Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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Cold and Flu Prevention November 8, 2010

Late October/Early November is the traditional start of flu season. Here is what usually happens:  The schoolchildren eat excessive amounts of Halloween candy.  The extra sugar acts to suppress their immune systems.  At the same time, cool, damp weather begins and the children are inside more.  Soon various forms of flu are spreading from child to child in a receptive environment and from there the flu spreads to the adults.

How do we prevent the flu? The general recommendations for strengthening the immune system are still primary: stress reduction, regular acupuncture, good diet along with steps to improve digestion, good hygiene (frequent hand washing, etc…).

I also teach patients various acupressure techniques that are effective for immune building and disease prevention. In addition, I’ve been dispensing two different supplements to patients to help build their immunity and one supplement to keep in reserve at home in case a cold or flu starts. We dispense only to current patients since no formula is indicated for everyone.

Two supplements that we often give to patients to boost the immune system:

The first supplement is a Chinese Herbal Formula called Yu Ping Feng Wan, “Jade Wind-Screen Pills”. This is a very old formula in continuous use at least for the last 700 years in China. It contains Huang Qi (Astragalus), Fang Feng (Siler), and Bai Zhu (Atractylodes). The action of this formula is to build up your immunity, hence the name: create a precious (Jade) Screen around your body to shield you from pathogenic influences (Wind). Yu Ping Feng San is a good formula for almost everyone to take as we enter cold and flu season.

We also sometimes give patients another good modern formula that combines enzymes, Chinese Herbs and Western Herbs called ProSol™ Immune. Here are some of the ingredients of this formula: PHysioProtease™ is an enzyme blend that activates the immune system to promote healing and seeks out areas of inflammation and tissue damage. Astragalus root extract – An antioxidant that helps protect the liver, has many known immune stimulating properties. Goldenseal root – Contains several alkaloids shown to have anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. Echinacea angustifolia root – Has antiviral, anti-fungal and immune-stimulating effects

What do we do when our immune boosting preventive measures are not adequate and we feel ourselves starting to get a cold or flu?

I’ve been recommending to patients a Chinese Herbal Formula called Gan Mao Ling Wan to keep on hand for just that time. This formula has antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be very effective at helping the body overcome an initial disease onset. This formula is not as effective at building the basic protections as Yu Ping Feng Wan or ProSol™ Immune, but is more effective for initial disease onset. Here are the ingredients of Gan Mao Ling Wan: Ge Gen (Pueraria Root); Da Qing Ye (Baphicacanthus Leaf); Bo He (Mint); Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum); Jie Geng (Platycodon); Xing Ren (Apricot Seed); Lian Qiao (Forsythia) Gan Cao (Licorice). Gan Mao Ling Wan, if taken at the onset of a cold or flu, can often help your immune system throw the disease off quickly.

Be prepared for flu season! If you wish to maintain optimal health through this coming flu season, please schedule an appointment. We dispense only to our patient base, so if you are not already a patient, you will need to make an initial appointment. Our best wishes for your good health this flu season!

 

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To Vaccinate or Not Vaccinate? October 16, 2009

Patients have been asking me lately about whether or not they should get the flu vaccinations, both regular seasonal flu vaccination and the H1N1 swine flu vaccination.

I think the short answer for most of my patients is no.  However, this is not a simple question, so I’m going to take a round about way of answering it, and first discuss vaccinations in general.

Even if every bad thing you have ever heard about the effect of vaccinations on individuals is true: (vaccinations contribute to autism in children, they can cause auto-immune disorders, people often get sick immediately after getting vaccinated, some of the additives in vaccines can contribute to cancer or neurological diseases); even then, from a public health perspective, vaccinations are still often beneficial. The benefits to the general public of not getting epidemics outweigh the individual negatives. Over the course of the 20th century vaccinations have apparently helped reduce the incidence of infectious diseases such as smallpox, whooping cough, and polio. At the same time, for most individuals there seems to be very little immediate negative effects from getting vaccinated.

So what we have to do is find a reasonable balance between the severity of the epidemic threat, the effectiveness of the vaccine against the epidemic threat, and the potential harm to the individual from getting vaccinated.

At this time, for the regular seasonal flu vaccine, there is little or no evidence that the flu shot is even effective at reducing the incidence of flu. You can see a very interesting article in this month’s Atlantic magazine, titled “Does the Vaccine Matter?” (Available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1 ).  The years that the flu vaccine has been a good match for the seasonal flu have no difference in outcomes from the years in which the flu vaccine has been a poor match. No large scale double blind testing has ever been done. There is a widespread belief that flu shots reduce the incidence of flu, but very little evidence that this is true.

For the H1N1 swine flu vaccination (now just starting to be available) here is the situation: While the virus spreads easily, the sickness itself is so far relatively mild and most people have developed no lasting problems. At the same time, the effectiveness of the vaccine is unknown and the risk of potential harm from a new, relatively untested vaccine is higher than normal.

So it seems that for both seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu, there is very little benefit from getting the vaccinations and very little risk incurred from not getting the vaccinations.  This is why I have been recommending that patients not get flu shots and that patients instead take other steps to build their immune systems naturally.

