Photo courtesy of Sheila Sund from Salem, United States – A Rusty Nail, CC BY 2.0,

Most people show great concern when stepping on a rusty nail or  experiencing a stab wound, fearing tetanus contamination. It is routine medical care in the emergency room or doctor’s office to receive a tetanus shot after one of these accidents. Tetanus is real and can be quite scary; however, the facts may shock you regarding proper recommended care when the accident happens.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection, Clostridium tetani, often acquired from contaminated soil or animal feces which enters the body through broken skin. It is found in soil and manure. The characteristic signs of tetanus start two to 21 days after contamination often beginning with lockjaw, where the jaw tightens down. It can happen with such extremes that the person cannot open their jaw, or it locks the jaw in an open position and they cannot close their mouth. It can present with uncontrollable muscle spasms that can be so severe they throw the body into arching spasms that lock. It can also present with fevers, sweating, high blood pressure, increased pulse rate, and headaches. Spasms can be so severe they break bones. They usually last for a three to four minute duration and continue for generally three to four weeks. It’s scary. It’s painful. It’s also avoidable.

More importantly, there are great fears and concerns around causes that aren’t causes.

Tetanus is often quoted as coming from a rusty nail, even though that is not a form of known transmission. In rare cases it is reported tetanus can transfer through saliva; however, oddly, at the same time, it is reported tetanus is not transferable from person to person. Both of these can not be true. The World Health Organization says, “The majority of reported tetanus cases are birth-associated among newborn babies and mothers.” They blame this transmission on unvaccinated mothers passing it to their baby, however they do not provide documentation of their findings and it’s contrary to what the CDC says.

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Medical Doctor, Tom Cowan says, “In the U.S., there are about fifty cases of tetanus per year; it is a much bigger problem in third world countries, especially among infants who can contract tetanus from the cutting of the umbilical cord with an unsterile instrument.”

Doctor bandaging after a vaccine

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology says, “Clostridium tetani spores are abundant in the soil and environment, especially in areas surrounding human or animal habitations.”

Immunization Action Coalition confirms a, “Tetanus-prone wound (comes from) punctures, wounds contaminated with soil or fecal material.”

It’s important to note the facts do not report tetanus is associated with rusty nails, rusty wires, stab wounds from knives or anything in that category, unless they are contaminated with soil or animal feces.

One case study reported by Oral and Facial Pain and Headache showed a man acquired tetanus from falling off a tractor into a puddle; however, that was involving an open wound, soil and animal feces.

One case study showed a, “Six-year-old spent two months in hospital with the bacterial illness after suffering a deep cut while playing in a farm in Oregon. Judith Guzman-Cottrill, the pediatrician who treated the Oregon child, said she had never seen tetanus in a patient before the 2017 case.” His medical costs were roughly a million dollars, and were addressed with a single tetanus vaccine. The parents declined a second dose. In time, he made a full recovery.

Picture of an injection

William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee reported on the case saying, “We have virtually no cases anymore in the United States because we vaccinate, literally, everyone.”

Canadian Medical Association Journal reports, “About 70% of all cases diagnosed in the United States now occur in adults over the age of 50 years.”

The CDC says, “Reported tetanus cases have declined >95%, and deaths from tetanus have declined >99% in the United States since 1947, when the disease became reportable nationally.” The tetanus vaccine was first produced in 1924. They report, “The average annual incidence (as) 0.10 per 1 million population.”

They reported 233 tetanus cases of tetanus from 2001–2008; among them 197 had known outcomes. “Incidence among Hispanics was nearly twice that among non-Hispanics, 16 cases among Hispanic injection drug users. Among the 92 patients for whom tetanus toxoid-containing vaccination status was available, 37 (40.2%) had received no doses of TT (tetanus) vaccine. Thirty of 195 patients had diabetes. Of 51 patients with an acute wound and a surveillance report complete enough to evaluate tetanus prophylaxis, 49 (96.1%) had not received appropriate prophylaxis. Tetanus remains a rare but life-threatening disease in the United States.”

The CDC concluded people should be vaccinated, “Especially persons aged ≥65 years, persons with diabetes, and injection drug users,” as that was the majority of the population that has been impacted.

Let’s consider the Amish community, who keep backyard chickens, are avid gardeners, dog owners, cat owners, and farmers. They don’t show up in these results, even though they are the primary population encountering environments where soil and animal feces are present.

The World Health Organization says Clostridium tetani is an inhabitant of the intestinal tract.

