- 1 Herbalgram.org Market Report 2019 (PDF), Table 4 page 66
- 2, 3, 5 UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute October 1, 2019
- 4 Nutraingredients.usa.com October 2, 2019
- 6 Pharmacognosy Magazine 2010 Jul-Sep; 6(23): 198–203
- 7, 8 J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40
- 9 Journal of Functional Foods March 2019; 54: 353-360
- 10, 11 Science Daily April 23, 2019
- 12, 14 Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001 Apr-Jun;12(2):290-296
- 13 ethnoherbalist.com July 8, 2019
- 15 Complementary Therapies in Medicine February 2019; 42: 361-365
- 16 Nutrients 2016; 8(4): 182
- 17 Science 2017 Aug 4;357(6350):498-502
- 18 Nat Rev Immunol. 2014 Jan; 14(1): 36–49
- 19 Nutraingredients-usa.com January 29, 2018
- 20 The Alchemists Kitchen, Elderberry: Queen of Herbs
- 21 International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2017;18(3):584
- 22, 24 American Nutrition Association, August 6, 2017
- 23 Lily Farm Fresh Skin Care, Elderberry, A Medicinal Plant
- 25 Medscape, Elderberry
- 26, 28, 39, 40 Grow Forage Cook Ferment, September 11, 2019, Updated September 13, 2019
- 27, 30, 32 The Spruce, October 25, 2018
- 29 Utah State University Extension, Elderberries (PDF)
- 31 Utah State University Extension October 2014, Elderberry in the Garden (PDF)
- 33 The Spruce, September 10, 2018
- 34, 38 The Spruce, April 16, 2018
- 35, 36 Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Growing Elderberries in Oklahoma (PDF)
- 37 Home Guides SF Gate, How to Harvest Elderberries
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Reproduced from original article:
- The fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepts millions of dollars from drug companies and vaccine makers may be at the heart of many harmful and nonsensical health recommendations
- The CDC has long fostered the perception of independence by stating it does not accept funding from special interests. In reality, it receives millions of dollars each year from commercial interests through its government-charted foundation, the CDC Foundation, which funnels those contributions to the CDC after deducting a fee
- Several watchdog groups — including the U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology International, Liberty Coalition and the Project on Government Oversight — are petitioning the CDC to cease making these false disclaimers and retroactively acknowledge conflicts of interest
- CDC accepted $79.6 million from drug companies and commercial manufacturers between 2014 and 2018 alone. Since its inception in 1995, the CDC Foundation has accepted $161 million from private corporations
- Government-chartered foundations allow corporations to fund and thereby control the work of agencies that are supposed to regulate them
The fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepts millions of dollars in funding from drug companies and vaccine makers is no minor problem. It may in fact be at the very heart of why so many harmful and nonsensical health recommendations end up being pushed down our throats.
The CDC has long fostered the perception of independence by stating it does not accept funding from special interests. In disclaimers peppered throughout the CDC website1 and in its publications, it says the agency “does not accept commercial support” and has “no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products.”
Several watchdog groups — including the U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology International, Liberty Coalition and the Project on Government Oversight — are now petitioning2 the CDC to cease making these false disclaimers.3
CDC Gets Millions From Corporate Interests
In reality, the CDC does in fact accept millions of dollars each year from commercial interests through its government-chartered foundation, the CDC Foundation, which funnels those contributions to the CDC after deducting a fee.4
On the CDC Foundation’s website, you’ll find a long list5 of “corporate partners” that have provided the CDC with funding over the years. The petition also points out that the CDC media office states the agency “has, can and does accept commercial support,” which is a clear contradiction to its printed disclaimers. Furthermore:
“CDC even accepts earmarked money via the CDC Foundation, allowing manufacturers to fund studies or programs whose results would either expand their profits or reduce their liability exposure,” the petition states.6
“For example, the BMJ reported that ‘in 2012, Genentech earmarked $600,000 in donations to the CDC Foundation for CDC’s efforts to promote expanded testing and treatment of viral hepatitis. Genentech and its parent company, Roche, manufacture test kits and treatments for hepatitis C’ …
The CDC Foundation also accepted $1.7 million from the Central American sugar industry for studies on chronic kidney disease which have been criticized for being biased towards the sugar industry, by not asking the best questions.”
CDC Petitioned to Quit Making False Claims
According to the petition,7 the CDC accepted $79.6 million from drug companies and commercial manufacturers between 2014 and 2018 alone. Since its inception in 1995, the CDC Foundation has accepted $161 million from private corporations.
As reported by the Lown Institute,8 which aims to advance “a just and caring system for health to replace the current, failing model rooted in profit-driven, low-value care”:9
“Many of these contributions could be seen as conflicts of interest — for example, a $193,000 donation from Roche, the maker of antiviral drug Tamiflu, to fund a CDC flu prevention campaign.
Despite the significant funding the CDC receives from industry via its foundation, few were aware of these conflicts until Jeanne Lenzer called attention to the foundation in The BMJ10 a few years ago.
Recently, the CDC accepted $3.4 million from Pfizer for the prevention of Cryptococcal disease, $1 million from Merck & Co. pharmaceutical company for a program on preventing maternal mortality, and $750,000 from Biogen for a program on screening newborns for spinal muscular atrophy …”
The petition asks the CDC to stop publishing the false and misleading disclaimers, remove all previously published disclaimers from the CDC website and its publications, and to issue corrections, retroactively disclosing the agency’s financial relationships with industry.
“By issuing these false disclaimers, CDC is misleading health professionals, consumers and others both in the United States and around the world,” the petition states.11
“This deception undermines CDC’s credibility and integrity. But the damage here is not merely to the CDC itself. CDC is a national and global leader on medical and public health matters. It is crucial for the CDC to lead by example on matters of ethics, and, at a minimum, to faithfully and truthfully disclose its conflicts of interest.”
Government-Chartered Foundations Gives Control to Industry
In a November 5, 2019, press release, Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group stated:12
“That the CDC accepts millions from corporations directly impacted by the agency’s public health programs is indefensible. So, the CDC instead has adopted the strategy of repeatedly denying that it accepts such payments.”
Gary Ruskin, co-director of USRTK added:13
“It’s time for the CDC to be truthful with health professionals and all Americans, and to stop denying that it takes corporate money. The CDC is violating the public trust by misleading us in this way.”
The CDC is supposed to be a public health watchdog. It has tremendous credibility within the medical community, and part of this credibility hinges on the idea that it’s free of industry bias and conflicts of interest.
By accepting money from drug companies and vaccine makers, one has to wonder whether that money might be having an impact on the agency’s health recommendations.
Again and again, investigations have shown that funding plays an enormous role in decision-making and in research outcomes. As noted by Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president for the Lown Institute, government-chartered foundations:14
“… exist at least in part because they allow industries to directly fund and thus control the work of agencies that are either supposed to regulate them, or conduct research that can help or hurt their business.”
Telltale Signs of Impropriety Abound
When you start to investigate, there’s no shortage of telltale signs suggesting the CDC isn’t nearly as independent as it claims to be. Some have already been noted in the CDC petition, but there are plenty of others as well.
For example, in 2016, Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, quickly resigned after it was revealed she aided a Coca-Cola representative in efforts to get World Health Organization officials to relax WHO’s sugar limits.
I wrote about this in “CDC Executive Resigns After Being Caught Colluding with Coca-Cola to Salvage Soda Market.” Shortly thereafter, CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald was found to have received funding from Coca-Cola for her anti-obesity campaign, which had a near-exclusive focus on exercise, not the impact of soda and sugary junk food. This was reported in “Public Health Agency Sued for Coke Collusion.”
