Boosting your Child’s Immune System

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October 23, 2017
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The leaves are changing, weather is cooling down, and we’re wearing more layers of clothing. Winter is coming. This is the time of year where we find ourselves sipping on hot tea and stocking tissues everywhere as we’re prone to catching something! Let’s prepare you and your child’s immune systems, and strengthen them to ward off any unwelcome friends. Here are 7 ways to make sure your immune system is ready for winter:

1. Sugar

This sneaky ingredient can be found everywhere, especially after Halloween! When we eat too much of this ingredient it can prevent the immune system from fighting and fending off bacteria and viruses. While there are over 50 forms of sugar found on our grocery shelves, not all forms are bad. Continue to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, as they contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.

2. Probiotics

Over 75% of our immune system is located in our gut! That means that everything we eat can affect on our immunity – for better or worse! Probiotics are great for our gut, and help reestablish a healthy microbiome with good bacteria. Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to find the right strain and product for you and your child.

3. Astragalus

For thousands of years, this herb has been used to help strengthen the body from disease. Astragalus protects and supports the immune system as we become a bit more stressed as the year ends. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor to determine if this is the right herb for your daily routine, and what is the appropriate product and dose.

4. Vitamin C

Found in citrus fruits, peppers and even broccoli, this natural antioxidant helps our white blood cells (soldiers of the immune system) fight off bacteria and viruses. In fact, if we become deficient in vitamin C, it can actually make us susceptible to colds and flus.

5. Vitamin D

As the days get shorter and cooler, it becomes more difficult to get enough Vitamin D as our primary source is the sun. This sunshine vitamin helps our immune system function at it’s best.

6. Handwashing

A great way to prevent a cold or flu is to wash your hands! Germs can find their way on many surfaces and live there. Most of us are cooped up indoors now (work, daycare, home) and are more prone to touching germ-laden surfaces and then our nose or mouths. Teach your children a proper handwashing technique of wetting hands, lathering with triclosan-free soap for 20 seconds and rinsing under warm water.

7. Sleep

A consistent sleep routine is key for good health and immunity, so it’s important that you or your child put that tablet away before bed. School-aged children should be getting about 9-12 hours of sleep per night, while adults should aim for 7-8 hours. Sleep hygiene is important, so ensure the room is cool, dark and quiet.

To keep your child healthy this winter, be sure to book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent

Natural Treatments for Earaches in Kids

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September 11, 2017
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Generally known as acute otitis media, middle ear infections are quite common in young children because of their ear’s anatomy and their immune system. Adults have ear canals (known as Eustachian tubes) that slant down towards the nose and mouth, promoting proper drainage of fluid. Children, on the other hand, have horizontal ear canals making drainage challenging. Ear fluid then has the ability to collect and create a blockage. As they continue to grow and develop, the ear canal eventually slopes downwards to resemble that of adults.

Because children have immature immune systems until they’re about 7 years old, they’re more likely to get sick every time they encounter a bug. Once their immune system encounters a bug, it will get activated and cause increased fluid production in the ear, leading to inflammation and swelling of the ear, nose and throat.  Ear infections can be also be triggered by cigarette smoke, pacifier use, and drinking while lying down.

What are the symptoms to look for?

Ear infections can accompany upper respiratory tract infections, so symptoms like coughs and runny noses may be seen. Typically though, you may see a child tugging at their ear, notice a change in their hearing, and some children may verbally tell you that their ear hurts. Other symptoms can include: insomnia, decreased playfulness, irritability, fever, vomiting, and lack of appetite.  

Conventional and natural treatments

Children are commonly given antibiotics when they present with an ear infection, however since most infections are caused by viruses – antibiotics may be of minimal benefit. Oftentimes, the best practice for an infection is to ‘watch and wait.’

Nevertheless, when it comes to ear infections, reducing inflammation and pain within the ear and combat infections are desired! Here are a couple of ways to achieve those goals:

  • Hydration: Ensure that your child is well hydrated, including continuing to breastfeed or offering your child water, herbal teas, and warm soup.
  • Eliminating dairy: Dairy can cause thickening of mucus thus preventing drainage of the Eustachian tube.
  • Lymphatic massage: Using castor oil, and following the chain of cervical lymph nodes from behind the ear down the neck, a massage will help promote drainage of the Eustachian tube.
  • Probiotics: As children are often given antibiotics to kill any causes of infection, taking a probiotic helps re-establish gut bacteria and immune health.
  • Vitamin C: A great anti-inflammatory, Vitamin C will help decrease inflammation present within the ear canal.
  • Botanicals: Echinacea and goldenseal are potent antimicrobial herbs that can rid a child’s body of unwanted bugs. Speak with a Naturopathic Doctor or herbalist before incorporating them into your child’s routine.
  • Garlic infused ear oil: Another antimicrobial, garlic-infused ear oil can help directly at the site of pain.

