insects or spiders that feed on blood, and transmit human and animal pathogens worldwide. Called vector-borne diseases, the illnesses caused by their bites account for nearly 17 percent of all infectious diseases annually. Nearly 700,000 humans die each year as a result of having acquired an infectious disease from the bite of an insect.1

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, plans to use insects to deliver genetically engineered viruses to plants with an aim to alter the plants genetic traits in the field.2 While the initial intent may have been to genetically control agriculture, it is not difficult to see how it may be easily weaponized.3

Although scientists recognize a reducing number and variety of insects worldwide, and the ecological chaos it would create in the environment, mosquitoes do not appear to be at immediate risk. Repellents have been a primary tool for reducing the bites of insects on humans and animals, with N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) currently considered the gold standard in insect repellent.

However, with documented health risks, particularly for infants and pregnant women, it is a poor choice. In a recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), researchers found compounds derived from coconut oil are better than DEET at repelling these insects and protecting your health.4

Compounds Derived From Coconut Oil Repel Insects Better Than DEET

Vector-borne illnesses are preventable using repellents to prevent transmission. For more than 60 years, DEET has been available commercially for this purpose. However, with rising health concerns over insecticides, there is an increased interest in developing effective, long-lasting and plant-based repellents.

A team of researchers led by entomologist Jerry Zhu with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Agroecosystem Management Research Unit, analyzed data using coconut oil compounds against biting insects and bedbugs. Their data revealed the compounds had a strong repellency against mosquitoes and ticks.5

The repellent is not pure coconut oil, but a free fatty acid mixture of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid derived from the coconut oil. Encapsulating these coconut fatty acids into a starch-based formula, researchers used field trial testing to demonstrate it could also protect cattle against biting flies for up to four days.

By comparison, DEET was only 50 percent effective against biting flies, while the coconut oil compound was more than 95 percent effective. The researchers compared the coconut oil compound against DEET on bedbugs and ticks and found DEET lost effectiveness after three days while the coconut oil compound was effective in repelling bedbugs and ticks for nearly two weeks.6

Additionally, researchers tested the coconut oil fatty acids against mosquitoes on human participants, including the species responsible for transmitting the Zika virus, and found more than 90 percent repellency. According to the USDA, these coconut oil-derived compounds offer a longer-lasting protection against blood feeding insects then other known natural repellents.

Picaridin and Lemon Eucalyptus Also Beat DEET for Repelling Insects

In other testing, Consumer Reports recruited volunteers to test out spray-on repellents made of DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, a chemical called IR3535, and products made with natural plant oils. After the repellents were applied and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, the volunteers reached into a cage containing (disease-free) mosquitoes or ticks.7

Two products emerged on top and were able to keep mosquitoes and ticks away for at least seven hours: products that contained 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus. Picaridin resembles the natural compound piperine, an essential oil in black pepper.

However, picaridin is not a natural compound; it’s produced synthetically in the lab. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), picaridin does not carry the same neurotoxicity concerns at DEET, although it has not been tested much over the long term. In the EWG’s assessment8 “Picaridin is a good DEET alternative with many of the same advantages and without the same disadvantages.”

Dangers of DEET

Not only do mosquitoes carry disease, but their bite creates an inflammatory response that can remain itchy for days. While the number of mosquitoes can be annoying, it is not wise to spray a bunch of chemicals on your skin to solve the problem. In 1946, the U.S. Army patented DEET, which is still widely recognized as an effective mosquito repellent.9

Although some support the use of DEET in small quantities, you will likely use more than small quantities if you spend time outdoors through the summer months. Prolonged exposure may impair cell function in parts of your brain, as demonstrated by death and behavioral changes in rats with frequent or prolonged use.10

When rats were treated with the average human dose equivalent of DEET, they performed far worse than control rats on physical tests requiring muscle strength, control and coordination.11 These results are consistent with reports of symptoms after the military used DEET in the Persian Gulf War. Heavy exposure can trigger:12

Eye and skin irritation

Memory loss




Muscle and joint pain



Shortness of breath

Unfortunately, these symptoms can appear months and even years after prolonged use of the chemical. While Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donai, Ph.D., believes short-term exposure may not be harmful, he warns against ever using a product with more than 30 percent concentration.13 

Unfortunately, exposure to DEET over the summer months may be frequent and long-term, and researchers have found the combined exposure with DEET and other chemicals is actually more dangerous than using DEET alone.14 Skin care products, deodorants, soaps and sunscreens, when mixed with DEET, increase toxic potential of the chemical.

Children are also more susceptible than adults to changes in their brain triggered by chemicals in the environment, as their skin more readily absorbs them and their neurological system is still developing.

