Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Book review: Vaccine Alternatives

My mom shared with me a book printed by her employer called Vaccine Alternatives How to Prevent and Treat Illness Using Natural Remedies by Ervin Davis (at this time, I'm not sure where this book is available to buy, or if it's available yet. It should soon be available to purchase here).

I have to admit vaccination is something that I wasn't sure about, but went ahead & did up through 12 months for the girls, with the exception of chicken pox & MMR. While I haven't done indepth research into vaccines since then either, as I learned more about whole foods, avoiding chemicals in foods, cleaners, etc. . . . it was kind of a common sense thing (for me) that at the very least additional research was needed. Why would I be careful to not cook on aluminum because of the risks involved but then allow a doctor to inject it into an infant? This book, for the place I was at in my "journey toward healthier living, answered the questions I still had.

The book claims to present both sides and it does, to an extent, but it's obvious that the author isn't a fan of routine vaccination. I'm not sure it would be possible to write an "unbiased" book that truely gave both sides short of having it co-written by 2 people, one who was pro-vax and one who wasn't. While it's one thing to say that each family must decide for themselves (which this book does) it's nearly impossible, to write a book encouraging something you believe to be harmful. And this seems to be the case in this book.

That said, regardless of where you stand on vaccination, this book does a good job of presenting the stats surrounding the diseases typically vaccinated for in this country. As well as good, overall advice for building a healthy immune system whether you & your children are vaccinated or not.

Dr. Davis starts by giving a general overview of how vaccines are made (as a vegetarian, I find it disturbing that most are cultured on such appetizing things as monkey kidneys, and less you assume that just because it's cultured on it, doesn't mean it's in it, vaccines that are cultured on eggs (or chicken embryos) are to be avoided by those allergic to eggs, because of the allergic reaction), and how they work. Then he goes through each of the standard infant vaccinations (in the USA) and tells specifically the stats for the disease, the possible complications of the vaccination (and in some instances the stats surrounding those complications) as well as what the vaccine contains, and in most cases, what it's cultured on.

He follows with general "healthy living" advice, that shouldn't be a surprise to any SDA (he basically goes through the 8 health rules, although he changes the terminology to use IMMUNITY as an acronym for them). I should probably note that he recommends a vegan lifestyle, though he seems to recognize throughout the book that most of his readers do eat dairy & eggs (it struck me partway through that he doesn't say much about the dangers of meat, I think, he's written this book assuming that his reader base is primarily vegetarian).

The remainder of the book focuses on herbal remedies. He talks first about vitamins & such that are beneficial to the immune system, he gives whole food sources for all of these but also indicates dosage in most cases should a person choose to use supplements. He then gives some basic information on how to prepare herbal remedies (though I don't think I'd want to attempt to make a tincture, glycerite or capsule relying exclusively on the information in his book. Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal gives good directions should you want to venture into these though I'll admit, they're move involved than I choose to attempt, I just buy my tinctures & glycerites LOL). The last part of the book gives specific herbal, and whole health, advice for preventing & treating the diseases that are typically vaccinated against. This is more of a "reference manual" rather than something to just read through. I don't anticipate needing to know prevention or treatment of malaria in the next few days, so I just paged through & read some of the more likely illnesses (like the flu). The advice seemed good overall, listing specific herbs to be used for each, some hydrotherapy suggestions (and brief explanations of how to do these techniques in the appendix, though like the herbal stuff, I'm not sure it's complete enough to use as a complete guide for it), and common sense things (like fresh air, keep patient warm, avoid sugar, drink lots of water, etc.).

In addition to the hydrotherapy information the appendixes also include a basic travel/first aid kit list, resources for further information on the topics covered (herbal remedies, hydrotherapy, etc), and additional suggestions for those traveling overseas.

All in all! It's a book I'm glad to add to my herbal remedies library. The combination of herbal remedies AND the more common sense/laws of health reminders is helpful when you're dealing w/ a sick kid & just want to see a list all in one place of things to use for that illness.

Things I would change. While he alludes to the problem of antibiotics and such in dairy, he never addresses the topic of organics at all. I would expect some recommendation, along with whole foods, to be aware of the pesticides and such that are in some conventional fruits & vegetables. He addresses the dangers of all the chemicals and such in our homes, when talking about fresh air, but seems to indicate that just making sure to also get some outside air is sufficient, I believe house plants is the only thing he mentions for actually improving indoor air, whereas I think a recommendation to limit the chemical substances we use in our house.

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