CDC Promotes Drug Industry Agenda
In a November 4, 2019, article15 in Eye on Annapolis, Josh Mazer discusses how the CDC is funding state health programs aimed at implementing mandatory HPV vaccinations:
“The Maryland Prevention and Health Promotion Agency (PHPA) has received millions … as part of an effort to require public schools to force children to get the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination.
Those funds came in the form of grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC maintains a nonprofit foundation that gets enormous amounts of money from Big Pharma — including Merck, the company that produces Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. At the very least, Maryland’s acceptance of those funds has the appearance of impropriety …
During a PHPA-hosted ‘HPV symposium’ attended by state pediatric practices and Maryland Department of Health staffers in March 2018 … the featured speaker — Dr. Alix Casler — encouraged attendees to offer free dinners, bottles of wine, and ‘Quality Doctor Incentives $’ sales bonuses to get Maryland physicians on board with the HPV vaccine-pushing program …
Casler offered a $5,000 cash payment to pediatric practices that achieve targeted HPV vaccine sales goals … Casler is a paid spokesperson for Merck …
In 2016, the Maryland Partnership for Prevention — which lists the Maryland Department of Health as its top member — accepted $70,000 from the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM).
AIM’s top ‘Corporate Alliance Members’ are Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur and Seqirus. That same year, legislation was introduced in Maryland to mandate the shot … Despite the deaths and the ongoing health-safety questions related to the HPV vaccine, Maryland PHPA has continued using our schools to push Merck’s product.”
CDC Front Group Lobbies for Mandatory Vaccinations
Mazer’s observations are unlikely to be coincidental, as the CDC is a primary contributor to the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), which lobbies for mandatory vaccinations and the elimination of personal belief exemptions to vaccination nationwide.16 As such, the CDC is actively using industry donations to promote a for-profit industry agenda.
It should be clear by now that the justifications given for why personal belief exemptions need to be abolished are nothing but a ploy to make money off mandatory vaccines.
In recent times, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine has been the target vaccine used to ban vaccine exemptions, under the pretense that measles is a lethal disease that needs to be eradicated. However, as predicted, it didn’t take long before other, completely unnecessary vaccines were tacked on to the mandated vaccines list.
As just one egregious example, a bill introduced in New York (S298/A2912) now seeks to require children to receive the HPV vaccine — one of the most dangerous and unnecessary vaccines ever made — in order to attend public school or day care.
There are hundreds of vaccines in the pipeline for children and adults, and once vaccine exemptions are eliminated in your state, you can expect many more to be mandated.
At that point, you’ll have no way of opting out of any of them. Measles was really just the Trojan Horse used to eliminate vaccine exemptions and strengthen mandatory vaccination laws. As noted by Children’s Health Defense in a June 6, 2019 article:17
“ACIP’s industry-beholden membership roster reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the individuals and organizations who spearhead the nation’s vaccine business … The agency’s involvement with vaccine manufacturers also extends to patents, licensing agreements and collaboration on projects to develop new vaccines.
In fact, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) profit handsomely from their ownership or co-ownership with private sector partners of vaccine-related patents.
An early 2017 analysis of Google Patents results18 showed that the CDC held 56 patents pertaining to various aspects of vaccine development, manufacturing, delivery and adjuvants.
By May 2019, the search terms ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccines’ retrieved 143 results in the Google Patents search engine,19 and a separate legal website displayed 10 screens worth of CDC patents,20 both vaccine- and non-vaccine-related.
The author of the 2017 analysis suggests that the large number of patents held by the CDC ‘deserves an in-depth review to determine exactly what current financial relationships with vaccine makers now exist and what…current impact those revenue streams are likely having on vaccine safety positions’ …
Some of the key technologies underlying the development of the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix emerged from research patented by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI), which then licensed the technology to Merck, MedImmune and GlaxoSmithKline. By 2009, HPV licensing had become NIH’s top generator of royalty revenues.”
Children’s Health Defense goes on to cite an in-depth investigation by Mark Blaxill, published in Age of Autism, in which he notes that:21
“Gardasil is perhaps the leading example of a new form of unconstrained government self-dealing, in arrangements whereby [HHS] can transfer technology to pharmaceutical partners, [and] simultaneously both approve and protect their partners’ technology licenses while also taking a cut of the profits.”
Your Help Is Needed!
To help push for greater transparency, please contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services today at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that you demand the CDC:
- Cease publication of disclaimers that CDC has “no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products” and that it “does not accept commercial support.”
- Remove all such disclaimers from the CDC website, including the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
- Add corrections to all MMWR articles bearing these disclaimers, explaining that the disclaimers were incorrect and have been removed.
- Retroactively disclose, in any MMWR article bearing the disclaimers, any corporate contributions to the CDC or CDC Foundation that are relevant to the MMWR article.
As noted by Lown Institute, disclosing existing conflicts of interests is an important first step in the creation of a “clearer separation between government agencies meant to serve the public interest and industry companies,” but it shouldn’t end there. We also need to abolish the loophole that allowed this hidden industry influence to take root in the first place — the government-chartered foundations.
“We need to question why these foundations exist and push for more public funding of these agencies, rather than force public health agencies to rely on industry funding for their programs and compromise their independence,” Lown Institute writes.22
- 1 CDC.gov MMWR Disclosure
- 2, 11 USRTK Petition to the CDC, November 5, 2019 (PDF)
- 3, 12, 13 USRTK November 5, 2019
- 4, 7 USRTK Petition to the CDC, November 5, 2019 (PDF), Page 3
- 5 CDC Foundation Our Partners: Corporations
- 6 USRTK Petition to the CDC, November 5, 2019 (PDF), Page 4
- 8 Lown Institute About Us
- 9 Lown Institute November 6, 2019
- 10 BMJ 2015;350:h2362
- 14, 22 Lown Institute October 25, 2018
- 15 Eye on Annapolis November 4, 2019
- 16 Sott.net March 6, 2016
- 17 Children’s Health Defense June 6, 2019
- 18 Google Vaccine Patent Search
- 19 Google Patent Search Engine Results
- 20 Justia Patents Assigned to CDC
- 21 Age of Autism, A License to Kill, Part 1
Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine, 11th November 2019
© 2019 – This article is copyrighted by Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine
What is Echinacea?
Echinacea is a flowering plant in the daisy family, also known as purple coneflower.
There are nine species, however only three are normally used as supplements:
- Echinacea purpurea
- Echinacea angustifolia
- Echinacea pallida
Most commonly used as an over-the-counter remedy to build immunity for colds, allergies and flu, but also used for inflammation, pain, migraines and blood glucose.
Native to North America but cultivated almost anywhere.
Upper parts and roots are typically used in tablets, tinctures, extracts and teas.
Beneficial Compounds in Echinacea include:
- Caffeic acid
- Phenolic acid
- Rosmarinic acid
Suggested health benefits include:
- Antioxidants, including flavonoids, cichoric acid and rosmarinic acid
- Alkamides that enhance antioxidant activity
- Immunity to infections and viruses. In studies, Echinacea lowered risk of colds by 50% and duration by one and a half days
- Helps blood glucose control by suppression of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, also increased insulin sensitivity, and helps stop glucose levels plummeting in hypoglycemia
- Shown to help lower blood pressure, probably by helping to control blood glucose
- Reduced anxiety due to action of alkamides, rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid
- Anti-inflammatory, via compounds that reduce inflammatory markers
- Reduced pain, especially in those who received no benefit from standard pain relief drugs
- Reduced swelling
- Improved skin hydration and reduced wrinkles with Echinacea cream
- Acne (caused by Propionibacterium) suppressed with Echinacea cream
- Eczema symptoms reduced by Echinacea cream
- Shown to suppress cancer cell growth and trigger cancer cell death (Apoptosis), a benefit of the chicoric acid component
- Shown to increase apoptosis in pancreas and colon cancer cells
Issues with cream products: Echinacea extract is difficult to incorporate into commercial skin care products due to short shelf life.
