Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Triggered by Vaccine Adjuvant

October 21, 2019 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Triggered by Vaccine Adjuvant
The debate regarding adjuvants in vaccines is a polarizing topic in many different communities. Since Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants or ASIA was introduced in 2011 as modern diagnosis, albeit rare, it has sparked debate and controversy. Similar concerns of adjuvants causing autoimmune disease dates back to silicone gel-filled breast implants from the 1960’s. As a result of ongoing concern, researchers continue to tease apart the neurological and immune system reactions to vaccine adjuvant.

An adjuvant is a substance added to something to boost the response, like aluminum in vaccines. One cause of ASIA pertains to aluminum adjuvants used to provoke and boost the immune’s system production of antibodies. The use of adjuvants has been linked to the development of persistent fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and immune challenges related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other disorders like Gulf War Syndrome.

As cold and flu season approaches and the push for flu vaccines rapidly ramps up, you need to be prepared for that conversation with your medical provider and even in your work place. Here are some recent findings pertaining to adjuvants and the concern of autoimmunity. Also check out the 2015 article on the topic of ASIA - Vaccine Injury with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked with Aluminum Adjuvants

The study published in Autoimmune Review July 2019 presents “epidemiological, clinical, and experimental evidence that myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) constitutes a major type of adverse effect of vaccines, especially those containing poorly degradable particulate aluminum adjuvants”.

When a vaccine is injected into the body like the deltoid/shoulder muscle, it triggers an immune response. Immune cells called macrophages flood the injection site area. This can create an inflammatory reaction called macrophagic myofasciitis or MMF.

MMF reflects persistent aluminum particles in cells at the site of the injection. If clean-up of the adjuvant is derailed from compromised cell autophagy, a domino effect occurs leading to the effects seen with CFS/ME.

Impaired cell autophagy and altered detoxification causes immune cells to pick up the aluminum hydroxide crystals which then travel to other organs and brain provoking inflammation and “low dose long-term neurotoxicity”.

Aluminum adjuvants may temporarily change the blood brain barrier. This reaction may trigger changes in blood flow patterns or diminished perfusion in certain parts of the brain. In addition, attention, memory and other cognitive dysfunction along with fatigue may occur. Myalgia or muscle pain may expand beyond the vaccine injection site.

Differing Viewpoints

Other researchers refute that ASIA exists or that harm could be done from vaccine adjuvants containing aluminum. They cite that there is no evidence of ASIA in individuals who receive allergy shots and are exposed to 100-500 times more aluminum over the course of 3-5 years than individuals who receive hepatitis B, HPV, or flu vaccinations. I wonder, what is the long-term health of those individuals?

Research work after this rebuttal evaluated a registry of 300 patients diagnosed with ASIA. Chronic fatigue, muscle pain and joint aches were the most common symptoms. The mean age of disease onset was 37 years old and took an average of 17 months for full-blown autoimmune disease to occur after the vaccine adjuvant injury. Most patients were diagnosed with a rheumatic autoimmune condition (undifferentiated connective tissue disease) in addition to ASIA.

Brain Imaging Proof

A study published November 2018 used brain imaging on patients with a subtype of ASIA called MMF-associated cognitive disorder. Using functional imaging of the brain with SPECT and PET scans, evidence revealed adverse changes in the parts of the brain (temporal lobes, limbic system, and cerebellum) – proof of “organic central nervous system involvement” in response to neuroimmune adjuvant stress.

Fight for Your Health

It can be argued that vaccines and adjuvants don’t cause illness and that the majority of the population is safe. It can also be argued that something adverse has happened to some individuals in response to vaccines and vaccine adjuvants. The concern should be that something is happening rather than a dismissive attitude. As you face this question, think about the current status of your health.

Twenty-first century health challenges are much different than just a century ago. Heavy metals, environmental chemicals and pesticides, wireless technology, mold, and infectious toxins add to the body burden and injure mitochondria, dysregulate immune cells and autophagy cellular housekeeping duties.

These challenges with lack of optimal nutrients, processed foods, high sugar intake, and increased chronic low-grade inflammation, change gene expression, challenge detoxification and cellular load. Add in loss of brain resiliency, changes in the intestinal and blood brain barriers together with chronic life stress and you have a perfect storm for intolerance to minute amounts of chemicals previously tolerated.

Common sense tells you that there is a limit to what the body can manage. If you or someone close to you has an autoimmune illness or chronic disease that is invisible or poorly understood, you know the heavy burden with heartaches and frustrations that occur along with the physical, mental, and financial toll of the illness.

