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Pet Exposure May Reduce Allergies

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True allergies are mediated by exposure to foreign proteins in the environment, triggering immunoglobulin-e (IgE) antibodies. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,1 up to 40 percent of the global population are sensitized to some type of foreign protein.

According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,2 more than 50 million Americans experience some type of allergic reaction each year, and it is the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Allergic conditions, seasonal allergies and food allergies are the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.

Emergency rooms in the U.S. record nearly 200,000 visits each year from people suffering from food allergies alone. The most common triggers for a life-threatening reaction, called anaphylaxis, are medications, food and insect stings.3 Seasonal allergies trigger allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever. Allergic reactions can also present with skin symptoms, including eczema, hives and contact dermatitis.

The total cost for seasonal allergies exceeds $18 billion each year and the total cost for food allergies exceeds $25 billion.4 Reducing the number who suffer and severity of their symptoms helps reduce the cost to families and the community, and improves the quality of life of sufferers. There are several strategies demonstrating real potential to reduce symptoms.

What Triggers Allergies?


An allergy is an overreaction by your body’s immune system to a foreign protein, as explained in this short video. Common allergens include pollen, mites, chemicals, animal dander and a variety of foods. The first time your body encounters an allergen, plasma cells release IgE specific to the protein.

These molecules attach to the surface of mast cells found on surface tissues, such as your skin and nasal mucous membranes. Mast cells mediate an inflammatory response by releasing a number of chemical chemicals, one of which is histamine.

The second time your body encounters this allergen, mast cells become activated within a few minutes and release a powerful combination of histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins. This release triggers a cascade of symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and itchy eyes.

Histamine can cause airways to constrict, such as with asthma, or cause blood vessels to become more permeable, leaking fluid and triggering hives. Leukotrienes cause a hypersecretion of mucus experienced as a running nose. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology explains:5

“One of the marvels of the human body is that it can defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria. In some people, the body reacts to harmless substances such as dust, mold or pollen by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).

In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced … An allergic reaction may occur anywhere in the body, but usually appears in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs — places where special immune system cells are stationed to fight off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed or come in contact with the skin.”

Pet Ownership Lowers Your Child’s Risk of Allergies

A recent study found children who live with cats and dogs as infants are less likely to develop allergies later in childhood.6 The study, performed in Sweden with over 1,200 children, either interviewed parents of children when they were 6 to 12 months old, or parents completed questionnaires on pet ownership and the incidence of asthma, eczema and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

The researchers found the number of allergies declined with the number of pets owned by the families. One-third of the children in families who had no pets developed allergies while none of the children who lived in the household with five or more cats and dogs developed allergies.7

The researchers controlled for many factors, yet the link between pet ownership and decreasing risk for allergy development persisted. Lead author Dr. Bill Hesselmar, associate professor at the University of Gothenburg, pointed out that owning pets is just one factor in reducing the risk of allergies.8

Children who lived in a home with more siblings or who were born vaginally also had a reduced risk. Researchers found exposure during the newborn period was key to reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis, wheezing and other allergic symptoms.

In fact, children who had a dog in their home after birth did not appear to have the same health benefits as those who were born into a home where the dog already lived.9

Eating Locally Produced Honey Reduces Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

A second natural countermeasure to reduce your symptoms of seasonal allergies is the use of local honey. In a study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology,10 researchers discovered those who consumed local honey experienced fewer allergies than those eating regular honey or using only medication.

The researchers enlisted 44 participants with a mean age of 33 years who had a physician-diagnosed birch pollen allergy. Half of them were given either birch pollen honey or regular honey every day in increasing amounts from November to March. Seventeen more patients served as a control group and took their usual allergy medication.

Through April and May the participants recorded their rhinoconjunctival and other allergy symptoms daily, as well as their use of medications. During birch pollen season, those taking birch pollen honey reported 60 percent fewer total symptoms and twice as many symptom-free days.

They also reported 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms,11 and took 50 percent fewer antihistamines compared to the control group. While the differences between those taking regular honey and those taking birch pollen honey were not significant on the whole, the data did demonstrate those taking the birch pollen honey used fewer antihistamines than the regular honey group.

