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10 Potential Benefits of Echinacea





Echinacea, also known as the American coneflower, is a brightly colored medicinal plant named for the prickly spines in its large cone-shaped seed head. Based on those spines, its name is derived from the Greek word ekhînos, meaning hedgehog. Although used widely to treat all kinds of diseases and infections prior to the introduction of antibiotics in the U.S., this popular herb is now prized for its ability to shorten the duration of colds and flu.

Echinacea is available in many forms — capsules, dried, essential oil and tea, to name a few — and features prominently as an ingredient in both mainstream and natural cold remedies, cough drops and supplements. While best known as an immune system booster, echinacea provides at least nine other health benefits you may want to consider.

The History of Echinacea

As a perennial plant and member of the Asteraceae (daisy) family, echinacea is best known for its colorful pink and purple flowers and distinctive cone-shaped seed head. Mature coneflowers reach heights of 1 to 2 feet. While there are several others, only three species of echinacea are used as herbal remedies:1

  • Echinacea angustifolia — narrow-leaved coneflower
  • Echinacea pallida — pale purple coneflower
  • Echinacea purpurea — purple coneflower, also known as eastern purple coneflower

From growing wild on native prairies in eastern and central North America — where it thrives in moist to dry prairies and open woodlands — to being researched in German labs, echinacea has enjoyed a rich history:2,3

  • Prior to the arrival of early American settlers, Native Americans were known to have used echinacea for hundreds of years as a general “cure all,” as well as to treat infections and wounds
  • By the early 1800s, echinacea had become a popular herbal remedy for American settlers, at which time its use spread to Europe
  • In the 1920s, after research was carried out on echinacea in Germany, its popularity spread even more
  • Throughout history, echinacea has been used successfully to treat blood poisoning, diphtheria, malaria, scarlet fever, snakebites and syphilis, among other illnesses
  • Due to the increasingly widespread use of antibiotics by the 1940s and ’50s, echinacea’s popularity in the U.S. began to decline, whereas research efforts on the herb in Germany continued to bolster its popularity throughout the 20th century

Interestingly, Native Americans4 learned of the medicinal value of echinacea by observing elk — noticing the stately animals sought it out whenever they were wounded or sick. As such, echinacea earned the name “elk root.” The Sioux used it as a remedy for colic, infections and snakebites.5 Some tribes, like the Cheyenne and Kiowa, applied it to coughs and sore throats. The Pawnee were said to have used it on headaches, while the Lakota found echinacea to be an excellent painkiller.

10 Health Benefits of Echinacea

While somewhat displaced by antibiotics, echinacea remains a beneficial and powerful herb, especially given every part of the plant, from the flower petals to the roots, is packed with vital nutrients. According to Organic Facts,6 the unique varieties of echinacea contain different active chemicals, including “a variety of phenolic compounds like cichoric acid, caftaric acid, echinacoside and various other polysaccharides and alkylamides.”

Similarly, the Global Healing Center7 attributes echinacea’s health benefits to “its diverse makeup of nutrients, which includes polysaccharides, alkylamides, flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamin C, selenium and zinc.” Below are 10 health benefits of echinacea: 8,9,10

Alleviates pain and physical discomfort — Long ago, Native Americans used echinacea to reduce physical aches and pains and, today, it remains an effective pain reliever. Research has validated this herb’s potential for promoting comfort following surgery, with one study reducing the inflammation and chronic pain associated with knee osteoarthritis during a 30-day period by administering 25 milligrams (mg) of ginger and 5 mg of Echinacea angustifolia extract.11

Boosts your immune system — According to numerous clinical trials, including one involving 473 participants12 and another featuring 755 participants,13 echinacea has been validated for having a positive effect on your immune system. As a seasonal wellness booster, echinacea has been shown to slash by half your chances of catching a cold, while shortening the duration of a cold by 1.4 days.

