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A Valuable Spice That’s Been Used for Centuries

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Clove is a pungent spice used worldwide in a variety of foods and beverages. Its uses extend to other areas as well, particularly due to its well-known analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Let’s take a closer look at these dried aromatic flower buds that have the appearance of small nails.

While you may enjoy cloves in a hot beverage like spiced apple cider, they also feature prominently in pumpkin pie and speculoos — those crispy gourmet spice cookies that are a symbol of the Christmas season in Belgium, Germany and other countries across Europe.

Cloves Give a Pungent Punch to Foods and Beverages Worldwide

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia cariophylata) are the aromatic flower buds collected from evergreen trees of the same name. Clove is a tree of medium height (averaging 25 to 40 feet tall) that is populated with large green leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters.

Distinctive due to their nail-like appearance, cloves feature a long calyx adorned by four spreading sepals. They are topped by four unopened petals that form a small central ball. Native to Indonesia, cloves are also harvested in countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

Cloves have long been used as a food and for medicinal purposes. This pungent spice has also been used to make clove cigarettes, also known as kreteks, which have been linked to a number of lung-related health problems.1,,sup style=”font-size: 10px;”>2 With respect to the history of cloves, authors of a 2012 study published in the journal Molecules noted:3

“Clove … has been traded from one end of the world to the other, being a highly sought-after commodity in medieval Europe for medicinal and culinary purposes. During the 14th century the clove trade acted as a stimulant in the establishment of commerce at ports especially in Asia and Europe where it was traded for large profits.

The high clove trade price inspired exploration expeditions in the search for new sources of this highly praised spice and the establishment of new sea routes.

Throughout the following centuries its trade went through several phases such as increased trade prices, struggle over control of the industry, warfare, decreased trade prices and even smuggling of seedlings for cultivation.”

Cloves have long been used to enhance a variety of foods and drinks. Certain types of meat dishes, curries and marinades benefit from the unique punch delivered by cloves. In addition, cloves play prominently in spiced cider and other hot beverages, as well as dishes like arroz con leche (rice pudding), which is popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Eugenol Is One of the Most Valuable Compounds Found in Cloves

Researchers note cloves are one of the richest sources of phenolic compounds such as eugenol, eugenol acetate and gallic acid.4 As such, they suggest cloves possess great potential for agricultural, cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical applications.

Notably, eugenol, a major volatile constituent of clove essential oil that is obtained through hydrodistillation of buds and leaves, has been incorporated into numerous products. About eugenol, authors of the Molecules study stated:5

“Its vast range of pharmacological activities has been well-researched and includes antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant and anticancer activities, among others.

In addition, it is widely used in agricultural applications to protect foods from micro-organisms during storage … and as a pesticide and fumigant. As a functional ingredient, it is included in many dental preparations.”

Furthermore, the researchers note, while eugenol has been identified in other aromatic plants such basil, cinnamon and nutmeg, clove is considered to be the principal natural source of this bioactive compound because it represents between 45 and 90 percent of the total oil.

On the other hand, they assert commercial eugenol preparations are mostly derived from clove bud/leaf oil, cinnamon leaf oil or basil obtained through steam distillation, which is then further refined.

Besides eugenol, other phenolic acids found in clove include caffeic, elagic, ferulic, gallic and salicylic acids. Flavonoids like kaempferol and quercetin are also found in clove in lower concentrations.

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7 Health Benefits of Cloves


As noted in the video above, due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, as well as the other pharmacological activities associated with this spice, clove can benefit your health because it:








Aids digestion — In animal studies, clove essential oil was shown to increase production of gastric mucus, which protects the stomach lining from being damaged by digestive acids. One set of study authors commented, “[T]he quantification of free gastric mucus showed that the clove oil and eugenol were capable of significantly enhancing mucus production.”

The researchers noted the need for further research before clove oil could be recommended for the treatment of gastric ulcers. An earlier study also involving lab mice validated the folkloric use of clove as a purgative. In that body of work, clove extract was found to increase gut muscle propulsion similar to medications typically administered for constipation.

About the use of cloves for digestion, Indian researchers who published a 2012 study in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry stated, “[Cloves] are well-known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. They may also help relieve vomiting and diarrhea as well as a host of other digestive disorders.”

Boosts immunity — Clove’s antiviral and cleansing properties are said to purify your body and enhance your resistance to disease.

In lab tests, eugenol was shown to possess antiviral activity against the herpes simplex viruses (HSV‐1 and HSV‐2). The researchers said, “[I]t was found that the replication of these viruses was inhibited in the presence of this compound. Topical application of eugenol delayed the development of herpesvirus-induced keratitis in the mouse model.”

Calms toothaches and other dental pain — Given its analgesic properties, clove essential oil can be used to soothe toothaches. Simply place a few drops of clove oil on an organic cotton ball and place it next to the bothersome tooth. In similar fashion, you can use clove oil to relieve pain from sore gums.