They concluded participants taking birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their allergy symptoms than those who only used conventional medication, and marginally better control than those taking the regular honey.

It is important to note that while local honey may reduce your symptoms of seasonal allergies, honey can also trigger a severe allergic food reaction, including anaphylactic shock. Clearly, you should not use honey if you’ve ever had any adverse reaction to it in the past.

Additionally, each teaspoon has nearly 4 grams of fructose. If you decide to use honey, start slowly to ensure you don’t have a reaction and count those grams of fructose. For optimal health, you’ll want to stay below 25 grams per day of total fructose from all sources.

From Raw Milk to Pasteurized

Dairy farmers have long enjoyed the benefits of drinking raw milk and the reduction in seasonal allergies that comes along with it. However, unless you see raw milk from a local farmer, your only option is pasteurized milk from the grocery store.

Milk was not always pasteurized. The process was developed in the late 1800s after the link between contaminated milk and deadly illnesses was identified. In the early 1890s, Dr. Henry Coit formed the Medical Milk Commission12 to mandate the conditions under which milk was produced, two years after his son died from drinking contaminated milk.

Although safer and processed from grass fed cows raised under more sanitary conditions, the cost was four times higher than uncertified milk. At the same time, Nathan Straus, co-owner of R.H. Macy and Abraham & Straus, who had also lost a child to contaminated milk, used his considerable influence and finances to subsidize milk depots where low-cost pasteurized milk was sold.13

Both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk were sold freely until the early 1940s, when an organized and effective campaign was launched against certified raw milk, including false information in journals and magazines that swayed the medical community, making it impossible to distribute raw milk.

Farmers are still allowed to sell their raw milk in their own state (although rules on sales varies; some states only permit raw milk to be sold for animal consumption, for example), but federal law has prohibited the sale across state lines since 1987. Today, milk is produced in large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where the animals don’t receive sunlight, are fed genetically modified grains and soy products and stand in each other’s excrement.

To prevent disease, the animals are routinely given antibiotics, along with steroids to boost their milk production. As a result, drinking unpasteurized CAFO milk could be extremely dangerous, which is why CAFO milk must be pasteurized.

Unfortunately, the process of pasteurization actually kills most of the healthy enzymes and nutrients you drink milk for in the first place. Although demonized by the dairy industry, research14 by board certified pathologist Dr. Ted Beals shows you’re actually 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk.

Benefits of Raw Milk May Also Include Reduction in Allergic Reactions

Researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland15 conducted a study on European children between 6 and 12 years demonstrating allergy and asthma rates are lower in those who drink only raw milk.

Those who drank raw and regular milk had lower allergy rates, but only if they were exposed to raw milk before age 1, or if they consumed it regularly. While allergy rates were lower in these children, asthma rates were not. However, when the raw milk was boiled at home, it destroyed the benefits.

In another study16 by researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), data demonstrated the risk of allergies as an adult was reduced in those who grew up in a farming environment and drank mostly raw milk. This data also showed the same was not true for asthma.

In another systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers evaluated the results of 40 studies, finding the effect of pasteurization on some vitamins was minimal since many of them were found in relatively low levels in milk. However, the impact of heat treatment on vitamin B2 was significant.17

Strategies to Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Since allergies affect several systems in your body, you need a multifaceted approach to address and reduce reactions. Along with the strategies discussed above, I believe it’s important to begin with a healthy gut and optimized vitamin D levels. Nearly 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, so supporting digestive health is essential.18

Allergic reactions begin with an abnormal response from your immune system. One common reason for experiencing an overactive immune system is leaky gut syndrome. When gaps develop between the cells lining your intestinal tract, substances can pass that should be confined to your digestive tract.

These include undigested proteins that can cause allergic reactions, and are a contributing factor to seasonal allergies. The foods you eat play a major role in the protection of your intestinal lining.

Gluten, sugar, fructose, lectins and genetically engineered food are all culprits that can contribute to or worsen leaky gut. Fiber-rich and traditionally fermented foods, meanwhile, are two important components that support your gut microbiome and provide essential nutrients for beneficial bacteria. Optimizing your vitamin D level is also crucial as it helps to support your immune system.

