Ghost in the Machine, Part 4 — The War on Supplements, Essential Oils and Homeopathy

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

If you suspect that supplements are more popular than ever, you are right. More than half of American adults have used one or more supplements and more than half of women and 43 percent of men used a supplement of some kind within the last 30 days.1,2

While that means not taking vitamins or supplements is now a minority position, it also means Big Pharma is trying to get “in on” the supplement business. The U.S. retail sales of vitamins and supplements is expected to exceed $36 billion in 2017.3 While that’s less than a tenth of what Pharma rakes in annually, it has nevertheless caught the drug industry’s attention.

Also, the highest users of supplements and alternative therapies are the most desirable demographic to marketers — those reporting “excellent” or “very good” health, usually with a higher discretionary income.4 No wonder Pharma and Pharma-supported voices have launched an all-out smear campaign against supplements and alternative therapies. Both categories lack the huge price tags of drugs and encourage patient education and self-care.

Supplements and natural products also often treat or prevent the very conditions that enrich drug companies, which further explains Big Pharma’s wrath. For example, probiotic-rich fermented food treats the heartburn for which Pharma hawks dangerous proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Omega-3 fats such as krill oil and other nonprescription products lower heart disease risks without using dangerous statins.

Prescription drugs can also increase the need for supplements. If you take a diuretic, an acid-blocking PPI or the diabetes drug metformin, you are more likely to develop vitamin or mineral deficiencies.5

Traditional Media Outlets Question Value of Supplements

In 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a large study of U.S. supplement usage that found, according to The New York Times:6

“Americans spend more than $30 billion a year on dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals and herbal products, among others — many of which are unnecessary or of doubtful benefit to those taking them. That comes to about $100 a year for every man, woman and child for substances that are often of questionable value.”

Elsewhere in recent years, negative news articles about vitamin C, vitamin A and beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin D, calcium and multivitamins have run. Supplements like ginkgo biloba, echinacea, fish oil and ephedrine are also under attack, as are homeopathy and aromatherapy.7,8,9,10

Some articles, many written by medical professionals, say supplements are ineffective and a waste of your money; others actually accuse supplements of causing or risking physical harm and even shortening lives. Some medical specialists also accuse supplements of impeding or interfering with drugs taken for other medical conditions.11

In addition to print media and the web, TV news media have joined in the discrediting of the supplement industry, exposing alleged disreputable manufacturers and lobbyists.

While I would never defend unethical makers of supplements who put the public at risk, these same news shows largely give Big Pharma a pass even though prescription drugs put the public at a much greater risk. Prescription drug overdoses are the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the death toll continues to rise thanks to the growing opioid addiction crisis.12

Pharma Is a Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Leading Pharma’s campaign to discredit supplements is the charge that unproven health benefits, not backed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are claimed by supplement makers. Yet almost every major drug company has entered into a settlement for the same thing, known as “off-label marketing” in the prescription drug world. At least 31 drug companies have been charged with such false promotion including Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Forest, Amgen and Allergan.13

Pfizer paid a $430 million fine for off-label marketing of Neurontin for the non-FDA approved indication of bipolar disorder.14 Eli Lilly engaged in another off-label marketing scheme, trying to market the selective estrogen receptor modulator Evista for the unapproved FDA indication of prevention of breast cancer, and unleashed hundreds of drug reps to sell the unapproved use.

Reps were told to hide a disclosure page that said, “The effectiveness of [Evista] in reducing the risk of breast cancer has not yet been established,” from the doctors they were trying to sell on the drug, according to the Department of Justice.15 Scott Gottlieb, the new FDA Commissioner, drug stock trader and Pharma consultant, defended Evista’s off-label marketing in a Wall Street Journal oped.16

Questions About Product Purity Cut Both Ways

Another way that Pharma-friendly voices try to discredit supplements they have yet to sell themselves is through raising questions about their purity, label accuracy and manufacturing process. Here is a quote from Dr. Paul A. Offit, one of the nation’s leading drug and vaccine defenders, in an interview about his 2014 book “Do You Believe in Magic?” on Medscape:17

“Look at what happened with this vitamin-maker called Purity First. Purity First, a few weeks ago, had all of its products recalled by the FDA. They made three products. They made vitamin C. They made a multimineral preparation, and they made a B-complex vitamin preparation.