Echinacea has been shown safe and tolerated well for short-term use, but long-term studies have not been carried out. Rare side effects (mainly in those with allergies to daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed) include:
- Stomach pain, nausea
- Shortness of breath
- Rashes, hives, itchy skin
Those trying Echinacea for the first time should start with a tiny dose to test for any reaction.
Who should NOT consume Echinacea
Because Echinacea stimulates the immune system, those with any autoimmune disorder, or those taking immunosuppressive drugs (such as those for transplant rejection) should avoid taking Echinacea.
No official dosage exists, partly because studies have varied in quantity and quality of the product used, and products sometimes do not contain the amount and/or strength specified, so it is wise to purchase products from trusted brands such as those recommended by LeanMachine in this article.
Studies in the immunity properties of Echinacea suggest the following doses:
- Herb used as a tea, 1 teaspoon in a cup of hot water, up to 3 times daily
- Whole powder capsules 400mg, one or more times daily
- Liquid extract tincture 2 ml, three times daily, or up to 10 ml daily
Echinacea has a long and successful history of use in many countries, with rare allergy side-effects, and may help with immunity, allergies, anxiety, skin, cancer, blood pressure, pain, swelling and more.
There are many studies on Echinacea, but results are mixed, with some showing benefits and others showing none. Most studies were mouse studies, test tube studies, petri dish studies, etc and all were of short duration. However, LeanMachine suggests that the antioxidant benefits alone are worthwhile, and long-term studies are expected to show better health outcomes for seniors because their cardiovascular system should be in better shape, and their cancer risk should be lower.
Generally safe for children over age 2 to take Echinacea supplements and drink Echinacea teas, and studies show benefits to children taking Echinacea.
This study shows Echinachea is safe, but because the study involved only about 200 women, safety cannot be guaranteed absolutely.
Risk of drug interactions is relatively low, but some medications are affected by Echinacea.
Some interactions can be a life-or-death situation, so always inform the doctor if taking any herbal products, supplements, vitamins, minerals etc.
Reproduced from original article:
- Elderberry contains zinc and antioxidants, including vitamin C and anthocyanin (a flavonoid found in blue and purple fruits and berries), known for their ability to boost immune function and inhibit cold and flu
- A 2004 study found taking 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) of elderberry syrup four times a day for five days eased symptoms of influenza four days quicker than a placebo
- A 2019 study found elderberry protects against influenza and other viral attacks by preventing the virus from entering and replicating in human cells
- Elderberry also promotes the release of certain cytokines (chemical messengers), which allow your immune system to mount a more efficient response
- Research also shows elderberry supplementation shortens duration of cold symptoms after intercontinental flights. Symptoms were also milder in those who contracted a cold after flying
With flu season encroaching, many are looking for ways to boost their immune function without drugs. One of the natural alternatives making headlines for its ability to fight influenza and other viruses is the elderberry (Sambucus nigra).
According to a 2019 Herb Market report,1 sales of elderberry grew by 138.4% between 2017 and 2018 alone. The report theorizes that “Rising sales of elderberry, which is commonly found in products marketed for immune health, may have been related to the unusually severe flu activity reported for the 2017-2018 season in the United States.”
With sales on the rise, elderberry is also becoming more popular as a cash crop among farmers. As reported by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute in an October 1, 2019, article:2
“Native California elderberries can be found at the intersection of sustainable farming, super nutrition and economic viability. Naturally drought tolerant, flavorful and packed with nutrients, they are capturing the interest of farmers, health-conscious consumers and scientists …
Elderberries occur naturally around the world. In California, Native Americans used the tree’s stems for making flutes, berries for food and purple dye, and bark, leaves and flowers for their purported anti-inflammatory, diuretic and laxative properties …”
For farmers, elderberry has additional benefits: The plant is drought tolerant, and attracts both pollinators and beneficial insects that prey on pests like aphids and spider mites.
According to one expert cited by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute,3 growing elderberry plants in hedgerows around the edges of farmland can lower a farmer’s pesticide costs by $300 per acre per year.
Elderberry Is a Powerful Antiviral
Elderberry contains zinc4 and antioxidants, including vitamin C5 and anthocyanin6 (a flavonoid found in blue and purple fruits and berries), known for their ability to boost immune function and inhibit cold and flu.
One 2004 study7 found taking 15 milliliters (just under 1 tablespoon) of elderberry syrup four times a day for five days eased symptoms of influenza four days quicker than a placebo. According to the authors,8 “Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.”
Most recently, research9 published in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of Functional Foods details the actual mechanism by which elderberry protects against influenza and other viral attacks. As reported by Science Daily:10
“Conducted by Professor Fariba Deghani, Dr. Golnoosh Torabian and Dr. Peter Valtchev … the study showed that compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus’s entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus.
Although elderberry’s flu-fighting properties have long been observed, the group performed a comprehensive examination of the mechanism by which phytochemicals from elderberries combat influenza infections.
‘What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus,’ said … Torabian. ‘It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.’”
Interestingly, the elderberry juice not only was able to prevent the virus from entering and infecting the cells in the first place, but it also inhibited late-stage propagation of the virus in cells that had already been infected. What’s more, this late-stage inhibition was even stronger than its action during the initial infection stage.
According to Valtchev,11 “This observation was quite surprising and rather significant because blocking the viral cycle at several stages has a higher chance of inhibiting the viral infection.”
Elderberry Promotes a More Efficient Immune Response
The elderberry also promoted the release of certain cytokines (chemical messengers), which allow your immune system to mount a more efficient response. All of these antiviral activities were attributed to the anthocyanidin compounds in the berries, a compound known as cyanidin 3-glucoside in particular.
Other studies have reported a similar rise in cytokines. In one, TNF-alpha rose eightfold.12 As reported by The Ethno Herbalist, a website hosted by Kevin Curran, a biology professor at the University of San Diego:13
“… Barak et al. reported14 elderberry treatment initiated a significant increase in the inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α) … TNF-α, a tumor necrosis factor, is a cytokine produced by activated macrophages in response to infection from microbes, such as bacteria.
Macrophages are a critical cell in our immune system. Macrophages act like scavengers, scanning our body for dangerous debris or dangerous bacteria. It’s encouraging to see that elderberry boosts TNF-α levels, as it suggests this plant can enhance macrophage activity.”
More Evidence for Elderberry as Cold and Flu Support
Similarly, a 2019 meta-analysis15 of four randomized, controlled clinical trials concluded that:
“Supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms. The quantitative synthesis of the effects yielded a large mean effect size.
These findings present an alternative to antibiotic misuse for upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections, and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for routine cases of the common cold and influenza.”
The risk of contracting a cold or flu tends to be heightened when flying, and research published in 2016 found elderberry supplementation can offer air travelers much-needed support as well. The study,16 published in the journal Nutrients, included 312 economy class passengers on intercontinental flights.
While the difference in the occurrence of cold symptoms was found to be negligible (17 in the placebo group compared to 12 in the treatment group), those taking elderberry were sick for a considerably shorter duration. The severity of their symptoms was also significantly milder.
Another Mechanism of Action
Another mechanism of action is related to gut bacteria. A 2017 study17 published in the journal Science found desaminotyrosine (DAT) — a metabolite of the gut microbe Clostridium orbiscindens — protects against influenza by augmenting Type 1 interferon signaling and diminishing immunopathology in the lungs. Type 1 interferons are polypeptides secreted by infected cells.18 As reported by Nutraingredients-usa.com:19
“The presence of DAT … a compound identified as being a metabolite in the gut after the consumption of key flavonoids present in elderberry … protects against damage from influenza. Therefore, a healthy balance of gut microbiota as well as flavonoid-rich foods/supplements like elderberry appear to be the magic cocktail for positively impacting immune health.”