Authors involved in 2012 research said, “The antiseptic properties of clove oil are why it’s a common ingredient in various dental creams, toothpastes, mouth wash and throat sprays.” For more information on using clove for your oral care needs, refer to my article “Choose Clove Bud Oil for Better Dental Health.”

Promotes healthy skin — A body of 2013 research from China validated the usefulness of clove essential oil for skincare applications. The scientists commented, “Clove oil exhibited prominent free-radical scavenging activities … and strong inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation … This study suggests that both clove oil and citronella oil could be used as new source of skincare ingredients in the cosmetic industry.”

Reduces inflammation — A 2005 study involving lab rats, published in the European Journal of General Medicine, validated the anti-inflammatory potential of clove essential oil when compared to two nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

After administering either clove oil or the NSAIDs etodolac or indomethacin to rats with swollen paws, the study authors noted clove, depending on the dosing, had anti-inflammatory effects similar to both medications.

Indicating clove as a promising compound worthy of further research, they concluded, “The current study proves the anti-inflammatory activity of clove in vivo, [in addition to] its antibacterial, analgesic, spasmolytic and anesthetic actions.”

Soothes headache pain — Given the anti-inflammatory benefits of eugenol, clove is useful for the treatment of headache pain. About cloves and headaches, NDTV Food states:

“Cloves can be used to ease a throbbing headache due to its cooling and pain-relieving properties. Crush a few cloves gently and put them in a sachet or a clean handkerchief.

Inhale the smell of the crushed cloves whenever you have a headache until you get some relief from the pain. You can also put two drops of clove oil in a tablespoon of coconut oil plus sea salt and gently massage your forehead and temples with it.”

Supports respiratory health — One way to use clove as a respiratory aid is to make clove tea, which you can either drink or use as a steam inhalation.

For a cold or sore throat, you can add a couple of drops of clove essential oil to a mug of hot water, which you can sweeten with raw honey or stevia if desired. Drink two to three glasses a day until your condition improves. You can also use clove oil for aromatherapy by diffusing it into the air.

Cloves Shown to Possess Anticancer Properties

Scientists conducting a 2014 study published in Oncology Research found clove extract slowed the growth of multiple types of human cancer cells, including colon cancer. The researchers called out oleanolic acid as one of the constituents in cloves with antitumor potential. They stated:

“We identified oleanolic acid (OA) as one of the components of ethyl acetate extract of cloves (EAEC) responsible for its antitumor activity. Both EAEC and OA display cytotoxicity against several human cancer cell lines.

Interestingly, EAEC was superior to OA and the chemotherapeutic agent 5-fluorouracil at suppressing growth of colon tumor xenografts. Our results demonstrate that clove extract may represent a novel therapeutic herb for the treatment of colorectal cancer.”

In another study, the cytotoxic activity of clove extract on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells was evaluated. In lab tests, the researchers found that clove essential oil and ethanol extract of clove were both toxic to breast cancer cells.

Noting the well-validated anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties of cloves, the researchers concluded, “Cloves are natural products with excellent cytotoxicity toward MCF-7 cells; thus, they are promising sources for the development of anticancer agents.”  

Earlier research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention called out eugenol for its anticancer effects. The study authors commented:

“[T]his work demonstrates that the eugenol present in clove oil extract is an effective cytotoxic agent for different type of cancer cells and it is endowed with apoptotic inducing capability. These results suggest that eugenol may constitute a potential antitumor compound against different kind of cancer cells.”

Clove Influences Diabetes and Obesity

A body of 2014 research evaluated the effect of clove bud powder on lab rats with diabetes. They noted blood sugar levels were lower in rats that received the clove powder compared to those in the control (no treatment) group. They also observed:

  • Reduced activity of alpha-glucosidase for rats treated with either clove powder or the diabetes drug metformin as compared to the control group
  • Rats receiving clove powder had significantly reduced activity of liver enzymes such as alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase
  • Rats receiving clove powder showed elevated levels of antioxidants such as glutathione, ascorbic acid, superoxide dismutase and catalase

About the outcomes, the researchers said, “The results suggest that the clove bud diet may attenuate hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, hepatotoxicity and oxidative stress in the Type 2 diabetic condition.”

Beyond this, research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food asserts clove extract and nigericin, a component of clove extract, reduced insulin resistance in mouse muscle cells (myoblasts). Diabetic mice that consumed nigericin had less insulin resistance and showed improvements in glucose tolerance, insulin secretion and beta cell function.

Cloves have also been investigated for their potential impact on obesity. In a 2017 studying using a mouse model, researchers found an alcohol extract of clove (AEC) reduced the incidence of obesity resulting from a high-fat diet.

Specifically, mice who received clove extract had lower body weight, less abdominal fat and less liver fat than those in the control group who received none. The study authors also found AEC could regulate triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

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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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