What happened was there were 25 women in Connecticut who started to develop symptoms of increased hair where they didn’t want hair to be, deepening of the voice, and loss of menstrual cycles because they were inadvertently taking anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids had contaminated those preparations. How does that happen?… Just imagine if vaccines were inadvertently contaminated with anabolic steroids. You would never hear the end of it, but here somehow it all gets a free pass.”

Offit is dead wrong. Drugs, vaccines and medical products are frequently recalled for quality and contamination though recalls are seldom reported in the mainstream press. In April 2017, GlaxoSmithKline recalled nearly 600,000 defective Ventolin inhalers.18 In March 2017, generic giant Mylan (of EpiPen fame) said it was recalling 4,005,177 bottles of the cholesterol fighter atorvastatin because of the “potential of an elevated bioburden with identification of objectionable organisms.”19

Recalls of biologics (drugs that contain an ingredient extracted from a “biological” source such as cells from humans, animals or microorganisms) have increased significantly, especially for vaccines. From 2007 to 2010, 14 vaccine recalls and 13 recalls for immunoglobulins were made. Additionally, vaccines are not adequately tested for safety and effectiveness using methodologically sound scientific studies before they are licensed, so all of their side effects and long-term negative health outcomes are often unknown.

Examples of Supplements, Essential Oils and Homeopathy Therapy at Work

The medical literature includes notable examples of supplements and natural remedies that function as valuable medicines. Why do we so rarely, if ever, hear of them on health news sites or TV? Supplements and natural substances cannot be patented and hence present no profit potential for Pharma no matter how dramatic their actions. Here are some supplements for which there is promising evidence of effectiveness:

Folic acid, when added to enalapril (an ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure, diabetic kidney disease and heart failure) produced a significant reduction in stroke occurrence in 2015 JAMA research.20

Oregano might be effective against the norovirus, say investigators at the University of Arizona.21

High doses of vitamin C may be useful in the treatment of ovarian cancer, boost the power of chemotherapy and ward off stroke, research indicates.22,23,24

Multivitamins and olive oil are under investigation for their roles in managing breast cancer.25,26

A compound found in a Japanese mushroom could be a cure for the currently untreatable human papilloma virus.27

Vitamin E likely plays an important role in deterring miscarriage.28

Preliminary evidence even suggests that micronutrients could be beneficial in treating adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to 2014 research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry.29

When children with ADHD inhaled vetiver essential oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school.

In patients with allergies, those using homeopathy reported improvements in nasal airflow compared with a placebo group and researchers described a “clear, significant and clinically relevant improvement in nasal inspiratory peak flow, similar to that found with topical steroids.”

Don’t Rule Out Vitamin D

In the past few years, vitamin D has gone from a vitamin “hero” whose deficiency potentially explained many maladies, to VNG (Vitamin Non Grata).30,31 The same flip-flop has been seen with calcium, once a good guy, now potentially another supplemental bad guy.32 In fact, vitamin D has been so demonized, the pro-Pharma Forbes site actually writes:33

“Vitamin D supplements, to put it plainly, are a waste of money. (For those concerned about osteoporosis, the widely used drug alendronate (Fosamax®), has been shown to increase bone density by about 5 percent, as explained in a 2011 article by Dr. Sundeep Khosia. But Fosamax has side effects.)”

The “side effects” mentioned by Forbes are an understatement. Bisphosphonate bone drugs such as Fosamax and Boniva have been linked to esophageal cancer, jawbone death, heart problems, intractable pain and the very fractures they are supposed to prevent.34 They are one of the most dangerous drug classes ever marketed.