This may explain why echinacea — in the form of cough drops, cough formulas and teas — is widely popular during cold and flu season. By the way, in the smaller study mentioned above, the popular Echinaceaforce hot drink (with black elderberry) was shown to be as effective as Tamiflu for early treatment of the flu.14

Encourages healthy skin — Due to its known antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, researchers have found echinacea to be useful in the treatment of acne. As noted in Phytotherapy Research,15 a preparation of Echinacea purpurea was shown not only to inhibit the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes, but also to help reverse bacteria-induced inflammation.

Another study found the herb helps hydrate your skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.16 Finally, echinacea has been used for years to help heal eczema and psoriasis, and it also soothes sunburn.

Enhances your oral health — After being evaluated with other herbs like lavender and sage, echinacea has been found to neutralize the harmful organisms that cause bad breath.17 In addition, studies have associated echinacea intake with a reduction in gingivitis, which seems to be reasonable, considering gingivitis is a bacterial infection. In that respect, echinacea supplementation may be an effective way to maintain good oral health.

Helps reduce anxiety — Using very high doses of echinacea reduced symptoms of mild anxiety in lab rats and later in adult subjects who consumed two 20-mg capsules of echinacea daily for one week. 18 This study followed previous research testing the anxiolytic potential of five different Echinacea preparations and comparing their effectiveness to the pharmaceutical tranquilizer chlordiazepoxide.19

Similar to the drug, the study authors noted, “[The] anxiolytic effects [of echinacea] were consistently seen in three different tests of anxiety.” Unlike chlordiazepoxide, however, echinacea did not suppress participant locomotor movement at higher doses.

Offers antiaging potential — While not yet validated in human studies, the results of animal studies suggest echinacea has tremendous antiaging potential due to its effects on your body’s natural killer cells. In one study20 involving healthy elderly mice receiving supplemental echinacea for 14 days, scientists noted dramatic changes. The research team stated:

“Indeed, this herb in the diet returned the numbers and function of natural killer cells in these elderly animals to the levels of the young adult. In the spleens of these Echinacea-consuming elderly mice, natural killer cell numbers rose to levels 30 percent greater than [the control group].”

Promotes wound healing — Echinacea’s antibacterial properties, as well as its ability to strengthen your immune system, also promote wound healing. An Iranian study21 involving rats injected with arsenic subcutaneously, which resulted in extensive necrosis of the skin, suggests Echinacea purpurea’s value as an effective wound healing agent.

Echinacea’s “anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antibacterial and stimulatory effects on fibroblast proliferation can be considered as an appropriate stimulus for healing,” said the study authors. The journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology22 highlights echinacea as one of a number of phytotherapeutic agents recognized worldwide for cutaneous wound healing.

Reduces inflammation — The active chemical constituents in echinacea have been shown to reduce inflammation and the associated pain, making this herb a general “cure all” for body and joint aches and pains.23 Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory properties extend to your skin, where echinacea-containing gels and salves can help soothe sunburn.

Furthermore, echinacea can help reduce irritation and mucus deposits associated with conditions like asthma and bronchitis. As noted by the authors of a 2015 study:24

“Pharmacodynamic studies have confirmed significant bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects of Echinacea complex that was similar to effects of classic synthetic drugs. Thus, results provide a scientific basis for the application of this herb in traditional medicine as a supplementary treatment of allergic disorders of the airways, such as asthma.”

Stimulates healthy cell growth (and protects healthy cells) — Beyond stimulating your body’s T cells, echinacea also increases your production of white blood cells, the front-line fighters that protect you from everyday germs and illnesses. Furthermore, compounds found in echinacea inhibit bacteria and viruses from penetrating your healthy cells, thereby reducing your chance of contracting an infection while actively taking an echinacea supplement.

Supports anticancer activities — While research involving humans has yet to validate echinacea’s potential anticancer properties, its ability to affect your immune system enables it to influence your body’s response to cancer. Although not considered to be an antioxidant, echinacea is able to help eliminate free radicals by stimulating your body’s T cells, which play an active role in combating and preventing cancer.

