As a doctor who specializes in treating patients with chronic complex health problems such as Lyme-Related Complex (which I discussed in detail in my last blog post) I always have more to learn. Until all my patients are all better I will always have more to learn.
A big part of my job is to continue to seek out new information on healing by attending conferences and (mostly) by reading, but obviously not everything I read proves to be useful. I find some teachers more helpful than others.
I have studied with many master homeopaths like Rajan Sankaran and brilliant experts in nutrition and functional medicine like Jeff Bland. But perhaps the biggest overall influence in my practice has been Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD, who first taught me about Lyme-Related Complex in 2002. Most of the information in my last blog post on this was taught to me by Dr. Klinghardt. Now Dr. Klinghardt has made a new discovery that he believes is a game-changer in not only treating Lyme-Related Complex but in treating virtually all chronic disease.
To quote Dr. Klinghardt: “Lyme Disease is not a bacterial illness; it is an activation of retrovirus caused by the bacterial infection.”
Based upon a variety of data and recent clinical experiences, Dr.Klinghardt believes that retroviruses play a significant role in most chronic illness. The most notorious retrovirus by far is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which is considered to be the cause of AIDS. But there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other retroviruses and they have been implicated as causes of neurological disorders such as MS, Schizophrenia, ADHD and Autism, Rheumatoid Arthritis , Lupus and other autoimmune diseases, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and various forms of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer and lymphoma.
Retroviruses are so common that everyone has retroviruses, in fact we are born with them, but they can also be acquired. While most viruses are DNA viruses, retroviruses are RNA viruses that work via the enzyme reverse transcriptase to force a cell to create viral DNA which then can become integrated into our genome. It is estimated that 6-8% of our DNA is retroviral DNA which we inherit. These are called Human Endogenous Retroviruses. Retroviruses can also be acquired from insect bites and also transmitted from person to person. There is also evidence that vaccines are often contaminated with retroviruses, just one of many reasons vaccines are hazardous (this is a fascinating story- the person who discovered this, Judy Mikovits PhD, was asked to retract her findings after her research on this was published. When she refused to do that she was arrested and jailed and given a 4 year gag order by the court. She discusses this in her book Plague but summarizes her findings in this article): https://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/09/07/every-vaccine-may-be-contaminated-with-at-least-one-animal-retrovirus-family-all-are-associated-with-cancers-chronic-liver-disease-aids-als-mecfs-autism/
Like all infections, the degree to which they affect us has a great deal to do with the state of our immune system. Thus, a healthy person has many retroviruses in their bodies but keeps them in a mostly inactive state that does not cause any symptoms.
When someone has poor immune function related to environmental toxins, vaccines, emotional stress and other chronic infections like Lyme and co-infections then retroviruses become activated and, once that happens, they become the main infection that creates symptoms. Dr. Klinghardt has found that treating retroviruses is the key to helping his chronically-ill patients recover.
One of the problems in assessing this is that there are no direct ways to test someone for retroviruses. There are a variety of lab test that show indirect evidence of retroviruses such as nagalase, though this is not a commonly available test and there can be other causes of elevated nagalase, especially cancer.
However, it turns out may of the treatments that help retroviruses are also effective for Lyme disease and tend to be safe and non-toxic so it appears reasonable to try these on an empiric basis even if we can not obtain clear evidence that someone has retroviruses as a significant component of their illness.
Some of the treatments Dr. Klinghardt has found most effective include Chinese (Baikal) Skullcap, Cistus tea, Broccoli sprouts, Selenium in the form of selenocystiene or selenomethionine, St. John’s Wort, Eklonia Cava (a variety of seaweed sold as Seanol or Fibrinol), Pantethine, Luteolin and a homeopathic preparation of a very old medicine called Suramin. As always, treatment is best individualized; not everyone will need all of these remedies and not everyone will tolerate all of them.
I could go into more detail but the purpose of this post is to provide a brief introduction and overview of this new approach. For details I refer you to this article by Dr. Klinghardt:
For even more detail on this including details on treatment see this video of a lecture from an autism conference. Be sure to click on the link below the video to see the slides that went with the talk as they are loaded with relevant information:
I have always loved the term “medical practice.”
A good doctor should always be practicing, in the sense of trying a variety of treatments and approaches to see what works and what does not.
When I learn paradigm-shifting information from a trusted source I check it out by having my patients try it and see how my patients respond. I am just starting to try these treatments with my patients. As of this writing I just saw one of the first patients I started on elements of this protocol back after 3 weeks on it. Ken (who is OK with my using his name) has suffered from Lyme-Related Complex for about 20 years. With the treatments we have done in the past he has improved but he seems to have plateaued and was suffering from significant pain (also related to osteoarthritis) and fatigue. I was very pleased to see that he was feeling much better just 3 weeks into this regime, with less pain and more energy.
Like every treatment I have ever given I am sure it will help some more than others and it will probably take some time to assess how well it works, so I will be adding to this article in a few months with more information on my and my patients’ experiences.
If you enjoy this article please share it with friends and family.
You may also enjoy some of the other posts on this blog.
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Most people think all doctors are rich, but I make less money than any doctor I know (despite the fact that I am fully booked 2-3 months in advance) as I spend so much time with my patients, strive to keep my rates affordable and see many people who are on Medicare, whose fees do not even cover my overhead. I do not own a house, live in a tiny rental and drive a 12 year-old used car. I exhausted most of my savings when my wife was terminally ill for 2 years.
I did not create this blog for fiscal rewards but I believe that it is good karma to give out a bit of positive energy in exchange for valuable information, so again, any donations would be truly appreciated. Maybe one in a thousand people who read this blog send any donations and I am grateful for that support, but YOU can help increase that percentage. Money I receive will be used for continuing medical education, buying equipment to help my patients and subsidizing care for those who are indigent.
Thanks and Blessings,
As a holistic MD I endeavor to get to the root causes of illness.
I attract many patients who suffer from chronic illness; an archetypal patient who has come to see me over the years suffers from chronic fatigue, chronic muscle and joint pains, abdominal distress, anxiety, depression and problems with memory and concentration. He or she has usually been to many other doctors and in most cases the lab tests come back as normal. They are told they have depression and/or fibromyalgia and offered antidepressants, which, if they try, often make them feel even worse.
But when I evaluate them the vast majority of the time I discover they have chronic Lyme Disease and almost always co-infections such as Babesia, Bartonella and Mycoplasma. While these are not easy to treat, they can be treated and these people can be restored to good health.
I have looked for an article that provides a good overview of Lyme and Co-infections to recommend to my patients but I have not been able to find any that I really like, so I finally decided to write it myself; here it is!
Few topics in medicine are more controversial than Lyme Disease. There is a major split within the medical profession.
The mainstream view is that Lyme Disease is not all that common, easy to diagnose and easy to treat.
While it is true that if someone receives adequate treatment within a few days of contracting Lyme they can usually be cured with a few weeks of antibiotics (though unfortunately many doctors fail to adequately treat acute Lyme; Lyme specialists advise Doxycycline 200 mg 2x/day for 20-30 days; some doctors give a single dose!), the mainstream view is that even chronic Lyme can be cured with six weeks of antibiotics and, unfortunately this is almost never the case.
The alternative perspective, held by most “Lyme-literate doctors” (doctors with extensive knowledge and experience in treating Lyme) is that Lyme Disease is much more common than most doctors realize and requires a complex nuanced multi-faceted approach to treatment. However, there is also a split amongst Lyme-literate docs, as some believe that intensive and prolonged use of antibiotics is necessary to treat chronic Lyme while others (such as myself) believe that antibiotics tend to do more harm than good and the best treatments involve herbs, nutritional supplements, homeopathy and other natural therapies.
Here is an excellent article from The New Yorker about “The Lyme Wars” between conventional and alternative medicine:
Lyme disease is extremely common. The CDC reports that there are 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the US each year (some doctors believe that this is a vast underestimate). 40% of these people develop long-term health problems. That means there are millions of people in the US with chronic Lyme. It is well-known that Lyme disease is often transmitted by ticks but less than half of those with proven Lyme recall ever being bitten by a tick. Undoubtedly some of those people were bitten by a tick and did not know it, as the ticks that transmit Lyme can be as small as a poppyseed, bite someone and leave without them ever noticing it, but there is good evidence that Lyme can be transmitted by stinging flies, mosquitoes, spiders and other insects. While not acknowledged by authorities, there is evidence that Lyme can also be sexually transmitted, and some babies whose mothers have Lyme are born with congenital Lyme.
Fortunately, not everyone who is bitten by a tick becomes infected. Only some types of ticks carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme; the main culprit is the deer tick, known as Ixodes scapularis (the main type in the Eastern and north-central US) and Ixodes pacificus in the West. Not all of these ticks carry Lyme. The longer the tick is attached the more likely it will transmit it. It is thought that ticks are unlikely to spread it unless attached at least 24 hours, but there are rare cases where it appeared to be transmitted within an hour
(towards the end of this essay I have added a section on what to do if you are bitten by a tick).
If a tick bite has caused Lyme (and/or co-infections as discussed below) they will most likely experience mild-flu like symptoms within a few days such as general achiness, headache and low-grade fever. It is typical for there to be some redness in the area around any tick bite, whether it carries infection or not, but a classic sign of Lyme disease is Erythema migrans, the bullseye rash. This rash has a red central area, then a clear area and then a ring around that. If this is present it is a certain sign of Lyme infection. However, less than half of those proven to have Lyme have noticed this type of rash, and some Lyme specialists now believe it only occurs in those who were already infected with Lyme and have been exposed again! So if it is present you can be sure you got infected, but its absence is not a sign that you were not infected.
Perhaps the main reason there is so much controversy about Lyme is that there is no definitive test that proves someone does or does not have Lyme at any given time. The most commonly used screening test misses over half the cases and a more definitive test, the Western Blot, also misses a high percentage of cases. The largest national labs, Quest and LabCorp do a incomplete version of this test that misses many cases, for no good reason. The best version of the Western Blot test is offered by IgeneX in Palo Alto, CA. But this test still misses at least 20% of cases as it is looking at our bodies’ immune response to Lyme and those who are very sick with Lyme have a suppressed immune response so, ironically, those who are most ill from Lyme have the poorest chance of a lab test being positive. However, a new type of test, the EliSpot test, shows potential to be the most sensitive Lyme test yet.
As poor as Lyme testing is, testing for Babesia and Bartonella is even worse as there are at least 20 strains of each and there are only tests for 2 or 3 of these strains.
But Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt has a new technique that involves collecting a urine sample after deep tissue massage and/or ultrasound and looking for evidence of microbes in the urine. Again, this techniques holds great promise.
For a good overview on various tests for Lyme and co-infections see http://www.betterhealthguy.com/lyme/testing
For more information from IgeneX see https://igenex.immdemo.com/physician/test-methodologies/
For more information on the urine testing via PCR see https://dnaconnexions.com
And for information on how to get the best results from a urine PCR test see https://thescipub.com/pdf/10.3844/ajisp.2017.114.126
The cause of Lyme disease is the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. While Borrelia burgdorferi was not discovered until 1982 by Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, there is evidence that the 5,300-year-old ice mummy dubbed Ötzi discovered in the Italian Alps was infected with this bacteria.
However, not everyone infected with Borrelia bacteria develops Lyme disease.
Some who become infected get few if any symptoms while others become completely debilitated, with a huge range of symptoms and severity in between. Lyme is sometimes called the great imitator because it can infect every organ and cause virtually any symptom, thus mimicking just about any disease. As to why the symptoms are so variable in type and severity, it depends on many factors. There are many different strains of Borrelia bacteria and some are more virulent than others.
