As Modern Alternative Mama (MAMA) launches new articles as part of her shameful “Vaccine Injury Awareness Month” campaign, I’ll continue laying out the facts that show she’s wrong and dangerous. Today I’m debunking her recent article “No Flu Shot For Me! Fighting the Flu With Essential Oils.”1
I’m glad she published this article, because it touches on two major topics that come up in nearly every anti-vaccine argument: aluminum in vaccines and flu vaccinations for pregnant women.
So, in this debunking, we’ll be looking at:
- “Toxic” aluminum in vaccines
- Safety of flu vaccines in pregnant women
- Use of “essential oils” (EOs) to combat viruses, and the toxicity of EOs
An important disclaimer here: I’m not a doctor. Even though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night,9, 10 your ultimate source for medical information should always be a qualified doctor, not something you read on the internet. I’m here to point out what real doctors and scientists are saying about the nonsense anti-vaccine proponents are spouting. You’re a smart person. Please do the research. The outcomes are important.
Right away, the original article sways from truth and science like Justin Bieber’s car during one of his drunk driving sprees15. Not only does MAMA lie about which vaccines include aluminum, she doesn’t understand that it’s safe.
In fact, in other articles, MAMA recommends eating foods rich in aluminum (such as spinach, tea, and potatoes).17, 20, 24 But, for the flu vaccine, not only do we get a reversal of opinion, we get an outright lie:
“We do know, however, that aluminum is added to the flu shot to increase the body’s response to the vaccine. Aluminum is a neurotoxin.”
If you disregard the specific Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, flu vaccines do not contain aluminum.2, 11, 12 You also won’t find aluminum in other vaccines commonly claimed to be “toxic” by anti-vaxxers, such as those for polio, MMR, or shingles. Oops.
But, is aluminum a danger in the vaccines (such as hepatitis A & B) that contain it? No.
Aluminum is added to some vaccines to help boost the response of the body’s immune system. The most common metal in the Earth’s crust,3 aluminum is an unavoidable part of our diet. In the USA, the average adult consumes 7-9mg of aluminum per day by eating but eliminates most of it as feces (poop). People with kidney disease are an exception: the disease effects the body’s ability to eliminate aluminum.33
Our average adult will accumulate between 50 and 100mg of aluminum in their bodies over an entire lifetime.3 Nearly 100% of that total comes from the food they’ll eat, the water they’ll drink2, and the air they’ll breathe. In addition to water, foods naturally containing aluminum include potatoes, spinach, and tea.4 Babies ingest aluminum regardless of whether they’re breast-fed or given milk from a bottle.2
Aluminum enters the environment via natural processes. A healthy human body is excellent at removing aluminum, regardless of whether it comes from a vaccine or the all-natural health food you ate for dinner. Studies in humans show it’s poorly absorbed in the first place, and for animals in general, the absorption rate is less than 1%.4 It’s ironic that Modern Alternative Mama publishes “healthy living” spinach recipes17 when spinach naturally contains five times the amount of aluminum of other foods.16
So, you can’t avoid aluminum unless you give up eating, drinking, and breathing. But there’s no need to worry: your body can (and does) handle the aluminum safely. There is no aluminum in the common flu shot.2, 11, 12 For other shots that contain aluminum (for example, hepatitis A & B), the amount of aluminum is insignificant compared to what we obtain from eating, drinking, and breathing. But your body doesn’t care where the aluminum comes from: it removes it the anti-vaxxer’s favorite way — naturally.
No good anti-vaccine terror campaign is complete without a cherry-picked legalese quote from a medication insert, and MAMA does not disappoint, chastising a Walgreens’ campaign to get pregnant women vaccinated:
“Walgreen’s conveniently left out the fact that the vaccine inserts themselves recommend women avoid receiving the flu shot.”
This isn’t really true. Her two inserts say the shots should be given if clearly needed. And medical experts agree the vaccine is clearly needed. Pregnant women who get the flu are at a greater risk of complications — including hospitalization and death — than non-pregnant women. The risk to unborn babies is also higher, including premature birth.7, 18
Recent research suggests the risk to unvaccinated pregnant women may be higher because their immune systems react in an unusually strong manner when they contract the flu, and urges pregnant women to get the vaccination to prevent the inflammatory effects of the full disease.25, 26 (The flu shot is a “dead” virus and cannot give you the flu.)
