NUTRICARE NEWS /August 1988
The Vaccination Question
by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD
There is probably no more troubling issue in holistic veterinary medicine today than the question of giving vaccinations to animals. There is compelling and suggestive evidence, at least to many perceptive clinicians, that they do more harm than good. As a way to get into this discussion, let's look, first, at some of the concepts behind the vaccine idea.
As developed and used by the medical profession, vaccination is based on two notions. The first one is that if the patient can be given a disease that expresses itself in a very mild form, then immunity (later protection) will develop just as it would with the usual, more virulent, infection. This immunity would obviously allow protection without having to go through the discomfort or even life-threatening experience of the disease itself.
The second notion is that this milder disease is not harmful in any significant way.
Have these ideas been successful? There is controversy about this in the medical profession. Most practicing doctors think of vaccines as being highly safe and successful, yet those who are more knowledgeable in the field of immunology speak in more guarded tones. (I speak from some personal experience as my PhD training was in the field of veterinary immunology.) There are problems.
Without going into excessive detail, there are two major problem areas. The first has to do with the vaccination not "taking." That is, even though it is given properly, no immunity results. There are many factors associated with this development, not the least of which is the inability of the patient to properly respond to the vaccine infection (read weakened immune system). The second major problem is the report, in human beings, of illness, retardation, paralysis and death after vaccination. Though this varies with different types of vaccines, it is a continuing issue. One needs only to mention the swine flu vaccination drive in the United States a few years ago (See Chapter Five) to bring to mind some of the things that can happen.
As if this were not enough fuel for controversy, let me add one thought. Over the last decade or so, there has been increasing use of combined vaccines.
Rather than give each one individually and allow the body to deal with that infection, the practice now is to add them together and given them all in one big "shot." Thus, it is not unusual for a dog to receive six vaccines, altogether at one time. Further, though this is hard to believe, I know that dogs being treated with corticosteroids for allergy problems are vaccinated just the same as other animals. One of the side effects of corticosteroids is the suppression of the immune system. Is this logical?
In my opinion, the result of this practice--frequent vaccination (once or twice a year) and of multiple injections at one time--is a confusing and weakening of the immune system. There is no precedent in nature for this kind of experience. When I was teaching epidemiology at Washington State University, my study of natural disease cycles in wolves and similar animals revealed something very interesting. When epidemics of disease sweep through a population (actually called an epizootic when involving animals), it is always one disease at a time. In wolves, this is usually distemper or rabies; often in different years.
What this means is that over millennia of evolutionary development, the animal body has adapted to responding quickly to infection; one at a time. What this means is that the practice of giving six or more infections at one time is highly unnatural.
To understand what can happen as a result of this practice, let us look for just a moment at the function of the immune system. Now, I am not going to use a lot of big words and talk about all the component parts of the immune system.
This is neither necessary nor helpful. If you wanted to understand what a car does would you need to know about cylinders, pistons, crank rods, spark gaps, etc? Of course not. Understanding what a car does involves understanding its function or use. A car moves things-mostly people, but also objects-from one place to another, along roads, highways etc.
In the same way, what does the immune system do? It recognizes and remembers what is supposed to be in the body. It is as simple as that. As the young animal grows, both before birth and after, the immune system goes through a learning process. "Ah, that's the liver. Supposed to be here. All right. Oh-oh, what's that? Looks like a splinter. Not supposed to be here. Let's get it out. Come on everybody, work to do!" Get the idea?
Now, like our brains, which also recognize and remember things, though of a different sort, there is a natural limit to its function. We all know that trying to take in too much at once only leads to confusion. Confusion means mistakes. Mistakes mean doing the wrong thing-or the right thing at the wrong time.
How would the immune system act if it became confused and made mistakes? Would it not react to what it was supposed to react to? Over-react? React to the wrong things?
What I think has happened is that the increased use of vaccines (once or twice a year, whereas it used to be only early in life; like for children) and also combining vaccines together has confused the immune system.
I think vaccines are the number one cause for the increase of chronic disease in animals. Yes, I know that nutrition and food are important in the health of animals; but this is nothing compared to vaccinations, which have such a direct impact on the immune system.
Think for a moment of the tremendous incidence of allergies in dogs. All those itchy skins, inflamed bowels, eczematous ears. Think of the hundreds of gallons of prednisone used to keep these over-reactions in check.