One of the leading authorities on Lyme, Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD states that in Bavaria he knew a medical school professor who could guess which valley a Lyme patient came from based on their symptoms, as each valley had a different strain producing distinct symptoms.
The Lyme bacteria has the most complex genome of any known bacteria. Strep bacteria has 8 genes, Syphilis has 27 genes but Borrelia has over 800 genes.
Of course these days there are conspiracy theories about everything and some believe that that the natural Borrelia bacteria was genetically modified to become a biological warfare agent and escaped the lab (the purported site of this is Lab 257 on Plum Island in Long Island Sound which is a mile from Lyme, Connecticut, where the first outbreak was reported. Deer, which often carry infected ticks, are known to swim between Plum Island and the shoreline of Lyme, CT).
But the biggest difference is the presence of co-infections, our toxic load and stress.
If someone who has good genetics and otherwise good health is infected with Borrelia they may have virtually no symptoms. They may have some Borrelia persist in their bodies but essentially peacefully co-exist with it. I would say someone like that, while having Lyme infection, does not have “Lyme disease”.
(PS, a very common mistake made not only by patients but doctors is to call it “Lyme’s Disease; the proper term is Lyme, not Lyme’s.)
The sicker someone is, the more likely they have genetic susceptibility to Lyme as well as co-infections of Babesia, Bartonella, Mycoplasma and Anaplasma, intestinal parasites, intestinal yeast overgrowth, intestinal dysbiosis, chronic viruses such as Epstein- Barr Virus and retroviruses, heavy metal toxicity (and toxicity with aluminum, a light metal), toxicity with pesticides and herbicides such as Round-Up, mold toxicity, sensitivity to electromagnetic fields etc. Also, those who have high levels of stress are much more likely to suffer serious symptoms.
Thus, those who are infected with just the Borrelia bacteria are unlikely to be nearly as ill as those who have co-infections as well, which is why I prefer the term Lyme-Related Complex (LRC) to Lyme Disease. In most cases the co-infections cause more symptoms and problems than the Lyme bacteria, but the Borrelia bacteria suppresses the immune system and makes it more difficult for our bodies to handle these other infections, so it acts as an enabler for these other infections.
Lyme and Lyme-Related Complex can be the ultimate cause of virtually any symptom; it is sometimes called the great imitator. But the most common symptoms are fatigue, muscle and joint pains and neurological symptoms including “brain fog” (problems with memory and concentration), trouble finding the right word, variable vision and tingling and numbness. It can trigger auto-immune disease so anyone with a diagnosis like Lupus or Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis should be evaluated for this. Dr. Klinghardt has found that virtually every patient with Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease; it is interesting that Lou Gehrig lived near Lyme, Connecticut, where the first outbreaks were reported), and Parkinson’s Disease that he has seen in recent years has LRC. This does not mean that Lyme and co-infections are THE cause. Most with LRC, fortunately, do not get these syndromes, but these microbes may trigger them in those with genetic predispositions, a history of certain types of trauma and toxic exposures. There is also evidence that LRC is often a causative factor in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Treating Lyme-Related Complex successfully requires a very nuanced holistic approach, in fact I know of no other illness that demands such a multi-faceted approach. An analogy I have thought of is that treating LRC is like a game of pick-up sticks. You have to carefully treat it in just the right order or you might create a major disruption. Another analogy is by my colleague Wayne Anderson ND who compares treating LRC to a game of chess. We (the doctor and patient) makes a move, then it makes a counter-move, then we have to make another move etc. etc. It is a moving target and treatments often have to be adjusted.
The mistake most doctors make is to assume it can be treated like other infections; just give antibiotics and that will take care of it. The reason antibiotics generally don’t do the trick (other than in the earliest stages) is that the Lyme bacteria is very adaptable. As mentioned, Borrelia burgdorferi has the most complex genome of any known bacteria; if you could ascribe intelligence to a bacteria it is the most intelligent bacteria known and has many ways of eluding our immune system, as well as eluding antibiotics. It is also pleomorphic bacteria, which means it can shape-shift. While it is commonly considered a spirochete (which means corkscrew shaped) it can convert to something called the L-form, which can exist inside our cells without a cell wall. This is significant because most antibiotics work by attacking the cell wall, but since Borrelia can exist without a cell wall most antibiotics will be ineffective against this form. Also, it is more difficult to get therapeutic levels of antimicrobials inside the cell than in blood and other extracellular fluids. And if you find a way to destroy the L-form it can then convert into the cyst stage. The cyst stage is inactive, sort of like circling the wagons to wait out an attack. The cyst stage is impervious to antibiotics, hydrochloric acid and temperatures of 600 degrees. Thus, even the most aggressive Lyme treatments will do no more than convert Borrelia into the cyst stage. With our current technology we can not eliminate the cysts However, once all Borrelia is in the cyst stage it will not cause illness, so my goal is to kill as many as we can and drive the rest into the cyst stage and keep them there.* Thus patients can be clinically cured, but must maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle and keep their immunity strong so the cysts do not convert back to active forms.
*9/19 update: In July of 2019 an article by Daniel Kinderleher MD on the potential benefits of disulfuram, aka Antabuse, an old drug used to treat alcoholism, in treating and even potentially curing Lyme disease created quite a splash and many Lyme patients are trying it. While very promising, many who are trying this are experiencing severe side effects so I think more needs to be learned on how to use this powerful medicine more safely. I will write more abut this soon. Here is that article:
While it may be impossible to fully eradicate Borrelia bacteria from the body, it IS possible to fully eradicate co-onfections like Mycoplasma, Bartonella and Babesia (usually in that order) and when those are eliminated it is much easier for our immune systems to keep the Borrelia in check. It should be noted that some people may only have these co-infections and not Borrelia infection; having even one of these, like just Mycoplasma or just Bartonella can cause significant illness.
Thus, my general approach to treating Lyme disease is what I call “the indirect approach.” I will enumerate the components of this here:
A crucial aspect of treatment involves DETOXIFICATION of metals, other common environmental toxins like pesticides and herbicides (esp Roundup, as this omnipresent herbicide causes our bodies to absorb much more of the aluminum in our food), phthalates and other plastics, PBB’s, dioxins, fire retardants etc.
It is also important to detoxify the microbial toxins produced by Borrelia and co-infections, discussed further below.
TREATING both tick-borne CO-INFECTIONS like Babesia, Bartonella and Mycoplasma, and chronic viral infections like retroviruses, Epstein- Barr and HHV 6, treating intestinal (and systemic) parasites and imbalances of intestinal flora including candidiasis (yeast overgrowth) and dysbiosis including infections like Helicobacter Pylori, as well as other infections like chronic sinusitis; I primarily rely on herbs for this but IV vitamins and IV ozone can also be very helpful.
Once the co-infections have been treated we can focus on treating Borrelia directly.
HEALING “LEAKY GUT SYNDROME” or increased intestinal permeability caused by intestinal infections, many pharmaceuticals and food allergies;
healing the gut is a key strategy in reducing inflammation; inflammation is central in the symptomatology of Lyme so reducing inflammation may be the best way to improve symptom.
AVOIDING ALLERGENIC FOODS: Most with LRC need to avoid gluten for awhile, and many need to avoid dairy, soy and other common allergens.
Eating a NUTRITIOUS DIET based on organic unprocessed vegetables, nuts and fruits and quality protein while minimizing sugars, simple starches, fried foods and unhealthy oils and avoiding GMO’s.
JUDICIOUS INDIVIDUALIZED SUPPLEMENTATION, such as a high-quality multivitamin and extra Vitamins C and D and omega 3 fatty acids. Many with LRC have a metabolic imbalance induced by Lyme called pyroluria that results in need for high amounts of zinc and Vit. B6. This is often a missing piece of the puzzle and the reason some who have undergone intensive therapies for Lyme have experienced little benefit.
for a thorough discussion of pyroluria.
AVOIDING ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: we live in a very toxic world. Many common household objects contain and emit chemicals such as VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals) and most personal care products and household cleaning products contain toxic chemicals.
Additionally many homes and offices contain mold, often hidden. Mold toxicity can cause most of the same symptoms as LRC. If someone with LRC is regularly exposed to mold they will not get better until that is addressed. Some who think they have LRC may actually have mold toxicity as the primary cause of their symptoms. See http://www.betterhealthguy.com/mycotoxins for a good discussion.
A nearly omnipresent and insidious toxin is the electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) produced by electronics, such as the laptop I am typing on, cell towers, cell phones, wi-fi and “smart meters”. Many Lyme patients are very adversely affected by these frequencies and do not realize it. One of the most common symptoms of EMF sensitivity is insomnia, and lack of adequate sleep worsens all symptoms and prevents a meaingful recovery. Minimizing exposure can be a crucial aspect of recovery though is easier said than done.
ADDRESSING anxiety, depression and past hurts, griefs, anger and resentments, what many call “UNRESOLVED EMOTIONS.” While LRC can cause anxiety and depression, those need to be addressed, as being depressed is not only very painful but interferes with our ability to heal. Counseling, treatments like biofeedback, Emotional Freedom Technique, EMDR and hypnosis can be very helpful, and constitutional homeopathy can be miraculous.
STRUCTURAL WORK from a good bodyworker can help relieve pain, improve the flow of energy in the body and help to resolve past emotional traumas.
ENERGETIC MODALITIES such as homeopathy and acupuncture are also very helpful. Some cases of LRC have been cured primarily by homeopathy!
Some of the main toxins that need to be cleared in treating LRC are microbial toxins, that is toxins produced by the Borreiia bacteria as well as co-infections. In fact most LRC symptoms are caused by these toxins and the inflammation they induce. I tell my patients that if I had a magic wand that could instantly remove all the unfriendly bacteria from their bodies they might not feel any better because what is causing their symptoms is the toxemia produced by the microbes. Likewise, if I could remove all the toxins and not kill amy microbes they would likely feel almost 100% better (and with the toxins removed our immune system could do a much better job of fighting these infections and keeping them contained).
When we use antibiotics or herbs (or ozone or electromagnetic frequencies) to kill microbes they die, releasing more microbial toxins into our bodies. The official name for this is a Jarisch-Herxheimer reacton, more commonly called a Herx reaction or herxing but even more commonly called a die-off reaction. These reactions can be quite severe: extreme fatigue, brain fog, headaches, sort of like the worst hangover you’ve ever had.
One of my mottos is that you never want the treatment to be worse than the disease so it is generally important to focus on detoxification of microbial and environmental toxins and supporting the detox pathways before focusing on killing microbes, and to introduce anti-microbial agents slowly and gradually increasing the doses. Many doctors make a huge mistake in pushing antimicrobial agents while the patent is still too toxic.
The doctor who first taught me about LRC (at workshop in 2002) is Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD, one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, and his approach to Lyme is still my greatest influence.
Dr. Klinghardt recently stated that “right now the modern thing in our medicine is everybody has Lyme disease or everybody has chronic fatigue and viruses and if you can bring to the table a powerful accurate method of metal detox then these chronic infections become almost irrelevant, they become smaller items than they seem now and people do so much better if you do Lyme disease treatment while also addressing the metals; people with chronic fatigue do so much better taking the metals out along with antiviral strategies.”
Dr Klinghardt has observed that most with LRC have particularly high levels of aluminum and that toxicity with RoundUp, the ubiquitous herbicide found in high levels in many GMO foods, but which contaminates even organic foods, causes our bodies to absorb much more aluminum from our diets and thus measures to reduce the amount to RoundUp in our bodies can be an imporrtant step in detoxing metals. Another common metal in those with LRC is mercury. Many may have mercury residues from childhood vaccines, though since the early 2000’s most mercury in vaccines was replaced with aluminum, which is nearly as toxic, but mercury is still used in some vaccines, esp. most flu vaccines.