Far from a waste of money, vitamin D made such a difference in a 2014 breast cancer survival study, an investigator said “There is no compelling reason to wait for further studies to incorporate vitamin D supplements into standard care regimens.”35 Research suggests it may have a valuable role in multiple sclerosis management, diabetes and depression, chronic liver disease and diseases of older age.36,37,38,39

Final Ironies

Even as the drug industry attacks the safety, reliability and effectiveness of vitamins and supplements, it creates them itself. In 2013, PGT Healthcare LLP (a venture of Procter & Gamble, Teva and Swisse Wellness) said it would expand its range of more than 100 vitamins, minerals and supplements.40

Other drug giants are also in the supplement business. Sometimes making vitamins results in drug companies making positive instead of negative statements. Here is what research funded by Roche (now DSM Nutritional Products) BASF and Pfizer found about multivitamins41

“A daily multivitamin can help a man reduce his risk of cancer, according to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The first-of-its kind study will be presented October 17 at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research and published online the same day in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Marketing vitamins also subjects Big Pharma to the same false claims charges it cites about the supplement industry. Pfizer, which makes Centrum products, was sued to remove its claims that the products support “energy and immunity,” “heart health,” “eye health,” “breast health,” “bone health” and “colon health.”42 And although Merck announced December 14 that it plans to sell its subsidiary, Seven Seas, a quick look at its Seven Seas Multivitamin Complete reveals claims that it contains ingredients that “provide adults with energy … as well as a healthy heart … good eye sight, healthy bones and digestion system.”43

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Keys to Coping With Grief During the Holidays

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Dealing with the loss of my mom, who died this past July, I have a new appreciation for those who experience intensified feelings of grief and loss during the holiday season. Grief is a valuable feeling but can be an “emotional rollercoaster.” Given its ebb and flow, it can be hard to know how to embrace, process and express feelings of grief, especially during the holidays.  

The most important resource to help me resolve the grief with my mother was the last book that Dr. David Hawkins wrote before he passed, “Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender.” He teaches a simple yet profoundly effective strategy that helps you fully experience your feelings until they morph and change. This was one of the best books I read this year.

If your heart is heavy this Christmas, while the “rest of the world” seems to be experiencing a time of joyous celebration, you are not alone. Everyone deals with grief and loss at some time in their lives, and many more are actively suffering than you may realize. Thankfully, there are numerous tips and tools to help you cope and get through this sensitive time in ways that honor you and your deceased loved one.

Why Do Holidays Compound Our Sense of Grief?

No matter how much time has passed since the death of a loved one or how much emotional healing has taken place, something about the holidays tends to bring feelings of grief and loss rushing to the surface all over again. Intense feelings of grief can cause you to view the holiday season with dread. You may come to see it as something to “get through,” rather than a series of occasions to be celebrated and enjoyed.

While some view the winter holidays as the most wonderful time of the year — especially as it relates to the many festivities enjoyed together with family and friends — after a loss, these occasions are not only less wonderful, but can also be stressful and depressing.

Emotions run high, especially the first year immediately after the death of your loved one. While you may feel better equipped to deal with the emotions in subsequent years, some aspect of the grief will undoubtedly linger. As such, the holidays may always be difficult to some degree without the presence of that special person.

Dr. Anthony Komaroff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, practicing senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and editor-in-chief of the Harvard Health Letter, who experienced the loss of his father one month before the holidays, knows firsthand how difficult it can be to celebrate the holidays while grieving the loss of someone dear. He states:1

“Family and togetherness are key themes for the holidays. That can make the holidays awfully difficult for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one … Although grief is nearly universal, it expresses itself in many different ways … Frequent crying spells, depressed mood, sleep disturbances and loss of appetite …

Grief is not a tidy, orderly process, and there is no right way to grieve. Every person — and every family — does it differently. This can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season …”

Writing for the Huffington Post, Rhonda O’Neill, author, grief survivor and pediatric registered nurse, who has successfully navigated a number of holiday seasons while grieving the deaths of her husband and a son, writes:2

“Society sends us the message that we are supposed to be joyful and that the holidays are a time for celebration and connecting with people we love … We are required to show up to family gatherings, with a vital part of our family missing, and pretend that we are fine. We are not fine.

