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Striking Health Benefits of Bee Propolis and Royal Jelly

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Bees provide a vital function to sustain life on Earth. Without their tireless service through the pollination of trees and crops, we would simply not be able to put food on the table. Through pollination, the simple transfer of grains of pollen from one plant to another, bees fertilize the flowers of crops and other plants, ensuring seed production.

Some plants rely on wind, others are self-pollinating, but most need the services of natural pollinators such as honey bees. In addition to providing benefit to the agricultural industry, they also pollinate wild plants and flowers, helping preserve natural forests and a wealth of flowering plants.

An indirect benefit of honey bees, yet a crucial one, are the wild plants they pollinate which feed numerous animal species. Loss of the honeybee would mean a collapse of the natural ecosystem, beginning with vegetation and ending with the animals that rely on this vegetation as a food supply, including humans.

The process of turning flower nectar into honey is one marvel happening in the beehive. Health benefits from bee products are significant, including bee propolis and royal jelly. However, it is important the products you consume are from a pesticide-free source as products created in the hive are concentrated.

Unfortunately, this becomes more difficult each year as more farmers use neonicotinoids pesticides. In one sampling collected around the world, researchers found 75 percent of honey collected were contaminated with neonicotinoids and 45 percent contained two or more pesticides.1

Honey, Pollen, Propolis and Royal Jelly

In this interview with Chris Kresser, Carly Stein, owner of Bee Keepers Natural, describes the variety of products produced by a healthy hive, the benefits to human health and the necessity for protecting the bee population.

The first product is honey, which is a source of food for the bees, providing the insect with necessary carbohydrates. The honey is rich in enzymes and minerals and raw honey is a powerful antioxidant with natural antiviral properties.

Bee pollen is a product many have been taking for years, and is the main source of protein for the bee, used to fuel their athletic endeavors each day of carrying almost half their body weight in flower pollen back to the hive. Bee pollen is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and more protein per gram than any animal product. In essence it is an all-natural, food-based, bioavailable nutrient boost.2

Bees make propolis from tree resin and use it to line the hive as a natural immune system, protecting the insects inside from outside germs. Propolis contains over 300 natural and powerful compounds to support immunity. Bees also line the front entrance of the hive with propolis in order to decontaminate themselves before coming in.

If honey is the carbohydrates, pollen are the proteins and propolis is the immune system, then royal jelly is the superfood of the hive. This is the substance the hive uses to create the queen bee. Within the first three days of development, all larvae are fed royal jelly. Then only one larvae, destined to become the queen, will exclusively eat royal jelly.3

The queen grows significantly larger than the rest of the bees and may lay up to 1,500 eggs a day, while other females do not develop reproductive organs. She can live three to five years, as compared to regular foraging bees, which may live only six to eight weeks.

Royal jelly has been used cross-culturally for decades. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use it to improve fertility and as a hormone stabilizer with known immune modulating properties. Western medicine, researchers have evaluated the effects it has on the brain, specifically on focus, memory and reducing the potential of dementia.

Effect of Royal Jelly on Brain Health

Nootropics are substances that may improve cognitive function, specifically executive function such as memory, creativity or motivation. They are sometimes called “smart drugs” as are used to improve mental performance and have gained popularity in a highly competitive society valuing speed and performance. Royal jelly is one of those substances.

Royal jelly is unique in that it contains proteins, sugars, fats and amino acids.4 However, it is the compound acetylcholine in the royal jelly that likely gives it its nootropic effects.

Acetylcholine is an abundant neurotransmitter, found in your central and peripheral nervous system. It helps to activate pain responses, regulates your endocrine system and rapid eye movement sleep function.5 Deficiencies can lead to myasthenia gravis, characterized by muscle weakness.

Although there are foods with an abundance of choline, a precursor to acetylcholine, royal jelly is the only food source containing acetylcholine. This essential nutrient is used by the brain in mood, mental alertness, concentration and memory functions, qualities that dim or are lost with cognitive impairment and dementia.

In fact, acetylcholine activity is a target of Alzheimer drugs that block the breakdown of this neurotransmitter to reduce symptoms.6 Royal jelly has a beneficial role in neural functioning and findings support the potential neuroprotective role of royal jelly.7

Oral administration of royal jelly in an animal model produced a promising avenue for ameliorating neuronal functioning through regeneration of hippocampal granule cells, necessary in the cognitive process.8

In a recent study evaluating the worldwide use of neonicotinoid pesticides and the link to the declining bee populations, researchers found the pesticides had an adverse effect on the acetylcholine the bees produced. The authors believe this is a new discovery of how the neurotoxic effects of the pesticides may be killing honeybees.9

Royal Jelly May Facilitate Stem Cell Research

Three days after a mammalian egg is fertilized, the inner cell mass can be isolated, containing embryonic stem cells designed to develop into a baby. Stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the ability to turn into any type of tissue in the mammal from which they came. Adult stem cells are multipotent, meaning they have the ability to form a subset of tissue but are limited.10 

In order for researchers to successfully use embryonic stem cells, they must be kept in their native state as long as possible. Since embryonic stem cells have the potential to grow into different cells serving specialized functions, they are valuable for research.