Many still have mercury residues from amalgam (silver-colored) fillings, even if those fillings have been removed (Dr. Klinghardt will not see a patient until they have had all of their amalgams removed as he feels people can not fully heal until that is done). Mercury is also commony found in seafood, though some (such as wild salmon, shrimp and sardines) have only trace amounts whie other types such as swordfish and most tuna have fairly high levels. Dr. Klinghardt has also observed a crucial connection between unresolved emotions and metal toxicity, with emotional healing playing a critical role in helping us to release toxic substances.
Testing for heavy metal toxicity is problematic but a new test called an OligoScan is quick and non-invasive and shows tissue levels of essential minerals like magnesium, zinc and chromium as well as heavy metals.
There are a variety of strategies for detoxing heavy metals.
One of the best is saunas, as sweat has lots of metals as well as other toxins like pesticides.
One final thing I want to mention is that Byron White, a naturopath who has created some powerful herbal formulas for LRC, notes that there is a certain type of energy associated with each disease (of course this is also observed by homeopaths) and he has observed that the energy around LRC involves an unfortunate lack of empathy on the part of friends, family and most health care practitioners. People with LRC often don’t look sick even if they feel terrible. When someone is suffering from LRC, instead of getting much-needed support from loved ones they are often told something like “sorry you’re sick, give me a call when you’re better.”
This is, of course, not conducive to healing.
WHAT ABOUT RECENT TICK BITES?
A common question is what to do if you have been recently bitten by a tick.
PLEASE NOTE: Even if you already have Lyme a new tick bite can be a threat. One can become newly infected with a different strain of the Lyme bacteria and/or get new co-infections.
The best way to remove the tick is to have a special tool to remove ticks but, if like most people, you do not have one, try to grab the tick as close to its mouth as you can with tweezers and pull it straight out- no twisting, and do NOT try to apply heat or Vaseline or anything else as that often irritates the tick and increases the odds of getting infected!
It is ideal to identify the tick. See http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_identification
While other types of ticks can spread other infections, Lyme is primarily spread by Deer ticks.
The longer the tick has been attached the greater the risk of infection. If it has been attached less than 24 hours the odds of infection are relatively small.
It is normal to get redness around the site of the bite, even if not infected. If infected you will likely get mild flu-like symptoms such as headache or achiness within a few days. The famous bullseye rash can take a few days to appear but may not appear even if you are infected. One can send the tick to a lab such as IgeneX and have it tested not only for Lyme but co-infections, but if you think you have been infected do NOT wait for those test results, as the sooner you start treatment the better.
Even if the tick comes back as positive for Lyme or co-infections it does not mean that you got infected! If it was not on for very long, not engorged and you feel fine no treatment may be needed (though Ledum and Astragalus might be prudent no matter what- see doses below).
The best treatment is Doxycycline 200 mg 2x/day with food for 21-30 days, but, while effective for Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasma and Mycoplasma may not protect against Babesia and Bartonella. I advise also taking the homeopathic remedy Ledum Pallustrum 1M as a single dose then 30c twice a day for 2 weeks, Andrographis 400 mg 3x/day and Japanese Knotweed 300 mg 3x/day, as well as a good probiotic. Renowned herbalist Stephen Buhner advises “astragalus – 3,000 mg daily for 30 days, 1,000 mg daily thereafter, indefinitely. Also: using a paste made of andrographis tincture mixed with green clay, the paste applied on the tick bite area can often prevent an active infection.”
One way to get a quick determination of whether you were infected is to find a doctor who does Autonomic Response Testing (also known as muscle testing). These tend to be Lyme-literate holistic/integrative MD’s/DO’s/ND’s and chiropractors.
It may be difficult to find a doctor willing to write a prescription for appropriate doses of doxycycline. Contacting ILADS (the International Association of Lyme and Associated Disease Specialists can let you know about Lyme specialists in your area, though many doctors who know how to treat Lyme (such as myself) are not members. http://www.ilads.org
This is a bit longer than I intended so rather than write a book I will give you some resources for further study.
If you search online for information about Lyme you will find thousands of sites, much of which is incorrect as there is a tremendous amount of misinformation.
I can not recommend the website http://www.betterhealthguy.com highly enough.
Scott performs the incredible service of going to just about every cutting-edge conference on LRC and taking great notes that he presents in easy-to-digest bullet point form, so you can benefit from the latest expertise of the top practitioners in the field.
Here is a link to one recent great post: http://www.betterhealthguy.com/klinghardt-2017
There are a growing number of books about Lyme. I particularly recommend the books of Stephen Buhner, the leading herbalist in this field, especially Healing Lyme (make sure to get the second edition) and
Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma
and Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections: Anaplasma, Babesia, and Ehrlichia
I also highly recommend
New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Reveal Healing Strategies That Work by Connie Strasheim with chapters by Dietrich Klinghardt, Wayne Anderson, David Jernigan and 7 other leading practitioners.
This is a lot of information to digest but, whether you are just learning about LRC or have been struggling with it for years, I hope you will find it helpful.
As I mention below, I add new important information as I learn about it and there is a new MAJOR development in this field, as my Lyme mentor Dietrich Klinghardt now believes that the most significant cause of disease in Lyme-Related Complex is not Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella or Mycoplasma but a variety of retroviruses. This is so important that I wrote a separate blog post on it here:
PS My blog posts tend to be works in progress. I have already added an expanded discussion of symptoms of LRC, expanded on the way Borrelia changes forms and the emotional impacts of LRC and will probably be doing further fine-tuning and adding new links. so feel free to check back here for new information.
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Most people think all doctors are rich, but I make less money than any doctor I know (despite the fact that I am fully booked 2-3 months in advance) as I spend so much time with my patients, strive to keep my rates affordable and see many people who are on Medicare, whose fees do not even cover my overhead. I do not own a house, live in a tiny rental and drive a 12 year-old used car. I exhausted most of my savings when my wife was terminally ill for 2 years.
I did not create this blog for fiscal rewards but I believe that it is good karma to give out a bit of positive energy in exchange for valuable information, so again, any donations would be truly appreciated. Money I receive will be used for continuing medical education, buying equipment to help my patients and subsidizing care for those who are indigent.
Thanks and Blessings,
Note: this was first published on 2/10/17 but I have revised this many times, most recently on 12/2/19
Flu season is here again and, as always, we are besieged with ads for the flu vaccine on TV and radio, in grocery stores and pharmacies. It seems like every year authorities warn that the coming flu season will be unusually bad but we don’t know yet how severe this year’s will be. In the past decade, according to the CDC there have been an average of 25 million cases of influenza in the US each year, so about 1 out of 13 people will get it, though in the 2017-18 season there were about 49 million cases. However, when laboratory testing is one on those suspected to have influenza only about 16% of the time is it actually confirmed, so it is probable than the true chances of getting true influenza are less than 1 in 75 most seasons, with the others being “flu-like illness” rather than actual influenza. And the flu vaccine can not possibly prevent the 84% of flu-like illnesses that are not true influenza.
Influenza is a viral illness that can be quite severe. The term “flu” is used casually and people talk about things like stomach flu, but stomach flu is not influenza. The best description I ever heard of influenza was one that I heard in medical school, which is that when you have influenza you feel like you have been hit by a truck. It tends to come on quite suddenly, and people usually get a high fever, are exhausted and achey all over and unable to function, along with a sore throat and cough. It generally lasts about a week. While influenza can rarely be fatal, those who die generally die from secondary infections, especially bacterial pneumonia. There are 3 main types of influenza, Types A, B and C, though most of the seasonal flu epidemics are Type A. There are many subtypes or strains of the flu and these strains are constantly changing.
Public health authorities and most doctors recommend the flu vaccine as a main strategy for preventing the flu, but, unfortunately, a large amount of mainstream research shows that not only is the influenza vaccine largely ineffective, but that it may do more harm than good. There are many excellent articles reviewing the science on this, so rather than repeating the information in these articles I am linking them.
If you were to just read one I recommend this excellent summary of the science by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:
Here is an article from a very mainstream source on the lack of effectiveness of influenza vaccine:
For the majority of you who are not clicking on those links now, the mainstream Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the best research and concluded
“71 people would need vaccination to prevent one case of influenza (95% CI 64 to 80). Vaccination shows no appreciable effect on working days lost or hospitalisation.”
And that is in seasons where the vaccine is considered a good match; as you probably know, there are many strains of influenza that circulate and every year vaccine manufacturers have to guess which strains will predominate. Since the 2014-15 season vaccine effectiveness has been estimated to be 19%, 48%, 40%, 38% and in 2018-19 29%, meaning that in recent years most of the strains circulating aren’t covered by the vaccine.
Given the lack of sound evidence to support the effectiveness of flu shots it is very disturbing that public health authorities put so much effort into promoting flu vaccines. What especially concerns me is that the CDC is very adamant in recommending everyone get the flu vaccine when the best available science does not support this, and this is obvious to anyone who investigates the matter. So by doing this, the CDC destroys its credibility and in light of this it is reasonable to then question all of their other recommendations regarding vaccinations (something that, unfortunately, really does deserve to be questioned)!
This is an excellent essay by Peter Doshi from the British Medical Journal, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Public Health at Harvard at the time he wrote it, questioning the rationale for these irrational policies:
One of the problems with vaccines is that there tends to be a paucity of controlled studies on their effectiveness. A rare placebo-controlled study on flu vaccine was done in 2008-9, with 115 subjects age 6-15 receiving flu vaccine or a saline placebo shot. They were then followed for 9 months. There was no significant difference in the incidence of influenza between the 2 groups, but those who got the flu shot had 5.5 times the incidence of non-influenza respiratory infections (colds, sinus infections, bronchitis) than those who got the placebo vaccine!
I just learned about a 2009 study done at the Mayo Clinic that found that “children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization, as compared to children who had not received the vaccine,” a rather disturbing finding!
For more on this study see https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519172045.htm
There is also evidence that, while getting the flu shot slightly decreases one’s chance of getting the strains of flu included in the vaccine, it appears to actually significantly increase one’s chances of getting strains not covered by the vaccine:
Unfortunately many health practitioners (doctors, nurses and even ancillary staff like receptionists) are mandated by hospitals and medical practices to get influenza vaccines even though there is absolutely no research that suggests that this has any significant benefits for them or their patients.
A study published in Jan. of 2017, Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Workers: Critical Analysis on the Evidence for Patient Benefit Underpinning Policies of Enforcement” concluded “current scientific data are inadequate to support the ethical implementation of enforced HCW (healthcare worker) influenza vaccination.”
Thus, while I believe no one who knows the science should ever choose to get the flu vaccine, many who work in healthcare facilities and even some who work in schools are mandated by their employers to get the flu vaccine. However, there are options they may take; in some cases they may qualify for a medical exemption or personal belief/religious exemption, though in many cases those who decline are forced to wear a mask at their workplace during flu season. For those who have to get the shot, be aware that most flu shots have toxic levels of mercury in the form of thimerosal, but one can make sure they get the form in a single-dose syringe, which has no mercury. Another alternative to consider is the Flu-Mist spray, which, unlike the shot, has a live though attenuated (weakened) version of the influenza virus. This form can still have serious side effects and some people actually get a form of influenza from it, but I have heard that some people will put cotton and vaseline up their nose before taking the spray, then removing that as soon as possible while rinsing their nostril, to minimize the amount that gets into their body. This would appear to be a viable strategy for those forced to do this against their will.
(I am not formally advising this, just sharing information, and I would not share it if there was sound evidence that the flu vaccine significantly reduced the risk of those receiving it actually getting influenza and/or passing it on to others.)
