It is time to take a deeper dive into a few of the most common, everyday medical recommendations for common illnesses and discomforts in order to better understand them, and give you the opportunity to make more informed decisions for the wellness of you and your family. It is time to take an informed look into the health of hand sanitizer, flu shots, fever reducers, and antibiotics.
From stocking stuffers to hospital protocol liquid hand sanitizer is ubiquitous with the American way of life. However many are unaware of the dangers they can pose. While convenient and useful in some circumstances, they can offer health risks. There are generally two categories of hand sanitizers, those made with an alcohol base and non-alcohol based. The most invasive issue lies with the non-alcohol based sanitizers as they require an additional ingredient to kill germs since alcohol is not used. The ingredient most frequently used is Triclosan. This chemical is banned in Europe and is considered a contaminant of emerging concern in the United States. This chemical is responsible for contributing to antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, weakened immune system and additional toxic chemicals. Triclosan by 2014 was proven to be in over 2,000 consumer products in the United States including soaps, toothpaste, kitchen utensils, bedding, socks and trash bags.
This is a widespread condition causing significant problems originally in the medical community but now nationally and internationally. Antibiotic resistance occurs from the overuse of antimicrobial chemicals that lower the resistance to disease by killing good bacteria along with the bad. Good bacteria in the body are both ally and asset to the human body and environment at large. Antibiotic resistance makes way for stronger, more deadly bacteria that no longer respond to regular antibiotic courses.
The chemicals in hand sanitizers can be many and triclosan, phthalates, and parabens all of which have strong and confirmed evidence of disrupting normal hormone balance. Alterations to thyroid and testosterone balance are also confirmed. A study with Triclosan showed increased estrogen and decreased thyroid hormone after 21 days exposure. This is significant given exposure to these chemicals is virtually unavoidable. Triclosan has been detected in breastmilk proving the widespread copious exposures people encounter. While by no means a comprehensive list there are agencies working to help people detect Triclosan in clothing, products, and household items. See some products with Triclosan here.
Alternatives to Fighting Germs
While hand sanitizers may be convenient and easy, there are many alternatives that are just as, or even more effective. The first of which is simply washing hands regularly with plain soap. Antibacterial hand soaps pose the same risks as liquid hand sanitizers, so should not be used as a replacement. Essential oils are one of the most convenient and effective hand sanitizer replacement options for on the go. A 2oz spray bottle, water, and the oils of your choice such as a protective blend can easily be sprayed as needed. Companies like doTERRA Essential Oils offer both a protective blend, and a pre-made hand sanitizer that is both a safe and effective alternative to conventional options that are a detriment to your health.
While the overall topic of vaccinations is both controversial and more complex than this article can hold, it is worth considering a portion of the discussion in looking at the flu shot. While opinions are strong on the subject we aim to state the facts in order for you to be better informed to make the choice that fits best for you and your family. While these questions and responses will not fully address the issue at hand, it will give a helpful overview. These questions are adapted from a very useful exchange between a medical doctor and her colleagues in a discussion regarding vaccinations. To find the full response in defense of avoiding the flu shot, see this article.
1. Do children who are not given the flu shot spread the disease?
The media frequently makes those who did not get the flu shot as the reason for which the illness (or other vaccinated illnesses) spread, but this is generally a myth. In fact, research clearly shows that those who are vaccinated actually shed live disease, including the flu. Multiple studies on multiple diseases have confirmed the shedding of vaccines, and this one confirms it with the flu as well. This document is a comprehensive overview of vaccine shedding and the spread of disease. Additionally, a study done in a preschool which had both vaccinated and unvaccinated children found the child who did get the flu was vaccinated, suggesting that if the flu vaccine were effective, the result should be the opposite.
2. Does the vaccine makes children more vulnerable?
There is evidence that in fact,the flu vaccine decreases immunity. It has been documented to increase viral susceptibility. This means those who get the flu shot may likely get viruses more easily. The study shows that the vaccine hampers the development of CD8 T-cells which are largely responsible for the body’s ability to fight viruses. Additionally, in pediatric (children) recipients of the flu shot, there has been found to be a 3 fold increase in hospitalization compared to those who did not get the flu shot. In contrast to the flu shot decreasing immunity, this study done with children using 6 billion CFU dose of Lactobacillus brevis probiotic strain in one group of vaccinated children then in an alternate group of vaccinated children, there was found to be a statistically significant reduction in incidence of the flu in both groups while taking the probiotic. The reduction of flu was even greater in the unvaccinated group of children. There is evidence that vaccines may interfere with the synergy of the microbiome in ways that further affect immunity.
3. Does the flu vaccine work?
The short answer is- not very well. In 2017 the flu shot was 25-40% effective against the most common flu strains off of which the vaccine was based. However, this does not take into account various other flu strains for which the vaccine is not at all effective. The nature of a virus is to adapt and survive making it an always changing target. The development of the vaccine each year is done as a best guess. While the effectiveness is low, the side effects can often be high including: shoulder soreness, redness/swelling, body aches, itching, full body rash, fever, dizziness, fainting and in a small group of people, Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Potential side effects combined with a proven decrease in overall immunity suggests the risks of the flu shot could outweigh the potential of some benefit.
