It’s flu season again and grocery stores, drug stores and shopping malls are looking to Big Pharma to give their bottom line a shot in the arm. Everywhere you go, you see shameless shills begging you to spend your hard-earned cash on something that is virtually useless: the flu shot.

Yes, something flu-vaccine doubters have been shouting for years has finally been noticed by mainstream researchers. In a study of 5,700 research articles by University of Minnesota scientists, it was discovered that the flu vaccine prevents disease in fewer than 60 percent of those vaccinated. Yet those who take it are still subject to the many side effects.

Take a closer look at that statistic: Sixty percent of the time, the injection is absolutely worthless. Would you tolerate any other product you bought that was worthless more than half the time? Would you find it acceptable if you bought a bag of apples and 60 percent of them were rotten, inedible, useless to you? Would you buy a car that only started four times out of ten? Would your job be safe if your work production was only 40 percent of what your boss expected? If an employee doesn’t perform six out of ten times, you fire them. The flu shot is past probation. It’s time it is fired.

Better options. East and West are polar opposites. The Earth is separated into two longitudinal hemispheres and the cultures occupying each, for most of human history, have remained at opposite ends of the spectrum. And so it is with the traditions of their disparate medical systems. One, the Eastern medical model, has been in existence for thousands of years. The other, the typical Western medical model of pharmaceutical drugs and man-made interventions, has existed for little over a hundred years. One relies on substances found in nature and actions respecting the natural energy of the human being. The other relies on substances patented in corporate laboratories and exercises of human intervention that sometimes boggle the mind. The Eastern system brought us yogic practices that can keep the body functioning and looking young for decades. Western medicine brought us Botox injections that last a few weeks.

Eastern and Western approaches to flu prevention are opposite, also. Typically, a holistic approach seeks to strengthen and balance health by recognizing the importance of the energetic being as much as the physical. By generally enhancing the entire immune system from within, rather than attempting to target one singular reaction to a specific virus or attacking bacteria, the holistic approach can be expected to be far more successful than the poor performance of that $25 thrown down the drain with the flu vaccine.

With that as backstory, let’s look at options to the failed flu shot. Here are some favorites.

Jade Screen. I was first turned on to Jade Screen by local herbalist Nicholas Schnell several years ago. Jade Screen is the vernacular translation for a Chinese herbal formula called Yu Ping Wan.

“It is a basic formula in Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been researched to be effective at preventing bacterial and viral infections by strengthening host immunity,” Schnell told me at the time. “It combines Huang Chi (Astragalus root), Bai Zhi (Actrylodes root) and Fang Feng (Siler root). From a TCM perspective this formula tonifies Lung and Spleen Chi, which creates a ‘Jade Screen’ around you.

“The imagery of a jade screen refers to when your chi is strong, no pathogenic influence can affect you, as if you were surrounded by a screen of jade. From a western perspective, this formula tones the deep immune system, strengthens weak immunity, increases white blood cell production and modulates many branches of the nonspecific immune system. You basically become more resistant to all infections, instead of just the five or six bugs they vaccinate with. It is a great formula for children and the elderly both. This formula also has a lot of anti-allergy effects. In today’s modern world, this has applications for people that work inside with indoor allergies, sick building syndrome and working in excessive indoor cooling/heating environments.”

The best way to find out more about Jade Screen is to consult with a reputable herbalist.

Vitamin C Tried and true, the King of Vitamins is still a staunch ally in fending off colds and flu. Western research is sketchy but the work of Linus Pauling points to the usefulness of this important vitamin. Acknowledged as a vital nutrient, conventional assessments of the daily requirement are far below what strong supporters recommend. For example, government recommended daily allowances for adult males is 90 mg. Most holistic healthcare professionals I speak with recommend supplementation in the neighborhood of two or more grams per day.

Bow to the herb Many herbs are considered to be helpful in boosting the immune system. Two of the more popular are Echinacea and astragalus root. Both are available in many different forms: powdered in capsules, tablets, teas and my favorite, tinctures. I use tinctures prepared by Energique Industries based in Woodbine, Iowa. Energique products are available at No Name Nutrition.

A tincture is a liquid form that uses alcohol to extract essential parts of an herb. Then water is used to extract additional essences. Finally, the solid remainder is purified and the final extractions are joined together. I have found tinctures to be the most effective and powerful ways to use herbs. Advisors have told me that Echinacea is appropriate as a preventative and astragalus of greatest value if one exhibits symptoms.

Many more The holistic arsenal contains a slew of flu fighters and many are behavioral. One cannot underestimate the importance of adequate sleep, decent exercise, fresh air and eating real food. Nutrition is essential and many foods inherently boost the immune system. Detoxifying, hydrating, moderating — if one wants to avoid the flu all of these add to a holistic regimen for success.

As for the flu shot? Fire away.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at

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