inspired by some comments on the last post and some discussions i’ve had lately in real life, i want to talk a bit more about our immune systems and our medical systems.

at birth, most of us are blessed with a system for fighting off “invaders” to our bodies. if we are healthy, and in fine working order, this system will continue to monitor what is going on with us, and keep all things in balance. if we can eat nutritious food (food that is alive with nutrients and not processed beyond recognition) it will help build an environment that supports this system. if we can get enough rest and at least some exercise that helps too.

this system is called our immune system.

in very simplistic terms, here’s how it works: if something enters your body that doesn’t belong, your immune system will mount an attack against it. it will send special cells to destroy the invader, whether that invader is a splinter or a virus or bacteria that doesn’t belong. this is why, if you have a splinter that stays in, you will get redness and heat and pus around it; your immune system is doing its thing and waging war against that foreign body. when it happens near the surface of your skin like that you can see it. cool, right?

when you get certain illnesses, your body learns their identities and how to fight them. this is called immunity. that’s why, in certain cases, once you’ve gotten an illness, you won’t get it again.

and this is the thinking behind vaccinations. if a small amount of a certain illness is introduced into your body, they can get your body to identify it and respond to it and develop an immunity to it without you ever having to have a full-blown case of it.

in situations where the disease you are avoiding is a truly life-threatening or crippling disaster, this is a wonderful thing. vaccines have undoubtedly saved many lives. but when vaccines are introduced for illnesses that are merely bothersome, like chicken pox, or over-used to the point where they are ineffective and quite possibly dangerous, things have gone a bit off the rails…

i double-checked with independent websites, as well as the CDC, and indeed the flu vaccine does have live virus. other vaccines, in addition to many known poisons and other toxic chemicals, include live viruses as well. so for people who think they are getting some sterile and safe solution injected into their systems, they need to think again. as i said, there is a method behind the madness, and there is a reason to give a person a small amount of disease so their body can fight it off and thus garner immunity- but just be aware that this is what is going on. also, there are often different formulations available for the same vaccine, and some of them will have less of the really bad stuff in them than others, so you may want to be an informed consumer if you choose to go the vaccination route…

but let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. a baby is born with- let’s hope- this great and intact immune system. it’s humming along, just waiting to kick into high gear and be used. it’s waiting for germs to come its way so it can fight them off and get better and stronger, because that’s how it does its job…

and the well-meaning parents, because this is 2013, and they have read up on all the latest parenting books and whatnot, wipe down every available surface with sanitizing wipes. they make all visitors clean their hands with sanitizing gel. they buy a highchair with an anti-bacterial tray (yes, they really do have these). they boil the baby’s pacifier (because of course the baby uses a pacifier) every time it touches anything outside of the baby’s mouth. they sterilize toys and wash clothes in the hottest possible water. they are conscientious and careful because they love and want to protect their baby.

and the baby’s immune system withers with disuse and the baby grows up unable to fight off even the simplest of infections.

contrast this with the picture of robust health that comes to mind when you think of a farm kid. imagine a gaggle of amish kids running through an open field. they fall in the dirt and they get up laughing. they breathe the air and they smile wide goofy grins. their sun-kissed faces radiate something… their coloring tells you that they eat and drink and exercise and have some fight in them. and they probably didn’t grow up with hand sanitizer.

think about the people you know who get sick the least. are they the ones who obsess over every germ, or are they the ones who seem to be able to pick up an apple off the table and just take a bite?

now, which came first, the health or the attitude? maybe the person in good health can afford to be more casual about germs and such because they get sick less often. fair enough. but if your immune system never gets a chance to develop early on, it never develops. like any other growth, if it doesn’t happen in its right time, it will be stunted forever. that’s the point.

so then why aren’t routine vaccines an excellent idea? i just said exposing your immune system to challenges is necessary and good, right?

well, there are a multitude of problems in the way vaccines are done today.

