The past two years have brought vaccines to the forefront of conversation. And while this article is not meant to sway your decision as to whether you should get a COVID vaccine or any other if you choose to do so, there is scientific evidence showing how to prepare your body for any vaccine, explains this naturopathic doctor.
The goal is to reduce any known side effects and enhance the vaccine’s efficacy by following these basic principles, says Amy Rothenberg, ND. Please consult your physician if you need more assistance and information.
Tips to Prepare Your Body for a Vaccine
- Take probiotics, and if your diet allows, eat cultured/fermented foods (think yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, etc.) in the weeks before and after your vaccine. Research shows people who have a robust and diverse microbiome fare better with vaccines, and thus the vaccines seem to work better. This makes sense when you consider the microbiome ecosystem is a part of the immune system.
- Include prebiotic foods in your diet. For probiotic supplements and probiotic foods and drinks to work best, they need highly fibrous prebiotics. You don’t need another supplement, just be mindful of including insoluble fiber foods in your diet. Common prebiotics include apples, asparagus, bananas, barley, berries, cocoa, nuts, and seeds. Prebiotics are indigestible by human enzymes and function as essential food for probiotics, which in turn help to support optimal digestion as well as enhance immunity, which helps with response to vaccination.
- For optimal immune resiliency, include nutritional supplementation with vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, and essential fatty acids like fish oil. Take for two weeks before and after vaccination. For a more long-term set of recommendations related to your food intake, nutritional supplements, botanical medicine, and constitutional homeopathic remedy, please consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor or another provider with expertise in this field. If you are concerned about supplements because of other diagnoses or medication you take, please consult with your medical provider.
- Refrain from junk food—especially sweets—before and after your vaccine, at least for a couple of weeks, though the longer, the better.
- Refrain from alcohol before and soon after, again for a couple of weeks. Drink plenty of water to maintain adequate hydration.
- Get enough restful sleep for a couple of weeks before and after. If you need help reducing dependence on benzodiazepines or better sleep hygiene in general, see a naturopathic doctor for sleep advice and a comprehensive plan.
- Avoid adding new types of foods, personal care products, household products, bedding, and clothing in the two weeks before or after the vaccine. It’s important to prevent an allergic reaction that may challenge your immune system, and this will help avoid any confusion about possible allergic reactions to the vaccine.
- Stop smoking and vaping any substances the week before and the following weeks. Of course, this is an essential health recommendation, not limited to before and after taking the vaccine. If you can quit before your vaccine, consider never going back.
- Schedule vaccines when you feel well and are not ill with other infection(s) or allergy symptoms.
- Use general, wide-acting anti-inflammatory herbs such as curcumin, either in pill form or cooking (think turmeric), to help support a good immune response. Other readily available foods to add to this category include mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger.
- Improve blood flow and lymphatic channels post-vaccine, where the vaccine was given with exercise, such as yoga, stretching, light weights, walking or running, and biking. If you need it, massaging on and around the lymph nodes near the affected area can help.
- Focus on stress reduction and stress management. Stress can increase vaccine side-effects and reduce vaccine efficacy.
Editor’s Note: This information does not endorse or recommend that you get a particular vaccine for COVID-19 or any other infectious agent. INM is providing recommendations for individuals who choose to get a vaccine on their own accord.
This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
Amy Rothenberg ND, DHANP is a contributor to INM and practicing licensed naturopathic doctor in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dr. Rothenberg is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg’s writing can be found on NaturalMed.org, Better Nutrition’s Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, andThe Huff Post. She is the proud mother of 3 adult children.