How would you like to take something the body makes naturally to prevent the flu and some of the common cold virus? Did you know there are two ways to create immunity? What is the difference between "innate Immunity" and "Acquired Immunity?" Do you really need a flu shot?
As a natural pharmacist and board certified clinical nutritionist, I'm going to answer these questions for you.
First, let us talk about immunity. Acquired immunity is achieved by being exposed to a virus or other stimuli. Today, the most common way to be exposed to a virus besides catching the virus is to get an immunization like a flu shot. Acquired immunity then builds antibodies to fight the flu slowly over time and after several months, they slowly go away.
This is why you get a new flu shot each season. I prefer to fight the flu with innate immunity. Because it is your God-given immunity or your natural antibiotics to fight off communicable diseases. Simply put, this is your first defense or "step one" in fighting off any disease. Acquired immunity is considered "step two."
For optimal health, I would rather rely on "step one" immunity, rather than exposing my body to the flu or "step two" flu shot for protection.
Are flu shots necessary? The British report in the October 2005 medial journal, The Lancet, "in elderly individuals living in the community, (influenza) vaccines were not significantly effective against influenza, influenza-like illness, or pneumonia"
The authors concluded the overall effect of the shots is "modest" at best. Another way to protect against the flu is with homeopathy. At our Wellness Center, we carry these remedies.
They are used under the tongue, and no shot is necessary. They are used once a month through the flu season, which is October through March, to prevent the illness.
By giving these homeopathic remedies monthly, they keep their effectiveness throughout the flu season unlike flu shots that lose their effectiveness toward the end of the flu season. Homeopathy is safe for children and adults because there are no known side effects or drug interactions and it is FDA approved, just like flu shots.
For those still living in fear of the bird flu, we even have "homeopathic vaccinations" to prevent the flu too.
Now, let us get back to the original question. What is the substance your body makes to prevent the flu naturally? No, it is not vitamin C, although noble as a vitamin, our bodies cannot make it. Let me give you a hint: Flu season occurs in the winter when we get less sunshine. What vitamin needs sunshine for our body to make it. Yes, it is the often unthought-of vitamin D. Have you noticed some of the recent reports on vitamin D, like the one where it decreases cancer by 60 percent in women over 60 with just 1,200 IU daily? Vitamin D fights cancer three different ways, but that is another topic. Let's get back to the flu.
When you think about it, the flu and cold season is undistinguishable from the vitamin D deficiency season. Every autumn, as vitamin D levels plummet, the incidence of colds and flu skyrocket. After vitamin D levels bottom out during the darkest days of the cold and flu season, vitamin D levels rise again in the spring and the incidence of colds and flu steadily decrease until they virtually disappear during the vitamin D rich summer. It may be quite simple. Your body's innate immunity, especially the production of innate natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides, goes up and down every year with your vitamin D levels. Acquired Immunity is quite different. Those are the antibodies you slowly develop after an infection or flu shot.
Maintaining summer-time vitamin D levels in the winter -- by taking adequate amounts of vitamin D (5,000 IU daily) -- may help prevent colds or the flu by stimulating (step one) innate immunity.
Preventing some of the one million deaths in the world every year from flu-related illness is exciting enough: An equally exciting possibility is that large doses of vitamin D may be useful in treating the flu -- as well as other infections.
Should I get a flu shot? I will leave that up to you and your doctor to decide. My goal here is to make you aware that there are other safer, natural options and that a flu shot may not be necessary. As a "natural pharmacist, I think you know which side of the fence I am on.