Earlier this week I shared a post I wrote that looks into some questions around the influenza vaccine.
We had quite a few reactions and they were distinctly different.
Some people reported getting the flu vaccine and it was no problem for them. Others reported terrible reactions and said they’d never get it again.
Well, as always, I’m curious about why this might be.
So I took a look at the research and I’ve come up with a plausible theory.
I’ll get to it in a moment, but, first, I think it’s important to understand something about the immune system.
The Immune System Is Incredibly Complex
The immune system is made of many different parts, and much of it is still a mystery to researchers.
One thing that we do know is that these different parts can behave differently in different situations and trying to over simplify and assign “good” or “bad” attributes to the different parts often results in frustration.
And the reason for this is that sometimes it does things that are “good” for the body (like defend it from pathogens like the flu virus) and sometimes it does things that are not so beneficial (like develop autoimmunity).
But even autoimmunity comes from a necessary and “good” process, the body needs to dispose of old dead cells or we’d become a toxic stew of cell fragments and mutations.
Sometimes these processes get thrown out of balance and “bad” things happen such as autoimmunity and one of the possible reasons for this has to do with the way the body tries to deal with and dispose of viruses.
And examining this process can give us insights into why some people with autoimmunity have such a bad reaction to the flu (and sometimes, other viruses, as well.)
In reality, everyone is a little different and we all have different immune profiles. Even among people with Hashimoto’s there is a good deal of variety in terms of how their immune system is functioning (or dysfunctioning).
Autoimmunity and Influenza Reactions Have One Thing In Common
The one common denominator in both bad reactions to the flu and the development of autoimmunity is that, in both cases, there is a deficiency in certain immune cells.
One thing that both autoimmunity and influenza infection have in common is that a deficiency of CD8+ cells can be found in autoimmune disease and it can also be a factor in having a more intense reaction to the influenza virus.
CD8+ cells are important for immune defense against bacteria and viruses and they also help the body monitor for tumors.
Some researchers have theorized that the Epstein Barr virus plays an important role in autoimmunity because it can ultimately leads to a decline in CD8+ cells.
This is a bit complicated and I have written about it in more depth here: https://www.hashimotoshealing.com/the-herpes-virus-and-has…/
How to Boost CD8+ Cells
For this post I thought it might be helpful to give you some suggestions for boosting CD8+ cells, which may help reduce your susceptibility and reaction to colds and flus.
Butyrate, which is important food for good bacteria and for cell lining in the intestines has been found to be helpful in restoring CB8+ cells that were depleted by viral infections.
These are short chained fatty acids and can be found in resistant starches. Butyrate can also be purchased as a supplement on it’s own.
The Chinese herb Chuan Xin Lian, or Andrographis can also boost CD8+ cells and is an excellent herb for sore throats and colds and flus. ( This is herb is contraindicated in pregnancy and must be used with caution. It is available in capsule and tablet form). More information can be found here: http://examine.com/supplements/Andrographis+paniculata/
Another Chinese herb called Jiao Gu Lan or Gynostemma has been shown to boost CD8+ cells and to have anticancer and cholesterol lowering properties: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24832985
Finally, Wu wei zi, or Schizandra is another herb that has been shown to boost CD8+ cells after radiation exposure: http://www.egh.net.cn/EN/abstract/abstract2207.shtml
(Note: Herbs are medicine too, so use caution when taking them and be sure to do your own research or consult an experienced physician on proper dosage and contraindications).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC136883/ CD8+ def. and influenza
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ad/2012/189096/#B47 CD8+ def. in autoimmunity
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/pdfs/05-1237.pdf Cell mediated Protection in Influenza
http://bitesized.immunology.org/cells/cd8-t-cells/ Good explanation of CD8+ cells
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2015/979167/ Immune disorders and Hashimoto’s
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196144/ Butyrate boosts CD8+ cells
Star Anise can be used to make a tea for cold & flu symptoms.
Today, I thought we’d start a new type of post that we’ll doing periodically and that is featuring herbs and other treatments that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In today’s tip, I wanted to highlight Star Anise, known as Da Hui Xiang in Chinese.
This is an herb that is traditionally combined with other herbs and used as a pain reliever, and digestive aid (it is especially effective for treating nausea and indigestion).
It has a lovely licorice like flavor and you can find it in dried form at many Hispanic and Asian markets.
Another interesting thing to note is that Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid.
This compound is used to make the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir(Tamiflu).
And for all you trivia fans …in 2005, a temporary shortage of star anise was caused by its use in the production of Tamiflu.
So, that means it also has anti-viral properties and can be a good tea for aiding in the prevention and treatment of the flu.
Since pain, digestive complaints and colds and flus can all be issues for people with Hashimoto’s, we recommend this as a tea that you can keep around the house and drink regularly.
How to prepare it:
Use 2 star anise per cup of filtered water.
Bring water to a boil. Add the star anise, turn down the heat.
Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes for a strong cup of tea.
Doesn’t really need sweetening, and the flavor will be quite strong when you simmer it for this amount of time.
Simmering for this amount of time will release the medicinal properties and covering it will preserve the aromatic oils.
For a gentler cup of tea, simmer for 5 minutes.
Have a great day! Unless you have other plans. 🙂
Please share with anyone you think might enjoy this.