However, growing embryonic stem cells in the lab creates a challenge as their natural inclination is to quickly move out of their pluripotent state to differentiate. In a recent study11 by Stanford University scientists, the team found royalactin, also known as major royal jelly protein 1, could stop embryonic cell differentiation and keep the cells in their embryonic state for up to 20 generations in culture.

Normally, scientists use an inhibitor factor to prevent differentiation when grown in culture. The researchers also identified a protein with similar qualities found in mammals, which they named Regina. In their next step, the team plans to investigate whether this mammalian equivalent of royalactin has the ability to affect cell regeneration and wound healing in adult animals.12

Propolis, the Original Antibiotic

Stein calls propolis the original antibiotic, in reference to the strong association it has in supporting your immune system through antimicrobial action. Propolis has been used for thousands of years in folk medicine as an antimicrobial and antioxidant, and for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Through the inhibition of the activity of certain enzymes that synthesize glucans from sucrose, bee propolis has been found to prevent the formation of dental plaque.13 Propolis is also used for canker sores and infections caused by bacteria, including tuberculosis and upper respiratory tract infections triggered by viruses.14

Propolis has been used for cancer of the nose and throat, for warts and for the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, including H. pylori infections in people with peptic ulcer disease. Direct application to the skin may be used for wound cleansing, genital herpes, cold sores and minor burns.15

Studies have also found oral care with propolis as a mouthwash in individuals undergoing chemotherapy helps to improve oral health, reducing symptoms of oral mucositis, common in those undergoing chemotherapy.16

In a study17 where a suspension of propolis and zinc was given to children who had recurrent acute otitis media (ear infections), researchers found it significantly reduced the risk for new episodes. Propolis was also proven effective against microbes found in saliva samples from those suffering periodontitis, suggesting it may be used therapeutically to inhibit oral microbial growth.18

A study19 evaluating the efficacy of a natural propolis extract given in cases of acute and chronic rhinopharyngitis in children found it lowered the incidence and sometimes suppressed the viral microbial flora in the upper airways. Another study20 demonstrated propolis extract was an effective treatment against pancreatitis in animals.

Benefits From Propolis at Home

Due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, propolis may be used to:

  • Promote oral health — Propolis contains antibacterial properties, which may be beneficial for combating gingivitis and other oral problems stemming from the abundance of bacteria in your mouth. The added antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties from propolis may help speed healing of mouth sores and other oral infections.
  • Support skin health — Propolis may be used in dermatological products due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It also assists in wound healing by reducing free radical activity in the skin and promoting collagen production.21 Propolis ointments may be used to promote healing of cold sores, genital herpes and minor burns.
  • Combat infections — Propolis extracts may be taken to aid in recovering from giardiasis, H. pylori infection and oral thrush.

Contraindications and Side Effects

As a natural supplement, propolis and royal jelly are relatively safe for most people as they do not cause toxicity. However, certain contraindications stem from insufficient long-term studies and pre-existing allergies. If you fall into any of the categories below it would be best to avoid the use of these supplements.22

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women — Due to insufficient studies proving safety during pregnancy and while nursing, it would be best to avoid bee products to avoid potential complications.
  • Asthma — Certain compounds present in propolis may make asthma worse. If you have asthma, avoid propolis supplements and/or products.
  • Bleeding disorders — Patients with blood clotting problems should not use propolis as it may slow blood clotting, increasing your risk of excessive bleeding. Patients who will undergo surgery should also stop taking propolis a few weeks before their scheduled procedure.
  • Allergies to bee byproducts — People with allergies to bee products should avoid propolis, royal jelly, honey and bee pollen.

How You Can Help Improve the Bee Population

Entomologists around the world are tracking the rapidly declining number of insects, and are concerned by the data they’re collecting. As noted by the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, Ph.D.:23

“If all humankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

If you are unsure of how the collapse of bee colonies may affect you, consider when one Whole Food store removed all produce from plants dependent on pollinators, it ended up pulling 52 percent of its produce from the store shelves, including apples, lemons, onions, broccoli and melons.24

More than 700 bee species are headed toward extinction in North America, according to a report from the Center for Biological Diversity.25 A variety of factors influence this decline, not the least of which is the use of pesticides, which significantly alter the population’s growth, which I discussed in “Latest Major Threat to Bees and Trees.”

Over the 2015-2016 winter, more than 28 percent of bee colonies were lost, representing an increase of nearly 6 percent compared to the previous winter. To avoid harming bees and helping other pollinators visiting your garden, eliminate the use of toxic pesticides and lawn chemicals and instead opt for organic weed and pest control alternatives.

Consider growing your own pollinator-friendly plants from organic untreated seeds. Stein points out when you support growers who are growing the right way, using pesticide-free alternatives, it makes a difference. Support your local farmers who are choosing organic, pesticide-free agricultural practices.

Maintaining a hive in your own garden requires only about an hour of your time each week and you’ll benefit from your own homegrown, raw honey. Additionally, you can provide your backyard bees with water, as bees get thirsty too. Add a bowl of water surrounded by rocks and mulch so the bees have something to perch on and drink.

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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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