This brings us right back to what we already know, as laid out in Gut and Psychology Syndrome, that the human microbiome is loaded with trillions of beneficial and pathogenic microbes. When an imbalance occurs, due to dysbiosis, we must rebuild that imbalance to create homeostasis. Rebuilding details can be found here.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal says, “Postoperative tetanus has been reported following both elective and emergency surgical procedures, particularly those involving disruption of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Spillage of the intestinal contents of patients with asymptomatic colonization with C. tetani leads to seeding of the abdomen and the wound. Subsequent infection can occur with the production of toxin that leads to the clinical manifestations of tetanus.”

One case study showed this happening to a 77-year-old woman who had surgery on her small intestines at a community hospital and presented with a mild case of tetanus 8 days later.

The Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences says, “Most cases of tetanus follow an acute penetrating skin injury. The injury may be major but often is trivial, so that medical attention is often not sought. Tetanus is also associated with ulcers, burns, gangrene, snake bite, septic abortion, child birth, otitis media, intramuscular/intravenous injections and surgery.”

Pathogenic clostridium species are specifically counteracted by several means, drowning out the pathogenic strains with the beneficial strains which keep them in check. Fermented garlic brine has been associated with eradicating clostridia, STAPH, MRSA, and other pathogenic species. Click here to read more. Other foods and probiotic foods which create balance are foods which feed and nourish such as pastured animals, and their fat, organic vegetables, and fermented foods like homemade milk kefir, yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, and the like.

To read more about making fermented garlic, click here.

Dr. Cowan says,”Scrupulous wound care is the first priority. In addition, it makes sense that super nutrition could help your body deal with the toxin should it take hold. That means extra cod liver oil, natural vitamin C, lacto-fermented foods and plenty of bone broths. Avoid stresses after the injury and get plenty of bed rest so your body can devote itself to dealing with the challenge.”

The CDC also says proper wound care is a primary method for treating tetanus. They say the vaccine and, “Inadequate wound prophylaxis remain the most important factors associated with tetanus.”

Dr. Cowan says, “The bottom line here is that unlike all the other childhood illnesses, there is nothing good about having gone through tetanus or contracting tetanus; it is a fairly deadly poisoning which is best handled only by prevention. Thus, for a number of years, tetanus was the only vaccine I ever gave the children in my practice.”

He goes on to say, “Any doctor can purchase plain tetanus toxoid from any of the major vaccine manufacturers. Second, there is no reason to get a booster tetanus shot after a wound if you have already been vaccinated. You are protected if you have had three vaccines at any time in your life, even fifty years ago. There is also no reason to give hypertet to anyone who has done the original series of three shots. And finally, even though there are worries about the vaccines, it is something that, given at the right time—certainly not at two months—in an otherwise healthy child is a fairly reasonable prevention strategy.”

Building the body to defend against contamination is important, as stated by Dr. Mark Edmond, MB ChB, a family practice Medical Doctor in Christchurch, New Zealand who says, “13 percent of cases of tetanus between 1995-1997 had reported that they had received the full primary series of tetanus vaccinations. We are talking very small numbers here (roughly a one-in-fifty-million chance per year).”

Proper wound care includes immediate cleaning of the wound with soap and water and soaking in poultice type baths or foot baths. This includes Epsom salts, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, and high doses of internal vitamin C to bowel tolerance. Topical poultice applications of bentonite clay or activated charcoal are also supportive for pulling out toxins from a wound. Internal doses of fermented garlic brine have been proven to counteract pesticides, MRSA, clostridia and MRSA, click here to read more.

Homeopathy for tetanus is often supported with Clostridium Tetani 30.

Hpathy says the best remedy for tetanus is Nux vomica, “The leading homeopathic remedy for tetanus. It has tetanic convulsions with opisthotonos, distortion of eyes and face, with dyspnoea excited by any external impression. Strychnia, the alkaloid of Nux-vomica, produces a perfect picture of tetanus, with its convulsion of muscles renewed by the slightest external impression, its ‘risus sardonicus,’ its respiratory spasm, with blue `cyanosed face and clear mind.”

They further say Hydrocyanic acid addresses lock jaw, cicuta virosa for convulsions, rigidity then prostration as well as fixed eyes staring at one spot and Belladonna for tetanus in infants.

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, CGP, D.PSc. who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor, through The American Naturopathic Medical Association and works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. She has been published in Wise Traditions, spoken at two Weston A. Price Conferences, Certified GAPS Practitioner Trainings, has been on many radio shows, television shows and writes for Nourishing Plot. She serves on the GAPS Board of Directors and has recently been named “The GAPS Expert” by Dr. Natasha and will serve teaching other Certified GAPS Practitioners proper use of the GAPS protocol. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia, through food, she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. She is a Chapter Leader for The Weston A. Price Foundation. [email protected]

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.



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