For the record: The truth about flu season
11.14.13

At the turn of every winter season, we begin to see advertisements and promotions for the dreaded flu vaccination. While most of us shudder at the thought of an injection, past experiences of piping-hot fevers, bone-rattling chills and blinding headaches makes us think twice. This leads us to question whether the vaccination is necessary, or if we can hope to build up our immune system naturally to ward off those nasty bugs during flu season. Fact or fiction: A vaccination is necessary to prevent the flu.

Fact oR Fiction: Fiction. The flu vaccination is not necessary to prevent the flu, and based on research studies, it may be ineffective.

For the Record: The flu is brought on by the influenza virus, which is constantly mutating and changing. Therefore, in February of each year, the WHO (World Health Organization) collects data from around the world to see what viral strains are circulating. Based on their findings, the vaccination for the year is created. However, the strains circulating the globe are usually not the same strains that will circulate in America that following winter. The flu vaccination is based on speculation, not confirmed evidence. As a result, it’s possible the vaccination cannot properly protect against the influenza virus.

In addition to the fact that the vaccination is based on speculation, there are many research studies indicating its possible ineffectiveness against flu prevention. In fact, many medical doctors and nurses are apprehensive about its efficacy as well.

The Damage: Other than the possibility of the flu vaccination actually giving you flu-like symptoms, what else does the vaccination cocktail have in store?

The CDC lists many potentially harmful ingredients that are in the influenza vaccination such as formaldehyde (known carcinogen), thimerosol (mercury), polysorbate 80 (causative agent for the anaphylactoid reaction), monosodium glutamate (MSG – a known neurotoxin), and hydrolyzed porcine gelatin (causative agent for allergic reactions). These ingredients may cause a multitude of known side effects, depending on the recipient, including allergic reactions, from anaphylaxis, to abdominal pain. What is not known are the long-term side effects of these additives, since all studies completed were based on low dosages, not on the cumulative dosage levels after multiple injections.

Take Charge: Building up the immune system is not as complicated as you may believe, and can be as simple as adding in a couple key nutrients into your health regime. Research indicates that the onset of the flu may be prevented by proper levels of vitamin D and vitamin C. Another recommendation that proves to be effective clinically is the use of colostrum and olive leaf. Colostrum acts as a stand-in immune system and olive leaf is a powerful natural antiviral, making the combination ideal for flu prevention.

How TCM does it: Since integrating therapeutic nutrition into the diet is always a fun challenge for us here at the Chalkboard, we look for the easiest, most efficient ways to do it. Our solution? We add a drop of Barlean’s Olive Leaf Oil into Pressed Juicery’s Citrus 1 (which is loaded with vitamin C), giving it an extra double-punch (faint-of-heart beware!), and then we add Surthrival’s Colostrum Powder into Pressed Juicery’s Vanilla Almond Milk (hello malt milkshake!). As for ramping up our vitamin D levels, we are loving the simplicity of Premier Research Labs’ D3 Serum. It comes in a purse-size dropper bottle, making it extremely accessible for our busy on-the-go lifestyles. A drop or two a day does the trick, and since it is in a olive-oil base, it tastes great too!

The Skinny: While there is much controversy about vaccinations, we encourage you to do the research and make a decision that is right for you this flu season. If you decide to go the natural route, start your supplement regime and healthy eating habits early. The immune system does not build itself up overnight, so giving it a month or two head start is always advised.


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  1. Sorry, I love you guys, but I really have to put in my two cents here. As far back as Pasteur, using a virus to create a vaccine is how it’s been done. That’s why the milkmaids who suffered cowpox, a milder strain of smallpox, did not for the most part get smallpox, the deadlier strain. Of course it is personal choice whether or not you get vaccinated. But food and exercise itself is also NO guarantee you will not get sick. This is especially true if you have a compromised immune system, or suffer from lifelong health issues like COPD or asthma. Certainly in my case, as someone who eats well, exercises but suffers from the latter (and mildly, to boot), the vaccine means while I may get some strain of the flu virus floating around, but I won’t get sick every single time there is a bout of something going around. So in my case, the vaccine definitely means much less downtime. I think people equate vaccine with cure, not a lesser risk of contraction, which is what it really is. Just because you get the MMR doesn’t mean you are never going to contract one of those diseases in your life, but it does lessen the odds. And while I do think getting sick in some respects builds up your immunity, being a person who is naturally more at risk means that something that allows you to cut down on your chances of picking everything up is really a no brainer.

    BlinkyTheFish | 11.14.2013 | Reply
    • Thanks BlinkyTheFish! We love your two cents – we knew this topic would generate discussion and it’s definitely worth talking about! Thanks for adding your insights.

      The Chalkboard | 11.14.2013 | Reply
  2. I am a huge advocate of this perspective on the flu vaccine, though others don’t usually think my points are valid. Do you guys have sources for the facts you’ve listed? Thanks so much!

    Athena | 11.14.2013 | Reply
  3. I agree with BlinkyTheFish. I had my first flu vaccine this year, because I am pregnant. The flu vaccine for pregnant women is preservative-free, and thimerosol-free. You can request this vaccine if you are concerned about preservatives, as I was.

    I am very cautious when it comes to vaccines, which is why I’ve always avoided the flu vaccine. But I came to understand that it can be critical for protecting an unborn baby. This vaccine continues to protect the baby up to six months after it is born. The danger of a baby dying of flu was too significant for me to avoid the vaccine.

    Additionally, I always react from vaccines (I am extremely petite and hypersensitive to many things). I had NO reaction from this preservative-free vaccine.

    Jamie | 11.14.2013 | Reply
    • Out of curiosity, what percentage of babies less than one year old die from the flu?

      Athena | 11.14.2013 | Reply
      • Hi Athena, I do not know the exact percentage, but if you look at the data from 2012-2013, the total pediatric deaths (so that is not just babies), it was 169. 60% were a high-risk group who had conditions including asthma or other lung disorders, heart disease, or a neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorder. You can refer to this information by the CDC for more details: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/children-flu-deaths.htm

        Lauren Felts | 11.20.2013 | Reply
    • Thanks Jamie – it is great to hear that there is a way to minimize the risks, especially if it is important for you to get the vaccination. I imagine there are many others who can benefit from your experience.

      Lauren Felts | 11.20.2013 | Reply
  4. This is just my story and I’m not advocating it for everyone, however the flu shot always failed for me. Every year, I would get the shot and every year I would subsequently get the flu. Sick of it, I researched other options and decided to try the neti pot. For me, it works perfectly. I used to do it once a week and stopped getting sick. I admit that I’m somewhat lazy and even though the whole procedure only takes a few minutes, I lapsed. However, if I feel a bug coming on, I neti again and it’s gone. I haven’t been sick with the flu in years now and for me that is almost miraculous because I used to get it several times a year. I don’t know if would work for everyone the same way it worked for me, but it’s worth a shot. By the way, I used filtered water and rinse the pot out with 70% ethanol between use (the same strength I use to clean my bench and equipment in the microbiology lab that I work in).

    Heather | 11.14.2013 | Reply
    • Hi Heather – I love this idea. The Neti Pot has been such a life saver for us as well, and I have found it an excellent preventative tool. Keep it up!

      Lauren Felts | 11.20.2013 | Reply

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