Think now of the tremendous epidemic of the AIDS-like Feline Leukemia disease. This is characterized by what? More often than not, the leukemic cat is brought to the veterinarian because it has some infection, a "cold," an abscess, that it cannot get over. At root, it does not have a functional immune system. Same story with feline infectious peritonitis.
The outcome of this confusion of the immune system is the development of a state that cannot properly respond to either naturally occurring diseases or to vaccinations. This connects then with the problem mentioned above: lack of protection after being vaccinated. Over a period of time, there will emerge a population which is not protected, in spite of "good" vaccinations programs. There will also be the emergence of an increasing number of autoimmune and immune deficiency diseases.
This is what I see in my practice. Many animals are not able to resist diseases that they should be able to resist. A common example is the cat vaccinated for feline leukemia which within a short time (few weeks) comes down with infectious peritonitis, unresponsive anemia or some other serious and usually life-threatening disease.
The difficulty in recognizing a relationship here is conceptual. If you go to your veterinarian and say, "I think my cat is sick from the vaccine you gave him a month ago," you will not be taken seriously. I tell you from personal experience that within the veterinary profession, this possibility is almost universally denied. It is a question of faith, you see. There is absolutely no concept of a vaccine reaction which can result in increased susceptibility to another unrelated disease. It is not a question of not believing in the possibility. It is not even considered.
Well, let's say this concept takes root in your mind. What is one to do if vaccinations are not used? Certainly, it does not make sense to leave the animal unprotected in these times of increasing disease. There are two options that I can think of. The first, my preference, is to raise the animal in such a way as to promote good health. This means good natural food, adequate exercise and fresh air, no vaccinations and judicious use of homeopathic remedies. Constitutional treatment is invaluable in terms of reducing susceptibility to all infectious illness. The second (and these are not mutually exclusive) is the use of homeopathic nosodes, e.g., remedies made from products of the disease itself. There has always been a tradition and use of these products in human beings, and also very successful historical prevention of distemper in the dog with this approach. I am developing this method as an alternative to vaccination in my practice.
Wolf Clan Magazine/February/March 1995
Dr Richard Pitcairn Discusses Chronic Disease Caused By Vaccines
In this article we begin to address the subject of vaccinosis, the general name for chronic disease caused by vaccines. For some readers the very idea that vaccines are anything but wonderful and life-saving may come as a surprise, and it's not a very pleasant one. After all, the general population pictures vaccines as one of modern medicine's best and brightest moments, saving literally millions from the scourge of diseases like poliomyelitis and smallpox.
However, there is a great deal of statistical evidence to show that the incidence of these and other major communicable diseases was on the decline before the vaccine programs were enforced. Improvements in sanitation as well as nutritional teachings seem to be the obvious reason for the decline, since other communicable diseases, for which no vaccines were available, were declining, and continued to decline, at the same time.
Richard H Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, author of Dr Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs & Cats, is a renowned homeopathic veterinarian practicing in Eugene, Oregon. Dr Pitcairn received his PhD when he returned to school after becoming a veterinarian in order to study veterinary immunology, virology and biochemistry. This return to school was prompted by his search for basic answers about the bodis ability to defend and heal itself.
While Dr Pitcairn began homeopathic practice without considering vaccination as a factor of any special importance, he found a troubling number of cases in which the appropriately chosen homeopathic remedy, based on the symptoms present, would improve but not cure the case. After being frustrated by the lack of a definitive cure in these cases for some period of time, he began to believe that the cases represented a chronic state of illness induced by vaccination. His intuition proved to be correct when a remedy selected solely on the rubric (symptom) "Vaccination, effects of," rather than the seemingly correct remedy based on the total symptom picture, would in fact cure or greatly improve the case. The remedy Thuja, one of about forty remedies listed under that rubric, has proven to be one of the most important remedies for vaccine related disease.
Wolf Clan spoke with Dr Pitcairn this past October about the question of vaccinosis. Some of his comments, from both that interview as well as the text of his address on this question in 1993 before the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, follow.
"My understanding of the importance of vaccination in animal disease gradually developed over several years. In case after case, progress was dependent on the use of Thuja, the anti-vaccine remedy. Though this was not necessarily the final remedy for these patients, it seemed to be a necessary prescription. It is as if vaccinations have the ability to block response to a constitutional remedy, an obstacle that must be dealt with before cure can be underway. Sometimes, when the picture is muddled, perhaps because of prior treatment with allopathic drugs, Thuja can bring clarity into the situation.
