The last time I wrote a blog post on vaccines, it generated quite a bit of conversation and raised some very good questions. It is hard to find the “truth” about vaccines, if you want to hear the entire truth. One thing is certain: It would be a lot more fruitful if people on both sides of the debate stopped exaggerating the facts to make their point.
Truth and Common Sense Regarding the Measles
The most recent debate concerning vaccines arose from panic over measles outbreaks. The hysteria increased to a level that Oregon Senators used it as leverage in an attempt to mandate vaccines for all children which would have taken away medical freedom by nearly eliminating medical and religious exemptions, but they did not win, at least for now. Of course, there are many states across the U.S., such as California, where there is absolutely no choice and everyone is vaccinated against everything, with more and more vaccines being added to the recommended and required list.
Yes, measles can kill, but so can drinking too much water—it’s called drowning. I am not trying to make light of what could be a serious health problem, but I think it’s important to consider how much of a threat measles really is by looking at the whole picture. Measles related complications are extremely rare and are usually linked to under-nourishment and in particular, vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is one of the key nutrients required for a healthy immune response to any infectious disease, including measles.1-3 Some in the medical profession have stated that more people die of complications from the measles vaccine than from measles, but I am not familiar with what research, if any, there might be to support that. I’ve also heard from colleagues who have been in the field for more than 25 years, that the number of patients they see with autism has increased dramatically in the past two decades, yet a direct link to vaccines has not been proven beyond a doubt, and most pro-vaccine people believe this debate has long been put to rest and is no longer disputable. My colleagues have also reported sudden, dramatic changes in behavior in children following the MMR vaccine, especially an increase in anger and aggression.
Putting Measles into Perspective
Emergency room physician Dr. Caleb Hernandez recently stated that “Each year, 140,000 children are harmed and about 7,000 children die needlessly due to dosing errors by medical professionals.”4
For example, acetaminophen is frequently used for children as an antipyretic and analgesic. Although an overdose can have severe consequences, nobody seems to be concerned. Acetaminophen overdose is the most common identifiable cause of acute liver failure in children.5
Another example is the danger of guns that inadvertently fall into the hands of children. Guns are deadly weapons, and yet there are no laws that effectively keep guns away from children. In 2016 alone, toddlers shot at least 23 people.6
To put things into perspective, according to the British Medical Journal, the U.S. went 12 years without a measles-related confirmed death. In 2015, there was one measles-related death, in an adult female.7 Since this one incident, there have been no other reported measles related deaths.
Why We Shouldn’t Trust “Better Living Through Chemistry” and the Long-Term Risk-to-Benefit Ratio
In one of the most disturbing campaigns related to chemical use launched by our government, we were assured that the toxic chemical DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was absolutely safe. This bucolic ad was widely distributed in the 1940s to promote the use of DDT:
DDT was believed to be a miracle substance, and no one suspected the long-term risks. But in 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote the book Silent Spring, and exposed DDT and other pesticides as dangerous chemicals that not only presented a significant threat to the environment and wildlife, but also were carcinogenic.
Carson questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without a sufficient understanding of their effects on ecology or human health. Scientists took note and realized that although DDT was highly effective in reducing the incidence of malaria, the chemical was environmentally harmful. This became apparent when scientists discovered that the DDT metabolite DDE caused eggshell thinning in birds of prey.
Reacting to a growing fear of pesticides, some suspected a link to human cancer. There is a strong link between DDT and lymphomas, leukemias, and colon cancer risk mediated by oxidative stress leading to an increase in cancer cell proliferation through Wnt/β-catenin and Hedgehog/Gli1 signaling.8,9 Researchers have also found that high serum concentrations of p,p′-DDT, the primary component of DDT, predict a fivefold increased risk of breast cancer.10
Vaccinations Are Not as Safe as We’re Led to Believe
We’ve been told for decades that vaccines are safe, and the government encourages and even mandates vaccinations for communicable diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR vaccine) for children attending public school (although religious and philosophical exemptions are allowed). Adverse events following immunization (AEFI) have been attributed to live attenuated MMR vaccines.
In one study, children who received the MMR vaccine in Iran were examined weekly for four weeks to detect well-known AEFIs that included: parotitis, fever, convulsions, encephalopathy, and anaphylactic reactions.