The reminder of our loss is never as obvious as when we are surrounded by our extended family and friends, [because] their [families] are whole and together. Our family has an obvious vacant spot and will never be whole without our missing loved one … [T]he holidays will never be the same again without them there by our side.”

Tips on Dealing With Grief During the Holidays

Because feelings of grief and loss tend to be intensified during the holidays, it’s important you mentally prepare yourself beforehand. By being aware the holidays will likely trigger heavy emotions, you can take steps to care for your tender heart as you go through them. O’Neill offers the following suggestions for grieving during this festive time of year:3

Be gentle with yourself

Rule No. 1 for dealing with grief during the holidays is be gentle with yourself. You may not get as much accomplished as you’d like. You may not be able to cook, entertain or shop. Go slow. Be kind to yourself. Lower your expectations. You are in pain and most of your energy is needed to deal with the grief.

Listen to your body and your emotions

Trying to ignore your body and your emotions during the holidays seldom works. To get your attention, your body may simply shut down, making you physically ill. This can happen even if your issues are mainly emotional in nature. Rather than battle an illness during the holidays, make time throughout the season to check in with your body and engage with your emotions.

Seek out activities and people that lift your spirits

When dealing with grief during the holidays it is especially important to choose activities and people that will enliven your mood and lift your spirits. The last thing you want to do is apply your limited emotional and physical energy to activities and people that will further drain you or add to your emotional pain. 

Avoid the tendency to isolate

Hiding away is a common tendency for people who are experiencing grief, sadness and loss. It’s scary to be around others because you never know what people may say in response to your grief. While it’s somewhat risky to be social, loneliness is worse, and you need human contact and emotional support. Even short visits with safe, emotionally-healthy family and friends are better than no visits at all.

Don’t overextend emotionally or physically

As a grieving person going through the holidays, you will probably notice you don’t have as much emotional and physical energy as usual. This is normal and OK. You don’t have as much to give others right now, and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be on the receiving end for a time.

Set some boundaries around how much you’ll do, whether it be cooking, entertaining or shopping. Be realistic and don’t be afraid to turn down invitations and offers, even at the last minute.

Learn to say no

“No” is a powerful word that can help you set limits around what you will and will not do as you go through the holidays. Unfortunately, some family members and friends will not receive this word very well, but that is not your problem. You are not responsible for what other people think or feel about your limits. Your goal is to take care of yourself and to move through the holidays as best as you can. Saying no can help.

Talk about how you’re feeling

Especially at the holidays, you will benefit from having a counselor, friend, pastor or support group to talk to about how you’re feeling. In the absence of a caring person, you can most certainly record your thoughts in a journal. Talking and journaling can help you work through intense feelings. These activities take swirling thoughts out of your head and provide emotional relief when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Consider volunteering or helping someone in need

One of the best remedies for taking a temporary break from intense feelings is to put your focus on serving or helping someone else. Volunteer opportunities abound during the holidays. You can take a break from heavy emotions by serving at a soup kitchen, helping at a homeless shelter or supporting a church, community or school event.

Reflect on the holidays you shared with your deceased loved one

One way to honor the memory of special people in your life is to remember them during the holidays. What role did they assume during times of celebration? What were his/her favorite aspects of the celebration? What memories do you have of them at this time of year? You may want to get out photos, letters and other items that remind you of him/her. Playing music or serving food your loved one enjoyed are other ways to honor them. 

Creating New Rituals Can Help You Honor a Loved One

While some aspects of the holidays are changed forever due to the absence of your loved one, you can remember and honor them by creating new rituals focused on them.4,5 Some families remember a deceased loved one simply by maintaining an empty chair at the table during a holiday meal. Others place a photo in a special location and surround it with holiday decorations, a memorial candle or other memory-evoking adornments.