Other Elderberry Benefits
Elderberry has also been shown to provide a number of other health benefits. For example, studies have found elderberry — taken either internally or applied topically in the form of an ointment — can:
- Promote detoxification20 (oral)
- Reduce your risk of diseases rooted in inflammation, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, thanks to its anti-inflammatory activity21 (oral)
- Soften skin and treat acne22 (oral and/or topical)
- Soothe sunburn23,24 (topical)
- Promote healing of sprains and bruises25 (topical)
How to Grow Elderberry
While many varieties of elderberry supplements are commercially available, you can also take advantage of elderberry’s many health benefits by growing your own.26
Elderberry plants can be grown in USDA zones 3 through 10, particularly in moist or wet locations. American elderberry plants can be propagated using germinated seeds, large plants that have been divided, root cuttings, or hardwood or soft-wood cuttings.27,28 You can buy the last two options from a reputable nursery.
The Utah State University Extension29 recommends planting hardwood cuttings in February or March before bud break, while soft-wood cuttings must be planted before July. If you have elderberry container plants, propagate them before summer heat sets in and after the threat of hard frost is gone.
When planting, provide at least 4 feet of space between plants in all directions, If you’re growing elderberries in multiple rows, make sure there is a 6- to 8-foot allowance between rows.
Elderberry plants grow best in fertile soil containing high amounts of organic matter and nutrients, with a neutral pH level. You can also add compost or other organic matter to boost the soil’s nutrient levels and capacity to hold water.
The plants need proper drainage to prevent root rots, so if you have heavy clay soils, consider forming raised beds to enhance drainage.30 Elderberry plants thrive best when they receive full sun, but provide shade when temperatures rise.31
While elderberry plants are drought-tolerant (provided that roots are able to anchor themselves32), they must be irrigated regularly to produce high-quality fruits. Elderberry plants need at least 1 to 2 inches of water weekly during the summertime. Mulching will help retain moisture and discourage weed growth.
Refrain from fertilizing elderberry plants at the time of planting. Instead, wait two months and then lightly apply some nitrogen (one-fourth cup ammonium sulfate per plant). Once the plants are actively producing fruits, give them 1 cup of ammonium sulfate per plant annually as fertilizer.
Pruning must be done annually, during February or March while the plant is dormant. Remove dead, damaged or diseased canes, and discard all 3-year-old and older canes to promote new growth and encourage younger canes to produce better fruits.
Elderberry plants are known to produce suckers — vertical growths arising from a plant’s roots or lower main stem.33 While suckers can be helpful when growing a native garden, they can become invasive. To prevent it from spreading too far, remove any suckers you find.
Harvesting and Storage
You can harvest elderberries once a cluster of flowers has opened. Elderberries that are ready for harvest have a rich and blue, dark purple or black hue, are slightly soft and are found in large bunches called umbrellas.34
According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service,35 the elderberry tree can yield a small crop after one year. The yield will typically increase after the third year.
Elderberry harvesting must be done from mid-August to mid-September, depending on your location and cultivar of the plant.36 To harvest elderberries, cut flowers and stems using pruners, right below the ripe berries.37
Avoid cutting the stems too short as they can be helpful when handling and preparing the berries. Discard immature berries38 and use fresh elderberries as soon as possible.
Wash the berries to eliminate insects or debris, then spread them on a dishtowel to dry for a few minutes. You can keep berries with stems intact in a container. Try to store the berries loosely so they won’t be crushed. Once done, seal containers tightly and freeze berries for future use.
You can also de-stem the berries before freezing. For best results, lay the elderberry stems on a cookie sheet and freeze uncovered for one to two hours. Once frozen solid, the berries can easily be removed from the stems using your hands. The berries can either be used immediately or frozen in a tightly sealed container.
For recipes and ideas for how to use the elderberry flowers for skin tonics and creams, see Grow Forage Cook Ferment’s elderberry article.39 In large amounts, the leaves have toxic effects, but can, like the flowers, be used topically to quell inflammation.40
Reproduced from original article:
- Secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis, are included in “influenza death” statistics, and account for a majority of deaths attributed to influenza every year
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data have repeatedly demonstrated that the flu vaccine does not work for seniors. The 2018/2019 flu vaccines against influenza A and B viruses had an adjusted effectiveness rating of just 12% for those over age 50
- Studies have also demonstrated that influenza vaccination has little or no impact on mortality among the elderly
- The flu vaccine is routinely recommended for all pregnant women during any trimester, yet some scientific evidence suggests it could place their pregnancy at risk. Research funded by the CDC found an association between flu vaccination during pregnancy and an eightfold risk of miscarriage
- Injury following influenza vaccination is now the most compensated claim in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017, a total of 3,575 injury claims for flu vaccine were filed
Flu season is creeping up on us again and there are widespread calls to get your annual flu shot, despite the fact that, year after year, this strategy turns out to have an abysmal rate of effectiveness across the board. One group that consistently turns out to draw the short end of the stick when it comes to influenza vaccine failures is the elderly. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data have repeatedly demonstrated that the flu vaccine does not work for seniors.
Pregnant women are another group that should carefully evaluate the risks and failures of influenza vaccine. The CDC recommends routine flu shots for women during any trimester in every pregnancy, but some scientific evidence suggests it could place their pregnancies at risk.
I’ve written many articles questioning the scientific basis for routine influenza vaccination in general. Here, my focus is the elderly and pregnant women, as there is scientific evidence detailing risks of flu vaccination for both groups.
First, though, I want to remind you of a little-known fact about influenza mortality estimates: Secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis,1 are included in “flu death” statistics, and account for a majority of deaths attributed to influenza every year.
Beware of Sepsis
As discussed in a Health magazine article2 published 2018, the symptoms of sepsis can actually mimic influenza symptoms — with disastrous results. In this particular case, a strep infection progressed to sepsis, which presented as influenza and, unfortunately, led to the amputation of the woman’s arms and legs. She says:3
“… if you have a fever that doesn’t go away or your body temperature is abnormally low, you have signs of any type of infection (whether it’s a cold or a UTI) that’s not getting better, you feel confused, or are in a lot of pain, go to your doctor and ask about sepsis.”
To learn more about sepsis and its treatment, see “Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis” and “Sepsis Is a Top Cause of Death in Hospitals.” It’s worth finding out about a relatively new sepsis treatment using intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine, discussed in these articles.
The treatment has been shown to be extremely effective — far more so than conventional treatments — but many hospitals have yet to make it routinely available, which means it can be difficult to convince them to use it. It’s worth a try, though.
Why Is the Flu Vaccine so Ineffective?
It’s important to remember that the influenza vaccine contains only three or four type A or B vaccine strain influenza viruses, of which there are hundreds. So, even if those vaccine strain viruses are a perfect match for influenza viruses that are circulating in a given flu season, the vaccine does not prevent the majority of other respiratory infections that make people sick and often mistake for influenza unless lab testing is done.4
Twice a year, the World Health Organization issues recommendations on the composition of the upcoming season’s flu vaccines. For the 2019/2020 season, trivalent vaccines distributed in the U.S. will contain:5,6,7
- A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus
Quadrivalent vaccines will contain the three above, plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus. The selected strains for this year are anticipated to improve coverage. In Australia, where the flu season got an early start in the Southern Hemisphere, health officials told people to get vaccinated because it could be an unusually severe season.8 The predominant influenza viruses circulating in Australia this year have been H3N2 influenza A virus followed by influenza B virus.9
In the U.S., health officials have said that the selection of influenza viruses for inclusion in the vaccine this year occurred later than usual. There are reports that flu vaccine production and shipments have been delayed and there will a shorter window of opportunity to get vaccinated.10
A study11 published in 2018 sheds some much-needed light on unvaccinated individuals at risk for influenza and how as many as half of unvaccinated people infected with influenza do not know they have it. Researchers found that “approximately 1 in 5 unvaccinated children and 1 in 10 unvaccinated adults were estimated to be infected by seasonal influenza annually, with rates of symptomatic influenza roughly half of these estimates.”