This is a wonderful blog post by a doctor on the lack of efficacy of the influenza vaccine and how ignorant most doctors (and even some CDC officials) are on this important topic:
Not only does forcing healthcare workers have no appreciable effect on risk of them spreading flu to patients but there is evidence it may put their patients at increased risk!
A study published in January of 2018 had the very disturbing finding that subjects who had influenza despite being vaccinated both that season and the year before shed 6.3 times more influenza virus in their breath than those with influenza who had not had the flu shot!!!
A main gambit of Public Health authorities is that it is important to get the flu shot not just to protect ourselves but to protect others from getting the flu. This study suggests that getting the flu shot dramatically increases the risk of spreading influenza to those around us, as it has not been shown to significantly reduce our risk of getting the flu and those who do get the flu after the shot are much more contagious.
That the flu shot appears to actually increase one’s risk of becoming ill and may make those who get influenza more contagious than those who don’t get it is reason enough to avoid it, but we also should consider the numerous side effects, many quite serious, that are caused by this vaccine. The most serious is death and there are a disturbingly large number of cases of generally healthy people dying within days of receiving influenza vaccine, and thousands more who get Guillan-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune condition resulting in temporary (though at least many months) or permanent paralysis. I have been surprised at how many of my patients know someone who has suffered from this side effect.
“As of July 31, 2019, there have been more than 166,178 reports of influenza vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following influenza vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 1,673 related deaths, 13,373 hospitalizations, and 3,358 related disabilities. However, the numbers of vaccine-related injuries and deaths reported to VAERS may not reflect the true number of serious health problems that occur after influenza vaccination. There is evidence that only between 1 and 10 percent of serious health problems that occur after use of prescription drugs or vaccines in the U.S. are ever reported to federal health officials…
Published studies have linked the influenza vaccine to numerous serious adverse events including Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, stroke, brachial neuritis, encephalopathy, arthritis, bullous pemphigoid, vasculitis, myocardial infarction, transverse myelitis, optic neuritis, Bell’s Palsy, and more.”
It is especially disturbing that the CDC (and thus most doctors) strongly recommend giving flu vaccine to pregnant women, when there have not only been no safety studies but there is good reason to believe this practice is killing many babies in utero! And the majority of developing babies who are, fortunately, not killed by this vaccine are being exposed to the potent neurotoxin mercury at a time when their systems are most susceptible to it. This is insanity!
So, given that the flu shot appears to do more harm than good, how can one reduce their risk of getting influenza?A lot of it comes down to common sense: a healthy diet (esp. avoiding large amounts of sugar, which lowers immune function), a quality multivitamin, adequate sleep and stress reduction (exercise, meditation etc.) and minimizing exposure to those who are ill can go a long way to reducing risk of getting the flu.
Adequate Vitamin D is also very important; it is thought that cold and flu season occurs in fall and winter because many people are deficient in Vitamin D that time of year.
We get Vitamin D mostly from the sun but in fall and winter months in most of the US it is impossible for us to get any Vitamin D from the sun because it is not high enough in the sky. Most adults need to take 2000-5000 iu of D3 per day in fall and winter to achieve optimal levels of Vitamin D. See
Immune-boosting herbs can also help prevent influenza. My favorite is Andrographis, a herb widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. One controlled study showed that those taking Andrographis 200 mg 5 tines a week had half the number of viral upper respiratory infections than controls. But there are also many other excellent immune-boosting tonic herbs, including Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) and medicinal mushrooms including Reishi, Turkey Tail, Shiitake and Cordyceps.
N-acetyl cysteine, an amino acid (often labeled NAC) has been shown boost immune function to reduce influenza-like illnesses when taken preventively at a dose of 600 mg 2x/day.
But what if you have gotten the flu?
First a few words about the conventional mainstream treatment for influenza, the rather expensive drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate). There is surprisingly little evidence that this drug is effective. If you have true influenza and start it right away it may help you recover about 1 day sooner. However, when someone has flu-like symptoms to the degree that a doctor diagnoses influenza, studies show that it is only true influenza about 1/3 of the time and Tamiflu will not only have no benefit in those infections but may cause considerable side effects including all the symptoms of influenza. Plus some of the side-effects of Tamiflu are life-threatening!
While the flu can come on quickly, aggressive measures at the first sign you are getting ill may help head it off. One useful thing to try is Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy. A mainstream review of research on Oscillococcinum by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that there is sound evidence that Oscillococcinum does reduce the length of influenza:
Like all medicines (and even more so for homeopathic medicines) it will not help everyone, but some people experience magical recoveries. But since it may work best if taken as soon as one gets symptoms, I recommend everyone get some to keep in your medicine cabinet. It will stay good for many years (while the manufacturer advises taking an entire vial as a dose, that it a lot of pellets and a lot of sugar; I advise taking about 1/3 of the vial at a time and repeating that every few hours).
Another preventive strategy is taking Influenzinum which is a homeopathic dilution of the influenza vaccine, which, like the vaccine, is updated each year. This is available in various potencies though a good choice for most is 9c and one can take 3 pellets once a week.
Many swear by this though I am not aware of formal research proving it is effective. However, at the very least, unlike the actual flu vaccine it will not have side effects, will not make you more likely to get sick and not make you more likely to spread the flu if you do get ill.
Another good strategy, which also helps the most at onset, is high doses of Vitamin C. When someone is healthy they will usually only absorb 5-10,000 mg of Vitamin C. After they have absorbed all they need the unabsorbed C will stay in the intestines and act as a laxative. But the sicker one is the more C one needs so it is not unusual for someone with influenza to absorb 100 grams or more. It is thus recommended to take about 3000 mg every 20 minutes at the onset of illness until they get loose stools (which is known as bowel tolerance). Obviously it is wise to use Vitamin C in powder form when doing this; most Vit. C powders have 2-3000 mg per tsp. Once you determine how much you need it is advised to take that amount in about 6 divided doses per day. While doing this at onset may help head off the flu, it is likely to help at any stage, but, again, it is useful to have Vitamin C powder on hand at home so you will have it when you need it. Another good option is liposomal vitamin C, the best-absorbed oral form, discussed in the first link below:
A related approach requires the help of an integrative physician like me, who can administer Vitamin C as an IV drip. 50 grams is usually very effective. It takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours to do this.
One of the most powerful treatments for influenza also requires a physician. This is IV ozone, wherein a catheter is inserted in one’s vein, blood is removed and mixed with ozone and oxygen and then re-infused. However, this innovative treatment is not yet widely available and is fairly expensive, so I would reserve if for severe cases that have not responded to other treatments. As wonderful as it can be, something noninvasive and inexpensive like the proper homeopathic remedy may work just as well (this is discussed further below).
Extra Vitamin D is also helpful, esp. if you have not been supplementing. Taking 50,000 units of D3 a day for a week is reasonable. While one can get toxic from excessive Vit. D, for toxicity to occur one must take at least 40,000 iu/day for months to reach toxic levels.
Herbs can be very helpful as well. The best-proven is an elderberry extract known as Sambucol, widely available at health food stores. I recommend Organic Sambucus by Nature’s Way. See
The aforementioned Andrographis is useful not only for prevention but treatment. I advise 400 mg 2 to 3x/day (I like Paradise Herbs brand) or 2 droppersful of tincture from HerbPharm 2-3x/day (it is bitter so add to a little juice).
Lomatium is a herb native to the American West with a history of folk use for influenza and other viruses and may be the strongest herb for influenza. It is said to be especially helpful for Influenza A, which is the main strain that is currently circulating. It is quite safe, although about 1% of those who take it get a rash which disappears after you stop it. I advise 30-40 drops of the tincture 3-4 times a day.
Essential oils can also be very helpful, especially oregano oil, which is a powerful anti-viral. It can be taken as capsules or by adding the oil to water and drinking. However, this should be used with caution. For detailed instructions on how to use it see
The above article also mentions N-acetlyl cysteine (NAC) 600 mg 2x/day as reducing severity and duration of flu-like illnesses according to a 1997 study. At the very least NAC is a great expectorant, supports our liver and enhances our body’s ability to produce glutathione, an endogenous anti-oxidant and immune-booster.
Colloidal silver is another natural remedy that has anti-viral activity, though I prefer silver hydrosols, which appear to be even safer and more effective.
I recommend 2 brands- Sovereign Silver or Argentyn 23 from Natural Immunogenics (Sovereign Silver is widely available at health food stores) and Silvercillin from Designs For Health. A good dose is 2 tsp every 3-4 hours, best on an empty stomach, though if you have a cough it can also be administered via nebulizer: add 1-2 tsp into the chamber and breathe in the nebulized solution every 3-4 hours.
Another promising treatment for influenza is olive leaf extract. In vitro studies show that olive leaf extract can kill a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi, including Influenza A, but there has been no research studies proving it works in humans. It does appear to be very safe and there are many anecdotal reports of it helping for the flu and other infections, but I do not recommend it as highly as some other remedies due to the paucity of research on it. Due to the lack of research it is also hard to recommend what dosage to take. It often comes in capsules that contain 500 mg, and is also available as tinctures. Taking 500 mg 3-4 times a day for influenza may be worth a try, though I would also include more proven remedies.
For the best summary of the limited research on it see
A favorite treatment that can be very powerful for influenza is individualized homeopathy. Homeopathy is known to be very helpful for influenza, in fact the validated information on homeopathy’s success in the 1918 flu pandemic is still among the best evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy.
It is documented that in the 1918 pandemic up to 30% of patients seeking conventional care died. However, almost all of the deaths were not directly from influenza but from secondary pneumonia. This was before the discovery of antibiotics, and undoubtedly western medicine today is much better able to successfully treat pneumonia. However, during the 1918 pandemic it is documented that those treated with homeopathy had dramatically better outcomes.
The following is a fascinating extract from an article entitled “Homeopathy In
Influenza- A Chorus Of Fifty In Harmony” by W. A. Dewey, MD that appeared
in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1920 (thanks to
Julian Winston and David Warkentin for this).
“Dean W. A. Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza
treated by homeopathic physicians with a mortality of 1.05%, while the
average old school mortality is 30%.
Thirty physicians in Connecticut responded to my request for data. They
reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%. In the
transport service I had 81 cases on the way over. All recovered and were
landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One ship lost 31 on the
way. H. A. Roberts, MD, Derby, Connecticut.
In a plant of 8,000 workers we had only one death. The patients were not
drugged to death. Gelsemium was practically the only remedy used. We used
no aspirin and no vaccines. -Frank Wieland, MD, Chicago.
I did not lose a single case of influenza; my death rate in the pneumonias
was 2.1%. The salycilates, including aspirin and quinine, were almost the
sole standbys of the old school and it was a common thing to hear them
speaking of losing 60% of their pneumonias.-Dudley A. Williams, MD,
Providence, Rhode Island.
Fifteen hundred cases were reported at the Homeopathic Medical Society of
the District of Columbia with but fifteen deaths. Recoveries in the
National Homeopathic Hospital were 100%.-E. F. Sappington, M. D.,
I have treated 1,000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my
work. I have no losses. Please give all credit to homeopathy and none to
the Scotch-Irish-American! -T. A. McCann, MD, Dayton, Ohio.
We treated over 300 cases of influenza among the members of the Student
army Training Corps with no deaths.Gelsemium, Bryonia and Ferrum
phosporicum were the leading remedies. Only in those cases having had
aspirin was convalescence delayed and pneumonia produced.
One physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew any
better than what he was doing, because he was losing so many cases. “Yes,
Doctor, stop Aspirin and go down to a homeopathic pharmacy, and get
homeopathic remedies.” The Doctor replied; “But that is homeopathy.” “I
know it, but the homeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost
a single case.”
Three hundred and fifty cases were treated and I only lost one.