If your loved one made a special dish for your holiday gathering, you might want to get the recipe and make it in remembrance of him or her. Perhaps your deceased family member or friend was an avid holiday volunteer. If so, consider participating in a charitable event or service project as a way of honoring them. If you are unable to serve, consider sending a monetary gift to a favorite charity in recognition of them.

EFT Can Help You Cope With Grief and Stress During the Holidays

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a useful tool you can use to help you cope with feelings of grief and loss during the holidays. EFT is an energy psychology method designed to help you process emotions and reprogram your body’s reactions related to them. As a kind of do-it-yourself form of emotional acupuncture, EFT stimulates your body’s energy meridians as you lightly tap on key points. EFT is an effective means of releasing trapped emotions and the mental and physical pain associated with them.

In the video above, Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to use EFT for grief. Even if you have never used EFT before, take a few minutes to learn the technique and then use it whenever grief surfaces. What I love about EFT is that you can apply it to virtually every type of emotion. If you find yourself having trouble coping at a holiday event or meal, step into a private area and tap. You’ll be surprised at how quickly EFT can knock down the intensity of your feelings and help you effectively deal with holiday stress.

Stress Management: An Essential Part of Your Holiday Plan

Besides creating new rituals and using EFT, there are a number of other stress-management strategies you can employ as you navigate the holidays. A few of the most important ones are:

  • Eating a healthy diet: Avoiding alcohol, processed foods and sugary treats will go a long way in helping you feel good during the holidays. While you may think it’s OK to “live a little” during this festive time of the year, you will most likely regret the extra weight, depressed mood and other ill effects that will result if you overindulge. A far wiser approach would be to incorporate organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats, healthy fats, fermented foods and a high-quality probiotic supplement in your daily diet.
  • Getting daily exercise: Studies have shown tranquilizing chemicals called endorphins are released in your brain during exercise. As such, daily exercise is a natural way to bring your body pleasurable relaxation year-round. During the holidays, exercise is even more vital to your well-being because it is a great stress reliever.
  • Sleeping enough: Failing to get enough high-quality, restorative sleep can damage your health even if your diet and exercise programs are stellar. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and you will need even more during the holiday season, especially if you are grieving. If you want help in this area, check out my 33 tips to help improve your sleep.
  • Spending time in reflection, meditation or prayer: For many, the holidays are a spiritually-oriented time involving reflection, meditation and/or prayer. When practiced regularly, these activities are natural stress busters. They are also helpful in addressing feelings of grief and loss.
  • Taking supplements to cope with holiday stress: There is no doubt the holidays can be stressful. Seven supplements that help fight the holiday stress are ashwagandha, L-theanine, lavender oil, magnesium, potassium and vitamins B12 and D3. If you can only take one, I suggest vitamin D3 because it has the greatest potential to boost your energy and resiliency year-round, and most particularly during the winter holidays.   

I know from personal experience that dealing with grief and loss is a challenge regardless of the time of year the feelings arise. Given the focus on relationships and togetherness, there is something unique about the holidays that makes these feelings more intense.

Regardless of how you spend Christmas or ring in the New Year, you owe it to yourself to take action to safeguard your heart and your emotions this holiday season. Choose one or more of the tips above and apply them as best you can. In doing so, you will be able to move through the holidays connected to yourself and, equally importantly, connected to the warm feelings and positive memories you have about your loved one.

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Increase in Vaccine-Related Shoulder Injuries

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Many people experience temporary soreness in their shoulder after receiving a vaccination in the area, but for some the soreness turns into chronic pain and limited range of motion. Some people are so badly affected that they become unable to move their shoulder altogether, known as frozen shoulder, or suffer from nerve damage and rotator cuff tear. The condition, known as shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, or SIRVA, is on the rise, according to data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).1

In fact, the condition is occurring often enough that it was recently added to the federally operated vaccine injury compensation program’s (VICP) Vaccine Injury Table, which lists some, but not all, serious side effects that are known to be caused by vaccines.

