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Influenza

Worried about contracting the flu? Every winter, this topic rightfully attracts a lot of media and public attention. Let’s look at Options Naturopathic Clinic’s approach to addressing the flu.

*These statements are the opinions of one naturopathic physician; they are not approved by the FDA. Ponder them as you think about how to act with respect to your own health!

Should I worry about getting the flu?
Back in the spring of 2009, H1N1, or “Swine Flu”, made headlines because the government and medical researchers predicted that there likely would be another deadly virus such as that which came with the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. As we can see four years later, this was not the case; nevertheless this year’s flu season is aggressive and carries a harsh bite of its own. This is why “Protect yourself, get the vaccine” is the message of the day: if you could die, why wouldn’t you vaccinate? It seems the government, the medical establishment and most of the mainstream media just can’t fathom why you wouldn’t. In this day and age acute disease is not what it used to be, such as in the days of the Spanish flu of 1918, yet every year the flu does impact the population at large and some people do die.  
At Options, we hold an alternative perspective on what is ideal for addressing the flu and preventing extreme illness and death. I’ll discuss why it is that a very small percentage of the population does have serious, life-threatening complications, why do some people die and how can you be certain you are not one of those people-or what to do if you are!

With respect to the risk of serious illness and death, homeopathy gives the practitioner additional tools to more fully understand the patient and thus predict such risks.  These tools are typically associated with the more chronic aspect of disease and are traditionally known as “miasms”.  We typically refer to them as Diatheses. The naturopathic and homeopathic practitioner can, by understanding the patient’s diathesis, recognize, for example, that if a person is inclined to have dangerous responses when ill, then he is at greater risk for developing serious complications in acute medical situations such as the flu. This type of person is termed in the homeopathic literature “Luetic”, which means he eliminates by destroying himself. Alcoholism, stroke, aneurysm, and fistula (a drainage hole from one region in the body to another) are just a few examples of Luetic tendencies. Individuals with such tendencies in their own history, or in their family history, could be the type of person at a greater risk for severe complications of a new and unknown influenza virus. Not all such Luetic persons are going to develop severe complications from being sick with the flu, but it is this Luetic tendency that would contribute to such phenomena.

Watching for larger, overarching themes is foreign to most medical doctors, but it is a habit that is useful and enlightening in homeopathic practice. Homeopathic miasms direct the doctor how to treat individuals at risk without creating further complications. Thus the use of homeopathic remedies and naturopathic immune boosters is unlike vaccination. These options do not leave a patient worrying about the unwanted consequences of the treatment itself, but rather, help the patient to overcome the tendencies of his family and his own diathesis. This is not always easy, but it is more often than not effective.

What is most specific to prevent and treat acute viral illness?
First and foremost, we must understand that any claims for products or supplements specific to this year’s flu virus must be bogus. No single product is ever going to be specific against any brand new virus or bacteria. This notion is supported by an allopathic mentality and only indicates a failing to understand the reality of our immunity’s interaction with our environment.

Since Pasteur discovered in the 18th Century that bacteria spoils milk, mainstream medicine increasingly has emphasized the virulence of the microorganisms in causing disease. By contrast, Naturopathic physicians, like their homeopathic forebears, place the importance of disease causes on host-resistance, or the capacity of the infected person to overcome the microorganism. This concept is critical when it comes to knowing what YOU can do to prevent a catastrophic outcome from the any season’s flu.

Any new virus or bacteria is an evolved form of a previous virus. It is a mutation, a change, from previous forms of a particular microbe that have been evaluated. These evolutions of the microbes in our environment are a direct result of the changes in our own immunity and interaction with the environment. As the human race interacts with these microbes, our immunity adapts, and thus it also changes and evolves.

We strengthen our immunity by allowing this natural interplay of our immune barriers with the dirt, disease and dust rampant in nature. This is the dynamic nature of how we resist being overcome by any of the plethora of microbes amongst which we live and have always lived. Host resistance and a person’s overall health are both improved with this natural method. We can draw on reports from the Spanish flu of 1918. In New York and Chicago conventional medical treatments had 54 times as many deaths as naturopathic treatments. Naturopathic sanitariums and “drugless doctors” had either no or few deaths during this pandemic2.

(Also significant is the fact that the concept of vaccination was devised by the homeopathic physicians of that era, but no homeopath ever suggested not diluting the original pathogenic substance, which the allopathic scientists were quick to do, causing many violent and quick deaths in their patients)3.

These so called “drugless doctors” were ones that used hydrotherapy, botanical medicine, homeopathy and general approaches in naturopathy to combat infections in their patients. You can read about some of these suggestions here on this site. If you are looking for specific products to help increase anti-viral activity, see the section titled What can I do to Boost my Immunity?

The three main anti-viral products we recommend are

What is the difference between a “homeopathic vaccine” vs. a regular vaccine?
There really is no such thing as a homeopathic “vaccine,” although homeopaths often use using a method called “isopathy,” following the homeopathic notion that the best preventative and cure for a disease is within the substance itself. An “Isode” is a homeopathic remedy that is made from either the substance of the vaccine itself, or from the disease-causing organism such as the measles virus. Using homeopathically prepared substances in the attempt to “vaccinate” is really a process of reducing one’s susceptibility to becoming ill from an organism by diminishing a sort of resonance with a certain microbe-but this is not truly a vaccination. It is misleading to call the process by the same name.