The vaccine has benefits beyond helping the mother stay alive and healthy. Antibodies generated in her body as a result of the vaccination can be passed to the unborn baby, giving it protection until it’s old enough to receive its first vaccination at age 6 months.7, 19 Millions of pregnant women have been vaccinated against the flu with no harm to either the mother or baby.7
There’s one important warning: According to the CDC, pregnant women should not receive the live version of the vaccine (the nasal spray), but the inactivated version (the shot) is harmless.7, 18, 19 Although we’re specifically talking about pregnant women here, this warning about the live version of the vaccine also applies to certain other groups such as immunosuppressed persons.32 When in doubt, always talk to your doctor.
To contradict all this medical evidence, we get a trio of lies from the anti-vaccination article:
“but manufacturers admit that the impact on a developing human just isn’t known”
“Considering the ‘regular’ flu shots cannot verify safety for pregnant women”
“Besides the lack of safety testing for pregnant women”
Ahem. From the CDC:
“Studies of several thousand pregnant women in scientific literature have assessed the safety of using the flu vaccine during pregnancy. These studies have shown no evidence of harm to pregnant women, to the unborn child (or fetus) or to newborns of vaccinated women.”8
And if you do the research, studies back this up.8, 13, 14
It’s interesting to pause here and consider the hypocrisy of MAMA. Later in her article, she’ll tout the amazing benefits of essential oils in combating viruses, even though their safety for use during pregnancy has never been studied.
MAMA begins by misquoting a real scientific study6, which looked at the effects of essential oils (EO) on bacteria.
The problem is that the flu isn’t caused by bacteria. It’s caused by a virus. There’s a huge difference. Bacteria are single-celled living organisms; viruses are small packages of DNA or RNA that cannot “live” without being injected into a living cell.
So we’re off to a bad start already, with an article using research performed on bacteria to support a conclusion about viruses.
Interestingly, it turns out that chemicals found in essential oils are being studied for anti-viral properties, and are showing promise — in test tubes.22, 23 MAMA doesn’t cite any of these studies, for obvious reasons. No doubt, if the research results in a promising medicine that works when ingested, anti-vaxxers will dismiss it as a Big Pharma conspiracy.
Or perhaps essential oil fans are embarrassed by the track record of EOs with the FDA. For example, in September 2014, Living Young, the manufacturer of “Thieves Blend”, an essential oil often pushed on alternative medicine web sites as a cure for nearly everything, was warned by the FDA for making unsubstantiated medical claims about their oil including, incredibly, as a cure for Ebola.22
Regardless, an article that is supposed to be focused on the flu virus keeps wandering away like a lost puppy to talk about essential oils and bacteria. After many paragraphs on this red herring, MAMA pulls this magical conclusion out of her [expletive deleted]:
There are many essential oils known for being antiviral. Tea tree (melaleuca), basil, lemon, peppermint, and more. All these oils will enter your body, enter your cells, and fight off viruses that have already taken over your cells. It’s pretty amazing.
What would be even more amazing would be even a single reference to back up this claim!
What we do know from science about essential oils is that some of them can be toxic when ingested:
“However, the ingestion of a few milliliters of essential oils may cause severe symptoms of intoxication like vomiting, respiration failure, and unconsciousness and may lead to death, especially when infants are concerned.”28, 29
A University of Minnesota (UoM) article30 warns that while many essential oils are safe when used on the skin, some can cause serious harm — including liver and other organ damage — when ingested. The same article warns that some EOs are not safe to apply to the skin, or should not be applied to the skin without dilution, else photo-toxicity can result. UoM reminds the reader that peppermint oil is heavily laced with methanol-one, which has caused young children to stop breathing.
For children who actually drink an essential oil containing methanol or other toxic ingredients, the results can be tragic.31
The flu is dangerous. In 2010, influenza and pneumonia (which go hand-in-hand) killed over 53,000 people in the United States.27 Except for the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, flu vaccines do not contain aluminum, but aluminum is unavoidable in our diets, and our bodies process it naturally. Other vaccines that contain aluminum contain far lower amounts than the water we drink or the food we eat, and are safe.
The live (nasal) form of the flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, but the dead (injected) form has been given to millions of pregnant women and medical studies conclude that it is safe. Finally, although scientific research is being done on the possible benefits of chemicals extracted from essential oils, the article being debunked presents no evidence of any trials in humans — because, as of this writing, there aren’t any. In fact, some essential oils are known to be toxic when ingested by animals.