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Has Always Been Low
Historically, regardless of how well-matched the vaccine is to circulating strains, your chances of getting influenza after vaccination are still greater than 50/50 in any given year. According to CDC data updated September 10, 2019,12 the 2018/2019 flu vaccine (all vaccine types) against influenza A or B viruses had an adjusted effectiveness rating of:
|29% for all ages|
|49% for children aged 6 months through 8 years|
|6% for children ages 9 through 17|
|25% for adults between the ages of 18 and 49|
|12% for those over 50|
|12% for those over 65|
Ironically, despite offering no protection for more than two-thirds of the population, health officials in February touted higher numbers, calling them a great success, as the numbers they had at that time outperformed the 2017/2018 vaccine. Obviously, as the Southern Hemisphere’s season wore on, the numbers wore down, and they’re just as abysmal, if not more so, than other years.13
The 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s adjusted overall effectiveness for the U.S. was just 36% against influenza A and influenza B virus infection.14,15 To put this into context, gargling with tea has been shown to lower your relative risk of the flu by 30%.16
Between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine’s adjusted overall effectiveness was less than 50% more than half the time — with a low of only 10% in the 2004/2005 season.17,18
Vaccinated Individuals Pose a Hidden Threat to Public Health
It’s also important to realize that you can get vaccinated, show few or no symptoms of infection, and still shed and transmit influenza to other people.19,20 This scientific fact flies in the face of statements claiming that vaccination is a “social responsibility” that “protects others around you, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.”21
In reality, after vaccination, you may actually become a contagious silent carrier of disease. A person with influenza who fully expresses symptoms of fever, body aches, cough and other signs of respiratory illness would likely stay at home. However, a vaccinated individual, who is silently contagious, would go to work and into stores and other public places and be unaware they are spreading infection.
This is an especially important fact for vaccinated health care workers, who move freely among patients in hospitals and other medical facilities because everyone assumes vaccinated medical personnel are “immune” to influenza if they get a flu shot every year.
A study22 published in the journal PNAS January 18, 2018, showed that people who receive the seasonal flu shot and then contract influenza excrete infectious influenza viruses through their breath.
What’s more, those vaccinated two seasons in a row have a greater viral load of shedding influenza A viruses. According to the authors, “We observed 6.3 times more aerosol shedding among cases with vaccination in the current and previous season compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons.”
They also note that other studies suggest annual flu vaccination leads to reduced protection against influenza, which means each vaccination is likely to make you progressively more prone to getting sick.
A 2014 paper23 also reveals how priming your immune system with influenza vaccine can make you more susceptible to infection from other viral and bacterial pathogens. This phenomenon is an effect inherent in what’s known as “heterologous immunity.”
Year After Year, Flu Vaccine Proves Useless for Seniors
As mentioned, the 2018/2019 flu vaccine had an adjusted effectiveness rating of just 12% for those ages 50 and above,24 but the full range was between a negative 12% to a positive 31% for ages 50 to 64 and a negative 29 to 41 in those over age 65. That means that for some people, vaccination actually made them more susceptible to infection. Unfortunately, the 9- to 17-year-old group also had a negative confidence interval.
For infections caused by the A(H3N12) virus, the statistics were even more worrisome, with a mere overall adjusted effectiveness of 9% for all ages. For A(H1N1) the numbers were better at 44% — but it’s worth noting that the CDC chose to lump all ages together in that report, rather than breaking them down by age (something they had done earlier in the year, and which they had done for all past years). For example:
- In 2017/2018,25,26 the adjusted influenza vaccine effectiveness for all vaccine types against influenza A viruses for people aged 50 through 64 was 20% (range: -5% to 39%); for those over the age of 65 it was 11% (range: -8% to 38%)
- In 2016/2017,27 the adjusted effectiveness for all vaccine types against influenza A or B viruses for those aged 50 through 64 was 40% (range: 24% to 53%), and those over 65 was 20% (range: -11% to 43%). This despite the fact that the vaccine for the 2016/2017 season was well-matched to the viruses in circulation28
Studies29,30 have also demonstrated that influenza vaccination has no impact on mortality among the elderly. As noted in one such study,31 “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”
Research32 published in 2006 analyzed influenza-related mortality among the elderly population over age 65 in Italy, where flu vaccination coverage between 1970 and 2001 had significantly increased. Here too, investigators found no corresponding decline in deaths. According to the authors:
“These findings suggest that either the vaccine failed to protect the elderly against mortality (possibly due to immune senescence), and/or the vaccination efforts did not adequately target the frailest elderly. As in the U.S., our study challenges current strategies to best protect the elderly against mortality, warranting the need for better controlled trials with alternative vaccination strategies.“
Another 2006 study,33 which followed 72,527 seniors for eight years, showed that, even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44% reduced risk of dying during flu season compared to unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61% less like to die before the flu season ever started — a finding attributed to the “healthy user” effect.
According to the authors, “the magnitude of the bias demonstrated by the associations before the influenza season was sufficient to account entirely for the associations observed during influenza season.” In other words, the vaccine played no role whatsoever in reducing the risk of death during flu season.
Research trying to ascertain whether flu vaccination has any impact on hospitalization rates among the elderly has found it difficult to draw any conclusions due to rampant bias. As noted in a 2019 study34 in the journal Vaccine:
“… 22 studies were included in the systematic review. Overall, two studies (9%) were deemed at moderate risk of bias, thirteen (59%) at serious risk of bias and seven (32%) at critical risk of bias.
For outpatient visits, we found modest evidence of protection by the influenza vaccine. For all-cause hospitalization outcomes, we found a wide range of results, mostly deemed at serious risk of bias.
The included studies suggested that the vaccine may protect older adults against influenza hospitalizations and cardiovascular events. No article meeting our inclusion criteria explored the use of antibiotics and ILI hospitalizations. The high heterogeneity between studies hindered the aggregation of data into a meta-analysis.”
Cell-Based Flu Vaccine No Better Than Egg-Based
The “new and improved” flu shot, Flucelvax — a cell-based35 rather than egg-based vaccine — introduced during the 2017-2018 flu season, has also demonstrated disappointing results. Research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found it protected just 26.5% of those over the age of 65.36
A study37 published September 2019, “Comparison of Vaccine Effectiveness Against Influenza Hospitalization of Cell-Based and Egg-Based Influenza Vaccines, 2017-2018” also concluded that:
“For any influenza, the adjusted relative VE [vaccine effectiveness] of cell-based vaccine versus egg-based vaccines was 43% for patients ages < 65 years and 6% for patients ages ≥ 65 years.
For influenza A(H3N2), the adjusted relative VE was 61% for patients ages < 65 years and −4% for patients ages ≥ 65 years. Statistically significant protection against influenza hospitalization of cell-based vaccine compared to egg-based vaccines was not observed …”
Is Flu Vaccine Safe for Pregnant Women?
Historically, pregnant women have been discouraged from taking drugs and vaccines because there’s very little scientific data evaluating risks for the pregnant woman or the growing fetus. Including pregnant women in clinical trials has been considered unethical because there are unknown risks for both mother and child.
For better or worse, that is changing. In 2018, the FDA issued nonbinding recommendations38 for industry detailing when and how pregnant women can be enrolled in clinical trials for drugs and therapies.
Coincidentally, the increased push for women to get flu shots during any trimester in every pregnancy seems to coincide with an amendment to the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that was included in the 21st Century Cures Act passed by Congress at the end of 2016.