Cora Smith King, M.D
Eleven men reported 3,600 cases with 6 deaths. My records show 750 cases
with one death.Gelsemium, Bryonia and Eupatorium were the remedies
In the Public Health service in New Mexico among the Mexican population
chiefly Veratrum viride, Gelsemium and Bryonia were introduced and
excellent results followed their use in influenza. No cases died under
While it is optimal to consult with a homeopath, one of my favorite things about homeopathy is that it is truly a people’s medicine, in that by reading about the symptoms associated with the most common remedies for flu there is a good chance someone can figure out on their own which remedy is most likely to help. It is very safe to try; if you try a remedy and do not notice improvement within several hours then it is safe to try a different remedy until you find the right one.
Another treatment to minimize is drugs to reduce fever, such as aspirin, Tylenol and ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). Fever is how our bodies fight infection; when we have a fever our immune system functions better and microbes do not survive as well. Thus, lowering fever sabotages our immune system and prolongs illness. Indeed, it is thought that one of the reasons people who saw homeopaths in the 1918 flu pandemic had such dramatically better survival than those treated by allopaths is that allopaths recommended aspirin whereas homeopaths did not.
Many people worry that fever can cause brain damage or other organ damage. This will not happen unless one’s fever exceeds 105 and that almost never happens (though there is some evidence that a prolonged fever of 104 may be hazardous).
The one instance where you can make a case for fever-reducers is if one is absolutely miserable, in which case you may want to take something to reduce your suffering. That is OK as long as you realize that while you will suffer less, you will likely suffer longer.
Obviously rest and plenty of fluids are essential (it is usually not an option to not rest if you have the true flu). Chicken soup has proven benefits too!|
One common mistake that people make is trying to do too much when you are just getting over the flu. One is often still weak and fragile and it is easy to get another illness if you try to overdo it, so it is wise to not overdo things when you are recovering.
I hope this advice helps. Remember, no matter how miserable you feel, you will get better and some feel that this is a great way for our bodies to detoxify and to exercise our immune system. When one does get the flu it usually provides natural immunity to the flu for many years to come.
If you enjoy this article please share it with friends and family.
You may also enjoy some of the other posts on this blog.
If you want to thank me with some financial support donations of any amount would be very welcome and can be made by going to https://www.paypal.com/myaccount/transfer/send
and entering email@example.com
PS I am really delighted that since I posted the revised version of this article 5 days hours ago over 5000 people have read it. Please share it with friends and family.
And I have now received a couple of generous donations which makes me very happy as well.
My favorite number is 18. Given that the average doctor’s visit costs well over $100 it seems like $18 is not too much for information that could prevent a serious illness or even save a life. If just one out of 18 people who read this had donated $18 that would add up to $5000 and believe me, that would make a huge difference in my life (another favorite number of mine is 108. If any millionaires are out there $108 would be a great donation, but $10.80 is an amount that would be most welcome and for those on a budget $1.80 or even $1.08 would be welcome- if one third of you donated $1.08 that would add up to a nice amount).
Most people think all doctors are rich, but I make less money than any doctor I know (despite the fact that I am fully booked 2-3 months in advance) as I spend so much time with my patients, strive to keep my rates affordable and see many people who are on Medicare, whose fees do not even cover my overhead. I do not own a house, living in a tiny rental and I drive a 13 year-old used car. I exhausted most of my savings when my wife was terminally ill for 2 years.
I did not create this blog for fiscal rewards but I believe that it is good karma to give out a bit of positive energy in exchange for valuable information, so again, any donations would be truly appreciated. I would use any money for continuing medical education, buying equipment to help my patients and subsidizing care for those who are indigent.
1/20/18 update: 0ver 6000 people have read this in the week since I have posted it.
I am SO grateful to the 2 people who made generous donations but was hoping more than one out of every 3000 people reading this would give a bit in return.
I don’t want anyone to donate if it would create a financial hardship for them, but would expect that most of you might be able to share even a token amount.
I will continue to donate many hours of my time to share health info online even if I never get any donations in return, as my main reward is helping others.
Whether you donate or not thanks for reading this far. Sending prayers and blessings to me, my daughters and patients would be another great way to send positive energy in return.
While as a holistic physician, the focus of this blog is health, from a holistic perspective our physical and emotional health is inextricably intertwined with the environment we live in. The outcome of this coming election may have a profound effect on the health of every person on this planet. And, no matter the outcome, our electorate has never been more polarized and our nation will have a lot of healing to do following the election. So I hope that even those who do not share my political views will find my perspectives of interest…
This current election cycle is widely considered the ugliest in American history, with the average voter disgusted, dismayed and unhappy with our choices. While there are certainly some Democrats who love Hillary and are excited that she will probably be our next president, and certainly many Republicans who see Trump as their savior, there are undoubtedly many Democrats who dislike Hillary and many Republicans who are still stunned that Trump was nominated, are embarrassed by him and reluctant to support him. Of greatest concern to me is the extreme polarization of the electorate. Many Democrats see Trump as a complete buffoon, a narcissist who only cares about himself, who will not listen to the advice of experts, who will be easily manipulated by Russia and who wants to be a Hitler-like dictator. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters paint Hillary as corrupt and evil, a tool of corporations, a war-monger who will lead us into a nuclear war with Russia. Each side appears to fear the opponent more than actually embrace their candidate.
Adding to the polarization is social media. I have seen Clinton supporters ban those who support Trump from posting on their page or asking Trump supporters to de-friend, and I have no doubt many Trump supporters have similar policies towards Clinton supporters. On sites like Facebook birds of a feather tend to flock together, creating reality tunnels where people mostly see posts from like-minded people supporting their views and have little exposure to opposing perspectives. But a few weeks ago when I posted an article “Trump’s refusal to accept intelligence briefing on Russia stuns experts”
(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-intelligence-briefing-russia-20161014-story.html) a mini-war erupted in the comments with some people (mostly not my fb friends but friends of my fb friends) defending Trump and inciting inflammatory responses from my friends. Things got rather nasty (it should be noted I wrote this before Trump’s “nasty woman” comment). The rancor has continued with comments on my posts in recent days.
So no matter who wins on Nov. 8th (and while I still think the odds are with Hillary, it certainly seems possible that Trump might win), about half of the country is going to be very upset and also afraid. As a segment of Trump supporters are white supremacist extremists and Trump has fanned the flames of their extremism and outright said that if he loses it will be only because the election is rigged, I think there is, unfortunately, a high chance of violence in the streets if Hillary wins, and there may be people who will try to assassinate her.
There is so much going on. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but am just riffing here on how intense and crazy it all is and trying to make some sense of it all.
Of course everyone comes to this election with their own perspectives and biases. I was a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders because I feel the most pressing issues are the incredibly high concentration of wealth in our society (do you think it is reasonable that the top 0.1% in the US has as much wealth as the lower 90%?- see https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/13/us-wealth-inequality-top-01-worth-as-much-as-the-bottom-90 ), the inordinate amount of political influence that the very wealthy have, so that we are much more a corporate oligarchy than a true democracy, and the degradation of our environment in the name of corporate profits, all of which were central concern of Sanders’ campaign and have barely been mentioned in the campaign since the conventions.
The Sanders campaign generated tremendous hope and enthusiasm among the young, the idealistic and those who are very frustrated by the injustices of our current society. Those who supported Bernie tend to believe that the Democratic primary process was rigged against him, with the large role of super-delegates (the vast majority of whom were committed to Hillary before the voting began), irregularities in many state primaries and caucuses and the clear and now-admitted bias that the DNC had for Hillary. I know Bernie delegates who went to the convention and told me horrific stories about how very poorly Bernie’s delegates and supporters were treated by the Clinton machine, often being barred from even entering the convention hall let alone being able to participate. It seems like Bernie’s supporters were FAR more enthusiastic than Hillary’s, so Bernie’s supporters now believe that the nomination was stolen from Bernie and many are still holding a strong grudge against Hillary. Of course, her supporters point out that during the primaries Clinton won 16.9 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders nationwide (and detractors going out that these results would have been far different if independents had been allowed to vote in the Democratic primaries in the many states where this was not allowed, and feel some of the votes may have been rigged).
Trump surprised many mainstream Republicans who first expected Jeb Bush and then later expected Rubio or Cruz to get the nomination. Trump did a masterful job of playing the media and casting himself as the rebel outsider. Many consider Trump to be stupid but he is a very sharp and shrewd politician and I think he knows just what he is doing. This is what makes him so dangerous and why he still has a chance to win.
I have many fb friends who were Bernie supporters who are frequently posting the most venomous, vitriolic things about Hillary, memes etc. that paint her as evil incarnate and draw right from the Trump playbook of demonizing her. They accuse her of not only being a totally corrupt tool of big business including Big Pharma but a warmonger likely to start a nuclear war with Russia. They also believe she is complicit in the murders of many who have opposed the Clintons. One friend noted that the articles and memes circulated by those left-wingers are the same ones their Trump-supporting uncle sends them.
These friends never post anything critical of Trump. When I ask them if they think Trump is a better choice and if they plan to vote for him they usually say they plan to vote for Jill Stein. They certainly realize that Stein has no chance of winning, but their idea is to vote their conscience and hope that the Green Party gets 5% of the vote, which would qualify them for Federal funds and make it easier for them to get on the ballot for the next election. This may be a reasonable luxury in a state like California where the odds are extremely high that Hillary will win, but could cost her the election if many people did this in the “swing states” like Florida and Ohio.
Of greater concern to me is the notion some of my Bernie/Green supporting friends have advanced that there is no real difference between Trump and Clinton so it does not matter who wins. I could not disagree more.
Tonite my wife’s cousin Gabe wrote on fb “If my only worry were which piece of Halloween candy to eat next and not that a racist, sexist, homophobic, inexperienced, misogynistic, ignorant, mean spirited narcissistic child rapist might have a rats ass chance of being our next president. Ugh.”
While that characterization is extreme, it unfortunately seems surprisingly accurate, and it boggles my mind that Trump still has a real chance of winning. In trying to understand why so many people support Trump, clearly he does attract the KKK/neo-Nazi ultra right-wing fringe, but I would hope that is a fairly small fraction of the electorate. Some of the people I know are also largely one-issue voters, that issue being abortion, so they support Trump/Pence because of their avowed opposition to abortion. However, I find it very difficult to believe that in his heart of hearts Trump is really anti-abortion; it seems a very insincere politically-expedient stance. Those Right to Life voters tend to be religious Christians and I find it sad and ironic that they look to a man who advised others to “grab them by the pussy” as someone who will uphold Christian values.
While most evangelicals appear to support Trump, it is refreshing that “80 evangelical Christian leaders, many well known across America, have joined together to publicly denounce the “morally unacceptable” candidacy of Donald Trump.” http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/80_evangelical_leaders_denounce_morally_unacceptable_donald_trump
I believe many Trump supporters are the disaffected working class who are fed up with our current system, understanding that the public has been largely disenfranchised and have little power, and believe Trump when he promises to “drain the swamp” and shake thing up in DC. Unfortunately, he appears to have little concrete plans to do this, just assurances that only he can fix things, and I have a hard time believing that making things better for the working poor is high on his agenda. And there are many who are afraid, afraid of immigrants, terrorists, African-Americans, hispanics, the LGBT community etc. and Trump is fanning those flames of fear. It is the politics of fear, divisiveness, us versus them and scapegoating.