first of all, they are done way too many at a time. although they are studied to be safe (and some people will argue with these studies as well, but let’s assume for a moment that they are true and that each vaccine is indeed perfectly okay…), these studies are always done on each individual vaccine. but when a baby or child goes in for shots, they are given in groups. sometimes those groups are so alarming as to be almost unbelievable. so, even if you believe each individual vaccine to be perfectly safe, the amount of diseases cascading into the body at once and flooding the immune system is no good. the body is not designed to wage war on 8 fronts at a time. think about it. in real life, do you ever see someone catch measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis, diphtheria, and other illnesses all at once? how about just measles, mumps, and rubella all at once (the popular childhood MMR vaccine)? just because it is convenient for the doctor’s office to administer or easier for the drug company to make doesn’t mean it’s right for your child’s body to assimilate. just a thought…

second, there really are horrible things in the vaccines. in addition to the more controversial additives, like thimerisol (a mercury substance), there are icky things like formaldehyde that you would really never want injected into your bloodstream. if you read the ingredient list and then look into what these things are, it will make you cringe (or worse). it’s not like this stuff is a secret. some websites try to sugar coat the information, but it’s all out there, easy shmeasy to find.

here are the ingredients for for one popular MMR vaccine:

Amino acids, bovine albumin or serum, chick embryo fibroblasts, human

serum albumin, gelatin, glutamate, neomycin, phosphate buffers, sorbitol, sucrose, vitamins

here are the ingredients for DTaP:

Aluminum potassium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, bovine extract, formaldehyde or formalin, gelatin, polysorbate 80, sodium phosphate, thimerosal

these are lists from the CDC and widely distributed elsewhere. this also doesn’t take into account the stuff that they culture these vaccines in, which sometimes is equally funky. so in addition to the actual disease organisms your body needs to mount an attack against, it is getting blasted with all of this other toxic stuff that it would never encounter (hopefully) directly in its bloodstream, especially in the concentrations it’s going to be assaulted with when it’s directly injected.  just sayin’, be aware…

third, the idea that they work is often a myth. we are led to believe that if we just line up and comply with their schedules that we will be protected against all sorts of maladies for life. but in a recent mumps outbreak, for example, 8% of those who contracted it had been vaccinated once against it, and 89% of those who got it had been vaccinated twice! so among the vaccinated crowd, the likelihood of contracting mumps was actually higher among those who supposedly had more protection. who was less likely to contract mumps? the un-vaccinated kids. well that’s a stumper, huh? part of the reason for this, i will tell you in the interest of full disclosure, is that the un-vaccinated kids had been warned to stay home from school because it was feared that they were the ones who posed a danger of spreading mumps to everyone else. but since they neither caught it nor spread it, you can see how on the ball the health care officials were in this case… i don’t know how many other diseases out there we think we are protected against that we really aren’t, and quite frankly i hope we never ever have to really find out. but i am both saddened and frightened that the “herd immunity” that we hear about so often from the vaccine crowd may be just an illusion. there are lots of reasons that disease rates have gone down in recent history, but i’m pretty sure that wiping out people’s immune systems isn’t going to be a helpful strategy in the long run…

so, where are we with all of this? people think that the way to go is to irradiate the life out of their food. they want to pasteurize and sanitize every morsel until nothing living gets past their lips and into their guts. so good bacteria don’t thrive in their insides and they have to take medicines to correct the imbalances. and the medicines make them sicker so they have to take more medicines to fix the damage from the first medicines. and the cycle continues. they are afraid- and justifiably so, since so much money is spent scaring the wits out of them about things like raw milk and unpasteurized juices and “unregulated” food sources- so they keep eating what is sanitized and “safe”, even though government inspected foods regularly are the sources of food-borne illnesses.

they get shots that the doctors tell them will protect their health and the health of those they love- and this might be the case…

we want so badly to believe in that magic solution that will just heal us and fix us and show us the way…

but i think we had it all along.

our immune systems are there, and most of us are old enough that it should still function. most of us didn’t grow up wrapped in bubble wrap. most of us played outside and ate some dirt and got filthy and had colds and wiped snot on our sleeves and lived to tell about it. most of us have guts full of bacteria that is just waiting to thrive under the right conditions.

you can build your immune systems back up. you can build your army one soldier at a time and one bite and a time and one decision at a time.

this is nothing you haven’t heard before. this isn’t big news. we need to change our strategy from defense to offense. instead of waiting to get sick and then treating the symptoms, we can actually try to create an environment in our bodies where diseases are less likely to take hold.

we can make an internal revolution.

invaders, beware!