Note: to avoid increasing search engine exposure for quack web sites, I use the DoNotLink URL obfuscator on their links. I promise I’m not redirecting you to porn 🙂
(1) No Flu Shot For Me! Fighting the Flu With Essential Oils (original MAMA article)
(2) Aluminum in Vaccines: What you should know
(3) extract, CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 77th Edition
(4) Aluminum in Drinking Water (World Health Organization)
(5) The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition
(6) Effect of Essential Oils on Pathogenic Bacteria
(7) CDC: Pregnant Women Need a Flu Shot
(8) Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnant Women
(9) Holiday Inn Express (Nuclear Meltdown)
(10) Holiday Inn Express (Jeopardy)
(11) Vaccines and Aluminum
(12) Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary
(13) Adverse events in pregnant women following administration of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine and live attenuated influenza vaccine in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, 1990-2009
(14) Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine and spontaneous abortion
(15) Justin Bieber arrested on drunken driving, resisting arrest charges
(16) Aluminum in Your Diet
(17) Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadillas (original MAMA article)
(18) Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnant Women
(19) MAYO Clinic: Pregnancy week by week
(20) Boost Your Produce Budget: smart shopping tips for buying local (MAMA article)
(21) Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro
(22) FDA Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations Warning Letter to “Thieves Oil” Manufacturer
(23) Susceptibility of Drug-Resistant Clinical Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Strains to Essential Oils of Ginger, Thyme, Hyssop, and Sandalwood
(24) Recipe Collection: Cheesy Potatoes (MAMA article)
(25) Immune response turned up high by flu during pregnancy
(26) Immune Response Turned Up, Not Down, by Flu During Pregnancy
(27) Deaths and Mortality
(28) Essential Oil Poisoning, Woolf, Clinical Toxicology, 1999, Vol. 37, No. 6 : pp 721-727
(29) Antimicrobial Effect of Essential Oil Isolated from Eucalyptus globulus Labill
(30) Are Essential Oils Safe?
(31) A Case of Methanol Poisoning in a Child
(32) Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season
(33) ATSDR Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine: Aluminum
Pandermix flu vaccine from WikiMedia Commons, released into public domain with no restrictions.
Pregnant woman by Inferis, from WikiMedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Image owner does not necessarily share or endorse the views put forth by the author of this article.
Aluminum by Romary, from WikiMedia Commons, used under GNU Free Documentation License. Image owner does not necessarily share or endorse the views put forth by the author of this article.
Essential Oil from WikiMedia Commons, released into public domain with no restrictions.
Heamophilus influenza B is a bacteria. Other than that, great article!
Bacterium. I wish you could edit these comments
LOL no worries on the editing, and thank you for reading and for the kind comments! I believe I only talk about the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine rather than referring to a virus or bacteria, but I would like to correct the post or clear up the language if there is an incorrect or confusing passage… I can’t find the reference to it as a virus, but it’s very possible I was lulled into a typo by the article I was debunking, which tried to use in vitro studies of antibacterial properties of EOs to tout them an effective antivirals. It makes ones head spin 🙂
I believe “Sullivanthepoop ” was referring to the phrasing “if you disregard the specific Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, flu vaccines do not contain aluminum”. As it is currently written, the sentence lumps Haemophilus influenzae B in with influenza. Because it isn’t an influenza vaccination, it doesn’t really fit to be mentioned in the same breath. Confusing the two is a common misunderstanding, due to the similar sounding names.
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You have too much contempt for your subject to write a cogent article. Why bother?
Which facts in the article do you dispute? Why do you not dispute any of the points made? Please return and comment, I’d like to understand your point of view.
It’s ludicrous to compare the presence of aluminum in a systemic injection with aluminum in food.
From the point of view of those being debunked, how so? Their argument is that aluminum is dangerous-full stop.
Craig and Frank, you can’t let vaccines overshadow the greater contributor of aluminum to infants – breast milk. In the first 6 months of a child’s life, breast milk delivers 2 1/2 times as much aluminum to a child as vaccines do. Why the silence?
Click to access vaccine-education-center-aluminum.pdf
Regarding “systemic” effects of an injection – they don’t show up. The level of aluminum in an infants blood does not change detectably after receiving a vaccine.