I believe that our country is more an oligarchy than a true democracy. This is not just my opinion but that of President Jimmy Carter and many political scientists. See http://www.inquisitr.com/2850287/president-jimmy-carter-speaks-out-calls-the-u-s-an-oligarchy/
In that sense, I believe that no one can be elected president unless the powers-that-be behind the scenes approve that candidate. Usually both candidates have been vetted by the powers-that-be, but in this case I don’t think they really approve of Trump. Hillary is clearly their person, someone who is well-ensconsed in their structure, whereas Trump, rather than being subservient to them, covets power to be “the decider’ for himself and is a bit of a loose cannon. This is why I will be surprised if Trump wins. The one thing I DO like about Trump is that he is not yet totally bought and sold by those people. He has the courage to speak out and say things like our elections are rigged. I believe that George W Bush only became president in 2000 because the Florida vote was rigged, and only won in 2004 because the vote in Ohio was rigged, and, for that matter, Kennedy probably only won in 1960 due to rigging in Illinois, so yes, I agree that our elections are often rigged (I also appreciate that Trump understands that vaccines can have significant hazards, a stance for which he is widely criticized and which the ignorant use to demonstrate that he is ignorant).
I know many people who feel Trump is part of a conspiracy to elect Hillary as he is the only candidate that she can beat. This makes a certain amount of sense, though I don’t know if Trump would willingly choose to be humiliated by losing the election. But it sometimes seems that Trump’s candidacy has been a performance art piece of sorts, where he is deliberately trying to say inflammatory things that will alienate voters and ruin his chances, but it backfires and the more outrageous things he says the more his followers love him. It is like a surreal satire come to life.
But some wonder if the powers-that-be are orchestrating this campaign to increase fear, division and divisiveness among the electorate. If so, I wonder what their game is, though it is speculated that by keeping the populace at odds with one another it distracts them from focusing their attention on the 0.001% behind the scenes who they should really be angry with. That is why some of my friends feel supporting either major party is a trap and why people should vote for a third party this time.
My greatest concern about Trump is that he does appear to be a textbook example of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While it is a bit dangerous to psychoanalyze someone from afar, there is every indication from those who know Trump well that his private persona is no different from his public persona and what you see is what you get.
Here are 2 good articles on what this means: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-mind-of-donald-trump/480771/
For the many of you who will not click on those, the DSM-V criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder are
1 Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment by others.
2 Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
3 Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions.
4 Needing constant admiration from others.
5 Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others.
6 Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain.
7 Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs.
8 Intensely jealous of others and the belief that others are equally jealous of them.
9 Pompous and arrogant demeanor.
One looks at those traits and thinks of Hitler as well as Trump, one of the reasons many have made such comparisons. But I do like this article that examines this comparison in detail: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/13/dont-compare-donald-trump-to-adolf-hitler-it-belittles-hitler/
Quotes from this article:
“Is Trump a megalomaniacal demagogue? Yes. Is he a sociopath? Undoubtedly. Is he dangerous? Maybe.”
“Hitler was a megalomaniacal psychopath who should burn in Hell for eternity… who actually believed in something.
There’s a difference. Trump is a two-bit con man. He’s playing the fools.”
However, the dangers of a narcissist like Trump is that they are over-confident in their own knowledge and opinions and generally uninterested in the counsel of others, such as Trump’s famous statement “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”
Narcissists tend to be very aggressive and take big chances, not the qualities I seek in a commander-in-chief.
As for Hillary, she seems to be an old-school politician who milks the system for personal gain and kow-tows to the banks and corporations who run this land, but I do not see her as any more evil than our recent string of presidents.
Here are a few of well-written articles in defense of Hillary:
While there are many other people I would prefer to be the Democratic nominee, I believe Hillary is a MUCH better option than Trump. Hillary voted in tandem with Sanders in Congress 93% of the time.
She does not plan to gut environmental regulations as Trump does. She does not plan to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would make abortion illegal and even further abridge civil rights. The justices appointed by her would hopefully overturn the Citizens United decision.
Hillary is not campaigning to build a wall or deport millions of immigrants.
She is planning to increase taxes on the rich rather than give them a huge tax cut.
And in supporting Hillary vs.Trump I am also supporting the Democratic Party platform, which is FAR more progressive than the Republican platform.
As previously mentioned, I believe the health of our environment is critical to human health. While I believe Hillary is still far too influenced by the oil, natural gas and coal industries which are the main cause of global warming, her environmental policies are FAR more progressive than Trump, who does not believe in global warming and promises to roll back many of our hard-won environmental protections. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/clinton-trump-energy-environment_us_57d1dc06e4b06a74c9f3d6c0 for a comparison of their environmental policies.
I have one fb friend who has been continually criticizing me for “fear-mongering” every time I post an article that is critical of Trump. I believe that the opposite of love is not hatred but fear (though from fear comes hatred). So I generally am not a “fear-monger.” But sometimes fear is appropriate. Fear prevents people from doing things that might be dangerous and from breaking laws such as those that encourage safe driving. This is not a black-and-white world and at times fear is appropriate. An old saying is fight fire with fire, and indeed, sometimes firefighters do start backfires to prevent fires from spreading. As a homeopath, this concept appeals to me. It seems appropriate to fight the fear that is motivating many Trump supporters with enough fear to motivate those who oppose Trump to vote.
I do not feel it is wrong to admit that I am afraid of a Trump presidency, very afraid.
The biggest threat in this election is apathy (and disgust). I do have the impression that many Trump supporters are more enthusiastic than Hillary’s supporters.
Studies show that the majority of Americans have surprisingly progressive views, which makes it surprising that this election is forecast to be so close. Bur studies also show that those with progressive views do not turn out as much as more conservative voters: http://www.seanamcelwee.com/2016/02/11/why-voting-matters-the-progressive-majority-that-doesnt-show-up/ The best thing that could happen for Trump is if Democrats, especially the significant percentage who supported Bernie, either do not vote or vote for a third party.
I believe it is crucial for Democrats and Independents and responsible Republicans to go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for Hillary Clinton and make a statement that we will not allow Trump to be president. Hopefully they voters will also replace the many Republican Senators and Representatives who have vowed to obstruct a Clinton presidency.
As Bernie Sanders said on 9/5/16, “When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton and then work after the election to mobilize millions of people to make sure she can be the most progressive president she can be.”
As I said when I wrote the above shortly before the election, there appeared to be a real chance of Mr. Trump winning.
On the nite of the election I wrote the following on facebook and thought I would add it here:
DONALD TRUMP IS ELECTED PRESIDENT IN STUNNING REPUDIATION OF ESTABLISHMENT” reads the headline of today’s New York Times.
“So many people are trying to move to Canada that the government’s website” reads another.
Many people (in fact the majority of voters, since Hillary appears to have won the popular vote) are unhappy and a good percentage are really frightened at having someone they see as an obnoxious, narcissistic, racist, sexist homophobe as President. They are strongly opposed to his announced intentions to make abortion illegal, deport millions of immigrants while closing our borders to the 1.6 billion followers of Islam, roll back environmental regulations, restrict LGBT rights etc. They are dismayed that so many of their fellow Americans voted for Trump and concerned that all those people condone racism, sexism etc.
In recent weeks when I posted things critical of Trump the people who came to his defense, mostly by denigrating Hillary, were not Trump voters but disaffected Bernie supporters who were very angry at Hillary and the DNC. These leftist folks are happy that Trump won, because they saw Hillary as totally enmeshed in the corporate oligarchy/military-industrial complex/Big Oil/Big Pharma/Monsanto/globalist elite and see Trump as nationalist who will fight the globalists who are marching us towards fascism. So while many who abhor Trump fear he is a fascist, my leftist friends saw Hillary as an even greater threat to continue our transition to fascism.
Besides watching some of the coverage on PBS, MSNBC and CNN tonite
I listened to George Noory on Coast-to-Coast AM. This show presents a balanced spectrum of political commentators, but most have the perspective that globalism is a serious threat to our democracy as they talk about the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group etc. Most of the many people on that show saw Trump as an opponent of the globalists and see this election as the people’s rebellion against this. One of the guests was John Hogue, who had successfully predicted the outcome of the past 12 presidential elections over the past 48 years. He has written a book about Trump and a book about Hillary, based on their astrology, and predicted a Hillary win this year, but he had hedged his bets by saying he could foresee a possibility of Trump winning. Of interest, though he forecast that if Hillary won he foresaw a difficult first term by her with a possible nuclear war or huge scandal leading to impeachment. However, he sees in Trump a potential to be a good president and make positive changes. He felt based on his chart that Trump is very bright, complex and unpredictable but could rise to the occasion. His website (which at the moment still has his Hillary winning prediction up) is here: http://www.hogueprophecy.com
The point of this all being that, while I disagree with many of Trump’s avowed policy plans, am concerned about his narcissism and temperment and am very concerned about his tendency to be intolerant of others and fan the flames of fear and hatred in the populace as shown in this election, there is the yang to his yin (or is it the yin to his yang?), the side of him that challenges the assumptions that vaccines are safe, that favors labelling GMO’s, that opposes the TPP and is not a puppet of the powers that be. So there may be a major silver lining to this huge political upset.
The most hopeful advice I can give to my fellow Democrats, Greens and Socialists is yes, we did not get what we wanted but maybe this will be the sometime where we are surprised to find we get what we need…
And if Trump is the disaster so many fear, hopefully 4 years from now the Democrats will nominate a Sanders-style progressive and we will change Congress and get the type of change so many voters on both sides were hoping for this election…
(unless Trump cancels the next election 😉 )
Welcome to my blog on topics related to health from a holistic perspective.
If you are new to this site I hope you will find many posts of interest but I recommend you start by visiting my Welcome page to learn a bit more about my background and training and general philosophy about health and healing at https://drrandybaker.com/about/ Thanks!
6/16/15 On 2/19/15 California State Senators Richard Pan (a pediatrician) and Ben Allen introduced SB 277, called by some the Mandatory Vaccination Bill, which requires all children in both public and private schools, with the exception of certain types of homeschools (those that do not have classrooms as part of the curriculum, but most homeschools do have classrooms) to be fully vaccinated with more than 40 doses of 10 different vaccines in order to attend school (and attending school is mandated by California law).
This post is an update, as there have been some important developments since my previous blog post. On 5/14/15 the California State Senate passed SB 277 by a 25 to 10 vote. On 6/9/15 SB 277 was considered by the State Assembly Health Committee. Hundreds of concerned citizens attended the hearing and voiced their opinions, with those opposing it (including many doctors, scientists and teachers) outnumbering those in favor by at least 5 to 1. There was extensive testimony by experts both in favor and against the bill, the most notable expert against it being Dr. Jay Gordon. While those who testified against the bill made many valid points as to why this bill is unnecessary and unlikely to significantly have any positive impact on public health, the testimony of citizens and scientists appeared to make no impact upon the Assembly members, who apparently already had their minds made up, and the Committee voted yes by a 12-6 margin along party lines (the Democrats voting yes and Republicans no). That means that the State Assembly is likely to vote on the bill next week (probably on 6/25) and the odds of it passing appear quite strong, given the strong majority of Democrats in the Assembly.
I was rather amazed when Senator Pan said at the Assembly Health Committee hearing (with a straight face) that “Thimerosal has been studied and found to be safe.” Even though this is a side issue, as thimerosal has been largely removed from vaccines and aluminum and other adjuvants are currently of greater concern, I wanted to examine the science on this and was stunned to see that in a sense Pan does have a leg to stand on. Remarkably, the CDC claims that thimerosal is safe, despite dozens of studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature demostrating its toxicity. This excellent journal article from 2014 explains why the CDC makes this claim and is another great example of why the CDC, unfortunately, can not be trusted due to its many conflicts in interest: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/247218/
Below is a letter that I co-wrote with some other doctors who oppose SB 277 and SB 792, a bill mandating vaccination for all workers in all private and public school early childhood education programs (Headstart, Private preK and preschools), family daycares and daycare centers) addressed to our State Assemblymen:
Dear California Elected Officials,
I write to you as a member of a coalition of Medical Doctors who believe in Medical Freedom, which is why we are joining to oppose SB 277 & SB792. We operate under the American Medical Association Code of ethics that states: “the patient should make his or her own determination about treatment… Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor…” The mandatory vaccine interventions being proposed in this legislation violates our code of ethics as medical professionals.