The amendment gives a liability shield to drug companies producing CDC-recommended vaccines for pregnant women so they can’t be sued if a pregnant woman or her child developing in the womb born alive suffers injury from maternal vaccinations.39
As noted by Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center in a public statement given at a hearing September 17, 2018:40
“This is a stunning expansion of vaccine product liability protection for the pharmaceutical industry in a 1986 tort reform Act that created a federal compensation program option for children injured by government recommended and mandated vaccines that was never intended to cover adults or be an exclusive remedy.”
Despite the lack of safety data when it comes to maternal vaccination,41 the CDC now urges all pregnant women to get vaccinated against the flu. In a 2018 article,42 CNN quotes Dr. Laura E. Riley, professor and chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine, saying “The flu vaccine is safe and effective for both pregnant women and their fetuses” and can be given during any trimester.
A definitive statement like that deserves strong supporting evidence, but not only is safety data for pregnant women sorely lacking, some of the data published in the medical literature suggests maternal vaccination may actually be deeply problematic.
Flu Vaccination Linked to Eightfold Risk of Miscarriage
Importantly, research43,44 funded by the CDC itself linked flu vaccination during early pregnancy to an eightfold risk of miscarriage. In all, 485 pregnant women aged 18 to 44 who had a miscarriage during the flu seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 were compared to 485 pregnant women who carried to term.
Women who had received an inactivated 2009 pandemic H1N1-containing flu shot the previous year were more likely to suffer miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) within 28 days of receiving another pH1N1-containing flu shot during pregnancy.
While most of the miscarriages occurred during the first trimester, several also took place in the second trimester.45,46,47 The median fetal term at the time of miscarriage was seven weeks.
Of the 485 women who miscarried, 17 had been vaccinated twice in a row — once in the 28 days prior to miscarriage and once in the previous year. For comparison, of the 485 women who had normal pregnancies, only four had been vaccinated two years in a row. CDC adviser for vaccines Amanda Cohn told The Washington Post:48
“I think it’s really important for women to understand that this is a possible link, and it is a possible link that needs to be studied and needs to be looked at over more [flu] seasons. We need to understand if it’s the flu vaccine, or is this a group of women [who received flu vaccines] who were also more likely to have miscarriages.”
Contradictory Findings Proclaimed ‘Unequivocal’ Evidence
The same researchers have now completed a second study and, this time, they found no link between flu vaccination and miscarriage. A quote by Dr. Edward Belongia, head of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic, in STAT news reads:49 “For women right now who are wondering if it’s safe to get a vaccine in early pregnancy, we can say unequivocally, ‘Yes, it is safe.'”
The data, presented at a February 2019 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice meeting, has yet to be published so I cannot give any details on the findings as of yet. I’d like to point out the obvious, though.
When the 2017 study came out, detractors were quick to point out that you can’t draw conclusions based on a single study. Yet now, they’re claiming to have “unequivocally” proven safety — based on a single study. In my view, the issue is still wide open for discussion and contemplation. Far more research needs to be done before a claim of safety can be made for women receiving influenza vaccine during pregnancy.
Categorical claims of safety cannot be made for vaccinating infants younger than 6 months against influenza, either.
The 2019 scientific review,50 “Influenza Vaccination: Effectiveness, Indications, and Limits in the Pediatric Population,” published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, points out that “questions and limits about influenza vaccine in pediatric population remain open,” and that “vaccine effectiveness in children is variable and suboptimal, with reported differences according to vaccine types, seasons, and child age.” It also states that “there is no influenza vaccine that directly protects infants <6 months of age.”
Questions Abound About Vaccine Safety for Pregnant Women
In the 2013 article, “Vaccination During Pregnancy: Is it Safe?”51 Loe Fisher lists 10 vaccine facts pertaining to the lack of evidence of safety in pregnant women, including the following:
- Drug companies did not test the safety and effectiveness of giving influenza vaccine to pregnant women before the vaccines were licensed in the U.S.52,53
- Data on inflammatory and other biological responses to vaccination during pregnancy that could affect pregnancy and birth outcomes are still lacking.54 For example, it’s still unknown whether the influenza vaccine can cause fetal harm or affect your reproductive capacity,55 which is why the vaccine manufacturer product inserts state that the influenza vaccine should be given to a pregnant woman only if it’s “clearly needed.”
- The biological mechanisms of how maternal vaccination affects the immune and neurological systems of mother and child are not known. Loe Fisher points out, “There are no published biological mechanism studies that assess pre-vaccination health status and measure changes in brain and immune function and chromosomal integrity after vaccination of pregnant women or their babies developing in the womb.”
- There are very few studies comparing health outcomes between pregnant women and their children who receive the flu vaccine and those who do not.
Flu Vaccine Has Thousands of Vaccine Injury Filings
Importantly, injury following influenza vaccination is the most compensated claim in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017, a total of 3,575 injury claims for flu vaccine were filed, 3,057 of which were compensated.56 Being one of the riskiest vaccines, based on VICP injury filings and awards, is it really wise to proclaim the flu vaccine is safe for all pregnant women at all times?
Influenza vaccine package inserts57,58,59 will also inform you that flu vaccine safety and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant or breastfeeding women. This means there is a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating conclusively that pregnant women will benefit from flu vaccination or that getting vaccinated during pregnancy is, in fact, safe.
If safety and effectiveness have not been scientifically established through methodologically sound and rigorously controlled, replicated studies, the issue is still open for debate, and that’s certainly true when it comes to vaccinating pregnant women.
Sanofi Pasteur’s patient information sheet60 for Fluzone quadrivalent vaccine states that “Sanofi Pasteur Inc. is collecting information on pregnancy outcomes and the health of newborns following vaccination with Fluzone Quadrivalent during pregnancy.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also tracks vaccine safety for pregnant women after the fact, while claiming it’s perfectly safe to receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy.61 The sad reality is that pregnant women who are given influenza vaccinations during any trimester during every pregnancy are basically participating in an uncontrolled experiment. They just don’t know it.
Vaccinating During Pregnancy Is a Risky Proposition
Aside from the 2017 study linking flu vaccination to miscarriage, research has shown that stimulating a woman’s immune system — which is what vaccination does and must do to stimulate production of antibodies and artificial immunity — during midterm and later-term pregnancy significantly increases the risk that her baby will develop autism62 during childhood, and/or schizophrenia during the teenage years or early adulthood.63
Strong inflammatory responses during pregnancy may also increase the risk of seizures in the baby, and later, as an adult.64 In fact, a number of neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems can occur in babies born to women immunologically stimulated during pregnancy.65,66,67
Overall, given the uncertainty about how flu vaccination affects health in the short and long term, and the absolute unknowns about how it may affect the future health of the baby, it seems as reasonable to avoid vaccination during pregnancy as it is to avoid alcohol, smoking and exposure to other toxins.
As noted by Jeremy R. Hammond in his May 14, 2019, article, “The CDC’s Criminal Recommendation for a Flu Shot During Pregnancy,”68 the CDC relies on retrospective observational studies for its recommendation. The problem with that is that retrospective observational studies are designed to test a hypothesis. They’re not designed to prove or disprove causation and, in fact, cannot do that.
So, a finding of “no association” in an observational study does not mean that a causal relationship is nonexistent. Observational studies also make it difficult for researchers to detect unexpected harms. If they’re not specifically looking for an outcome, it likely will not show in the data.
It’s a rather long and detailed article, but well worth reading. In it, Hammond points out the hypocrisy of relying on observational data for vaccine safety, saying:69
“[W]hen Aaron E. Carroll in the New York Times advocated the CDC’s flu shot recommendations, he was telling pregnant women, too, to get vaccinated.
He was, in other words, parroting the CDC’s implicit message that we can trust that observational studies are methodologically robust enough to rule out the possibility, with a high degree of confidence, that vaccination could cause harm to the expectant mother or her child.
