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Essential Oils — Highly Effective at Destroying Lyme Bacterium

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Lab-based research conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health suggests various essential oils, including garlic, can effectively kill persistent forms of Lyme disease bacterium. While clinical trials are needed to validate the lab-based results, this is good news for anyone who had previously been relying on antibiotics alone to treat this life-threatening, tick-based disease.

Notably, 10 of the 35 essential oils tested showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing “persister” forms of Lyme disease bacterium.1

If you are struggling with Lyme disease, I encourage you to look beyond conventional treatment, which often focuses on the use of long-term antibiotics. You owe it to yourself to investigate essential oils and other natural solutions, which I highlight below.

Essential Oils Shown To Be Effective for Treating Lyme Disease

As presented in the featured video, a new study published in the journal Antibiotics2 suggests essential oils such as garlic and eucalyptus may be useful in treating Lyme disease.

Interested in the oils’ strong antibacterial properties and many other health benefits, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health conducted lab tests designed to treat Lyme bacterium with 35 essential oils.

Previously, lead study author Dr. Ying Zhang, professor in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology, and his colleagues identified five essential oils, including oregano, cinnamon bark and citronella, that have higher antipersister activity than the commonly used Lyme antibiotic drug daptomycin.3 Results of the current research revealed:4,5,6

  • Ten of the 35 essential oils that were tested showed “strong activity” against persister forms of Lyme disease bacterium
  • Essential oils derived from allspice berries, cinnamon bark, cumin seeds, eucalyptus, garlic cloves, myrrh trees and thyme leaves are among those found to effectively combat persister forms of Lyme disease
  • Five of these oils were effective against dormant forms of the Lyme bacterium in a concentration of only 1 part per 1,000
  • Essential oils from allspice berries, garlic, may chang trees, myrrh trees and spiked ginger lily not only eradicated all Lyme disease bacteria in seven days, but also prevented regrowth in 21 days

About the study outcomes, Zhang stated, “We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the ‘persister’ forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics. At this stage, these essential oils look very promising as candidate treatments for persistent Lyme infection, but ultimately we need properly designed clinical trials.”7

Given the study outcomes, essential oils are certainly worth consideration when it comes to addressing Lyme symptoms. Later in this article, I will share other natural remedies you may want to consider. For now, let’s take a closer look at what causes the disease and how it is most commonly contracted.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete — a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is primarily transmitted by deer ticks and black-legged ticks found in grassy and wooded areas throughout the U.S. and at least 60 other countries.8

Lyme is sometimes accompanied by a characteristic bullseye rash and may include flu-like symptoms such as: body aches, fatigue, fever, headaches and stiff or swollen joints.

As I have often mentioned, early treatment is vital because it may help you avoid future complications such as chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), cognitive defects, heart rhythm irregularities and neurological symptoms.

Quite often, Lyme disease can be complicated by factors such as coinfections, nutrient deficiencies and toxin overload.9 LymeDisease.org provides the following facts about the disease:10

  • Most people contract Lyme from the bite of an immature tick — and the bite is often so tiny and painless, you may not realize you’ve been bitten
  • An undisturbed tick can feed for several days; the longer it is attached to your body, the greater the chances it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream
  • Lyme, which is known as “The Great Imitator,” is very challenging to diagnose because its symptoms mimic conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis
  • Lyme disease can affect any organ of your body, including your brain and nervous system, muscles and joints and even your heart

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Who Gets Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is no respecter of persons and one bite from a tick the size of a poppy seed may be the only thing separating you from this devastating illness. At least 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually.11

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease cases are mainly concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 American states accounting for more than 96 percent of the cases reported to the CDC.12

The people at greatest risk of picking up a Lyme-infected tick include children and older adults, as well as firefighters, park rangers and others who spend time in areas known to increase their exposure to ticks.13

Antibiotic Treatment for Lyme Disease Is Not Always Effective

In most cases, the first line of treatment for Lyme disease usually involves the administration of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime or doxycycline for two to four weeks. That said, antibiotics are not always effective. It’s also important to note that the overuse of these drugs contributes to antibiotic resistance, which is becoming an increasingly bigger issue worldwide.

A 2013 study suggested 36 percent of antibiotic-treated patients continued to suffer from fatigue six months after taking the medication, whereas 20 percent experienced ongoing joint or musculoskeletal pain and 45 percent dealt with persistent neurocognitive symptoms.14

This poorly understood condition that lingers after standard treatment has been completed is known as “persistent Lyme infection” or “post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLDS) syndrome.”15 While the cause of so-called persistent Lyme infection is unknown, experts have observed that the Lyme bacterium can enter a dormant stage in which its cells multiply very slowly or don’t divide at all.

As such, these so-called persister cells are known to be more resistant to antibiotics. About this aspect of Lyme disease, authors of the Johns Hopkins study stated:16

“We found that the variant persister forms such as round bodies, microcolonies and biofilms with increasing degree of persistence in vitro, cannot be killed by the current Lyme antibiotics or even persister drugs like daptomycin alone. [T]hey can only be killed by a combination of drugs that kill persisters and drugs that kill the growing forms.