Furthermore, we are not in a current state of epidemic. The Disneyland Measles outbreak affected only 24 out of the 6.7 million school-aged children in California. This equates to just 18% of the total 134 cases of measles. The outbreak was not centered in schools and there was not a single documented transmission of the disease in a school setting. The majority of cases occurred near the epicenter and where measles spread to communities removed from the epicenter it was well contained with a small handful of cases per county. On April 17, 2015 the measles outbreak was declared over and did not result in any deaths. Does mandating 10 different vaccines for every child attending public school in response to this minor outbreak seem justified?
There is no current nor forseeable public health crisis related to vaccine-preventable diseases. Currently about 2.5% of students entering kindergarden have parents who filed a Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) . This number has steadily declined since the introduction of AB2109 just last year. Most of those who file a PBE are partially vaccinated but have parents who opt out of particular vaccines such as the Hepatitis B vaccine that have little scientific justification. OUR CURRENT SYSTEM IS WORKING and there is no public health rationale for the draconian measure of mandating vaccines.
Vaccination does not come without risk. Every year, almost 4000 severe reactions are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS), which result in prolonged hospitalization, permanent disability, or death. Since VAERS is a passive reporting system, many reactions aren’t even reported. The FDA says that as few as 1% of serious adverse reactions are reported while the CDC and American Association of Physicians and Surgeons both state that about 10% of serious adverse reactions after vaccination are reported. It is clear that there are tens of thousands of serious adverse reactions to vaccines each year. The Supreme Court has ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” Over 3 billion dollars have been paid out to victims of vaccine reactions while many others who have suffered serious reactions have been denied compensation by the poorly-designed and run Vaccine Court. Knowing this, how can we take away a parent’s right to choose in the absence of any real public health crisis?
The main argument by proponents of SB 277 is that it will protect those who can not be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised. However, a child who is immunocompromised is at substantially greater risk of becoming seriously ill from a classmate with a cold, flu or stomach virus than from vaccine-preventable diseases transmitted by a classmate who is not fully vaccinated. Thus, most children who are seriously immunocompromised stay home from school.
Even if one believes that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks (which, surprisingly, has NOT been scientifically proven), many of the vaccines mandated by SB 277 make absolutely no sense from a public health perspective. For example, tetanus is not a transmissable disease. The Hemophilus influenzae Type B (HiB) vaccine is only recommended by the CDC for children through the ages of 59 months. An excellent case can be made for the benefits of this vaccine in young children but there is no good reason to force a child entering elemetary or junior high school who has not received this vaccine to get it. However, a 12 year old who has not previously had the HiB vaccine will be forced to get it, risking serious adverse reactions for no significant benefit. Another required vaccine is for Hepatitis B, which is only transmissable through blood contact such as sharing needles and certain unsafe sexual practices. There is no good reason to mandate this for entrance to elementary school.
Doctors take an oath to “First, do no harm.” It is our responsibility to protect the interest of our patients, first and foremost. The ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking must be respected, especially when the procedure has been legally classified as “unavoidably unsafe.” We should not take a “one size fits all” approach when we know some individuals are at greater biological risk than others for suffering vaccine reactions. Ultimately, medical decisions for children should be made between a parent and doctor.
This country was founded in the spirit of freedom. Let’s not allow fear motivate us to begin chipping away at our most basic freedom to choose what medical procedures are best for ourselves and our children. Please protect a parent’s right to choose, and oppose SB277 & SB792.
Sincerely, Randy Baker MD
Since I co-wrote this letter, much to my dismay and disappointment, on June 8th the AMA voted in favor of new policy that “recommends that states have in place an established decision mechanism that involves qualified public health physicians to determine which vaccines will be mandatory for admission to schools and other public venues. States should only grant exemptions to these mandated vaccines for medical reasons.”
Obviously I disagree with this policy that violates informed consent. I am not optimistic about the prospects of stopping SB 277 from passing, but if our representatives in the Assembly are inundated by calls, letters and faxes by constituents asking them to vote no perhaps they will reconsider.
The current Vaccine Schedule is set by the CDC and most doctors trust the CDC as an impartial authority that has the public’s best interest at heart. Unfortunately, while that is the way it once was as well as, of course, the way it should be, it is no longer the case.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently said
“”There are four federal studies that have looked at CDC and said the vaccine program at CDC is a cesspool of corruption.”
On 5/15/15 one of the most respected medical journals in the world, the British Medical Journal, published a very important article which received scant media attention,
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: protecting the private good?”
by Jeanne Lenzer an associate editor of the Journal.
Quoting from this article:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes the following disclaimer with its recommendations: “CDC, our planners, and our content experts wish to disclose they have no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products . . . CDC does not accept commercial support.”
The CDC’s image as an independent watchdog over the public health has given it enormous prestige, and its recommendations are occasionally enforced by law.
Despite the agency’s disclaimer, the CDC does receive millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly, and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes, and the money it is taking.”
We live in a polarized nation with major schisms of Democrat vs. Republican, religious vs. secular, pro-life vs. pro-choice, believers in mainstream medicine vs. adherents of alternative medicine, those who trust our government and authority vs. those who question our government and authority, etc. The current widespread debate about vaccination is a near-perfect storm that brings many of these into collision, igniting strong feelings, anger and fear in many quarters.
People have passionate views on this subject. Many of those who are “pro-vaccination” seem to believe the “anti-vaxers” are paranoid conspiracy theorists who are unaware that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s research has been (supposedly) debunked (as if that is the entire body of science that questions vaccine safety) and who base their beliefs on the teachings of Jenny McCarthy; after all, how can a former Playboy Bunny who gets most of her information from the internet possibly have anything valid to say about vaccine hazards? (it is nearly impossible to find an article critical of “anti-vaxers” that does not mention Jenny McCarthy). Most proponents of vaccination and SB 277 appear to have an attitude of smug arrogance as they believe that science is on their side and that it has been firmly proven that vaccines are “safe and effective.” They generally believe those those who question vaccine safety are emotional and “anti-science.” (for a wonderful article that explores the complexities and sublteties of the modern scientific process, both in general and with regards to vaccines, I highly recommend http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/anti-science-you-keep-using-that-word-i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means/ ).
Some people believe this issue is so black and white that any doctor who questions vaccine safety and efficacy should have his or her medical license taken away. In reality, studies have found that those who question the safety and efficacy of vaccines as a group have a higher level of education and income than those who champion vaccination and these “vaccine-skeptics” include many thousands of well-credentialed doctors and researchers.
Vaccine skeptics tend to see the pro-vax community as mindless people who do not question authority and have been gullible enough to believe the narrative of government officials and the fear-mongering mainstream media which is unduly influenced by Big Pharma, which stands to profit handsomely from more widespread vaccination. Of course those who are pro-vaccine are genuinely afraid and concerned for the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones and see people who do not vaccinate as directly threatening their safety. Thus, many in the pro-camp are calling for mandatory vaccinations, which has the “anti-vax” camp extremely fearful of the prospect of being forced to have something toxic and hazardous administered against their will. No wonder people are so upset!
In the midst of all of this polarizing conflict I would like to take this opportunity to look at the actual facts and examine both what is known and not known about this issue. I am going to focus on what we know for sure, and one thing I know for sure is that not all vaccines are created equal. While many in both camps may see all vaccines as good or bad, the reality is that each vaccine has its own unique sets of risks and benefits, so I going to focus a great deal upon the MMR vaccine and on Measles, as this is the current focus of people’s concerns.
Before delving into this topic I want to briefly review my background and qualifications. I earned my undergraduate degree in Biology at Stanford University. I studied Biology because I am fascinated by biochemistry, physiology and understanding how our bodies work. I then attended medical school at the University of Michigan where I also completed my residency in Family Medicine. While mainstream Western medicine is often miraculous, it has very few cures to offer for most chronic disease, instead treating superficially and symptomatically with expensive and often-hazardous pharmaceuticals. I thus studied nutrition, herbal medicine, mind-body medicine, homeopathy and other complementary therapies which I integrate with conventional therapies as appropriate. I was a founding diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine in 2000. I have had a solo family practice in Soquel, CA since 1988. I do not consider my self pro or anti-vaccination but, as mentioned, I look at the potential risks and benefits of each vaccine as well as the health of the potential recipient. Because these issues are so charged and controversial I encourage my patients to study the research and be involved making in these decisions.
Currently 20 states allow for exemptions from vaccination based on personal beliefs or philosophy, while 48 states allow exemptions based upon religion. Shortly after the “measles outbreak” that started at Disneyland in December 2014 legislation was introduced in several states including California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington to eliminate exemptions based on personal beliefs and, in some cases, religious beliefs. As of 4/17/15 this legislation has already been withdrawn in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington after encountering public opposition.
Currently the California State Assembly is considering SB 277, a bill that requires ALL children, even if they are home-schooled (with very rare exceptions) be FORCED to receive vaccines for “(1) Diphtheria. (2) Hepatitis B. (3) Haemophilus influenzae type b. (4) Measles. (5) Mumps. (6) Pertussis (whooping cough). (7) Poliomyelitis. (8) Rubella. (9) Tetanus. (10) Varicella (chickenpox). (11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.”
The current personal belief and religious exemptions would be removed. The only exemptions allowed would be medical exemptions (more on these below).
SB 277 was recently approved by the California State Senate after being approved by the Health, Education and Judicial Committees despite many hundreds of concerned citizens who came to the hearings to ask the Senators to oppose it (those who attended to oppose it dramatically outnumbed those who expressed support).
(On a personal note, I have been a life-long liberal Democrat. To the dismay of myself and many others who oppose this bill, it is the Democrats who are strongly pushing SB 277 and the Republicans who are questioning its wisdom.)
Our local State Senator, Bill Monning, played a key role in the passage throught the Senate because he sat on all 3 committees that approved it. I am among Senator Monning’s many local constituents who requested to meet with him to discuss this important bill. To the great disappointment of many in our community, Senator Monning refused to personally meet with any of his constituents about this issue despite many pleas to listen to our views.
As Senator Monning is my district’s representative, I wrote him a letter before the 4/8 vote summarizing why I feel SB 277 would be a huge mistake. I am sharing that letter here:
Dear Senator Monning,
I am writing to express my concerns about SB 277 as a Family Physician who has practiced in California since 1984. I am a graduate of Stanford University (where I earned a degree in Biology) and the University of Michigan Medical School, where I also completed my residency in Family Medicine.
As most members of the Senate Health Committee probably already know, in 1970 the normal childhood vaccination schedule included 23 doses of 7 vaccines. There are currently 68 doses of 16 vaccines recommended by age 18 (35 of which are given in the first 18 months). There are currently nearly 300 new vaccines in development. If Senate Bill 277 passes, we are agreeing to not only to most of the current schedule without any adjustments, but we are also agreeing to force children to take any future vaccines that are introduced to the schedule and “deemed appropriate by the department” without giving parents or doctors the option to choose.
A central tenet of SB277 is the elimination of all exemptions from any vaccination on the state’s prescribed schedule except for “medical reasons.” These medical reasons are not further defined in the bill as currently written, but the CDC contraindications for vaccines, which many doctors would likely use as guidelines for issuing medical exemptions, are extremely restrictive. I believe that doctors will feel quite constrained in their abilities to approve medical exemptions, so virtually all school-aged children and those in daycare will be forced to comply. Conscientious doctors who believe that some of their patients might benefit from an altered vaccination schedule, beyond the narrow contraindications in the CDC’s “Pink Book,” will either feel they can not grant exemptions or might very well come under attack for deviating from “standards of care”. This troubles me deeply.