"This does not mean that in every case of previously vaccinated animals (which is nearly all animals, since vaccination of the parent is sufficient to confer chronic vaccine disease upon the offspring), Thuja should be given first. The practitioner still must take into consideration the whole history over the life of the animal and, if it is determined that an anti-vaccine remedy is the appropriate way to proceed, then determine which of them is indicated based on that particular animal. Among the anti-vaccine remedies are representatives from all the major classes of remedies-nosodes, vegetable remedies, mineral remedies. The holistic practitioner must still look at the individual picture presented by each animal and decide where there is the most correspondence with an anti-vaccine remedy.
"When I first began to search the homeopathic literature for information about the relation of vaccination to disease, I found vaccination first clearly described as a chronic disease in the book Vaccinosis and Its Cure by Thuja with Remarks on Homeoprophylaxis, by J Compton Burnett, MD, the first edition of which appeared in London in March of 1884. Burnett refers to the chronic disease that results from vaccination by the name vaccinosis. Vaccinosis is to be understood as the disturbance of the vital force by vaccination that results in mental, emotional and physical changes that can, in some cases, be a permanent condition. Burnett also makes the interesting observation that, rather than protecting some individuals as planned, vaccination actually makes them more susceptible. The vaccination, having created a chronic disease ahead of time, can predispose the patient to a more serious natural illness which combines with the established vaccinosis.
"The laboratory modification of a viral disease to make a vaccination strain changes the virus so that its natural tendency to arouse a strong response is gone. Instead it can be introduced into the body in a form that does not elicit much of a reaction. The result is the establishment of a chronic disease that has never been seen before in clinical practice. What I am suggesting is that, because of repeated vaccination, acute diseases such as canine distemper have changed form to appear as a great variety of chronic diseases, which are sometimes given new names from the mistaken idea that they are different and distinct diseases.
"In terms of effectiveness, one important point to consider is that it is not sufficient that the specific syndrome for which a given vaccine is administered not be seen. The overall level of health of the persons or animals receiving the vaccines is an equal indicator of effectiveness. There is not really a system for tabulating the incidence of the common diseases of dogs and cats. There are figures for some of the reportable diseases of livestock, but the rapid turnover of these animals makes long-term studies almost impossible. However, since there are statistics for the common human diseases, we can reverse the process we usually find ourselves using as veterinarians: instead of using animals to study human disease, we can use human disease to answer our questions about animals.
"Looking at the statistics available for smallpox, polio, measles and pertussis (whooping cough), we find that besides the fact that the incidence of these diseases was already declining before vaccination programs were enforced, the incidence actually increased once these programs were instituted. Some countries, looking at statistics showing this lack of efficacy and increase in disease incidence, together with deaths resulting from reactions to the vaccination, have terminated compulsory vaccination. When Australia did so in the case of the smallpox vaccine, smallpox virtually disappeared in that country (three cases in fifteen years). In the case of the polio vaccine, many European countries refused to systematically inoculate their citizens, yet polio epidemics also ended in these countries as well.
"Measles is an especially interesting disease to look at because of its close similarity to canine distemper. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, even though in the United States and England a greater than 95 percent decline in the measles death rate had already occurred between 1915 and 1958. Also, the death rate from measles in the mid-1970s (post-vaccine) was exactly the same as it was in the early 1960s (prevaccine). A study by the World Health Organization concludes that chances are 14 times greater that measles will be contracted by those vaccinated against the disease than by those who have not been vaccinated. The federal government reported in 1985 that 80 percent of the 1,984 cases of measles occurred in people who had been properly vaccinated. More recently outbreaks have continued to occur throughout the country, sometimes among 100 percent vaccinated populations.
"One particularly harmful effect of this continued use of a useless vaccine is that the disease now affects primarily a different age group. The peak incidence of measles no longer occurs in children, but in adolescents and young adults. As a result the risk of complications of pneumonia and liver abnormality have increased. Also, before the vaccine was introduced, it was extremely rare for an infant to contact measles. However, by 1993 more than 25 percent of all measles cases were occurring in babies under one year of age. The Center for Disease Control anticipates a worsening of this situation and attributes it to the growing number of mothers who were vaccinated during the last 30 years, therefore passing on no natural immunity to their children.
"In the process of training as a doctor or veterinarian, one goes in as a relatively naive young person. The conditioning is heavy; it costs a lot of money, and of course you want to do well. Students are told how wonderful vaccines are, and they don't really question it; they accept as a fact that they're these great boons to health, are never harmful, and have saved a lot of lives--it's black and white. The companies making the vaccines have great amounts of money and influence to campaign and advertise. You have a situation on the one hand where doctors are conditioned to accept and on the other hand companies powerful enough to squelch negative comment.