Historically speaking, the notion of “attenuation” (the modification of a virus or bacteria with intention to reduce virulence for use in inoculation) was borrowed from the homeopaths who were “attenuating” substances for decades to treat disease. The difference between the two methods of “attenuation”, however, is significant. Homeopaths dilute the substance, preparing a remedy with vigorous shaking known as “potentization” (that the French homeopaths still in fact call “atténuation”), while allopaths modify the microbes by changing aspects of how the organisms are grown but specifically do not dilute the substance. Homeopathic isopathics cannot confer immunity in the form of measurable titres.

While many still practice “homeopathic vaccination,” I believe there are much better uses of this type of isopathy, such as using the isode of a certain vaccine to help a patient overcome a negative reaction to that particular vaccine, should there have been one. Until you’ve had the vaccine, there really is nothing to resonate with. Therefore, I am not a proponent of the notion of “homeopathic vaccines”.

Dr. Erin’s Perspective on Vaccination
A study in Canada found that those who took the regular seasonal flu shot were nearly TWICE as likely to contract the Swine Flu!1 This speaks to my thesis here that the risk is associated with the host. As a result of that study, three Canadian provinces halted their seasonal flu vaccine campaigns during the 2009-2010 winter.  Still, we now hear Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN and others in the mainstream media telling you that if you get the flu shot and still get the flu, it will be less severe than if you had not been vaccinated.  Maybe so, but is that a good thing if the flu is a method of detoxing the body, and a way to regulate and harmonize the system through acute illness that then prevents a more serious, chronic disease?  This is the clinical observation of most N.D.s. and many parents alike.  We often observe a patient who had some troubling symptom clear completely after an acute illness, or a child who has a developmental spurt after a fever

Vaccinations are the medical system’s attempts to eradicate an acute disease by forcing the body to fabricate immunity to that disease. It will never be possible to make (and receive!) vaccinations to counter the plethora of viruses and bacteria to which we need immunity—despite the pharmaceutical industry’s position that we should sure try. We must trust our innate ability to develop immunity through our normal bodily processes, through our physiology. Without this trust, we are lost.

Repeated vaccinations are the partial culprit in many chronic illnesses. From a natural clinician’s perspective, there are long-term effects of vaccinations, particularly when considered with associations of the different diatheses, which contribute to greater potential for risk. Let’s look at a few reasons why this is so.

First, let’s understand the basic difference in the allopathic and homeopathic point of view when it comes to acute infectious diseases. The mainstream notion is that a virus or bacteria comes into contact with a person and that the person contracts this “infection” which rapidly makes the individual very sick. Attention is focused on the virulence of the microbe, with very little attention to the immunity of the individual. From a homeopathic and naturopathic perspective, the terrain must be conducive to contract such an infection and it is the individual’s diathesis combined with the pathogen that determines the degree of illness. Colds and flus are opportunities for the body to detoxify and for the immunity to develop. This is the most basic reason to not vaccinate-because vaccination prevents normal healthy immune function development.

There are other reasons I do not believe vaccines are the answer-or even a safe option-for the population at large. First there is the issue of toxicity of the adjuvants and preservatives. Secondly, there is potential risk for autoimmunity or other abnormal immune function from the vaccination itself. So aside from the other ingredients found in manufactured vaccines, the danger of which has been discussed elsewhere, the indispensable ingredient of the inoculation, the attenuated pathogen itself, has the potential to create its own significant problem. Even for those introduction routes that seem more “natural,” such as with the nasal swab of the new swine flu vaccine, there are too many long-term unknowns that have not been investigated properly.

Clinical observations, on the other hand, indicate that by vaccinating, we make the immune system very inefficient at developing antibodies to other viruses and bacteria. What about diversifying our T cell reaction to all the other potential pathogens for which there is no vaccine? One vaccine won’t help with those microorganisms, and will in fact reduce the body’s capacity to fight them.

A vaccination is a modified form of the actual virus --how does it serve to promote diverse immunity in the form of various cellular modifications (T cell divisions) that have exposure to the actual virus would? This diverse response to actual pathogens is how we have interacted and evolved our immune function for centuries. It is how our immune system learns, through natural exposure-not by a forced response to an unnatural form of the virus. How effective is that immunity? How destructive is the toxicity gained by the vaccination to the rest of my immune function? These are all unanswered questions that explain the general population’s skepticism.

Furthermore, the modified virus or bacteria of any vaccine is a protein. Introducing a foreign protein into the body in an unusual and unnatural manner (injection) runs the risk of confusing the self vs. non-self identity barrier. Being in harmony with the self is critical for ideal immune development.

Such differentiation between self and other is of absolute importance for healthy immune function-or else the body runs the risk of attacking itself (autoimmunity). When we introduce a foreign protein into the system, we run the risk of confusing the immune function’s determination of “what is me?” and “what isn’t me?”