During the follow-up period, providers reported 792 AEFIs. Of 14,109 children vaccinated at 12 months of age the following AEFIs occurred: parotitis (147), fever and convulsions (8), convulsions (7), encephalopathy (1), and anaphylactic reactions (1). Of 29,338 children vaccinated at 4 to 6 years of age, parotitis, fever and convulsions, encephalopathy, and anaphylaxis occurred in 626, 5, 1, and 1 child, respectively; no convulsions without fever were reported in this age group.11
In a study of more than 400,000 people in Québec, Canada, the BCG, or Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine (for preventing tuberculosis), has been associated with an increased risk of lymphoma. A total of 178,335 (46.0%) subjects were BCG vaccinated and 1,478 (0.38%) cases of lymphomas were found. The researchers determined that the BCG vaccination may increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma before 18 years of age, but residual confounding cannot entirely be excluded.12
How Safe Are Vaccines?
The ‘gold standard’ for drug approval is the double blind, placebo-controlled study. It is very difficult to get a drug approved without doing these types of studies. But for vaccines, these kinds of studies are not done. A placebo is an inactive substance, so in the case of vaccines that should be a saline injection. But vaccines are tested against other vaccines, or an injection of the vaccine minus the antigen. This means that if both groups have other health issues, the new vaccine is considered safe, and all problems are labeled coincidence. Of course, this is unethical, but the manufacturers get away with it because vaccines have been relabeled as ‘biologics’ instead of drugs.13
Uncovering the Whole Truth About Vaccines
When medical authorities maintain that the flu vaccine is ninety percent effective and has no harmful side effects, or that all vaccinations are harmless, they are not necessarily presenting the whole truth.
Further, prior to 1990, doctors were not legally obligated to report adverse reactions to vaccines to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even with the current legal obligation, it’s estimated that only 10 percent of doctors report vaccine reactions to the CDC. I find this extremely disturbing.
Even more disturbing is that irresponsible actions by pharmaceutical companies are not as unusual as you might think. The polio vaccine, widely given to children in the 1950s and 1960s, was not as sterile as originally thought. In fact, when better test equipment was used, it was found that there were over 140 live viruses in early versions of the vaccine. One of those viruses, SV40, is strongly implicated in brain cancer. But the link between the SV40 virus (found in the injectable form of the vaccine) and human cancer wasn’t discovered until 40 years later. The CDC even posted a warning that was later taken down.Between 1955-1963, an estimated 10–30 million Americans could have received an SV40 contaminated dose of vaccine.
Jonas Salk testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that since 1961, except for a few importations from other countries, the oral polio vaccine caused all cases of polio in the U.S. In fact, there is strong evidence that the original polio epidemic itself in the late 1940s was caused (or at least greatly exacerbated) by another vaccine. The early triple vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus was shown beyond a doubt to cause paralytic polio in some children, and the incidence of polio in children given this vaccine was statistically greater than in unvaccinated children. The scandal broke in Britain in 1949, an epidemic year for polio; other reports soon followed from Australia (current versions of the polio vaccine do not have this problem). 14-18
There is another significant and alarming problem with vaccines. Prior to genetic engineering, pharmaceutical companies used the viral and bacterial antigens and DNA that nature provided as the basis of their vaccines. Today, vaccine manufacturers can make their own viral DNA from scratch; very simple, very clean, except if they get it wrong and accidentally introduce an active “unnatural” form of the viral DNA into the vaccine—as appears to have happened with the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.19
U.S. Government Settlements on Measles Vaccine Injuries
The U.S. public is largely unaware that manufacturers of vaccines have been given legal immunity from prosecution in civil court for vaccine injuries and deaths since 1986. If someone is injured or killed by a vaccine, they have to sue the U.S. Government in a special ‘vaccine court.’
The Department of Justice issues quarterly reports on claims and settlements, and one can search for specific vaccines settlements at the United States Federal Courts website. A search on this site for ‘measles’ shows 111 claims settled for the MMR vaccine since 2004. Some of them are for settlements due to deaths related to the MMR vaccine, as determined by the judge.”20
Why We Should Be Concerned About Government Intrusion
I don’t think it’s wise to sit by and allow the government to legislate our health care. I find it unsettling that the over-hyped orchestration of measles ‘outbreak’ is coinciding with proposed nationwide legislation that would impose a long list of vaccines for both children and adults. The bill would require children enrolled in Head Start to get all of the vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to the CDC’s timetable. There would be no exemptions for religious or personal beliefs.
