Maybe you've already been vaccinated, but if not, California based Homeopath Mary Aspinwall explains why you need to ask yourself this vital question. Is it all a big sales job?
In October, the New York Times quoted Michael T. Osterholm, the Director of The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
“We have over-promoted and over-hyped this vaccine. It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
Under the auspices of the University of Minnesota Osterholm's Center had released a report stating that flu vaccinations provide only modest protection for healthy young and middle-age adults, and little or none for those over 65 and older. They also concluded that federal vaccination recommendations were based on inadequate evidence and poorly executed studies.
As with any medical intervention it is wise to weigh the risks and benefits before proceeding. If the benefits of the flu shot are questionable, the risks are undeniable. Flu shots contain Thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that metabolizes to ethyl-mercury, which contains close to 50% mercury by volume. Mercury is a deadly neurotoxin. Based on the amount of mercury in a standard flu shot, you would need to weigh over 265 pounds in order for this level of exposure to mercury to be safe (according to EPA guidelines). Take a moment to read these stories of flu shot related injuries http://thinktwice.com/flu.htm and ask yourself if you want to become a statistic.
The Flu—not to be sneezed at
The bottom line is this, despite clear evidence of its ineffectiveness and the risks it poses the flu vaccine continues to sell successfully because the flu, at its worst, is very scary. A cleverly adapted virus could wreak havoc in these days of the itty-bitty global village. We are talking about an illness that could one day be our modern-day equivalent of the Black Plague.
When is the “flu” not the flu?
The word “flu” is becoming increasingly misused. Being under the weather, sniffly and achy does not necessarily mean you have the flu. It is much more likely that you are a little run down and your body is giving gentle warning signs for you to pay attention to your diet, drink more water, take gentle exercise and get more sleep. If you get this type of illness frequently it is a sign you need professional holistic help to address the underlying weakness in your constitution.
The flu is a powerful epidemic illness that affects large numbers of the population at around the same time and is highly contagious. A common symptom pattern emerges in most sufferers. It is usually over within a week to ten days, but careful use of homeopathic remedies can speed up recovery times dramatically.
The last big epidemic
The influenza outbreak of 1918, commonly called “Spanish flu” (but not surprisingly disowned by Spain who referred to it as the “Naples soldier”,) killed more people than all those who died in combat during World War I. Estimates put the worldwide death toll at 21,642,274. One billion people were affected by the disease—half of the total human population. It came at a time when 19 nations were at war, and the disruption, stress, and privation of war certainly aided the flu’s spread. It killed people on every continent, except Antarctica, with the most lives lost in Asia and the highest percentage of the population killed in India. From August 1918, when the incidence of the flu began to seem abnormally high, until the following July when it returned to about normal, 20 million Americans had become sick and more than 500,000 had died. In October, the flu reached its peak, killing about 195,000 Americans. About 57,000 American soldiers died from influenza during World War I; about 53,500 died in battle.
It should be noted that homeopaths were very successful in treating the 1918 flu. While the death rate for those who sought treatment from conventional physicians was about 30%. Many died because conventional doctors gave their patients Aspirin. The death rate for those who sought homeopathic treatment was 1.5%.
If not the shot, then what?
If the flu shot is proving to be ineffective, how else can we protect ourselves and our families, when a serious flu epidemic hits? A few years ago, when I was living in southern Ireland, Influenza A arrived in town. To this day it was the most vicious virus I have had to help people with in the past twenty years.
My phone was much busier than usual, with at least half a dozen sufferers describing more or less the same symptoms. They felt absolutely freezing, although running high fevers. They were in bed with all their clothes on, extra sweaters, piles of blankets and quilts heaped on top of them. They had very painful sore throats with pain shooting up into the ear. This is a perfect match to a homeopathic medicine, Hepar sulph, and they all made quick recoveries after taking the remedy. (Others who experienced a different set of issues received different remedies according to their symptoms.)
One advantage of a true flu, or indeed any truly acute episode, is that it often presents a clear, strong set of symptoms that can be more easily matched to a homeopathic medicine. If you do fall ill with the flu, contact your homeopath for advice as soon as you can clearly describe your symptoms. In any event, teach yourself the basic homeopathic rules and have a homeopathic medicine kit at home. (see below...)
The World's best-loved flu remedy
The most well-known homeopathic remedy for the flu is Oscillococcinum (o - sill - oh - co - sign - em.)
According to Boiron, one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of the remedy, it has been used by millions of patients in more than 60 countries, over the past 65 years. It is made from the heart and liver of a Muscovy duck and follows the usual homeopathic protocols of dilution and succession, so that the final remedy is a micro dose of the original substance. Since 2000, Oscillococcinum has been one of the top ten selling preparations in France, and from 2008 US sales have been around $15 million per year.
Like all truly homeopathic remedies it has a wonderful safety record with no drug interactions or side effects. Four clinical studies, including two which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, show that Oscilloccinum reduces the severity and duration of flu-like symptoms such as feeling run down, headache, body aches, chills and fever.
An internet search shows this remedy gets fantastic reviews from the general public, by far the majority are 5-star (the maximum). Only 3 of 53 purchasers expressing dissatisfaction, probably because it was not a good enough match to their individual symptoms. Many stress the need to take this remedy at the very first sign of symptoms, so it is a good one to keep on standby in your medicine cabinet, or pack in your hand luggage when you travel.
Remember, in a virulent and dangerous epidemic it is best to stay home to minimize your risk, so having a good selection of remedies or a homeopathy kit at home is a very good idea.