In a study of more than 140 National Park Services employees, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found neurobehavioral analysis demonstrated correlations between DEET exposure and depression, anxiety, insomnia, muscle cramps and urinary hesitation. Skin rashes and blisters were also reported.15

Numbers of Vector-Borne Illnesses Rising

The annual number of people who get sick from vector-borne diseases has more than tripled since 2004.16,17 The World Health Organization (WHO)18 concluded climate change is likely a contributor, as warmer global temperatures have expanded the habitats of mosquitoes, ticks and other disease-spreading bugs.

Mosquitoes and ticks are responsible for nearly 77 percent of all vector-borne diseases. Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC said,19 “We desperately need to find new ways to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. We need better ways of controlling them and better diagnostic tools.”

According to the WHO,20 deaths attributed to vector-borne diseases include conditions such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and Japanese encephalitis. The highest burden is experienced in tropical and subtropical areas.

Distribution of these diseases is determined by complex demographic, environmental and social factors. Greater global travel and trade, as well as environmental challenges and unplanned urbanization have impacted pathogenic transmission and increased transmission seasons, triggering outbreaks in countries where they were previously unknown.21

Protect Yourself Against Vector-Borne Disease

Your best options are to reduce mosquito populations in your area through natural means and to use safe repellents. Consumer Reports tested three nonchemical options: a citronella candle, a portable diffuser with essential oils and an oscillating fan set at the highest speed.

While neither the candle nor the diffuser produce positive results, the fan cut mosquito landings by 45 to 65 percent for those sitting near the fan. You may also avoid insect bites by staying inside between dusk and dawn when they are most active.

Mosquito populations are higher in treed areas and near standing water. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMAC) recommends the “3Ds” of protection to prevent mosquito breeding on your property:22 

  • Drain — Mosquitoes require water to breed, so carefully drain any and all sources of standing water around your house and yard, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires and bird baths.
  • Dress — Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing, such as long sleeved shirts and long pants, hats and socks.
  • Defend — While the AMCA recommends using commercial repellents, I highly recommend avoiding most chemical repellents for the reasons already discussed; instead, try some of the natural alternatives when necessary.

Engage the mosquitoes’ enemy by providing a habitat for bats in your yard. These are voracious insect eaters who will help keep your mosquito population at bay. For more on buying a bat house or constructing one yourself, visit Bat Conservation International.23 Planting marigolds around your yard also helps reduce your mosquito population as mosquitoes dislike the fragrance.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

While the mosquito repellent used in the featured study used coconut oil-derived compounds, there are additional health benefits to using the natural oil. Nearly 90 percent of the fat in coconut oil is healthy saturated fat, unlike the hydrogenated oils and trans fats that trigger inflammation and damage to your arterial system.

Half the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid with antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal properties. Your body converts this to monolaurin, which can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses. You may also enjoy a number of other benefits when you incorporate coconut oil in your nutritional intake, including:

Support healthy thyroid function — Unlike soy oil and other vegetable oils,24 coconut oil does not interfere with thyroid function. It has anti-inflammatory properties helping to reduce inflammation that may lead to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.25

Promote heart health — Animal and human studies have found heart disease risk factors such as total, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels contributing to poor cholesterol ratios are improved by taking coconut oil. In particular, the saturated fats in coconut oil may increase “good” HDL cholesterol, while also helping convert “bad” LDL cholesterol into a less harmful form.26

Promote healthy brain function — Research data determined ketones may work as an alternative energy source for malfunctioning brain cells, which has been found to reduce symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.27

Boost immune function — Lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids, capric acid and caprylic acid coconut oil contains are known for their antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.28 Regularly using it may help prevent colds/flu, and alleviate illnesses like hepatitis C, herpes and the Epstein-Barr virus.29

Boost energy — Medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) in coconut oil are immediately digested and converted into energy by your liver.

Aid weight loss — Coconut oil provides an excellent fuel for your body and stimulates your metabolism to help you shed excess body fat, especially when combined with a cyclical ketogenic nutrition plan.

Aid digestion — Coconut oil is easy on your digestive system and will not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. The MCTs can also be absorbed easily in your digestive tract, compared to longer chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Control Crohn’s disease — Research demonstrates healthy plant-derived fats, such as coconut oil, can bring about positive changes in your gut bacteria, decreasing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, an often debilitating condition.

Maintain healthy, youthful looking skin — Application of coconut oil topically benefits your skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines as the oil keeps your connective tissues strong and supple. Limited evidence also suggests it may boost collagen production,30 although the mechanism of action is unknown.

Control Candida — A study published in mSphere found mice given coconut oil had a tenfold drop in the colonization of Candida albicans yeast in their gut, compared to mice given soybean oil or beef tallow.31

Promote oral health — One study found massaging coconut oil on your gums for 10 minutes a day for three weeks significantly reduces plaque and decay-causing Streptococcus mutans.32 In another study, oil pulling, a traditional practice of swishing oil in the mouth, decreased plaque within the first seven days of practice.33


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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes





(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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





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





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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