(NOTE: This article is from the old Herbal Legacy Newsletter)

September 2005

by Lindsay Wolsey, MH

When I went in for my first mid-wife appointment after discovering I was pregnant, they took blood and ran a bunch of tests.  It turns out I have no immunity to Rubella, even though I had the MMR vaccine as a child (I did not have the booster in high school).  I was told that Rubella can be very dangerous during pregnancy, and that I should probably get vaccinated against it.  I told the mid-wife that I didn’t think Rubella was too common anymore, that I had avoided it so far, and that I wasn’t really concerned.  Fortunately, they didn’t pressure me to get vaccinated until after my baby was born, and by then I was well-armed with facts and figures showing that I didn’t need the vaccine.
 
On March 22, 2005 I read an interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune.  It said that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared that Rubella was no longer a major health threat in the United States.  “Rubella has not cropped up naturally in the United States since 2000,” said Steven Cochi, acting director of the CDC’s National Immunization Program. Of the nation’s nine rubella cases in 2004, all either came from other countries or spread from those imported cases. No cases have been reported in Utah in the past five years.
 
What is Rubella?
 
Rubella, also known as German measles, can cause rash, mild fever and arthritis in adults.  According to WebMD.com, it is a mild illness that does not result in long-term problems.
 
How Do You Catch It?
 
Rubella is spread through droplets of fluid from the mucous membranes—sneezing, coughing, talking, sharing food or drinks.  You could become infected if you touch a surface with infected fluid on it, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
 
What are the Symptoms?

You may experience a mild fever, swollen glands (especially behind the ear and at the back of the head), and a skin rash that starts on the face and spreads to the neck, the chest, and the rest of the body. Older children and teenagers may have fever, eye pain, sore throat, and body aches. They may or may not develop a rash.
 
Why Worry?
 
According to the CDC, one of the most significant Rubella outbreaks took place in 1964 and 1965 when an estimated 12.5 million cases occurred in the United States. That outbreak led to more than 11,600 babies being born deaf, 3,850 babies born blind and 1,800 babies developing mental retardation. Rubella also caused more than 11,000 fetal deaths and 2,100 deaths shortly after birth.
 
Why Get Vaccinated?
 
Doctors developed a rubella vaccine in the late 1960s, mainly to prevent birth defects from contracting the disease in utero. Today, more than 93 percent of U.S. children under 2 are given the MMR vaccine, which is supposed to include protection against measles and mumps. More than 95 percent of kids entering school are vaccinated with the MMR shot, the CDC reported.
 
Utah has been monitoring for birth defects since 1995.  Since that time, the state has not seen any babies born with rubella-related defects, said John Carey, medical consultant with the Utah Department of Health’s Birth Defect Network.  So, in the last ten years, since they started looking for this, no babies have been born with any defects related to Rubella.  So why are we continuing to be pestered to be immunized against it?  The new reason for continued vaccination is that people from other countries could spread it.  The CDC is recommending continued vaccination for children at the age of 12 months and before entering school, and for women planning to get pregnant.  Just when you think a victory is coming, they continue the same old line.
 
Then there are the risks associated with the Rubella vaccine.  In 1982, several separate studies showed that the Rubella vaccine was a cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1981 reported the OB-GYN’s were the least likely of all doctors to get the Rubella vaccine.  Fewer than 10 percent were inoculated.  Do they know something we don’t?
 
In 1993, two of the three MMR vaccines in use in England were pulled because there was a “slight” risk of  “transient meningitis”.
 
Currently, several studies are being done to determine if there is a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism.  The official line is that there isn’t, but I have talked to more than one parent of an autistic child who said the symptoms showed up right after the MMR vaccine was given.
 
How Do You Prevent It?
 
So, if you looked at the side effects of the vaccine, and decided that wasn’t for you, how do you prevent Rubella?  The same way you protect against colds and flus—wash your hands, and avoid sick people.  Also, drink a lot of Red Raspberry tea.  If you’re pregnant, you should be drinking a lot of Red Raspberry tea anyway.
 
How Do You Treat It?
 
If you are an allopath, you would treat this disease with bed rest, fluids, and fever management (acetominaphen).  If you are an herbalist, you would give the patient plenty of fluids, such as Red Raspberry tea, Yarrow tea, Chickweed tea.  You would definitely let the patient get a lot of rest, but you wouldn’t try to suppress the fever—you would try to help it, so that the toxins get out of the body and the patient can get better faster.
 
General Instructions: This disease must be brought to the surface through the skin as rapidly as possible. Diaphoretic herbs such as yarrow and raspberry leaf are excellent. Use vapor baths (such as ginger, mustard and cayenne) which bring the toxic wastes to a head quickly. Moisture is required or the organic calcium will turn into inorganic calcium because of the feverish dry body heat, which causes further tissue damage. Rheumatic fever is often the aftermath of diseases such as chicken pox and measles. Take care of the bronchi and the eyes. Avoid bright light, since the eyes are weak at this time. The bowels should be kept open with the lower bowel tonic [Fen LB]. A catnip enema is soothing and beneficial. Ripe fruits will assist in the cleansing process. [SNH p.36]
 
Especially for Children: If the child is slow in breaking out, give a good hot bath. It is important to clean out the bowels, so give the patient a warm catnip (tea) enema each day. Put him to bed and give a tea made of equal parts of yarrow, pleurisy root and lady’s slipper (use valerian root or catnip if lady’s slipper is unavailable). Give this tea freely to produce perspiration which will also lower the fever. (Red sage, red raspberry leaf or camomile teas are also excellent for a patient with measles.) Also, a pleasant herbal tea made of equal parts catnip, raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, can be given freely throughout the day. It is best to keep the room dark so that the eyes will not become irritated. In the event the child’s eyes do become sore, bathe them two or three times a day with a solution (tea) made of equal parts of eyebright, raspberry leaf, and golden seal. If the child complains of itching, bathe or sponge the skin with a tea made of yellow dock and burdock root and/or golden seal. Adding a little apple cider vinegar to a tub of bath water is also helpful. Guard the patient against bronchial troubles and earache and have him drink plenty of liquids (distilled water, herbal teas, as recommended, and fruit juices). The diet should be simple–plenty of fresh ripe fruit, fruit juices and fresh vegetable juice. One very good combination is carrot juice with celery, spinach and parsley juice added to taste. [HHH p.105]
 
For Itching: Use a fomentation over the irritated area made with chickweed tea and/or plantain, burdock root, Oregon grape root, and echinacea–covered with plastic. Or, bathe the area with the tea a number of times during the day. Chickweed or plantain ointment is an aid for small outbreaks. Drink a cup of the tea two or three times or more a day. To each cup of the tea you drink add three to six drops of tincture of lobelia.
 
Conclusion
 
So, while I didn’t just tell the midwife to take the Rubella vaccine and stick it, I also didn’t let them give me a shot.  The risk of this disease is so low that I’m just not worried, and the risk of side effects from the vaccine is so high that I just don’t think it’s worth it.  As with all vaccines, it is important to study the facts out for yourself and make your own decision.  Don’t let someone else make it for you.