In order to win federal compensation for a vaccine injury, a person must prove he or she developed certain clinical symptoms and health conditions listed on the Table within a certain timeframe of receiving a certain vaccine, and demonstrate that there is no more biologically plausible explanation for the vaccine-related injury or death.

In the case of SIRVA, 202 people were awarded compensation for SIRVA in 2016.2 According to Dr. H. Cody Meissner, professor of pediatrics at Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, “Many instances of SIRVA may be avoided by proper vaccination technique and positioning.”

A Vaccine Administered Too High Up on Your Shoulder May Lead to SIRVA

Many vaccine side effects are related to the ingredients in a vaccine. SIRVA is unique in that it’s primarily caused by how the contents of the vaccine are injected into the arm. A vaccine given in your shoulder is intended to go into your muscle. If it is not administered correctly and goes into the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that protects your shoulder tendons, trouble can result. Specifically, the vaccine may provoke your immune system to attack the bursa, sometimes leading to debilitating symptoms. As The Washington Post reported:3

“These injection-caused injuries often make simple tasks — such as lifting your arm to change a light bulb or reaching behind you to put your arm through the sleeve of a jacket — painful, even impossible. Some victims cannot use their shoulder at all and must find ways to compensate using the other one.”

The Washington Post interviewed Dr. G. Russell Huffman, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, who said when he first heard a patient complain of shoulder pain following an injury in 2009 or 2010, he “blew it off.” But then the complaints started to become more common.

“Since then, I’ve seen more than a dozen patients who have suffered shoulder injuries after vaccinations. Almost universally, when I ask where the shot went, they point really high up on the arm,” Huffman said.4 A patient, Barbara Steele, who spoke to Wired in 2015, similarly reported that doctors and nurses initially “kept brushing me off” after SIRVA from two vaccines left her unable to work.5

Yet, two case studies were published in 2007, highlighting vaccination-related shoulder dysfunction, including pain and weakness, that occurred following “influenza and pneumococcal vaccine injections provided high into the deltoid muscle.” The researchers concluded, quite clearly, that improperly administered vaccines appeared responsible for the symptoms:6

“Based on ultrasound measurements, we hypothesize that vaccine injected into the subdeltoid bursa caused a periarticular inflammatory response, subacromial bursitis, bicipital tendonitis and adhesive capsulitis … We conclude that the upper third of the deltoid muscle should not be used for vaccine injections, and the diagnosis of vaccination-related shoulder dysfunction should be considered in patients presenting with shoulder pain following a vaccination.”

Rapid Onset of Pain Is Common With SIRVA

In 2010, a series of 13 case studies were described in the journal Vaccine, which shed some light on the characteristics of the condition.7 In half of the cases, shoulder pain occurred immediately after vaccination, while 90 percent had pain within 24 hours. Close to half of the patients also said the vaccine was given “too high” in their arm.8 The symptoms, which included both pain and limited range of motion, continued for six months to several years.

“The proposed mechanism of injury is the unintentional injection of antigenic material into synovial tissues resulting in an immune-mediated inflammatory reaction,” the researchers noted.9 Again in 2012, a case report of a 22-year-old woman who developed left shoulder pain and severe restrictions in range of motion following a seasonal influenza vaccine was published.10

MRI and ultrasound imaging, conducted eight and 9.5 weeks after the vaccination, respectively, showed “contusions on the humerus, injury of the supraspinatus, and effusion in the subacromial bursa,” with researchers saying the case served as a catalyst for discussion regarding “the potential to prevent complications arising from vaccine overpenetration.”

SIRVA Occurs More Often in Adults Than Children and Most Often After Certain Vaccines

Children receive more vaccinations than adults, yet SIRVA occurs more often in adults than children. This may be because children receive vaccinations in their thigh more often than adults do and, according to Meissner, “the bunching of the subcutaneous and deltoid tissue prior to vaccination may increase the distance to the shoulder.” In addition, he noted that the subacromial bursa in children is still developing, and therefore smaller, which may be why it’s less likely to be “hit” during a vaccination.11

Also noteworthy, in adults SIRVA occurs most often after flu shots and other vaccines that a person has already received, which may pave the way for a heightened inflammatory response. Meissner said:12

“Most cases in adults occur after administration of a vaccine to which some immunity already exists because of previous immunization such as influenza or tetanus-containing vaccines. This may result in a greater inflammatory response following inadvertent injection into the skeletal structures of the shoulder.”