Other important flu remedies
To get great results with Homeopathy you have to find a perfect match to the sufferer's symptoms. Always look at the totality of symptoms; ask for details about where pains are located and where they extend to. Ask also if there is anything that makes the sufferer feel better or worse. Get them to tell you as well what makes their individual symptoms feel better or worse. Be on the lookout for anything strange, rare or peculiar in their symptoms and any marked changes in their usual behavior or preferences. These are all great pointers to the correct remedy.
Dosage for all the below: One pill in a 30c potency. If better, no further dose is needed. If clearly better, then worse, repeat the remedy. If no change, think again.
Chilly, anxious, doesn’t want to be left alone. A lot of the pains experienced are burning. People who need this remedy want to sip on warm drinks. Useful in gastric flu too, as it is an excellent remedy for diarrhea and vomiting.
For symptoms that have a slow onset, with a very achy feeling that becomes worse with even the slightest movement. People who need this remedy stay very still and get cross if disturbed. Even their eyeballs hurt to move. They often have a dry cough and dryness of the mucous membranes in general. They don’t sip, they prefer really long drinks of cool water, probably so they don’t have to move so much.
Is the remedy for the flu with terrible bone pain on the surface of the bone (periosteum). It has recently been used successfully to speed recovery from the symptoms of Dengue fever (commonly called Bone Crusher disease) in India, Sri Lanka and Brazil.
Is another flu remedy where the symptoms come on slowly, often after getting wet or when the weather changes suddenly. Those who need this remedy are very achy, with weak shivers up and down the spine. Some use the analogy of being in a glass coffin; there is full mental awareness, but with heavy, almost paralyzed limbs, and even the eyelids are heavy and droopy. Headaches are usually in the occipital area (where the back of the head meets the neck). One strange aspect is that peeing alleviates symptoms. It can also be a good post-flu pick me up remedy if you feel floppy.
Sufferer feels as if they’re freezing all over, which worsens with the slightest uncovering. They are prone to very sore throats, with sharp pains that affect the ears.
People who need this have offensive sweats but, unusually, the sweats do not make them feel any better. They are generally smelly all over with bad breath. Another strange symptom is increased saliva with a constant, painful, need to swallow. They are like human thermometers, hyper sensitive to temperature changes, one moment throwing covers off and then wanting them back on again.
Is another remedy that helps with viruses which are more gastric. There is diarrhea and vomiting and the individual can feel quite toxic and liverish. A strange symptom is that their nose runs during the day but stops at night. People who need this are impatient and cross (see Bryonia). They feel chilly and hate the slightest draft.
Is good for the type of flu that comes on in cold damp weather. The joints are often really affected, with a lot of stiffness, like a gate. They may loosen up after moving, but people who need this remedy get tired very easily and stiffen up again. They are often extremely restless in the bed, and just can’t get comfortable. One strange symptom is that the tip of the tongue has a red triangle and so does the Rhus tox plant.
Bouncing back after the flu - a case study
In older clients it is not uncommon to see post viral fatigue syndrome after the flu, especially if they have become dehydrated through prolonged bouts of sweating, diarrhea or vomiting. One of my clients, Bea, was a very active, lively woman in her early 70s. She loved to dance and go out socializing, but after a nasty bout of the flu she could not shake off a persistent feeling of weakness. After one dose of China 30c she was quickly returned to her former good health.
Dealing with the next big epidemic
Homeopaths can greatly help one another by sharing information on symptom patterns and remedies they have found effective in their patients. The homeopathic literature of old describes this being done very effectively during a major cholera epidemic and a scarlet fever epidemic. The concept, known as finding the “genus epidemicus,” has the potential to greatly reduce suffering and save lives. The idea is to build up a picture of an epidemic as it is being expressed in a large number of different cases. By drawing all of these cases together “as if one person,” one or two homeopathic medicines can be identified that can be used to treat almost everyone. These same medicines could even be prescribed to protect people from contracting the illness at the height of an epidemic. Luckily in the modern age, the Internet could be our salvation, permitting the speedy exchange of this information through homeopathic forums.
Your best defense
Remember too, that the best defense against illness is a healthy immune system. It will reduce your chances of catching anything, and if you do fall ill it will spring into action. Our immune system is weakened by drug use, alcohol abuse, and smoking. It is strengthened by good, fresh, pesticide-free food, unpolluted air and water, exercise, deep sleep, and relaxation. It is also worth checking your Vitamin D levels and supplementing them if necessary. If you have to be around people with coughs, colds and the flu, then wash your hands frequently and make sure they dispose of tissues (ideally burn them or put them in the trash outside). Take 1000mg of Vitamin C and an Oscillicoccinum if you feel you may be succumbing.
Like all systems, our immune system benefits from a good work out, so don’t automatically suppress acute symptoms with over-the-counter medications, be they conventional or homeopathic, unless your system really can’t cope. If your energy levels, sleep pattern, and appetite are not upset, then it is probable that you can recover without any type of intervention at all, provided you rest and drink plenty of fluids. The bonus is, next time around you will be stronger.
Stay warm and stay well, dear readers. Mary Aspinwall
A homeopath with over 17 years of full time practice, Mary is the author of “Basic Guide to Homeopathy” and the designer of www.homeopathyworld.com’s best selling kits. She is also the editor of “The Clinical Medicine Guide”, a regular columnist for Homeopathy Today magazine and an expert contributor for Homeopathy Radio and Natural News.