These observations provide a possible explanation in support of persistent infection despite antibiotic treatment in vivo.

Although daptomycin has good antipersister activity, it is expensive and is an intravenous drug and difficult to administer and adopt in clinical setting, and it has limited penetration through blood brain barrier (BBB). Thus, there is interest to identify alternative drug candidates with high anti-persister activity.”

Natural Strategies to Fight Lyme Disease

As mentioned, conventional Lyme treatment usually focuses on antibiotics, which often stop short of addressing the underlying issues associated with the disease. Due to the damage it will do to your gut microbiome, I do not recommend long-term antibiotic use for Lyme.

The use of antibiotics also increases your risk of fungal or yeast infections. Moreover, antibiotics tax your natural immune function and increase your risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Rather than choose antibiotic therapy as your primary means of treating Lyme, you’d be wise to investigate the many natural alternatives first, or, at least use the natural remedies in concert with any recommended pharmaceutical medications. You may find the following nutritional supplements useful in addressing Lyme disease:


Andrographis and artemisinin — herbs that treat a Lyme coinfection called Babesia

Krill oil — this omega-3 powerhouse helps reduce inflammation and relieve Lyme symptoms

Astaxanthin — a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes toxins and relieves joint pain

Probiotics — promotes healthy gut flora and boosts your immunity

Cilantro — a natural chelator for heavy metals

Quercetin — an antioxidant known to reduce histamine, which is usually high in Lyme patients

CoQ10 — a potent antioxidant that alleviates muscle pain, boosts cardiac health and reduces brain fog

Resveratrol — this antioxidant helps with detoxification and may treat the common coinfection called Bartonella

Curcumin — the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which eliminates neurological toxins and helps reduce brain swelling

Serrapeptase helps dissolve biofilms

GABA and melatonin — two great sleep supplements that will help address insomnia, a common complaint of Lyme sufferers

Transfer factors — help boost your immune function

Grapefruit seed extract — known to kill bacteria, Candida and parasites and may help treat the Borrelia bacterium in cyst form

Whey protein concentrate — may be useful as a dietary supplement

Lumbrokinase Also Shown to Help Treat Lyme

Beyond the natural remedies mentioned above, lumbrokinase, a group of six proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes derived from earthworms, has been successfully paired with antimicrobial remedies for the treatment of Lyme disease.

Lumbrokinase is believed to effectively penetrate through thick clumps of gut bacteria known as biofilms, which are one of several factors involved with Lyme. When pathogenic bacteria hide within biofilms, they can feed and replicate out of the reach of your immune system.

As such, they remain strong and unaffected by any antimicrobial medications, including antibiotics and herbs, you may be taking. The fact lumbrokinase is helpful in breaking down fibrinogen is an important aspect of Lyme treatment because the pathogenic bacteria use fibrinogen, which they convert to fibrin, to strengthen their network.17

Researchers studying the effects of lumbrokinase18 say earthworms have been used for thousands of years within traditional medicine in Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. In these countries, dry earthworm powder taken orally has been shown to promote healthy blood circulation. 

Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, a functional, integrative and holistic medicine specialist from Thousand Oaks, California, and creator of the Lyme People website, suggests lumbrokinase, “appears to assist in dissolving the excess fibrin that covers and hides the bacteria, is involved in the regulation of blood clotting and also eliminates the abnormal proteins that are released as a result of the bacteria’s activity.”19

You May Want to Try Klinghardt Academy’s Lyme Treatment Protocol

My mentor Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, founder of the Klinghardt Academy in Woodinville, Washington, is one of the leading authorities on the treatment of Lyme disease. Having been used successfully to restore health to hundreds of patients, his Lyme disease treatment protocol is most definitely something you should check out, especially if you have been unable to get the help you need elsewhere.

Be Vigilant: Preventing Lyme Disease Is Your Best Option

Lyme disease is a complex, controversial and extremely challenging condition to treat, making prevention your safest and best option. Your first line of defense is to take precautions to avoid the ticks that transmit the disease. After all, no tick bites, no Lyme disease. Because the ticks can be as small as poppy seeds, you must be vigilant to safeguard yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Whatever you do, do not spray your body or your clothes with insect repellant containing N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. Because DEET is a known neurotoxin,20 I recommend avoiding all DEET-containing products. If you live or spend time in a high-risk area, you can protect yourself from tick bites by:21,22

  • Avoiding tick-infested areas such as densely wooded areas and always walk in the middle of trails to avoid brushing against tall grasses and other plant material that may house ticks
  • Looking for ticks on your body and hair immediately upon returning from a high-risk area and continuing to check your body, hair and bedding daily for several days afterward
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants, as well as closed shoes and a hat, when venturing into wooded areas
  • Checking your pets for ticks, which can latch onto collars and fur
  • Removing ticks properly and, if possible, keeping them alive; for detailed instructions on handling ticks, visit the lymedisease.org tick removal page

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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes

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(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

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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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