If your child’s tympanic membrane has perforated (where clear liquid or blood is noticeable from the ear), has a high fever (over 39C) that has persisted for a few days, or is in an incredible amount of pain, it is recommended to seek treatment from a medical doctor.  Moreover, be on the lookout for a severe headache, stiff neck, and lethargy as those are common indicators of meningitis, and need medical attention right away.

For more information on how to stop the cycle of chronic ear infections (I experienced over 20) and your child’s reliance on antibiotics, book an appointment with me!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent

Natural Treatments for Headaches in Kids

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August 21, 2017
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Headaches are an unwelcome symptom that many of us experience, including kids. Not only can they be triggered by different causes, there are also many types of headaches: tension, cluster, sinus, and migraine. It’s important to determine the type of headache you or your child may be experiencing, because therapies will differ depending on the cause.

How to identify the different types of headaches

In order to differentiate between the types, take note of the pain your child is experiencing:

  • the specific location
  • characteristic of pain (sharp, dull, achy, electric, pressing) 
  • when it began
  • how long does it last
  • what makes it better or worse

Some children may not be able to articulate all these answers and instead will simply point to where the headache is located and may require parental coaching to describe the type of pain.

Some of the most common causes of headaches include: allergies, environmental triggers, fever, high blood pressure, illness and infections, injuries and trauma, low blood sugar, side effects of medications, and stress. They may also experience associated symptoms such as aggravation by smell, light, and sounds, disturbances in vision and nausea and vomiting (which are all typically associated with migraines).

Tension headaches typically feel like there is a band around the head and is described as throbbing pain. These headaches can occur throughout the day (around school time), and remit around bedtime. In contrast, migraines may occur for a few days, be associated with key symptoms, and are not relieved by sleep.

Treatment considerations 

Conventional treatment involves the use of pain relievers such as ibruprofen and acetaminophen. These treatments should be used judiciously and under the supervision of a doctor, and certain illnesses need to be ruled out prior to usage.

Interested in more natural headache relief options? We got ’em!

Natural treatments for headaches include:

  • Eliminate allergens: whether they are food or environmental allergens, removing any potential offenders from your child’s daily routine can be beneficial. Food allergens may include dairy, gluten, and additives. Chocolate and MSGs are known offenders.
  • Protein: Foods high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike then crash, leading to increased feelings of hunger. Limit sugary foods, and be sure to incorporate protein at every meal and snack as it can stabilize blood sugar.
  • Nutrient support: Calcium and magnesium help blood vessels relax, and can relieve symptoms of migraines. Fish oil are natural anti-inflammatories, and can help decrease inflammation throughout the body.
  • Botanicals: Chamomile will act as a relaxant to the nervous system, while feverfew, ginger and peppermint behave as anti-inflammatories. These herbs can be consumed as teas, but should be done under the supervision of a herbalist or naturopathic doctor. You can also consider adding the teas of these herbs into your child’s bath. 
  • Homeopathics: this gentle therapy works based on the unique symptoms associated with a headache, and should be dispensed by a homeopath or naturopathic doctor.
  • Acupressure: applying pressure to Li 4, a point on the large intestine meridian that is part of the four gates, will help relieve pain. A doctor of traditional chinese medicine or naturopathic doctor can teach you this easy technique.
  • Relaxation: If your child is experiencing a headache, have them lie down in a dark and quiet room. Moreover, your child may need to talk about any fears or anxieties that he or she may be experiencing.

If your child is experiencing frequent and chronic headaches that are progressing in severity or frequency, be sure to visit a doctor to determine the cause of the headache. Headaches that are associated with high fever, stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, and vomiting may indicate meningitis or encephalitis and require a visit to the emergency room.

For more information, book an appointment with me! Together, we’ll figure out the cause of why your child’s headaches are happening and have your family relying less on pain relievers!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent