Gayl Hamilton, MD

Gardasil Skin Reactions and Polysorbate 80

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In 2007 I had thought it a grand idea for my 3 daughters to go to the clinic where I worked as a family physician and start their HPV series. At that time, I was a fairly traditional allopathic practitioner, although the seeds of doubt regarding the growing list of childhood immunizations had been planted about 10 years earlier while researching the newly released chickenpox vaccination for a grand rounds project. I did, however, readily support the “traditional” vaccine cocktails, and dutifully repeated what I had learned in medical school to my patients. Now that preventing cervical cancer was all the rage, as mother and doctor, I was going to protect my daughters! After all, I had received a fine education from the local drug rep about the miracle known as Gardasil, and how it was going to rescue my girls from the risk of getting cervical cancer. The world of medicine was indeed creating lifesaving interventions, and how convenient that I could learn about them over my lunch hour.

The girls came together, and all 3 felt a bit woozy after the first Gardasil injection. I laughed, called them woosies, and didn’t think much about it afterwards.

The oldest, A, was 18 at the time. She came back 2 months later for her second Gardasil injection. She just about passed out and needed to lie down prior to leaving the clinic. She didn’t feel well for several days after – light headed, dizzy, vision blurry, headache, and “just not right”. A few weeks later she developed hives that lasted for 3 or 4 days, accompanied by feeling quite faint. That episode was blown off – everyone gets a mysterious case of hives every now and then, never knowing what triggered it…right?

The hives came back, each time with greater intensity and frequency over the next few months. Sometimes she did pass out. Sometimes she had swelling in her face and mouth. Sometimes she had wheezing. The usual allergy medications were used without effect. We were going crazy trying to figure out what the cause was – she had no history of anything other than seasonal allergies in the past. So elimination diet it was. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to convince an 18 year old to eliminate the basic necessities of life such as Skittles and Doritos? We eliminated dairy, food colors, food flavors, soda, artificial sweeteners, and finally I mandated, that if it wasn’t directly from a live animal or plant she was not to eat it. A was miserable enough that she actually listened to me. The hives continued on, seemingly random, but at times predictably worsened if she slipped up and grabbed some forbidden prepackaged food. It made no sense, and I was getting quite angry with myself for not being able to identify the offending substance.

It is a cosmic coincidence that within that time span, I had begun researching vaccine safety. And the light bulb went off in my head that her hives had started fairly soon after the Gardasil vaccination. One day at work, A called me, crying her eyes out – she said she had been so good, not eating anything artificial, and was having a particularly bad day. I grabbed the package insert from one of the vials and began reading the ingredients, determined to solve the cause of her symptoms. After all, the immune system will create a response to everything in that shot, not simply to the viral particles that are intended. As I scanned the list, I stopped at Polysorbate 80. That was a familiar ingredient. I have seen it on the labels of just about every prepacked food item available. Then I looked up Polysorbate 80. It can cause anaphylactoid reactions via histamine release. That’s a fancy way of saying it can cause hives, low blood pressure, and other allergy symptoms associated with histamine (think bee stings).

When I came home that night, she had a list of everything she ate. An Oreo YoCrunch was on the list. As I began admonishing her for eating something processed, she said she didn’t eat the Oreo part, just the yogurt – because she thought yogurt was healthy. I grabbed one out of our fridge and scanned the ingredient list. Polysorbate. Could this be it? Had her body created an immune response to the polysorbate, and now was reacting whenever she ate something that contained it?

We eliminated anything with polysorbate or potassium sorbate. Over the course of the next 4 months the episodes of hives subsided. Slip ups in watching labels came with the price of a reaction. Seven years later, she still occasionally will get episodes of being lightheaded or off balance.

I was stunned. Did researchers ever think to evaluate the immune response to the “inactive” vaccine ingredients and how they could cross react with substances people are commonly exposed too? My attention jumped from vaccine to vaccine as I finally pored over the journal articles myself. Who created this junk science? How could any self-respecting scientist or doctor claim that trials without placebo, or with pitiful follow up for adverse events, were sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy? How could world renowned medical journals that physicians were supposed to trust publish these poorly put together studies? And then I grew angry. I like to consider myself a fairly intelligent person, yet I was so easily led down the path of blind faith in what “experts” were telling me. It wasn’t just the Gardasil vaccine – it was all of them. My newly opened eyes started to bear witness to the adverse events of many of the other immunizations I had delivered, and my practice radically changed to delaying them at least until age 2, if choosing to vaccinate at all.

Needless to say, none of my daughters completed their series. And no other patient ever received Gardasil on my order. I educate parents and young women on the dangers of the vaccine (and they go way beyond the polysorbate story). I plead with the mothers of 11 and 12 year olds to not listen to the news, to not listen to the school nurse. I pray that I have not done permanent damage to my daughters and many other girls via the “education” I received from a drug rep and the media, instead of researching the topic myself.

About the author: Dr. Gayl Hamilton was raised in New York City, graduated with a Biology degree from SUNY Buffalo, and received her MD degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine. Her family life and 5 children led her to settling in Southern Wisconsin, where she completed residency at the UW Wausau Family Medicine program. Her professional experience continued in a variety of settings until she left traditional family practice in order to pursue a more holistic and wellness-based practice. She is also a strong supporter of reviving midwifery and safe home birth. To learn more about Dr. Hamilton: The Art of Medicine Naturally or Family Practice Midwifery.

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Dr. Gayl Hamilton was raised in New York City, graduated with a Biology degree from SUNY Buffalo, and received her MD degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine. Her family life and 5 children led her to settling in Southern Wisconsin, where completed residency at the UW Wausau Family Medicine program. Her professional experience continued in a variety of settings. Dr. Hamilton left traditional family practice in order to pursue a more holistic and wellness based practice. She is also a strong supporter of reviving midwifery and safe home birth. You can learn more about Dr. Hamilton by visiting her at: The Art of Medicine Naturally or Family Practice Midwifery.


  1. Bingo! You’ve explained the mystery of my allergy to the handsanitizers! I am highly allergic to sorbate and started getting airway obstruction with the sanitizers but didn’t know which ingredient it was, it must be the cross reaction with the propylene glycol

  2. I am allergic to many chemicals that are included as ‘inactive ingredients’, including Polysorbate 80. My allergist told me that it is cross-listed with a propylene glycol allergy (which I have as well). Just trying to help your daughter too! I live in fear of anaphylaxis every day. In my own research, it appears that if an additive is considered as ‘generally regarded as safe” or GRAS, it does not have to be listed as an ingredient (for example, if all companies use propylene glycol to help their ice creams scoopable, none have to list it. It is very scary!

  3. Thank you x 100 for Dr. Gayl Hamilton’s story. A month ago I started a new medication for diabetes. After 10 injections I was feeling so lousy with escalating malaise, headaches, stiff shoulders and disrupted sleep that I skipped the next dose and immediately felt light years better. I feel very lucky to have bounced back – this time. I anticipated being told that the symptoms hadn’t been caused by the medication and was concerned about sensitization to whatever had triggered these symptoms by 4 different medications over a 34 year period. A listing of the inactive (!!) ingredients in an antibiotic taken in 1981, a cholesterol medication in 2005, CAT scan dye in 2006 and the latest medication identified the only common substance ( and not in others I take with no side effects) was polysorbate and polysorbate80.
    Despite the evidence presented on a carefully laid out spreadsheet – the specialist did not believe. I came home from my appointment, poked around some more and found this article which is so helpful because it explained what was happening in a way that made sense for a mixed bag of medications that included both oral and injected.
    Reality, whether I like it or not, is that the only one who is going to give this the necessary analysis and time is me. The information is out there thanks to sites like this.
    The 4 medications that I reacted to give quality of life to others according to reviews. It would not have been in their best interest to avoid them because I need to.
    The lesson I have chosen to take from this is that whenever I am prescribed a new medication that I am satisfied is called for, first I need to check all the ingredients and, once started, make daily notes for the first month or so. A far from perfect situation but that is life.