As you encounter the campaigns on vaccination, keep in mind how you are doing with autoimmune concerns, high stress and inflammation, history of antibiotics, depression, an unhealthy gut, or a history of concussions/traumatic brain injury. These things can change how your body works with vaccines. In this multifaceted view, there needs to be a well-rounded game plan. Here are some things to consider to help you with whatever direction you take and exposure to the flu.


Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds kills off germs without the chemicals of hand sanitizers. Lather up with soap and water and sing the Happy Birthday song twice. That is the amount of time needed to kill germs. At Wellness Resources, we use a liquid soap with natural grapefruit seed extract that is germ killing and a healthier alternative to antibacterial soaps with triclosan

Don’t forget the other basics of good hygiene. Stay home if you are sick. Wear a paper facial mask when out in public. Clinics, hospitals, and drug stores often have them at the building entrance. Don’t touch your hands to your face. Cough into a tissue or your sleeve not in your hands. Wash surfaces with a natural disinfectant or essential oil like eucalyptus, lemon oil, or tea tree oil.

Avoid sugar as sugar consumption can suppress white blood cell function for several hours after consumption. Eat plenty of vegetables and protein. Get plenty of sleep.

Altered Immune Responses

Immune responses to the flu vaccine are altered in individuals who have had antibiotics around or before the flu shot.

Individuals with depression and/or low immunoglobulin levels have different responses to vaccines than healthy individuals.

Blood Brain Barrier Support

Support your blood brain barrier. Risk of ME/CFS and neurological inflammation from adjuvant exposure relates to changes in blood brain barrier permeability. That barrier must be kept intact to fully do its job.

The blood brain barrier is a network of capillaries that, when healthy, selectively opens only to allow beneficial compounds in and waste products out. When it is injured or challenged with free radicals and toxins, the natural barrier is disrupted which increases permeability. It can be a temporary change or a chronic concern. Compounds normally barred from entering are now able to weave through the blood brain creating free radicals, inflammatory responses, and provoke brain stress.

Blood brain barrier dysfunction is a real concern and happens for a number of reasons. Traumatic brain injuries and concussions increase the permeability of the blood brain barrier. Changes also happen because of GMO exposure, wireless technology, and nutrient poor/ calorie rich diets and with an unhealthy gut flora. Imbalances in gut bacteria affect the blood brain barrier just like permeability changes happens within the gut lining. This is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.

To optimize the health of your blood brain barrier, consider support such as omega-3 DHA. DHA fish oil is needed for nerve cell membranes and is essential for the blood brain barrier function and integrity. Curcumin, fisetin, grape seed extract and others provide antioxidant protection and support for the blood brain barrier.


Vitamins A, C, and D each play vital roles in how the immune system works. Nutritional needs markedly increase when fighting off germs and mounting an immune response.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is critical for the lungs and the respiratory tract. The mucosal lining needs vitamin A to help stop germs from adhering to respiratory lining. The alveoli or little air sacs in the lungs require vitamin A for their cellular architecture and tissue regeneration. If vitamin A is lacking, then you are more prone to respiratory illnesses.

Vitamin C

Extra vitamin C intake helps to fortify the immune system and quench free radicals. It also aids in detoxification. Dosage may range from two to three grams per day or even much higher up to 50 grams or more to reach bowel tolerance and vitamin C saturation. Vitamin C is the fourth most common nutrient deficiency today in the United States.

Vitamin D

Even in the realm of vitamin D and its effect on the vaccine responses and immune responses, controversy exists. However, vitamin D is a well-known immune modulator, anti-inflammatory vitamin and hormone. It is needed by nearly every cell in the body.

A recent study involved multiple hospitals in China which evaluated infants’ response to immune challenges and vitamin D. It was a randomized, open, controlled clinical trial. Infants given a higher dose of vitamin D (1200 IU/day) at the time of illness had more rapid relief of symptoms and better recovery than even those who were given smaller amounts of vitamin D or none at all.

Additional Fortification

Some of our favorite nutritional supplements to keep the immune system energized and fortified include Daily Protector Eye & Immune, Activator Plus, Super Immune Booster or Immune Plus. Noni, Oregano Oil, Colloidal Silver, and Lauricidin may be added for more in-depth immune support. Additional support to aid in immune stress may also include Strengthener Plus with zinc, Curcumin 500 Plus, Grape Seed Extract, and Daily Detoxify

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