Infant and Children, Immune | August 11, 2016 | Author: Naturopath
Pro-vax, anti-vax, or somewhere in between; the vaccination debate is divisive and charged with emotion. No matter where you stand, one thing is for sure – if you are going to get a vaccine, you want it to be as effective, and as safe as possible!
To be effective – that is, for a vaccination to lead to immunity – the body must mount an adequate immune response against the virus (or viruses) presented by the vaccine. If the immune system can't muster up a sufficient response, there will be no immunological memory or immunity – the vaccination will have failed. Most vaccines contain an adjuvant that gives the immune system a little kick, just enough to get it fired up against the virus within the vaccine. Commonly this adjuvants are aluminium. And generally, it works really well. But even with an effective adjunct stimulating a response, the immune system must be healthy enough to give that response.
To be safe, the immune system must be able to fight the small amount of virus within the vaccine, while maintaining its normal defences. Prevention is the best treatment, and a robust body with well-functioning immune, detoxification and bowel systems can help to withstand the negative risks of immunisation, and ensure that immunisation occurs successfully.
Naturopathic medicines can lay the foundation for successful and safe immunisation
Probiotics have both a direct and indirect influence on the immune system, mostly through their contact with the gut's immune system (the GALT). Studies have shown that the composition of the microbiome within the gut can modulate the outcome of viral infections by altering how the body attacks viruses, which could also help to quickly achieve immunological memory from vaccines.
Most of the current evidence suggests that probiotic treatment could be particularly helpful in preventing fall-out after influenza vaccination in adults.
A strong study showed that taking the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716, before and after getting a flu shot can help to reduce the risk of suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms following the vaccine.
In infants, one study showed that three weeks of treatment with Bifidobacterium breve (BBG-01) may reduce effects and improve the effectiveness of an oral cholera vaccine.
Unfortunately, there's a lack of study on children, but with a healthy gut comes a healthy immune system. At least four weeks of preparatory treatment with a potent probiotic blend may help to strengthen bub's immune and digestive systems so that they can mount an effective response against the viruses, develop immunity, and hopefully avoid any nasty side effects.
Nutrition is the foundation of good health and a balanced immune response. Like herbs, some nutrients are considered to be immune modulating.
These are all key ingredients in mounting an effective and appropriate immune response to vaccines.Vitamin C and trace nutrients like quercetin are great for protecting mucus membranes against secondary infections.
Cod Liver Oil - rather than dosing up on single nutrient supplements, consider cod liver oil. This old medicine delivers a big dose of the immune supporting superstars vitamin D, vitamin A, and essential fatty acids. In the literature, cod liver oil has been shown to significantly boost vitamin A status as well as improve reaction to re-vaccination of hepatitis B in infants and children.
Some herbal medicines can act as initiators of immune response. They can stimulate the immune system to mount a defence against a vaccine, in a way that's similar to that of an adjuvant within a vaccine. By taking these herbs, we can help give the immune system an extra “kick”.
Other herbal medicines that promote immune modulation may have desirable effects in preventing fall-out from vaccinations.
Echinacea is popular for use in preventing respiratory illnesses, and is therefore an obvious choice for preparing the body before getting a flu shot. But literature shows that its immune-enhancing properties may also be beneficial in helping the body to cope with many other vaccinations, including the hepatitis B vaccine. Echinacin, an active component within the herb, has the ability to inhibit viruses from entering healthy cells. Don't worry – immunisation will still occur successfully, as the body will still “learn” how to mount a response against the virus in the vaccine. Echinacea will just give it a little extra help to defeat it.
Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years, and is revered for its immune-enhancing qualities. It has more recently gained popularity among Western herbalists, and is commonly used to treat viral infections. Animal trials have shown that it enhances immune responses to HBV and H9N2 vaccines , thereby reducing side effects from the vaccines and promoting greater ongoing immunity against the diseases. Astragalus is considered to be a particularly safe herb, making it useful for vaccine preparation in children.
Another immune tonic from Traditional Chinese Medicine, many animal trials have shown that extracts from Lycium barbarum may increase the effectiveness of some vaccines. Commonly known as goji berry, this plant may have great promise as an adjuvant within vaccines. Perhaps one day it could take place of the commonly used aluminium.
In any heated vaccine debate, you'll find homeopathic remedies presented as complete quackery, or as a serious alternative to conventional vaccines. While nosodes (a type of homeopathic remedy) are used as an alternative to vaccines, there are other remedies that can work alongside conventional vaccines and protect the body from adverse effects. Most notably, Thuja is a homeopathic remedy that has been traditionally used to prevent post-vaccination syndrome. While there are no studies on its use in vaccination, it has been shown to fight viruses, and may boost the proliferation of immune cells.
THE UPSHOT Effective and safe vaccination can be supported by nourishing the immune system with nutrition, strong gut health, and alternative medicines. Treating the body gently and kindly is the key to dealing with any exposure to pathogens, including those in vaccines. And remember - rest, wholesome food, hydration and more rest are the fundamentals to recovery!
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