    P.S. The flu shot has given me trouble for the past two years after over 10 years with no problem. After reading this article I will not be having one this year. And I am off today to see my pharmacist to have polysorbate, polysorbate80 flagged on my file.

    • So glad that you found an answer to your question here! It is a shame that as patients we have to work so hard to advocate for our health, and that the world of allopathic practitioners are so blinded to the possibility that their medications can do harm. I can go into all sorts of things about the flu shot – it is poison and can cause autoimmune issues among other things. Keep up your Vitamin D and stay away from it!

  4. It astounds me each and every time a Healthcare Professional admits to being duped. May I ask just what the heck did you think was in vaccines? Don’t be offended but it is appalling that you say that you did not know about the toxic ingredients in vaccines.

    You did not know when you said vaccines would keep our babies healthy.

    You did not know when you said vaccines were safe.

    You did not know as you injected toxic substances into our babies.

    What you should have said was, “I do not know.”

    Guilt is penance. We all must bear it because we all have failed our children.

  5. I notice that the Rotavirus vaccine which apparently is being introduced now contains sucrose and polysorbate 80. So here is the roll out of another vaccine with this products. The Rotavirus vaccine is contraindicated for those with SCID in the US – but in England it is also contraindicated for those with certain metabolic disorders:

    fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency

    “infants with rare hereditary problems of fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrose-isomaltase insufficiency”

    One of the questions is – how rare are these disorders? Some people have severe deficiency – and many others could have a milder form of deficiency in any of these enzymes and be healthy – but be pushed over the edge if overloaded with contraindicated products being injected into the bloodstream. One thing to think about is where our ancestors originated from and what were their diets like – and how much are we and our more recent ancestors adapted to the introduction of new food forms requiring robust enzyme capability to be broken down and assimilated from the diet. Dr. Lonsdale in my opinion has done a great job of alerting us to the problems of too many carbohydrates in diet. We do have some free will apparently with diet. But it seems that now, also, increasingly we will have to start worrying about whether or not we have enough enzyme capability to start breaking down some of these products after they are injected into the bloodstream – and for many – there is actually no choice, no free will.

    Those whose ancestors were isolated for long periods may have genetics with less adaptation and therefore be more susceptible to injury from vaccines that inject these products – that can’t be broken down due to enzyme deficiency – into the bloodstream. Should people with these kinds of ancestries be discriminated against and forced into ill health?

    Polysorbate is a form of sorbitol – like sucrose also contraindicated for those with fructose/sorbitol intolerance. Some people have milder forms of deficiencies in these areas and may not experience obvious symptoms unless the load of sorbitol is so much that it pushes them over the edge. This is what people and families who get sick from the hpv vaccine should be thinking about. Sorbitol can cause seizures – something a lot of the Gardasil girls experience.

    You could always get testing from 23andme which lists some although not all mutations in some of the genes associated with the above disorders – contraindicated for the rotavirus vaccine – in England, anyway, and for those with enough of a deficiency – that it makes a difference between health and non-health – after these kinds of products are injected into the bloodstream:
    SI (Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency), SLC1a5 (glucose-galactose malabsorption), SLC2a5 (fructose transport), Aldob (hereditary fructose intolerance), GALT (galactosemia)

  6. After my daughter had hives for 4 months after her second Gardasil injection I took her to see her immunologist who did a battery of tests. He then told us Gardasil had nothing to do with her hives. She had the third vaccine. 2 weeks after the third vaccine her hives were markedly worse. At 3-4 weeks she had deep wheals with a maroon wring and a purple center on the palms of her hands and bottoms of her feet. The wheals lightly itched but mostly hurt badly. She began limping with joint pain in her knees, toes and fingers. She had large areas of swelling. She started vomiting about 4-6 weeks out from the shot I started sleeping in her bed. I was scared she was going go die. She was dizzy, covered in hives. She took Singulair, zertec, hydroxazine, zantac, claritin and Allegra with no effect. She tried an elimination diet. Her hives never went away although seemed to be less severe when she ate a cleaner diet with no processed foods. She has suffered for over 2 years now. My daughter is not sexually active and has so far received no benefit from the vaccine. I am also a medical person. The guilt is difficult to live with.

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