It has been hard to ignore lately...the advertisements and marketing of FLU shots...at doctor's offices, clinics, pharmacies and even grocery stores. Yes, the time is upon us...FLU SEASON. With the critical time in the flu season being December-February, decision time is now. How do we best prepare our immune systems...do we "flu-shot" or do we have other options?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a record 143 million to 146 million doses of influenza vaccine will be produced for use in the United States during the 2008-2009 influenza season. The government has expanded the number of people targeted for vaccination to include 86 percent of the U.S. population. The CDC, which previously targeted flu shots to children ages 6 month to 5 years, now says all children under the age of 19 should be vaccinated and recommends the vaccine for anyone at high risk of having serious flu complications or who lives with or cares for people at high risk for serious complications, including pregnant women and people 50 years of age and older.
It would lead us to believe that research varifying the effectiveness of the flu shot is the reason for the increase vaccination recommedation. But is this truly the case?
1. NO...Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that flu shots prevent far fewer deaths in the elderly than previously thought.That report highlighted that although immunization rates in the elderly (people over 65) increased 50 percent in the past 20 years, there has not been a consequent decline in flu-related deaths.
2. Not to mention that to target the precise strains of flu that will affect the population in any given season is like finding a needle in a haystack, making it's effectiveness difficult to predict.
3. Many flu vaccines still contain thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal (mercury) is being investigated for its link to brain injury and autoimmune disease.
4. Moreover, the majority of illnesses characterized by fever, fatigue, cough and aching muscles are not caused by the influenza virus. Non-influenza viruses (e.g., rhinoviruses respiratory syncytial virus [RSV], adenoviruses, and parainfluenza viruses) can cause symptoms that look like the flu, but are not. The flu vaccine does not protect you against these.
5. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase their profits with the increase in recommendations.
So how do we best protect ouselves against the flu if the vaccine may not be the answer? The best thing you can do is to start boosting your bodies natural immune function. Now is the time to start preparing you body if it is not part of your normal lifestyle.
A healthy immune systems starts with a healthy lifestyle. Whole foods (not processed), exercise, good sleep, address emotional stressors.
Vitamin D... Research continues to show that as a population we are becoming more and more deficient in Vitamin D and our immune system is just one of the things that begins to suffer. In the winter months it is often difficult to get the adqueate requirements of sun and Vitamin D, so supplementation becomes necessary. I recommend that all my patients begin Vitmain D supplementation from October through the springtime to keep their immune systems and bodies strong.
Vitamin C...higher doses than you may think (2000mg/day). Help keep a stong immune respose.
Homeopathics....can increase you immunity naturally. Professional Complementary Health Formulas is a company that manufactures a "Flu Nosode" each year to help protect homeopathically against the years predicted flu strains. Also, products like Boiron's Oscillococcium (available OTC) are great in fighting the flu when you feel like you are coming down with it. It absolutley shortens the duration and severity of they symtoms you may experience with the flu.
Lomatium dissectum is an herb that has great anti-viral and anti-influenza properties. It can be taken in pill form or liquid tincture.