Click to access vaccine-education-center-aluminum.pdf
What about spreading vaccines out? I understand aluminum is in our food, yes, we will eat it, Ill eat some everyday for the rest of my life, no matter how “pure” or “junky” my diet is.
But cant a higher dosage of something all at once be bad? For example, if I have an apple and I accidentally eat one of the seeds (cyanide is in the seeds) Ill be okay, nothing bad will happen, but if I take a cyanide pill, well, obviously Ill die. Its a much bigger dose at once.
Ive read on various sites spacing the vacs out can be safer, allows the vac to do its job, and allows the body to filter out anything that maybe bad for the body (as you said, the body is capable of filtering out aluminium, plus other stuff), so you get protected from all the nasty diseases out there like measles, ect.
It’s just something Ive been thinking about as I plan on vaccinating my future children and I was vaccinated myself as a child.
J, just say no to vaccines… Vaccines do not help prevent a thing.. cyanide in apples help you and assist your immune system. Cyanide by it’s self will kill you. Bound form of things (in food) is good…unbound things (like in vaccines and other poisons will destroy you. That’s one of the best science lessons you will find on this ignorant hell-born Big Medicine propaganda cracked-out site.
Not correct Frank. Cyanide in apples is found in in small quantities in the seeds, which are covered with a coating you’d need to break through or dissolve in order to expose yourself to a harmless dose–if you bothered to eat the core and seeds in the first place ☺️
You aren’t protected because of “binding”. Your claims on vaccines are just as rooted in non-science.
You are right, Frank. “Vaccines do not help prevent a thing.” Why, just last week I came down with a nasty bout of smallpox, and my neighborhood is suffering an outbreak of polio this week. Thanks, vaccines!
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When Aluminum is injected into the muscle not ingested has different affects on the body and cells. Aluminum is small radius very highly positively charged element so its going to attracted to negatively charges in the body. Because of that it’s able to travel to places it should never go! One of those places is into the brain. We now know that it does cross the blood brain barrier. It crosses in cells called macrophages. And there are special transport systems that shuttle it through. Aluminum binds to phosphate in DNA and RNA in the nucleus. (epigenetics) It influences many gene and regulates in abnormal ways gene function. Aluminum binds to ATP Adenosine Triphosphate the most important engery molecule in the body. Aluminum influences energy metabolism. Enzymes are dependent upon certain elements in order for them to function properly and have the right confirmation they need these elements. Aluminum has more a affinity for those enzymes than the normal elements than are suppose to be working with it. So it comes in and knocks off calcium and magnesium then takes over and inhibits those enzymes. Without enzymes your metabolism can’t work very well. Its bound to them and keeps it in the body longer. It makes the half life of Aluminum even longer. We know that people with Aluminum excess have very low energy. It also inhibits degeneration of proteins. Aluminum is a huge deal when it comes to proper cell function. Read Dr. Kawahara article supports with 176 medical references PMID: 21423554 Aluminum is a death factor for cells! Also Dr. Suzanne Humphries has several lectures on the subject.
Since there’s no aluminum in the flu vaccine, it would be hard for it to go places it “shouldn’t go”–and that’s a blatant appeal to nature in the first place. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the crust of the earth; according to the WHO many people inhale it when they breath. Your body evolved to naturally eliminate the levels of aluminum you encounter in nature. Speak to a doctor: You aren’t getting enough aluminum from shots, food, air, or water to make a difference to your health, unless you have a kidney disease you are worrying over nothing. Nobody is suggesting that you ingest spoonfuls of aluminum, which would be very foolish indeed.
But again, the point of the article on which you’re commenting is that there’s no aluminum in the shot that Modern Alternative Mama is complaining about. Don’t believe me? Read the package insert. I can only lead you to the information. What you do from there is your choice. I hope you make a wise one.
Dr. Exley has a considerably more impressive list of qualification on the subject of aluminum. I’m sure his PhD and decades of research is no match for yours. While aluminum is from the earths crust, that doesn’t make it a good idea to inject it intramuscularly. You wouldn’t inject gold or silver either.
Regardless of the flu vaccine. Aluminum is in many vaccines.
Medical science disagrees very strongly with Dr.Exley; that’s the consensus I quote (not my own). If he (or you) are making the claim that aluminum causes autism, then the burden of proof is on you.