Yet just a few months earlier, Carroll had reassured the public that observational studies finding a link between alcohol consumption and cancer aren’t determinative and suggested that more randomized controlled trials are needed to establish what harms and benefits are associated with drinking!
As he advised Times readers in that case, ‘Don’t give too much weight to observational data’ … Why should we forego our skepticism when it comes to the lives and health of entire future generations of children? …
Carroll’s credulous acceptance of the observational studies that the CDC relies upon to support its claims is another good example of the kind of institutionalized cognitive dissonance that exists when it comes to the practice of vaccination. It has become a religion, and we are supposed to believe in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines as a matter of faith …
When it comes to vaccines, we are not supposed to concern ourselves with the methodological weaknesses of the kinds of studies the CDC relies on to support its flu shot recommendation for pregnant women.
We are not supposed to notice that the CDC’s statement that ‘there’s a lot of evidence’ that it’s safe to vaccinate pregnant women also implies that there’s at least some evidence that it is not …
[I]f pharmaceutical companies made the same claims that the CDC makes about the safety of vaccinating pregnant women, they could be sued for fraud.”
1 Virulence January 1, 2014; 5(1): 137–142
2 Health October 2, 2018 https://www.health.com/cold-flu-sinus/sepsis-left-me-an-amputee
3 Health October 2, 2018 https://www.health.com/cold-flu-sinus/sepsis-left-me-an-amputee
4 Cochrane.org http://www.cochrane.org/CD001269/ARI_vaccines-prevent-influenza-healthy-adults
5 Precisionvaccinations.com 2019-2020 Recommendations
6 CDC.gov Upcoming 2019/2020 Flu Season https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/flu-season-2019-2020.htm
7 Pharmacy Times May 2, 2019 https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/marilyn-bulloch-pharmd-bcps/2019/05/changes-in-influenza-vaccine-may-improve-coverage
8 7 News May 27, 2019 https://7news.com.au/news/health/flu-deaths-2019-australia-three-influenza-strains-causing-deadly-flu-season-c-135163
9 VaxBeforeTravel. Aug. 12, 2019. https://www.vaxbeforetravel.com/australianpharmacists-may-have-reduced-influenza-season-impact-2019
10 WFLA.com July 23, 2019 https://www.wfla.com/video/doctors-warn-of-delayed-vaccine-shipments-ahead-of-flu-season/
11 Vaccine May 311, 2018; 36(23): 3199-3207
12 CDC.gov 2018-2019 Vaccine Effectiveness https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/2018-2019.html
13 US News February 14, 2019 https://www.usnews.com/news/healthnews/articles/2019-02-14/flu-shot-much-more-effective-this-year-cdc-says
14 CDC.gov MMWR February 16, 2018; 67(6): 180-185
15 The Lancet April 6, 2016
16 BMC Public Health. 2016; 16: 396, Results
17 CDC, December 21, 2015 Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work?
18 CDC, February 14, 2019
19 Clinical Infectious Diseases December 22, 2016; 64(6): 736-742
20 PLOS One December 11, 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051653
21 CNN September 27, 2018 https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/26/health/flu-deaths-2017-2018-cdc-bn/index.html
22 PNAS January 18, 2018; 115(5): 1081-108
23 Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2014 Mar; 95(3): 405–416 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3923083/
24 CDC.gov 2018-2019 Vaccine Effectiveness https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/2018-2019.html
25 CDC.gov Influenza VE Tables for 2017-2018 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/2017-2018.html
26 MD Edge February 15, 2018
27 CDC.gov, Influenza VE Tables for 2016/2017
28 Medicalxpress June 21, 2017 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-06-fluvaccine-ineffective-people-older.html
29 Jama Internal Medicine 2005;165(3):265-272
30 Vaccine 2006 Oct 30;24(42-43):6468-75 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16876293
31 Jama Internal Medicine 2005;165(3):265-272
32 Vaccine 2006 Oct 30;24(42-43):6468-75 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16876293
33 International Journal of Epidemiology April 1, 2006; 35(2): 337-344
34 Vaccine May 27, 2019; 37(24): 3179-3189
35 CDC.gov Cell-Based Flu Vaccine https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/cell-based.htm
36 U.S. News & World Report, June 20, 2018
37 Vaccine September 16, 2019; 37(39): 5807-5811
38 FDA.gov, Pregnant Women: Scientific and Ethical Considerations for Inclusion in Clinical Trials, Guidance for Industry (DRAFT April 2018) (PDF)
39 National Vaccine Information Center September 18, 2018
40 National Vaccine Information Center September 18, 2018
41 Vaccine 2003; 21(24): 3487-3491
42 CNN September 27, 2018 https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/26/health/flu-deaths-2017–2018-cdc-bn/index.html
43 Vaccine September 25, 2017; 35(40): 5314-5322
44 Fortune September 13, 2017 http://fortune.com/2017/09/13/flu-vaccine-miscarriage-link-study/
45 Vaccine September 25, 2017; 35(40): 5314-5322
46 AAFP September 20, 2017 https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-thepublic/20170920flumiscarry.html
47 CDC.gov September 13, 2017
48 Washington Post September 13, 2017
49 STAT News February 27, 2019 https://www.statnews.com/2019/02/27/new-study-finds-no-link-between-flu-shots-and-miscarriages-allaying-fears/
50 Frontiers in Pediatrics 2019; 7: 317 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6682587/
51 NVIC.org November 9, 2013 http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-VaccineNews/November-2013/Vaccination-During-Pregnancy–Is-It-Safe-.aspx
52 Vaccine 2003; 21(24): 3487-3491
53 CDC. MMWR 2011; 60(41): 1424-1426
54 Vaccine 2011; 29(48): 8982-8987
55 NVIC.org. Influenza Vaccine Package Inserts: Important Information from Manufacturers http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Influenza/Influenza-Vaccine-Package-Inserts.aspx
56 HRSA.gov, VICP Adjudication Statistics, Updated September 1, 2019 (PDF)
57 Fluzone Package Insert https://www.fda.gov/media/99172/download
58 Fluarix Package Insert https://www.fda.gov/media/84804/download
59 Afluria Package Insert http://labeling.seqirus.com/PI/US/Afluria/EN/Afluria-Prescribing-Information-TIV.pdf
60 Sanofi Pasteur Patient Information Sheet Fluzone Quadrivalent Vaccine (PDF)
61 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists September 13, 2017
62 Excessive Vaccination and Autism, Russel Blaylock MD (PDF)
63 Journal of Neuroscience 2007; 27: 10695-10702
64 Journal of Neuroscience 2008; 28: 6904-6913
65 Brain Behavior and Immunity 2001; 15: 411-420
66 Biological Psychiatry 2006; 59: 546-554
67 Brain Behavior and Immunology 2006; 20: 378-388
68 Jeremyhammond.com May 14, 2019
The above list at:
- Moringa has many similar benefits to broccoli and is likely just as potent as sulforaphane. Virtually all parts of the Moringa tree can be consumed. The leaves are thought to have a desirable nutritional balance of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins
- Moringa is an excellent source of protein, fatty acids, beta-carotene, phenolics, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol, flavonoids and isothiocyanates
- Moringa leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit and flowers have antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antiviral activities
- Like broccoli, Moringa has potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori
- While broccoli and Moringa share many similarities and offer many of the same health benefits, Moringa comes out on top in terms of economics. It’s far easier to grow, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges
Science has proven food can be potent medicine. Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around. While it contains several health-promoting compounds, one of the most widely studied is the isothiocyanate sulforaphane.1
The cancer-fighting properties of sulforaphane are perhaps the most well-known,2 but it has also been shown to benefit your heart3 and brain, boosting detoxification4 and helping prevent and/or treat high blood pressure,5 Alzheimer’s6 and even autism7,8,9 and schizophrenia.10,11,12
Moringa — another brassica superfood
Another plant with many similar benefits is Moringa (Moringa oleifera), also known as horseradish tree or drumstick tree. While it looks nothing like broccoli, it is part of the brassica family and is considered a vegetable,13 despite growing like a tree.