Effective Herbs and Supplements

Addressing your diet and optimizing your gut health should be at the top of your list if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Nature also provides a number of compounds to help to offer relief by supporting your immune system and blocking symptoms. Consider the following:


Increase intake of animal-based omega-3 fats — I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting sufficient amounts of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet. The fats DHA and EPA found in fish oil and krill oil are potent anti-inflammatories.

Reduce your intake of damaged omega-6 fats — In addition to adding omega-3 fats to your diet, you also want to reduce the amount of omega-6 fats you consume because the ratio between these two fats is very important. If you eat processed foods daily, the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats will become distorted, which can cause the type of inflammation leading to asthma.

Fermented vegetables and/or probiotics — Researchers19 found taking probiotics during allergy season reduced symptoms and suspect this may be due to an increased percentage of regulatory T-cells, which in turn may increase your body’s tolerance to hay fever symptoms.

Get regular exercise — Exercise (especially out in fresh air if you’re an asthmatic) is really important, as it helps to normalize your insulin level.

QuercetinQuercetin is a strong antioxidant with demonstrated antiviral20 and anti-allergy21 properties. This flavonoid, found in several plants, including onions, apples, green tea and grapes,22 stabilizes the mast cell membrane and prevents release of inflammatory agents and histamine.

The effectiveness of quercetin is enhanced by the presence of vitamin C, which is why some supplements are sold with a combination of quercetin and vitamin C. The ability of quercetin to strengthen mast cell membranes is not immediate and it may take up to six weeks to notice an effect. It is most effective when taken preventively before allergy season, and maintained throughout the season.

Bromelain — This enzyme, found in pineapples, is also most effective when used preventively. The enzyme helps reduce nasal swelling and thins mucus, making it easier to breathe. Proven mucolytic properties23 support normal tissue function and enhances the absorption of quercetin.24

Supplements may be split into two doses between meals on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. Bromelain is also marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for health conditions like arthritis,25 and may be more easily absorbed when taken with both vitamin C and quercetin.26

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) — MSM is the first oxidized metabolite of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)27 and a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in all vertebrates. When you have insufficient MSM your cells become hard and stiff, which doesn’t allow for adequate flushing of foreign particles and free radicals.28

Sulfur (sulfonyl) in MSM is one of the more prominent compounds in your body and is as safe and important as vitamin C — unlike bad sulfurs, such as sulfas, sulfates, sulfites and sulfides.29

Commonly found in cow’s milk, meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, it is thought to work by contributing sulfonyl and work by blocking the receptivity of histamine in tissues of your nasal passages, thus reducing symptoms. As a supplement, most tolerate up to 4 grams daily with few known and mild side effects.30

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) — A natural antihistamine, butterbur was used to treat coughs and asthma as far back as the 17th century. Researchers have since identified compounds in butterbur that help reduce symptoms in asthma by inhibiting leukotrienes and histamines, which are responsible for symptom aggravation in asthma.31

A word of caution: Butterbur is a member of the ragweed family, so if you are allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisy or chrysanthemum, you should not use it. Also, the raw herb contains a substance called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which is toxic to your liver and kidneys and may cause cancer. Commercial butterbur products, however, have had a lot of these alkaloids removed.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)Goldenseal may be helpful for seasonal allergies. Laboratory studies suggest berberine, the active ingredient in goldenseal, has antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties.32

Eucalyptus oil — The pure essential oil may have healing properties for your mucus membranes. Add a drop of the oil to a cotton ball and sniff it several times daily; add a few drops to water for a steam treatment or add a few drops to your bathwater.

Vitamin C — A natural antihistamine found in fruits and vegetables, it can also be found in supplemental form.33 Many people will get loose stools with conventional oral vitamin C at high doses, but liposomal vitamin C doesn’t have this side effect and provides blood levels similar to intravenous vitamin C without the expense or inconvenience.

Naturopathic doctor Doni Wilson told the Huffington Post,34 ” … [Y]ou need to take 500 to 1,000 mg, three times a day to reduce symptoms.”

Green Tea — This nutrient dense tea has demonstrated the ability to strongly inhibit mast cell activation and the release of histamine, reducing symptoms of allergies to cedar pollen.35

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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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