One of the primary tenets of medical ethics is voluntary informed consent. Quoting the American Medical Association, “Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent.” This means explaining to a patient the risks and benefits of any medication or procedure before administering it, especially when the risks include serious injury or death, and then allowing the patient a choice whether to receive the treatment.
Every medication has inherent risks. Anyone with online access can quickly find a list of 20-30 common and/or serious potential reactions to any vaccine, including in the manufacturers’ own product information pamphlets. The adverse reactions listed tend to be only those that are obvious within a few days of vaccination (generally only reactions obvious within 4 days) and the frequency of serious long-term effects such as autoimmune diseases are unknown. There are, of course, also risks with any illness so it is also important to educate people about those as well. When I meet with patients, we discuss, for example, the hazards of high blood sugar or obesity or measles and then discuss the risks and benefits of various treatments. Then I allow my patients to choose whether a particular treatment or medication is right for them. SB 277 TAKES AWAY INFORMED CONSENT. I find this an outrageous assault on personal liberty, and it is deeply disturbing to me that, due to this legislative action, I will be prevented from helping a parent make an educated, informed, and appropriate decision for one of my patients.
The reason given by proponents of this bill is that those who do not get vaccinated are endangering others, but over 90% of children in California are fully vaccinated and most of the rest are partly vaccinated. Only 3% of children have parents that file the personal belief exemptions that this bill outlaws. Unfortunately, vaccines are not universally effective. For example, up to 15% of those who are fully vaccinated for measles are not immune to it, and some of the 3-5% of children who have not gotten measles vaccines are likely immune because those who have not been vaccinated may catch the vaccine version of the virus from their friends and become immune (while it has been documented that some children can shed the attenuated measles virus in the MMR, it is not known how commonly this occurs). The 5-15% who have been vaccinated but are not immune are a greater risk of spreading measles than the unvaccinated, since they outnumber those who are unvaccinated. Even fully vaccinating everyone will probably not wipe out measles and many other diseases such as whooping cough due to limitations of the effectiveness of vaccines (there have been documented measles outbreaks in populations that are 99% vaccinated).
As for the measles outbreak that apparently precipitated SB 277, as of 3/27/15, in a nation of over 300 million people there have been 178 cases of measles (120 in California), with 74% related to the Disneyland case. Less than half of those infected are known to have not been vaccinated (see http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html). Not one single person has died; in fact there have been no confirmed deaths from measles in the US since 2003.
The CDC states “There is no confirmed evidence which indicates that hepatitis B vaccine can cause chronic illnesses.” I believe the studies I just cited are “confirmed evidence” of this and this is evidence why the CDC, unfortunately, can not always be trusted. Quoting French vaccine researcher Dr. Marc Girard “hepatitis B vaccine is remarkable for the frequency, variety and severity of complications from its use. The toxicity of this vaccine is so unusual that, even if crucial data are regrettably concealed or covered by Court order, scientific evidence is already far higher than normally needed to justify severe restrictive measures.“ The objectivity of the CDC in these matters has been questioned by many including US Congressman Bill Posey who criticizes “the incestuous relationship between the public health community, vaccine makers, and public officials” including the CDC (see http://nsnbc.me/2014/04/17/congressman-blasts-cdc-incestuous-relationships-vaccine-makers/ ). Mandating that all newborns receive the Hepatitis B vaccine, even when their mother is proven to not have Hepatitis B, makes absolutely no sense from a public health perspective. I can think of no rational reason to mandate this vaccine (other than to increase the profits of Merck and GlazoSmithKline).
As for the side effects of vaccines, while a medication may be safe for most, I am not aware of a single medicine, herb or supplement that is safe for everyone. For example, penicillin clearly saves lives and is safe and well-tolerated by most, but many also have life-threatening reactions so it would be unwise to mandate that everyone who has an infection must get penicillin. While some would counter that medical exemptions are allowed, it is likely one could only obtain a medical exemption for someone who has already had a severe reaction. While a reaction to penicillin will not have long-term consequences (if one survives the acute reaction), reactions to vaccines can result in life-long disabilities.
One of the many things that can contribute to the toxicity of vaccines is that many of them contain aluminum as an adjuvant (including 5 of the 10 currently mandated by SB 277). Quoting from “Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are They Safe?” by Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic and Dr. Chris Shaw, a Neuroscientist and professor at the University of British Columbia, “Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences. In our opinion, the possibility that vaccine benefits may have been overrated and the risk of potential adverse effects underestimated, has not been rigorously evaluated in the medical and scientific community. (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21568886 ). One of the reasons I mention this is that the toxic effects of aluminum do not manifest within the 4 days after vaccination during which adverse reactions to vaccines are typically studied.
Another concern about vaccine safety is that, just as two medications can be reasonably safe when given individually, they may have serious and even fatal interactions when given together. There have been NO research studies on the safety of the current schedule of 16 different vaccines. There have been NO studies comparing the health of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations, so there is no research proving that there is a benefit to the current schedule. Clearly, most authorities and doctors, as well as the authors of this bill, simply assume that the vaccination schedule is beneficial but this should not be mandated for everyone without clear unequivocal scientific evidence, and this is, unfortunately, completely lacking. While vaccination almost certainly has reduced the incidence of many serious infections, many highly-credentialed scientists and researchers believe that there is strong evidence that vaccines increase the incidence of a variety of chronic autoimmune diseases.
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” (Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC131 S. Ct. 1068, 179 L.Ed.2d 1)
Another important consideration that is often overlooked is that naturally acquiring certain infections such as measles may result in significant long-term benefits to immune function and thus health. There are several studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature showing that adults who had measles in childhood have significantly lower rates of several common forms of cancer than those who did not have measles (see http://thinktwice.com/Measles_and_Cancer.pdf ). While there is an approximately 1 in 7000 risk of death in those who get measles, of the 7000 who do not get measles due to getting the MMR vaccine, there might be literally hundreds of cases of cancer that they would not have gotten if they had gotten measles instead of the vaccine.
I am not saying that vaccines do more harm than good. Clearly most who have been fully vaccinated enjoy good health. However, there is no denying that a significant number of children have had serious disabling and even fatal adverse reactions to certain vaccines. Until there is a quality study comparing the health of vaccinated to unvaccinated populations, it is impossible to know for certain if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. And since we can not yet be certain that the current vaccine schedule ultimately improves the health of our population, it is premature to mandate it for those who would prefer to be cautious and exercise their rights to decide whether they or their children should do a particular medical treatment that has known risks.
Thus, I can find very little scientific rationale for mandating universal vaccination. There is no current imminent (or foreseeable) threat to public health drastic enough to warrant such a draconian, intrusive law that is such an extreme violation of individual liberty and informed medical choice. The state legislature enacted AB2109 very recently to encourage more conversation between doctors and parents who wish to have their children on an adjusted vaccination schedule or to forgo some vaccinations. This type of law has been effective in other states at reducing exemption rates, and it appears to be working in California as well. Doctors can be very persuasive with parents, and we are also able to note differences in individual situations that can’t be accommodated by a forced, one-size-fits-all mandated vaccination schedule.
Please drop this proposed bill, as states like Washington, Oregon, Maryland and North Carolina have recently done, and please focus on other ways to achieve the public health goals that do not infringe upon the relationship between doctor and patient. A better approach would be one that focuses on education and encouragement (as the federal government recommends in its National Adult Immunization Plan), particularly targeting areas of concern that parents have regarding vaccine safety. Lobbying the federal government to fund more scientific work to better understand why some children experience serious adverse effects from vaccines could be an excellent long-term component of such an “educate and encourage” approach, as well as conducting overdue research on the long-term health outcomes of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations. Gathering better data about our actual public health situation is important before considering any change in vaccination legislation.
While there is a great deal of misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of this heated issue, I believe every statement I have made is both factual and verifiable. Thank you for considering my perspective. I would be happy to speak or correspond with any members of the Health Committee about any of these points.
Sincerely, Randy Baker M.D. Soquel, CA 95073
As you can see, I covered quite a bit of ground in my letter but there are a few more points I wish to make and a few articles I wish to share for any of you readers who have been interested enough to read this far (and if you are among those, I appreciate your time and interest!).
One of my first thoughts when I learned about this bill is that some people believe vaccines are safe and effective while some question this. Those who support this bill obviously believe vaccines are safe and effective. If this is the case, why are they so concerned that a small percentage of their children’s classmates are not fully vaccinated? If they believe vaccines are effective, then they should have faith that their fully-vaccinated children are fully protected from any exposures they might get from unvaccinated classmates. However, Dr. Pan and other proponents say they are concerned about immunocompromised children, such as those who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer and who are thus unable to be immunized and who might have serious illness if they got an illness such as measles. However, such immunocompromised children are far more at risk from getting common viruses like cold and flu viruses that their fully-vaccinated classmates often get. Typically children who are significantly immunocompromised do not attend classes at their public schools and the schools provide teachers who visit them at home. This is wise, as immunocompromised children are more likely to be exposed to live vaccine viruses shed by classmates recently immunized with the MMR or varicella or live influenza vaccine than a classmate ill with “wild measles.” As an interesting aside, there is research being done showing that modified versions of the measles virus can be very effective in treating certain forms of cancer! See http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/neurosciences/update-measles-virus-novel-therapy-glioblastoma
If SB 277 passes, children will be required to get a large number of vaccines in a relatively short amount of time as advised by the CDC’s “catch-up schedule,” the safety of which has not been studied.
Even if one agrees that it is wise to vaccinate children for infectious diseases, some of the requirements of SB 277 make no sense. For example, all children would be required to be immunized for Haemophilus influenza Type B (Hib), even though the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices does not recommend routine Hib vaccination of healthy children 59 months of age or older, even if they have no prior history of Hib vaccination. So why does SB 277 mandate this?
Update: on the afternoon of 4/17/15 some anti-SB 277 constituents had an opportunity to briefly chat with Senator Monning at a reception at his office. One reported that he said something to the effect that “the needs of the few are outweighed by the needs of the many.” Even if one agrees with this, one can say that the vast majority of the population that wants the protection of vaccines are fully vaccinated and thus not significantly threatened by the 8% or less who are not fully vaccinated. So if one considers the needs of those who can not be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised, those few are FAR outnumbered by those whose parents would rather decline full vaccination. So the needs of the few who can’t be vaccinated should be outweighed by the needs of the (relative) many who do not want to be vaccinated.
In my letter I mentioned evidence that getting actual measles as a child reduces risks of adults getting several types of cancer. There is also evidence that getting measles can prevent lifelong allergies:
It has been interesting to observe media coverage of SB 277 and those who are opposing it. Major papers like the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and Sacramento Bee have run editorials and opinion pieces in favor of SB 277, which invariably mention scientifically-proven safe vaccines and emotional opponents who are “science-deniers” such as this quote from an editorial by the Sacramento Bee urging the passage of SB 277: “It simply makes it harder for a vocal, misinformed minority of science deniers to endanger the health of the majority’s children.” (see http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article18729762.html#storylink=cpy ) I was honestly surprised that no one at these papers seems concerned about how obtrusive this bill is but this excellent article may explain why there is such uniformly biased coverage in the mainstream media. This article explains why this issue is symptomatic of the insidious corporate takeover of American politics:
Some additional commentary on the politics of this debate and how this could even lead down the slippery slope of a totalitarian state; at first that may sound extreme but is a country where people are forced to have toxic chemicals and biological agents injected into them against their will a free country?