How to Make Echinacea Tea

The Global Healing Center provides the following recipe for echinacea tea, which is believed to be an incredible home remedy for the flu.25 Be sure to use only organic or wildcrafted echinacea that’s pesticide free.


  1. Heat 8 to 16 ounces of filtered water over medium-high heat
  2. Add a mixture of freshly rinsed echinacea flowers, roots and leaves
  3. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes
  4. Strain, and enjoy hot or cold
  5. Optional: add raw honey or stevia to sweeten

Making and Using Echinacea Essential Oil

While not an exact science, you can easily make echinacea essential oil at home using the ingredients and directions shown below: 26


  • Petals and leaves from four or five organically grown coneflowers
  • 3.5 ounces organic sunflower oil (or more depending on the amount of plant material used)
  • A small glass jar with tight-fitting lid


  1. Gently rinse the petals and leaves with water and lay them out to dry on a clean cloth or paper towel for several days
  2. Once dry, place the petals and leaves in a small glass jar
  3. Pour the sunflower oil over the herbs, adding more oil if needed, to ensure the plant matter is covered completely; secure the lid
  4. Set the jar aside in a cool, dark area for four to six weeks to allow the echinacea to infuse the oil
  5. Remove the lid and strain away and discard the dried flower material
  6. Store the echinacea essential oil in a dropper bottle for ease of use

When using echinacea essential oil topically, always do a small skin test first on the underside of your forearm to check for any potential allergic reaction. If it is safe for you, you might consider using echinacea essential oil in one or more of the following ways:

  • Antiseptic — Rub a few drops of the oil on minor scrapes and wounds to prevent infection and promote healing
  • Bath — Place a few drops of echinacea essential oil in your bathwater, or if you do not have access to the oil, try using a couple of fresh echinacea tea bags instead
  • Massage — Apply the oil to your chest and back to help treat colds, or use it on your head for a relaxing head massage

Echinacea Side Effects and Precautions

While echinacea is generally considered safe, you should exercise caution with respect to echinacea preparations if you are sensitive to pollen or have a known allergy to other members of the Asteraceae family such as daisies, marigolds or ragweed. If you experience any of the common side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth and mild nausea, avoid further contact with echinacea.

Because research is lacking to demonstrate its safety, you may want to avoid using echinacea during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, unless approved for use by your doctor.

Use of Echinacea and Other Herbal Supplements Continues to Grow

According to the American Botanical Council,27 sales of herbal dietary supplements in the U.S. continue on an upswing. Sales of herbal supplements as a whole increased 7.7 percent in 2016, marking the 13th consecutive year of growth. In 2016, American consumers spent nearly $7.5 billion on herbal supplements.

While herbal remedies continue to be minimized or dismissed by conventional medicine, the mainstream media, federal and state governments and other critics, consumer sales consistently underscore their value and usefulness.

With respect to echinacea (specifically Echinacea spp.), sales of it also followed an upward trend from 2015 to 2016, maintaining a ranking within the top 40 herbal supplements sold in both the mainstream retail and natural distribution channels. Ranked as No. 3 in the mainstream retail market, echinacea sales topped $69 million, up 15.1 percent year over year. In the natural channel, where it slipped to No. 9, echinacea sales approached $8.4 million, up 6.3 percent from the previous year.

While herbal supplements, echinacea included, have value, it’s important to note they are not intended to replace real food, nor is it wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience, no amount of supplements can replace healthy food choices. That said, because there are times when supplements can be quite useful, it’s important you know how to choose the best ones. Whether it’s echinacea or another herbal remedy, for starters, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • Presented, as close as possible, in its natural, whole food form
  • Verified by independent third-party labs to ensure its raw materials are free of contaminants and its dosing is correct
  • Certified according to industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and Good Manufacturing Processes
  • Provided by a company with a long track record of providing high-quality products upheld by documented clinical results
  • Processed without potentially harmful fillers and additives such as magnesium stearate, which has been shown to suppress your natural killer T cells, a key component of your immune system


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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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