With cold and flu season upon us, now is the perfect time to consider herbal remedies for supporting respiratory health. During the fall and winter it is important to focus on strengthening the lungs with warming foods and drinks such as soups and hot teas, as well as specific tonic herbs. In my practice, I rely on botanical formulations of herbs that have a long history of traditional use for respiratory well-being to help us better adapt as we move into the colder months.
In the case of a serious life-threatening disease, such as polio, my opinion is to vaccinate. The risk-to-benefit ratio is clear—get the vaccine and not polio! However, with less dangerous viruses, such as the measles, and with effective tools for supporting recovery within the botanical toolbox, I believe in NOT vaccinating against these illnesses. The result is betterment of the long-term vitality of the ‘Life Force,’ and specifically the health of the immune system. Recovering from a non-life threatening virus helps our immune system to become stronger. The long-term effects of vaccination against all childhood diseases is that our immune system gets no training and is therefore not prepared to fight off invading microorganisms. Illnesses like measles and chicken pox are not life threatening except in very rare cases. Choosing to effectively deal with an acute adverse reaction to a disease that is not life threatening and does not impose a high risk of long-term damage, should one be exposed, vs. mandated exposure to risks from vaccines in general is a debate that should not be taken lightly. The environment one lives and works in, lifestyle practices, as well as frequency of travel and avoidance of those with medical conditions of compromised immunity if unvaccinated or exposed to a contagious disease, must all be carefully weighed. Above all, I believe people should be given all of the information they need to make an informed decision when it comes to vaccinations.
Over the last few months, headlines around the world have focused on the Ebola epidemic sweeping West Africa. In early August of this year, the World Health Organization defined the outbreak as a Public Health Event of International Concern. Closer to home, the focus has been on the recent outbreak in the US, with calls for special hospitals equipped to handle Ebola and for specialists to recognize and treat the disease as well as to be trained in monitoring travelers at airports.1
I’ve recently had numerous inquiries from people who are concerned about Ebola. It’s important to understand that the possibility of an Ebola epidemic in the United States is extremely low.2 However, because of increasing concern about the disease, I’m presenting information from my research and guidance as far as what I personally would do if I was inadvertently exposed to the virus, or if I actually contracted the disease. Although I have no factual scientific data on any of these recommendations, based on the etiology of Ebola, I would look to the herbal toolbox I have used for decades as my first line of defense.
Whether it’s sauerkraut from Eastern Europe, miso from Japan, or yogurt from Bulgaria, cultures worldwide have appreciated the unique benefits of fermented foods for thousands of years. Traditionally, people have used fermentation to preserve foods or to make them more digestible; in the process, they found that these foods also kept them healthy.
In my blog post last week I talked about why I’m opposed to flu shots, and outlined a holistic approach to supporting the immune system and increasing the body’s ability to resist pathogens. Because botanical medicine is central to my healing practice, I’d like to address in more detail the herbal protocol I use for protection during the changing seasons.
Just this past week, the CDC stated that the flu has officially reached epidemic proportions. If you follow the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ve probably already gotten your flu shot for this year. You might even be congratulating yourself for being proactive in defending yourself from what’s being called “the worst flu outbreak in the past decade.”