Natural health and my family

Local Mum Marijke Roberts found out about natural health remedies when her first son was a baby. She discovered they are a real alternative to Calpol and antibiotics and hasn’t looked back since.


A few thoughts about HPV vaccines          

I recently read in the newsletter my son brought home from High School that the HPV vaccine schedule is to start soon, when every girl in year 8 will get 3 shots of the HPV vaccine. I have to admit, my heart dropped when I read this and I will try to explain why.

First of all, and I find this quite upsetting, is the dishonesty with how this vaccine is promoted. It is often called a vaccine against cervical cancer, and it is NOT! It is a vaccine against the HPV virus, which is thought to play a part, with several other causes, to the development of cervical cancer. The vaccine Gardasil will be used this year, as opposed to Cervarix which was used in the previous years in the UK. Gardasil is meant to protect against 4 strains of the HPV virus, Cervarix was meant to protect against 2. Gardasil has been used in the US since June 2006, and over 26.000 side effects have been reported so far.

It is very important to know that there are over a 100 strains of HPV virus, of which 15 have been associated with causing cervical cancer. Gardasil is meant to protect against 4, of which only 2 strains are associated with causing cervical cancer. The other 2 can cause genital warts, according to the NHS Choices website. It is expected that girls will develop antibodies against the 4 strains after receiving 3 doses of the vaccine. It is not clear how long this protection will last, as there are no long term studies to determine this. There is also a chance that strains of the HPV virus may mutate, which may result in the vaccine providing even less protection.

I don’t think many teenage girls are aware of this. I don’t think many parents are aware of this either. Especially when the NHS claims that “HPV-16 and HPV-18 are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases”. This is misleading because when you dig a bit deeper for information there is no evidence that these strains alone cause cervical cancer. Several other factors, which I will describe later, are implicated in raising the risk.

I am concerned that the vaccine programme takes place at schools, where the peer pressure for girls who do not want the vaccine will be difficult, especially as the vaccine is known as an “anti-cancer vaccine”! I know of one girl who was told by peers “if you don’t get it you’ll get cancer!” A clever marketing strategy, maybe?

Is it necessary?

When I learnt that the vaccine only protects against 2 strains that may be linked to the cause of cervical cancer, I wanted to know more about why this vaccine is aimed at all young teenage girls . What did not fill me with confidence was a comment from Dr Diane Harper, the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination, which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2nd through 4th, 2009.:

 “About eight in every ten women who have been sexually active will have H.P.V. at some stage of their life. Normally there are no symptoms, and in 98 per cent of cases it clears itself. But in those cases where it doesn’t, and isn’t treated, it can lead to pre-cancerous cells which may develop into cervical cancer.”

According to Cancer Research, about 8 in 100.000 women get cervical cancer. This risk is doubled when taking the contraceptive pill for a long period of time. Other risk factors include:

·       Smoking (this is the highest risk factor)

·       Starting to be sexual active at a young age

·       Having many sexual partners

·       Having more than 7 pregnancies

·       Not using a barrier method (condom)

·       Having a weakened immune system

The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) says on their website that cervical cancer is easily preventable with screening (smear tests) and highly curable if treated early.

I don’t know about you, but I started to understand even less as to why all these healthy young girls need the vaccine! Ok, you may say, but some protection is better than none and it doesn’t hurt, right?

Is it safe?

According to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), there have been 26.564 adverse reactions to the Gardasil vaccine reported, of which 5413 girls did not recover. 891 girls have been left disabled, 119 girls have died. 493 girls had abnormal pap smears after the vaccine, 57 girls developed cervical cancer. It is important to realise that VAERS is based on voluntary reporting, so the actual numbers could be much much higher.

What is also interesting to note is that when they tested the vaccine for safety, the vaccine was tested against a placebo, showing not much of an increase in side effects.  However what the small print shows is that the placebo wasn’t a benign saline, but the exact same vaccine with all the aluminium and ingredients, just minus the HPV part. It is not surprising then that the reactions were similar in both groups! I am not a scientist, but I can’t really figure out how the safety of a vaccine can be tested this way?

As with all vaccines, people are not given a package insert, as you get with all other medication. In the package insert it says that: “GARDASIL has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity”. So it is not clear if it may cause cancer. And it is a genetically engineered vaccine and they don’t know if this will have bad side effects. It also contains Polysorbate 80 which has been linked to infertility. But when they tested the vaccine on rats they still seemed fertile after a little while, according to the package insert. I personally don’t feel that a rat and a young girl are all that similar, so this just does not sound good enough for me!