A 2017 systematic review of bursitis and other injuries of the shoulder following vaccination found 45 cases, all involving adults (and more than 70 percent female). In these cases, the dysfunction most often occurred following influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, respectively; followed by diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, diphtheria-tetanus toxoid (Tdap), human papillomavirus and hepatitis A vaccines.13

There’s even a case report, published in 2015, of a 26-year-old patient who was hospitalized with shoulder pain and impairment following a vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (dT-IPV). Bursitis was reported along with bone erosion, and MRI showed the vaccine was injected in contact with the bone, causing the erosion.14

Are Drug-Store Vaccines Responsible for Rising SIRVA Cases?

Improper technique appears to be the primary cause of SIRVA (inappropriate needle size could also be a contributor), which means that proper training among nurses, pharmacists and other health care practitioners should largely prevent it. However, many people now choose to get vaccines at workplace clinics or their local drugstore, grocery store or pharmacy, where standardized training may be non-existent.

Not only that, but if you’re sitting in the middle of a store, it’s unlikely that you’ll remove your entire arm from your sleeve to receive a shot. “You just pull your shirt down a little,” physician Marko Bodor, who published the first SIRVA case report in 2007, told Wired.15 “That’s only going to expose the top part of your shoulder.” At this point, it’s unknown just how often SIRVA cases appear after pharmacy versus physician’s office vaccinations, but it’s a valid theory.

That being said, SIRVA cases have occurred following vaccination at doctors’ offices as well, and it’s been suggested that, in addition to poor injection technique, practitioners’ failing to take into account a person’s individual characteristics, such as sex, body weight and physical constitution, could also increase the risk of injury.16

As for treatment, options for SIRVA include physical therapy, pain medication and cortisone injections. Up to 30 percent of patients in the 2010 case studies also required surgery,17which may be done to remove inflamed tissue. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is another emerging option.

As the “first responders” to any site of an injury, they form a clot to stop bleeding. The process involves the platelets opening up and spilling out the growth factors held inside, which act as signaling molecules, issuing the instructions needed to call forth resources, including stem cells, to repair the damaged tissue. Dr. John Ferrell, director of sports medicine at Regenerative Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Washington, D.C., says PRP has worked in 80 percent of his patients.18

Side Effects Following Vaccination Are Real

Although SIRVA is still described as rare, it’s conditions like this that serve as an important reminder that every vaccine carries with it a risk of side effects, some of which you may not even be aware of.

For instance, in 2011, the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed more than 1,000 vaccine studies and found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes — including seizures, inflammation of the brain and fainting — that can be caused by certain vaccines.19 IOM reported that “injection of any vaccine in general can lead to … symptoms of deltoid bursitis, or shoulder inflammation,” for instance.

They also noted that many people who experience an adverse reaction to vaccines have individual susceptibility that can make them at higher risk for experiencing acute and chronic health problems after vaccination due to biodiversity (genetic variations) within populations, age at the time of vaccination, immune deficiencies, coinciding infections/illnesses and other environmental exposures (such as toxins or traumas).

Further, for the majority of side effects and health conditions that have occurred in conjunction with vaccinations, IOM stated that there was inadequate evidence to determine whether the vaccine caused the problem. In other words, there is still so much medical science does not know about the risks of vaccination and who is at greater risk for suffering harm.

At the very basic level, if you choose to have a vaccine and it’s going in your shoulder, be sure to expose your entire arm to discourage the vaccine provider from giving you a “too high” injection that could lead to debilitating shoulder injury. However, before making a choice to get vaccinated, make sure you fully understand what the vaccine contains and how to identify and report a vaccine reaction.

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