It is one of the most common practices by Western medicine and families to give fever reducing medications like Advil or Tylenol for a fever. Parents give it to almost all age children and adults take it often at first sign of being sick. For decades they have been considered safe and only in recent years have recalls, liver toxicity issues, and possible side effects when taken during pregnancy become known. Yet, they are still the most common ways people deal with a fever. Fevers serve an important function in the body’s immune response. Here are 4 reasons you should think twice about giving fever reducing medications.
1. Signal to Slow Down
Treating a fever masks the symptoms of being sick. Both children and adults will feel better and resume normal activities after taking medication, but this does not mean they are better. In fact, it contributes to the body being more worn down and worn out even though you may feel better. Kids become more active and appetite resumes rather than resting. When the body is fighting an illness, digestion slows to preserve energy and help the body rest, when medications are given, the body does not get the rest it needs. The medications mask the signal the body is trying to give to stop and rest.
2. Artificial Extras
Particularly in children’s versions, medications are flavored and colored with artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives, none of which are helpful for the body at any time, much less when the body is already sick. The extra artificial ingredients in children’s medication require the body to work even harder to metabolize, detox and adapt to.
3. Fever Helps Heal
A fever is a primary way the body triggers the immune system response to fight illness. Without the signal of an increased temperature, the body’s internal immune response does not fight as hard for as long. This means the illness generally lasts longer when medicated. This is true in children and adults. A study following the flu showed that those who treated fever with medications had a prolonged illness of 3 days longer than those who did not medicate with fever reducing medicines.
4. Helps Spread Illness
Using fever reducing medications contributes to the spread of illness, especially the flu. When a person decreases their fever with medications, they feel better but they are still sick. It has been suggested by epidemiologists who study spread of diseases that thousands of flu cases each year are caused by people reducing their fever with medication. When people feel better they go on with usual activities such as work, school, and being out in the community which spreads the germs that normally would have taken care of by time at home and the fever. In addition, there is evidence that there is an adaptive value of having a fever. A fever slows the replication of the disease making it weaker and less likely to spread or cause significant illness.
Support The Body’s Natural Healing Abilities
When you or your child has a fever, in most cases, the best option is to rest provide comfort measures. A cold cloth, resting, and staying hydrated are what is generally in order. Using high quality essential oils to promote immune support and reduce body temperature can promote healing and decrease the duration of illness. Peppermint and lime essential oil are well known to support temporary reduction in body temperature which can go a long way in keeping both children and adults comfortable while the fever runs its course.
While there is a time and place to use antibiotics, they still remain overused and have created antibiotic resistance that is wreaking havoc. In fact, the CDC has said that antibiotic resistance is “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Overprescribing antibiotics has resulted in development of resistant bacteria that do not respond to antibiotics. These resistant strains then multiply and become stronger even to the point of causing over 14,000 deaths yearly in children and adults. The functional medicine team at in2GREAT Integrative Health has the effective, high powered, immune system support you need to fight both bacteria and viruses. Here are a few more reasons to think twice before using antibiotics.
1. No Help for Viruses
Viruses are generally the cause of most common colds that develop into respiratory infections. Respiratory infections are the most common reason for prescribing antibiotics- particularly in children. Bacteria are life and the right antibiotic can generally kill bacteria, however viruses are not alive and are not affected by antibiotics. Viruses live on their own as genetic material wrapped in a protein coat. While antibiotics cannot kill viruses, other immune support options like essential oils and herbs can break through the protein coating and dismantle the viruses speeding up recovery. Misuse of antibiotics is often due to prescribing them for an issue that is viral, not bacterial.
2. Disrupts Gut Flora
Antibiotics are generally great at killing bacteria, but they are not able to tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. They simply kill any bacteria they can. This means the good bacteria get compromised and it can take up to two weeks for good bacteria to regain their strength. Harmful bacteria are immediately available anytime. This accessibility of harmful bacteria and lag in redevelopment of good bacteria after taking antibiotics is a primary reason antibiotic associated diarrhea occurs. This can develop into C-diff infection which is a significant infection which can cause dehydration quite quickly, especially in children. Compromising good bacteria can have health implications more far reaching than diarrhea by causing long term immune system shifts which can affect mood, behavior, immune system stability, and even susceptibility to chronic infections and autoimmune diseases.
3. Promotes Stronger Bad Bacteria
Antibiotics help teach good bacteria to go bad by transferring the resistant properties to other forms of bacteria. These transfers can happen by bacteria simply passing along the colon together. The harmful bacteria that develop as a means of adapting to overuse of antibiotics then pass along this genetic material relatively passively making the situation even worse and these bacteria even stronger.
How You Can Truly Support Your System
You might be wondering where to go from here. As stated above, proper sanitation with safe products is a good way to get rid of germs. Additionally, there are many ways to support the immune system that do not also come with negative side effects. The following tactics will allow your body to fight off infections, bacteria, and viruses before they set in.
If you are interested in a natural approach to healing that is right for you, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS at in2GREAT Integrative Health, who can help assess your needs.