I am not a medical professional, and in no way would I like you to accept what I am writing here without checking it out for yourself and your daughters. I managed to find the information I have used to write this very easily and am giving you the links below so if you want, you can inform yourself. I do not have a daughter myself, and can only imagine how hard it must be to deal with the pressure from peers, from other parents and from medical professionals. But I just cannot find anything that convinces me that this vaccine is safe and necessary, and if I had a daughter I would not give it to her in a million years!

The Arnica Network, June 2012
After my journey with my first child through illness and to health, I decided to inform myself more on looking after my children’s health in a more natural way. I had learned a lot from an organization called “The Informed Parent”. Their quarterly newsletter was full of amazingly interesting information that I hungrily absorbed. However I was keen to meet more like minded parents because it can be a bit of a lonely journey. 

My decisions to trust natural treatments and avoid the Calpol and the antibiotics, unless it is really necessary, can come across as being irresponsible. I know from experience that some parents can be very dismissive of my choices. I understand this as I think that people make up their decisions and opinions from the information that they have learnt and the experiences they have had. However I think it is very important that parents have the freedom to make informed decisions on what they feel is right for their children.

So I was keen to meet other parents with similar experiences to mine. I went to an information evening on natural immunity and asked in that group whether there were other parents who would like to meet up. One lovely lady, Anna, replied that she had just set up a support group for parents in Kingston, and she named the group “Arnica”. I had met a few local parents in the meantime and was invited to become part of the “Arnica Network” and be one of the four or five support groups there were at the time.

Now, just over five years later, there are over 50 support groups across the UK and even in Greece and other countries. Anna has made an amazing website with lots of information. There is a Facebook group and a Yahoo group, with over a thousand members who can post messages when they need support or advice and other parents and natural health professionals can respond to this. For me the Arnica Network is an immensely valuable and empowering source of support and information. Anna is a lovely creative and knowledgeable woman. She has a weekly radio show and regularly holds talks on natural immunity.

How I discovered natural health remedies, May 2012

My name is Marijke and I am the proud mother of two boys, aged 11 and 7. I would like to tell you a bit about why I love to use natural therapies, like homeopathy, to keep my family healthy, and what made us decide to support our health in a more natural way.

I have always been familiar with therapies like homeopathy and acupuncture, as my sister trained as a homeopath and my best friend in the Netherlands is an acupuncturist. I have personally experienced the benefits of these treatments over the years.

But in 2001 my first son Jake was born. I was lucky to have a natural birth, at home, where all went well. However 10 days later I had a uterus infection and had to go to hospital where I received several doses of antibiotics intravenously. I was breastfeeding my baby at the time but was told the antibiotics would not affect my baby.

A couple of months later Jake had his first vaccinations, then his second and then his third. This did not seem to affect him at first, but over the year to 18 months after this Jake was often ill with a chest infection, needing antibiotics. He also had a snotty nose continuously, thick green yellow stuff, and he coughed like a little old man in the night, every night. After the 3rd of 4th dose of antibiotics in one year the GP said he thought Jake could have asthma. I felt awful for my little boy, and realized that I had been having this niggly feeling in my guts that Jake’s bad health could have something to do with all the antibiotics  he had (including mine, through my breastmilk) and maybe even the vaccines.

So I decided to try a more natural approach and contacted a homeopath. She listened to my concerns and prescribed a remedy for Jake. She also advised me to look at changing Jake’s diet and strengthening his immune system. Jake’s health improved immensely after taking his remedies. The snotty nose was gone and so was the night time cough.

I then contacted a nutritionist to help me look at Jake’s diet. She recommended a hair strand test to see what vitamins and minerals Jake could be lacking in his diet. I also had to keep a diet sheet. I got some valuable advice and learnt a lot.

Jake is now  a very healthy 11 year old and has not needed anymore antibiotics. I myself have learnt so much about health and illness over the years. I no longer fear a fever and no longer suppress it with Calpol or other medicines. I have learnt to see a temperature as a healthy immune response and I let an illness run it’s course, making sure my children are comfortable and resting, using homeopathy, and other natural remedies, when needed. It has been such a fascinating learning curve for me, and it has left me with an increasing trust in and respect for the power of life and nature itself.

*Please note we don’t specifically endorse not vaccinating your children but we feel it is important to be aware of both sides of the argument when considering whether to use conventional or natural medicine. For more information, please speak to your healthcare provider.

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