There are more than 220 new vaccines in the developmental pipeline for children and adults, with no end in sight. If things continue according to current trends, I fear the future of health care will revolve around a schedule of yearly vaccines, invasive questionable diagnostics such as mammograms, and over-prescribing of pharmaceutical medicines, especially antibiotics. To add insult to injury, herbal medicine could be banned, and our food will all be GMO.
I am not opposed to all vaccines, and I realize they have helped globally in preventing premature deaths and disease-related complications. However, my focus is on creating the highest state of wellness and vitality through nutrition, lifestyle, and, of course, herbs. I believe using my approach is in harmony with nature and will not only add years to our lives, but also life to our years.
The Biggest Problem with Vaccines Is Vaccine Abuse
I believe that the standard way that vaccines are prescribed today is vaccine abuse. According to the CDC, on average, 26 vaccinations are given now by age 2. When we vaccinate against a multitude of illnesses—including relatively benign childhood illnesses such as chicken pox—we don’t allow the body the opportunity to create natural immunity. This comes at a great cost to the long-term wellbeing and overall fortitude of our immune systems.
Vaccines interact with the immune system in a very different way than how the immune system interacts with an infection. When the immune system is confronted with an infectious agent, it mounts a response and ultimately, creates natural immunity.
In my opinion, because vaccinations interfere with immune function, they also do harm to the complex orchestrated response of the immune system. It’s important to understand that vaccine-induced immunity is very different from the body’s natural immunity. Most pathogens enter the body through the mucous membranes (the nose, mouth, digestive tract, or respiratory tract). This triggers the IgA immune system response, the body’s first line of defense, which is often sufficient for warding off the virus. But vaccines are injected into the bloodstream, bypassing the essential defense mechanisms of the immune system and disrupting the natural immunological process of recognizing, responding, and recovering from invading organisms. Ultimately, this weakens the immune system.
Both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses play key roles in virus clearance and protection. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are required for virus clearance during primary infection in the mucosal tissues, and humoral responses also aid in virus clearance. In defective B cells, the reduction in antibody-secreting and antigen-binding capacity can contribute to increased pathogen infection of the host cell and a less robust immune response.21 Finally, the proportion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) may suppress the immune response to viral infections, in part because we are over-vaccinating. Tregs are implicated in cancer in that they facilitate cancer growth and protection against immune cancer-fighting cells.22, 23
When Vaccines Are Helpful—and When They’re Not
A vaccine is only as good as the antigen that it uses. Consider the flu vaccine, for example. Flu vaccines are based on strains of flu that occurred in previous years, because those are the only antigens available. If this year’s strains are different, you’re out of luck. Although the medical community promotes flu vaccines as necessary and 90% effective, they are not. The flu vaccine isn’t even 50% effective, and many people who receive the vaccine still get the flu.24, 25
Research published in the Journal of Virology in November 2014 confirmed that the seasonal flu vaccine might actually weaken children’s immune systems and increase their chances of getting sick from influenza viruses not included in the vaccine. When blood samples from 27 healthy, unvaccinated children and 14 children who had received an annual flu shot were compared, the unvaccinated group naturally built up more antibodies across a wider variety of influenza strains compared to the vaccinated group.26
Another example of the importance of the antigen used in a vaccine is the measles vaccine. The measles virus circulating today might have enough genetic differences from the one you were inoculated against, that your original vaccination, or even having the disease as a child, may no longer offer protection. What this means is that some vaccines trigger long-term memory cell responses, but others offer much less protection.27-30
The reality is that the flu vaccine doesn’t offer the security that people assume they’re receiving. More disturbingly, the vaccine can cause serious side effects. Although vaccination is used as the primary strategy in preventing the flu and pneumonia, studies attempting to determine clinical outcomes and immune response following vaccination have yielded conflicting results.