Aside from the lack of benefits, there are potential downsides to getting the flu vaccinations. These downsides apply to most other vaccinations as well, and that is why vaccinations should be individually evaluated for benefits and risks.  There is no effective treatment that doesn’t potentially cause some problems.

Here is a partial listing of some of the potential downsides of vaccinations:

Mercury in the form of Thimeresol is used as a preservative in many vaccines. Mercury is a known neurotoxin and can combine with other factors to induce neurological and auto-immune disorders.

If you are already sick, getting a vaccination may throw your immune system further out of balance and cause long lasting problems. Never get a vaccination when you are feeling sick. This is a particular problem with young children since their immune systems are not fully developed. Likewise, receiving multiple vaccinations at once is not a good idea. Children in this country receive far more vaccinations than in other countries with some evidence that their overall health is worse.

Introducing an infectious agent directly into the blood stream means that it is not mediated by the normal immune protections. In addition, some vaccines contain aluminum, formaldehyde and other toxic substances. These substances can cause allergic reactions that can lead to auto immune disorders in those who already have compromised health. Even non-toxic vaccine additives such as squalene or egg whites can induce allergic reactions when introduced directly into the blood.

There are many more potential downsides. Some people will develop either immediate or long term problems after getting vaccinated. Of course, most relatively healthy people will have no problems whatsoever with the vaccines.

In the case of the seasonal flu or H1N1 flu vaccinations, the risks of getting the vaccine are not balanced by the potential rewards.

The answer for other diseases or for future pandemic diseases could be different.

 

Preventive measures for H1N1 Swine Flu August 25, 2009

Yesterday the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued their estimate of the possible impact of H1N1 swine flu on the American population:  Up to half the population infected and up to 1.8 million hospitalizations required!  This is much more than a normal flu season—we’ll find out in the next few months how accurate their estimate is.  This H1N1 flu variety is relatively new and people have built up less immunity.  Unlike most influenzas, predictions are that older people will have more immunity and that this flu will disproportionately infect younger school age people. 

Here’s a link to the Center For Disease Control’s H1N1 Swine Flu site with lots of good information:  http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1Flu/

I’m certain the mainstream media will be sufficiently alarmist so the real issue becomes what should we do to prepare for the impending flu season.  Disease is always an interaction between the strength of the pathogen and the strength of our immune system.   How can we strengthen our immune systems to better resist these new pathogens?

The vaccine which may help prevent infections won’t be ready until the flu season is well underway.  Vaccines have their own problems as well, and I’ll discuss these in a future blog post.

 The basic recommendations for strengthening the immune system are still primary:     stress reduction,   regular acupuncture,    good diet along with steps to improve digestion,   good hygiene (frequent hand washing, etc…)

I also teach patients various acupressure techniques that are effective for immune building and disease prevention.  In addition, I’ve been dispensing two different supplements to patients to help build their immunity and one supplement to keep in reserve at home in case a cold or flu starts.  We dispense only to current patients since no formula is indicated for everyone.

Two supplements that we often give to patients to boost the immune system:

The first supplement is a Chinese Herbal Formula called Yu Ping Feng Wan, “Jade Wind-Screen Pills”.  This is a very old formula in continuous use at least for the last 700 years in China.  It contains Huang Qi (Astragalus), Fang Feng (Siler), and Bai Zhu (Atractylodes).  The action of this formula is to build up your immunity, hence the name:  create a precious (Jade) Screen around your body to shield you from pathogenic influences (Wind).  Yu Ping Feng San is a good formula for almost everyone to take as we enter cold and flu season. 

We also sometimes give patients another good modern formula that combines enzymes, Chinese Herbs and Western Herbs called ProSol™ Immune.  Here are some of the ingredients of this formula:  PHysioProtease™ is an enzyme blend that activates the immune system to promote healing and seeks out areas of inflammation and tissue damage.  Astragalus root extract – An antioxidant that helps protect the liver, has many known immune stimulating properties.  Goldenseal root – Contains several alkaloids shown to have anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. Echinacea angustifolia root – Has antiviral, anti-fungal and immune-stimulating effects

What do we do when our immune boosting preventive measures are not adequate and we feel ourselves starting to get a cold or flu? 

I’ve been recommending to patients a Chinese Herbal Formula called Gan Mao Ling to keep on hand for just that time.  This formula has antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be very effective at helping the body overcome an initial disease onset.  This formula is not as effective at building the basic protections as Yu Ping Feng Wan or ProSol™ Immune, but is more effective for initial disease onset.  Here are the ingredients of Gan Mao Ling Wan: Ge Gen (Pueraria Root); Da Qing Ye (Baphicacanthus Leaf); Bo He (Mint); Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum); Jie Geng (Platycodon); Xing Ren (Apricot Seed); Lian Qiao (Forsythia) Gan Cao (Licorice).  Gan Mao Ling Wan, if taken at the onset of a cold or flu, can often help your immune system throw the disease off quickly.

Be prepared for flu season!   If you wish to maintain optimal health through this coming flu season, please schedule an appointment.  We dispense only to our patient base, so if you are not already a patient, you will need to make an initial appointment.  Our best wishes for your good health this flu season!