In humans, the common cold runs its course regardless of what we do about it. It is an acute, self-limiting disease of the upper respiratory system characterized by uncomfortable, but not deadly, symptoms.
Humans catch "the flu" - a viral infection that sets off a four-alarm fire of symptoms that include chills, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, coughing, fatigue and general misery. Even though we feel worse for a longer period of time, left to its own devices, the body's natural immunity will ward off the ill effects of a flu virus within a couple of weeks.
The very young, the very old and people who are already ill are most at risk of life-threatening complications. Natural immunity has not yet developed, is enfeebled in the very old or is already compromised.
Will a flu shot help? Maybe not.
Most recently, a University Of Minnesota study2 published in January, 2013 found that flu vaccines may not offer as much protection as previously thought. The elderly, in particular, do not appear to receive measurable value from the flu shot, which is the same conclusion reached by several previous studies. Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines also didn't offer much protection to children over the age of seven.
This study assessed efficacy and effectiveness of licensed influenza vaccines in the US by including only those studies that used sensitive and highly specific diagnostic tests to confirm cases of influenza. Eligible articles were published between Jan 1, 1967, and Feb 15, 2011, and used RT-PCR or culture for confirmation of influenza. According to the authors:
"Influenza vaccines can provide moderate protection against virologically confirmed influenza, but such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons. Evidence for protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking." Per this analysis, at best you'll have up to 59 percent protection if the selected type A and B influenza strains included in the vaccine are exactly those you happen to be exposed to. If not, you'll have no protection at all. So, again, you're taking a health risk for little or no benefit. Lead researcher Osterholm told WFMY News 2:
"We found that current influenza vaccine protection is substantially lower than for most routine recommended vaccines and is suboptimal."The focus of drugs developed by modern science in the last two centuries has been to thwart the body's natural defenses. Antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-psychotic and other "anti" drugs wage chemical warfare against symptoms.
The focus of modern medicine is to thwart the symptoms of disease rather than address its cause. Antibiotics. Ant-acids. Antihistamines. Anti-fungal. Anti-inflammatory. Anti-psychotic. Drugs developed in the last 175 years - the industrial age of man - are designed to kill symptoms rather than effect healing.
Not only has industrial-age science proved impotent in curbing the incidence of cancer, ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis, peptic ulcer, appendicitis in countries worldwide, but it has unleashed a rash of deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria carrying tuberculosis, salmonella, e coli and gonnorhea.
In fact, due to widespread use of antibiotics in people and pets as well as a prophylaxis in food animals, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics is fast becoming the most alarming public health issue of the 21st century.
It has fared no better in terms of treating cancer.
A paper published in the Australian journal Clinical Oncology, entitled The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies concludes that the most highly touted and accepted treatment for malignant tumors is effective in only a scant 2 percent of patients. That's 2 people in every 100 who undergo chemotherapy.
The introduction of cytotoxic chemotherapy for solid tumors and the establishment of the sub-specialty of medical oncology have been accepted as an advance in cancer management. However, despite the early claims of chemotherapy as the panacea for curing all cancers, the impact of cytotoxic chemotherapy is limited to small subgroups of patients and mostly occurs in the less common malignancies."
As Dr. John Powles writes in The Medicine of Industrial Man,
Conventional wisdom says that health is the absence of symptoms; yet symptoms are the quintessential sign of a healthy immune system says A. Malleson in an article entitled, Need your Doctor be so useless?“one of the most striking paradoxes facing the students of modern medical culture lies in the contrast between the enthusiasm associated with current developments and the reality of diminishing returns to health for rapidly increasing efforts.”
This turns conventional wisdom on its head and forces us to look at health in a new light.Over millions of years our bodies and those of our ancestors have perfected defence mechanisms against microbial invasions and noxious chemical substances.These mechanisms are very highly developed. For example, mucus which might be dangerous if it were to accumulate in the trachea is expelled by coughing. Toxic substances in the intestines are eliminated by diarrhoea. Microbial invasion of the body is accompanied by a rise in temperature, which is probably intended to increase the rate at which the defence mechanisms are able to act. To suppress this cough, to prevent this diarrhoea, to reduce this temperature is to counteract essential natural processes.
It is not the absence of symptoms, but instead the presence of a robust immune system - “a continuing property potentially measurable by the individual’s ability to rally from insults, whether chemical, physical, infectious, psychological or social,” as Professor J. Ralph Audy describes it.
Seeing health through this lens, we can no longer blame the micro-organism for the infectious disease it carries, but look instead to the constellation of factors that reduce the body's resistance to infection from something that would normally induce only relatively mild symptoms.
Instead of waging a chemical warfare on the symptoms of disease, we would take aim at reducing disruptive influences and maximizing the body's ability to deal with them when they are encountered.
Focused on cause rather than effect, we might be more conscious of the levels of pollutant in the air, earth, food and water that contribute to a stable immune system or its degradation. And we might be far more skeptical of public health policies that mandate strategies that effectively depress natural immunity rather than boost it.
Mandatory vaccination is the most insidious of these.
John Powles, “The Medicine of Industrial Man”. The Ecologist Vol. 2 No. 10, October 1972.
R. Logan. Quoted in A. Malleson, Need your Doctor be so useless?. Allen Unwin, London, 1973.
J. Ralph Audy, “Measurement and Diagnosis of Health”. In P. Shepherd and D. McKinley eds., Environ/Mental. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1971.