If the body suddenly has an “other” protein inside of it-but is unable to control of how that protein is assimilated, and unable to recognize the chemicals coming along with it, there is a possibility of an eventual rejection by the immune system. Such rejection is often not immediate but can be dangerous, particularly if that protein becomes embedded into a certain tissue or organ, such as the thyroid. Down the road, years later, if all the other parameters are just right, the body may start to attack the thyroid itself, causing chronic hypothyroidism from Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis.
It is an interesting fact that neither autoimmunity nor allergies existed before experimentation with vaccination techniques started in the 19th Century. I do not believe we can ignore this critical fact.

People often think that a “weak” immune system is one in which a person becomes ill frequently, but really this is a very narrow view about what a weak or paralyzed immune function is. A paralyzed immune function is one in which the body cannot fully eliminate the toxins. This means the person has a chronic feeling of malaise, or low energy, and a set of chronic symptoms. Acute illnesses in such persons rarely mount efficient fevers (between 103 and 104.9 degrees F), if they mount a fever at all.

Clinically, it is important to note that most cancer patients reveal they do not “get sick”, or haven’t had a cold or flu in a long, long time. These patients never report high fevers. From our perspective, this means that they do not eliminate their toxins.

Repeated vaccination (along with chronic antibiotic and acetaminophen use) blocks these basic eliminatory functions of the immune system. Even the concept of vaccinating to prevent an acute illness, by its very nature, is a suppression of an acute eliminatory opportunity. Since colds and flus are the body’s attempt to throw off what it does not want, it is critical that we find a better way to address acute illness. Our guide on What To Do in the Case of Acute Illness is a start. Single homeopathic remedies, such as those on the Fever page may also be helpful.

Medical doctors may argue that these claims are not proven and I admit they are not according to conventional standards, at least, but when observing from a historical and clinical perspective, this is clearly debatable.

We must begin to think about the effects of our medical actions. If we vaccinate for every illness possible, but then have a chronically ill population, what have we really accomplished? We have to look down the road, watching for patterns and making observations about the generalities in our patient populations. Conventional medical science does not explain true cause and effeect beyond weak links and associative risks. Yet, this is how we understand people; this is the art and science of medicine.  In homeopathy and naturopathy, we utilize medical philosophy in a very concrete way, to help explain the responses and reactions of our patients, as well as why any given patient is sick with certain illnesses. How?  Onto the empirical data…

Empirical Data (What we can Know from History and Observation)
When one looks at patients’ histories objectively, one can see the relationship between those who had more than the average number of vaccines and a sort of clogging up of the person’s body. This is the same phenomenon discussed in the Terrain section, under the Sycotic Diathesis. These people reveal signs of poorer immune systems, inefficient immune function and eventually, if the suppression of toxins is not reversed, chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

The observation of clinical histories of hundreds of patients by multiple wholistic therapists reveals that comprehensive vaccination schedules, such as that recommended by the CDC in the United States, contributes to the paralysis of the immune function. This is empirical evidence. Unfortunately, there is no room for certain empirical data in the monetized research system that dominates American institutions and the mainstream media. “Evidence-based medicine” is all about the extremely limited double-blind trial. This is not the type of research, however, that one can study in a double-blind trial, nor through any of the methods used by drug companies applying for FDA approval. We need long-term and retrospective meta-analyses in order to investigate this point.

In my humble opinion, another way to get such a retrospective analysis is to trust a physician’s experience, or better yet, multiple physicians’ experiences. If we take generations of doctors of natural medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy and look at their experiences with their patients-we see that these persons fared better when they were not vaccinated or if they were vaccinated they were subsequently treated with homeopathy and botanicals.

From this angle, we should not act on fear of an influenza by taking a preemptive toxic measure to prevent it, such as a vaccine, but rather, we should work to support and build our immune function by using natural medicine.

What if I already had a vaccine?
Homeopathy has at least a few tools for those who have already been vaccinated.
Our standard protocol is to administer, for two complete weeks after any vaccination:

These are three of the classic “vaccinosis” remedies-remedies that have been used for 200 years to help patients overcome the negative effects of both immediate vaccine reactions (such as redness or swelling) and longer-term vaccine side effects-such as risk-development for autoimmune conditions, neurological complications or allergies. Use of homeopathics of any kind will not affect immunity gained by a vaccine.

  • Also consider using an “Isode” of the vaccine itself –see article on “Isopathy” in our newsletter archive. Typically these are reserved for when the individual had a distinct reaction to a particular vaccine.
  • Support the Immune, Digestive and Nervous systems-as these are the most likely homeostatic areas to be disrupted by a vaccination. These systems can be supported with:
  • HMF products, with special consideration to HMF Neuro with neurological effects.
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic acid: Folirinse and Actifolate

See the Six Homeostatic Systems under Education for more information.
1http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/study-prompts-provinces-to-rethink-flu-plan/article1303330/
2Chaitow, Leon, Naturopathic Physical Medicine: Theory and Practice for Manual Therapists and Naturopaths. 2008.
3Coulter, Harris, Divided Legacy, Vol. IV.
4University of Michigan poll September 24, 2009 http://www2.med.umich.edu/prmc/media/newsroom/details.cfm?ID=1312