I recently planted hundreds of organic Moringa seeds in my garden. I don’t plan on letting them grow to trees but rather have them densely planted and will harvest them as microgreens for my salad. Organic Moringa seeds are easy to obtain on Amazon but they only grow in subtropical climates.
Virtually every part of the plant is edible and has medicinal qualities, and most parts can be consumed either raw or cooked. Globally, the leaves, roots, pods and flowers are most typically consumed.14 You can also harvest the plant as a microgreen, which is what I plan on doing.
As noted in the mini-review “Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera,” published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (APJCP) in 2014:15
“Moringa oleifera is a multi-purpose herbal plant used as human food and an alternative for medicinal purposes worldwide. It has been identified by researchers as a plant with numerous health benefits including nutritional and medicinal advantages.
Moringa oleifera contains essential amino acids, carotenoids in leaves, and components with nutraceutical properties … An important factor that accounts for the medicinal uses of Moringa oleifera is its very wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics and nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Almost all parts from Moringa can be used as a source for nutrition with other useful values.”
Moringa is an excellent source of protein (dried leaves containing 30.3% crude protein and 19 amino acids16), fatty acids (44.57% being a-linolenic acid17), beta-carotene, phenolics, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol,18 flavonoids and isothiocyanates.19
As noted in a 2011 paper20 on the nutritional composition of Moringa leaves, “The values of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamin profiles reflect a desirable nutritional balance.” A 2007 paper in Phytotherapy Research describes Moringa’s benefits, noting that:21
“… [T]he leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, antiinflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine …”
Other studies22 report Moringa can help protect liver, kidney, heart, testes and lung health, has analgesic and antiulcer activity, offers protection against radiation, and helps modulate your immune system. Research has also confirmed Moringa has a very high degree of safety,23 although high doses of seed extracts, specifically, may have toxic effects.24
Like broccoli, Moringa contains potent anticancer compounds
Studies have shown sulforaphane found in broccoli supports normal cell function and division while causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon,25 liver,26,27 prostate,28 breast29 and tobacco-induced lung cancer.30
Similarly, many of the health benefits of Moringa — which include the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases, neurodysfunctional diseases, diabetes and cancer — are also attributed to its glucosinolate31 and isothiocyanate32 content. The isothiocyanate in Moringa is called moringin.33 A 2018 paper34 in Scientific Reports reviewed the chemoprotective glucosinolates found in 12 species of Moringa, pointing out that:
“Glucosinolates (GS) are metabolized to isothiocyanates that may enhance human healthspan by protecting against a variety of chronic diseases …
We assess leaf, seed, stem, and leaf gland exudate GS content of 12 of the 13 known Moringa species … We document potent chemoprotective potential in 11 of 12 species, and measure the cytoprotective activity of 6 purified GS in several cell lines. Some of the unique GS rank with the most powerful known inducers of the phase 2 cytoprotective response.
Although extracts of most species induced a robust phase 2 cytoprotective response in cultured cells, one was very low (M. longituba), and by far the highest was M. arborea, a very rare and poorly known species …
Overall, cytoprotective enzyme inducer potency for 11 of 12 Moringa leaf extracts was comparable to that observed for broccoli seeds, which are the most potent plant source of this activity.”
As explained in the Scientific Reports paper,35 glucosinolates are metabolized into active isothiocyanates by an enzyme called myrosinase. Myrosinate also produces the isothiocyanate moringin,36 a compound in Moringa also known as 4RBITC (after its chemical name, 4-(alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate). Like sulforaphane in broccoli, moringin has potent anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects.37
The isothiocyanate-related health benefits from cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and Moringa can thus be effectively augmented by pairing it with a myrosinase-containing food38 such as mustard seed39 (the most potent), daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula or coleslaw.
Moringa also has potent antibiotic activity
Like broccoli, Moringa has also been shown to have potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).40
One significant benefit of Moringa over broccoli, however, is its economic viability. While broccoli is difficult to grow, Moringa is extremely hardy, drought resistant and easy to grow. As such, it offers valuable benefits to underserved populations worldwide where health care and Western medicines, including something as basic as antibiotics, are hard to come by.41 As noted in Scientific Reports:42
“… (4RBITC), the isothiocyanate created by hydrolysis of ‘glucomoringin’ … from M. oleifera is a potent and selective antibiotic against H. pylori.
Other studies have shown that the antibiotic activity of 4RBITC from M. oleifera is selective and potent against other important human pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It also appears to be effective in controlling certain manifestations of both ALS and multiple sclerosis in mouse models.
A growing number of epidemiologic, animal, and clinical studies link dietary glucosinolates and their cognate isothiocyanates to protection against chronic diseases including a variety of cancers, diabetes, and autism spectrum disorder via the Keap1-Nrf2-ARE-mediated induction of phase 2 cytoprotective enzymes.
The coordinated Nrf2-mediated upregulation of this large group of enzymes is responsible for the very important indirect antioxidant activity of these isothiocyanates.”
A 2005 study43 in Planta Medica, the effectiveness of several different isothiocyanates were compared to see which offered the most potent protection against H. pylori. Of the isothiocyanates tested, sulforaphane and moringin (4RBITC) were the most effective. As noted by the authors:44
“[W]e showed for the first time that ITCs other than sulforaphane also exhibit a potent effect against H. pylori … Among the compounds tested in the present study, 4RBITC and sulforaphane exhibited the highest inhibitory activity against H. pylori.”
Moringa, a potent influenza remedy
Another component Moringa shares with broccoli, quercetin, is a plant flavonol that packs a powerful antiviral punch, combats inflammation and acts as a natural antihistamine. Quercetin (which is also available in supplement form) has been used to ameliorate obesity, Type 2 diabetes, circulatory dysfunction, chronic inflammation and mood disorders.45
As noted in one paper,46 “the most obvious feature of quercetin is its strong antioxidant activity which potentially enables it to quench free radicals from forming resonance-stabilized phenoxyl radicals.”
A number of studies have also highlighted quercetin’s ability to prevent and treat both the common cold47 and influenza,48 making it a safe alternative to antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu (a risky drug49 that does not reduce viral transmission and does not lower your risk of complications from the flu, such as pneumonia.50,51)
For example, a 2010 animal study found that quercetin inhibits both influenza A and B viruses. Importantly, they also discovered the viruses were unable to develop resistance to quercetin. What’s more, when used concomitantly with antiviral drugs (amantadine or oseltamivir), the effect was significantly amplified, while preventing drug-resistance from developing.52 Quercetin has also been shown to be effective against:
- “Bird flu” (H5N153)
- “Swine flu” (H1N154,55 and H3N256)57
- Herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus58
- Hepatitis B59 and C60,61
Moringa — even better than broccoli?
While broccoli and Moringa share many similarities, and offer many of the same health benefits, Moringa comes out on top in terms of economics. It’s far easier to grow, even under challenging conditions, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges.
The fact that you can eat more or less the whole tree in a variety of different ways also makes it an attractive option. The long seed pods, colloquially known as Moringa drumsticks, are a common staple in Indian cuisine. For information and a few sample recipes, see NDTV Food’s website.63
As mentioned earlier, you can also harvest these seeds, sow them, and harvest them like microgreens, i.e., while they’re small like sprouts. For a quick review of how to do this, see the video below. For guidance on how to grow Moringa trees, see my previous article, “How to Grow Moringa Tree.”
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