"I realize the topic is a controversial one, but I have observed that if one can look at the question with an open mind, one will be surprised at the amount of evidence that is actually there. I believe that the attitudes and feelings people now have about vaccinations are the same ones people used to have about bleedings. The prominent doctors, all the most important authorities, agreed they were absolutely beneficial. Anyone who dared to question that assumption was ridiculed. Now we look back on that practice with amazement that so many people bought into the idea for so long that bleedings were helpful and good. I trust we will be doing the same thing someday when we look back at the practice of vaccinations."
Dr Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs & Cats
Richard H Pitcairn, DVM, PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Harmful Effects of Vaccination
Besides the possibility that they may not work, vaccines might also cause an acute disease or a chronic health problem. I have often noticed certain animals getting ill a few days to a few weeks after receiving vaccinations. Often the explanation given is that the dog or cat was already incubating the disease and was going to get it anyway. Granted that this may occasionally happen, in my opinion, most of these instances are illness from the vaccine itself.
It is likely that the animal was in a weakened state and the vaccine virus therefore caused a more severe reaction than the "minidisease" intended. Whatever the reason, I have seen this problem occur most often after canine distemper, canine parvovirus, feline rhinotracheitis or feline calicivirus vaccines were given (sometimes these latter two also cause a low-grade nose or eye inflammation in cats, which may last for months). Other vaccines, like the feline leukemia vaccine, do not seem to induce the illness they are supposed to prevent, but instead create conditions for another equally serious illness. The most frequent example of this, in my experience, is the occurrence of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) a few weeks after administration of the feline leukemia vaccine. Sometimes the second virus was already in the cat, but the immune system was strong enough to withstand it until weakened by the vaccine disease (that is, the immune system was not able to cope with both diseases at the same time).
Long-term effects are the more serious possibility. Over the years doctors practicing homeopathic medicine have accumulated information on the more subtle but stubborn problems of vaccination.
To quote a contemporary writer on the subject, George Vithoulkas, "The experience of astute homeopathic observers has shown conclusively that in a high percentage of cases, vaccination has a profoundly disturbing effect on the health of an individual, particularly in relation to chronic disease."
This disorder "engrafted" onto an individual by injection of a foreign disease is called vaccinosis and can be associated with a wide range of conditions. In many cases homeopaths have found it necessary to address the effects of vaccinations before full health can be restored. For example, Vithoulkas describes the case of a woman with terrible anxieties that were the result of a rabies vaccination she received as a child. She had experienced this condition for almost 40 years until cured by a method of homeopathic treatment chosen to antidote the ill effects of this vaccine.
Do these chronic effects occur in vaccinated animals? Very definitely. They are among the most common problems that I face in my practice. I believe this because I have learned that it's usually necessary to use a homeopathic remedy that removes the effects of prior vaccinations before I am able to make significant progress in the difficult, chronic cases often brought to me. I have had a number of cases in which the individual dog or cat invariably took a turn for the worse whenever it was vaccinated.
Based on the experience of over 17 years of homeopathic practice, it is my opinion that most animal skin allergies (and similar skin diseases) are the result of repeated annual vaccinations. I also suspect that the widespread increase in diseases caused by immune system disorders, such as hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and pemphigus (a serious skin disease in which blisters appear on the skin and on mucous membranes in the mouth and elsewhere), is a result of increased use of vaccinations especially of combination formulas. These vaccinations are highly unnatural to the body. Under natural conditions an animal is exposed to pathogens, but its body has ways to defend itself at the normal points of entry (the nose, mouth or other mucous membranes). When a combination vaccine is given, a massive invasion of several potent pathogens charges quickly into the bloodstream, bypassing the frontline defenses. Is it any wonder that the immune system gets confused, "panics" and begins attacking the body itself?
Fortunately, many other veterinarians are now recognizing this problem. Reports have appeared in journals over the last few years describing diseases that follow routine vaccinations -- bleeding disorders, bone and joint inflammation, even tumors and cancers in some cats. At this point the attitude of most veterinarians is that these happenings are an anomaly. I think it will take many more years for the realization to dawn that some degree of adverse health effects occur in the majority of those vaccinated.
Why You Should NOT Vaccinate!
by Pat McKay
Author of REIGNING CATS & DOGS
For free nutrition information and advice, email Pat McKay