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Cold and Flu Prevention, Naturally

Are you getting the flu vaccine? It’s a common topic of conversation this time of year. Some of us may be forced to get it because of work. Others are concerned about the side effects? Many of us question its effectiveness.

A recent review of all the available studies (69 studies involving over 70,000 people) that compared the flu vaccine against placebo or no vaccine showed a very small effect on preventing the flu – about 70 people need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of the flu. These studies also showed no positive benefit in reducing work absences or hospitalizations. Similar reviews with children and the elderly revealed no benefit in preventing the flu. So why are we rushing to get the flu vaccine? I’m not sure. There are isolated smaller studies that do show small benefits in populations at risk, such as infants, the elderly, and those with health conditions, plus the small benefit mentioned above. Overall though, the evidence for the flu vaccine is not very good. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not against vaccines at all. Vaccination is an important tool for the prevention of illness – just maybe not this one.

What about the side effects? For the most part the side effects of the flu vaccine are minimal, harmless but common: mostly local soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site and flu like symptoms (fever and muscle aches). Considering the small benefit and common side effects, I am resistant to recommend this vaccine.

Fortunately, we have many proven and safe alternatives available that, in additional to flu prevention, prevent and treat the common cold. Nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and probiotics have been shown by numerous studies to reduce the likelihood, length and severity of flu and cold symptoms. These nutrients do this with minimal or no side effects at all – they are extremely safe supplements. There are also lifestyle and dietary factors that reduce the likelihood of cold and flu symptoms. And for added and more immediate protection, when you are feeling vulnerable or just noticing a lot of illness around you, we offer an injectable version of these nutrients along with an injectable homeopathic alternative to the flu vaccine. To learn more about preventing the cold and flu naturally, schedule and appointment with your Village Health Clinic physician.

 

Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C, Demicheli V, Ferroni E (2012) Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 8:CD004879. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004879.pub4

Demicheli V, Jefferson T, Al-Ansary LA, Ferroni E, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C (2014) Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3:CD001269. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001269.pub5

Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Al-Ansary LA, Ferroni E, Thorning S, Thomas RE (2010) Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2:CD004876

Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4

Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000980. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4

Hao Q, Lu Z, Dong BR, Huang CQ, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD006895. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub2