‘Tis the season for getting the flu (some thoughts about the flu and flu shots)
Here it comes: The wind, the darker days, the cool rain, the oranges and reds and browns of autumn. And with it, the colds and flus.
Every year around this time, people ask me, “Should I get a flu shot?” And every year, I struggle to answer them. This is not a one size fits all answer.
The flu vaccine is a conglomerate of different strains of the flu from past years. Some years it is more effective than others. If it doesn’t match this year’s flu, then it will be less effective.
The Center for Disease Control says that it might reduce the severity of the flu. But I see a lot of people with the flu and I can’t say they fair better if they had the shot versus if they didn’t. And, it won’t protect you from H1N1. That is a separate injection.
However, if you have some sort of illness or are receiving treatment that affects your immune system then you should get your shot. The flu has the potential to kill someone, especially someone who is frail or immune compromised such as someone on chemotherapy. Or if you are around the very young or the sick and fragile, then you can help them by getting vaccinated. But don’t get the nasal spray. It contains live virus and is not a good choice in these cases.
Flu vaccines are grown on eggs. If you have a severe allergy to eggs, do not get a flu shot.
Most flu shots contain thimerosal which is a preservative that contains mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system and can have serious health effects. While the amount of mercury is very small, we are exposed to it in other ways as well and it can have a cumulative effect on our health. Should you choose to get your flu shot, then it is best to avoid acetaminophen afterwards as it can affect your body’s ability to process toxins such as mercury.
Regardless of whether you get a shot or not, this is the time to really nourish your health. Wash your hands. Limit your sugar and alcohol. Get ample sleep. Increase soups and nutrient rich foods. Add shitake mushrooms, garlic, oregano, rosemary, chard, winter squash and bone broth to your soups to bolster your immune system.
Oh. And stay home if you are sick.
Dr. Jennifer Means welcomes you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. Contact us at 503-641-6400.