I actual didn’t claim it caused autism although the theory holds more weight than some theories out there. The article only theorizes. And encourages more study. He knows the burden of proof is on him.
(As far as the greater medical community is concerned) Being ignorant is one thing but being willfully ignorant and stalling any further research because of it is another. And that is where you get the divide.
“The aluminium content of brain tissue in autism was consistently high…These are some of the highest values for aluminium in human brain tissue yet recorded and one has to question why, for example, the aluminium content of the occipital lobe of a 15 year old boy would be 8.74 (11.59)g/g dry wt.?”
— “Aluminium in brain tissue in autism” November 2017, Journal of Trace Elements of Medicine and Biology
This journal is a medical journal, no?
I’d be interested in medical studies that refute this theory. “Medical science disagrees with Dr. Exley.” Where are finding this?
Actually, doctors DO use gold and silver in medical treatments. ALL. THE. TIME.
Gold is used to regulate the immune system, via injection; it is used to treat refractory rheumatoid arthritis. Silver has potent antibacterial properties and is used in wound dressings, particularly for burn patients. (In is not injected, but since it is placed into a open wound, some no doubt gets into the patient’s system). So even your attack on the straw man (of aluminum in OTHER vaccines) is made from a place of extreme ignorance.
Dr. Exley is an outlier. That is OK; sometimes outliers are proven right. However, most of the time, the outliers are wrong, and the bulk of scientists are right.
“The Journal of Trace Elements of Medicine and Biology” is not exactly a top-notch scientific journal, BTW. It has an impact factor of 3.2, which is determined by how influential and rigorously reviewed the publications within are. The New England Journal, by way of comparison, has an impact factor of 79.6.
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Chris Shaw has found that injected aluminum hydroxide causes massive damage to the motor neurons of mice. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCzdliixnmI
Thanks for reading and commenting Scott.
How much AlOH, what was the LDL, since the you can literally kill yourself by drinking too much water:
Having too much aluminum in the bloodstream, no matter the route of administration, would indeed be cause for concern. As I pointed out, there isn’t any aluminum at all in the flu vaccine (as Modern Alternative Mama falsely claims), so we have no worries there. In other vaccines, the amounts are too small to do harm, and are actually beneficial. The dose does indeed make the poison.
Aluminum is the most common metal in the crust of the planet. According to the WHO, you are very hard pressed to avoid ingesting it, as it’s taken up by the plants we eat (spinach is a relatively rich source of aluminum). Fortunately our bodies have evolved to eliminate aluminum. Unless you have kidney problems, you’re doing just fine with the aluminum you encounter on a daily basis–and it’s far less than you encounter in a vaccine.
Chris Shaw participated in the production of the following articles about aluminum adjuvants:
Aluminum adjuvant linked to Gulf War illness induces motor neuron death in mice.
Aluminum hydroxide injections lead to motor deficits and motor neuron degeneration
Aluminum in the central nervous system (CNS): toxicity in humans and animals, vaccine adjuvants, and autoimmunity.
And see “Aluminium in brain tissue in autism”. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtemb.2017.11.012. By Christopher Exley, et al.
The injection of aluminum salts is not a safe practice.
Thanks for the reply Scott. No doubt Shaw participated in these studies. Andrew Wakefield participated in studies that (falsely) linked the MMR vaccine to autism. I’m more interested in what the scientific consensus says and, as I pointed out in my last reply but you haven’t had a chance to address yet, what were the conditions of the specific tests?
I’m sure you can inject enough aluminum into a living animal to kill it. As I pointed out, I can do that with water. That doesn’t tell us anything about the toxicity of the chemical we’re testing.
Aluminum salts used in vaccines are most definitely safe for injection in humans. Again, this is the consensus of the scientific and medical community speaking, not me. If Chris Shaw disagrees, he should take it up with them. That’s how science works.
Being interested in the scientific consensus is a bias and not really science. Science is a process of discovery and inquiry, consensus is the study of the opinions of people. If you are a true scientist then consensus means nothing to you. It’s the data that should matter, not the consensus.
A fair point; maybe I made mine poorly. When I say I’m interested in consensus, I mean, for example, that a consensus of over 97% of the world’s scientists agree that climate change is occurring and the humans are responsible for it. They are, of course, backing their claims with data.