According to a recent study reported in Clinical Interventions in Aging, “The assessment of clinical benefit from influenza vaccination in the elderly population is complicated by varying cohorts, virulence of the influenza strain, and matching of vaccine and circulating viral strains. The presence of selection bias and use of nonspecific end points in these studies make the current evidence inconclusive in terms of overall benefit.”31
Age-related changes in immune function can predispose the elderly population to respiratory infections and potential loss of vaccine efficacy against influenza infections. The fact is that despite widespread vaccination programs, hospitalization and death rates from influenza are rising in the elderly.32
The Question of Long-Term Safety and Vaccines
The bottom line is that although vaccines may be relatively safe, they are not ‘perfectly’ safe, and they may pose some long-term risks yet to be determined. Do vaccines cause widespread harm? Consider this fact: As of March 2014, the U.S. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had awarded $2.67 billion in 3,535 separate injury claims, not including attorneys’ fees.
I believe that we should have the right to choose whether or not our children are vaccinated. I believe we should be using botanical and nutritional medicine as important allies against many of the illnesses for which vaccines are commonly prescribed. The great Eclectic physician Eli Jones proposed in 1908 that vaccinations are a primary cause of cancer, and I believe that he was correct. (For more on this topic, see my blog on flu vaccines.) According to one recent study, a childhood history of measles and influenza are both independently associated with lower cancer mortality for people between 15-60 years old.33
For those who believe that we can unreservedly trust the medical profession, it is essential to recognize that that standard of care in the medical profession is not always congruent with the most up-to-date research. For decades, I have spent hours every day researching cancer and cancer treatments—and my research has led me to the conclusion that the standard of care in oncology ignores hard facts.
Surgery is still the most common initial action for cancer, based on an antiquated method of treatment that should never have been adopted in the first place. At the same time, the importance of checking simple thrombotic related tests such as fibrinogen and D-dimer is often ignored. I do believe in open discussion and reviewing facts, but in general, I don’t trust the medical profession that operates as a business and views the human being as an opportunity for exploitation.
Vaccines Disrupt Our Natural Immune Process
Because vaccines employ a weakened version of the virus (or even a partial protein fragment), the memory of the disease in your immune system might not be strong enough to initiate an effective response when the invader returns at a later date. Or your immune system might be compromised when you receive a vaccination so that it can’t fully respond to the antigen—thus leaving behind a weakened defense.
It’s important to recognize that vaccines are only as effective as your immune system is when the invader returns. If your immune system isn’t strong—even if told by your ‘vaccinated memory’ that an old enemy has returned—it might not be capable of ramping up a strong response in a short period of time. For example, if your immune system is preoccupied battling circulating immune complexes it might succumb to a new infection of measles. Or if your immune system has been compromised by an HIV infection, it may not be able to muster a defense against tuberculosis, even if you’ve been vaccinated.
Focus on Strengthening Innate Healing, Not Weakening Immunity
Louis Pasteur’s contemporary and friend, the physiologist Claude Bernard, argued for the importance of balance in the body’s internal environment—what he called “le milieu intérieur.”
Every one of us has billions of microbes inhabiting our bodies. Why do we sometimes get sick from them, and sometimes not? Why do some get over sickness quickly and relatively easily while others do not? How can we best support those that are ill with any type of infection? These are the questions we should be asking.
My approach is to use botanical, nutritional, and dietary medicine to assist innate healing, to support recovery, and to help the body naturally return to robust health. In my clinical practice I have had excellent results using the tools of Nature’s pharmacy, working with the body instead of against it.
In summary, I don’t believe that we are being told the whole truth about the potential health dangers of vaccines. I am well aware that vaccines have saved many lives, and I am not opposed to the appropriate use of vaccinations. However, I am strongly opposed to the abuse of vaccines and the lack of recognition that significant short-term risks may occur as a side effect.
According to the FDA, herbs cannot and do not treat or prevent viral pandemic diseases (or any illness for that matter). However, I recommend herbs to support the body’s natural response to and recovery from viruses, including measles.
Botanically and nutritionally, treating measles is not very different from treating the flu or any other epidemic virus. For thirty years I have been a clinical herbalist and nutritionist and have witnessed on a daily basis the merits of herbal medicine when it comes to helping people with both acute and chronic diseases. I don’t prescribe antibiotics, so I have had to rely on herbal medicine where others might immediately resort to drugs.
My primary concern, though, is the long-term constitutional weakening that can occur as a result of unnecessary vaccinations. My approach as a clinical herbalist is to strengthen, not weaken, the constitution and the inherent healing wisdom of the body. Experience has proven to me that herbal medicine is effective at supporting health by lessening the severity of the illness, hastening recovery, and building a strong constitution for future immunological challenges.
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