Feeds:
Posts

I’m a big believer that kids want to do what feels good for their bodies but, let’s face it, sometimes things taste bad or feel icky.  Here are excerpts from an email from a mom who read my previous blog post, “Natural Remedies for Acute Cough”, and the game she and her boys played to fight those viruses!

Here’s the email:

Thanks for the call yesterday. I’ll let you know as soon as we get in to see the MD. In the meantime, this should make you smile.

Picture the kids and I sitting with mugs of tea in hand.
“This is a new tea that will help to kick the last of your coughs out of your chest.” says I bravely, knowing that the crushed garlic and honey water will most likely be rejected.
The 5 year old willingly takes the first sip… “ooooh it’s spicy!” he says wrinkling his nose

The 7 year old looks at his cup suspiciously…

I frantically cast my mind about, searching for strategies… and then I remember the beginning of your blog post!

“We’re going to play a game – the ‘Take That’ game!” I say triumphantly.

Now everyone is listening…

“Think of something in you body that is bugging you and/or makes you feel unhealthly and take a big sip of tea and yell ‘TAKE THAT'”

Needless to say they were hooked immediately (the yelling was an important component of the game) and the garlic tea disappeared in mere seconds.  Long after the tea was gone they continued gleefully verbally abusing their coughs, itchy bums, runny noses, etc.

Thank you!

So, here’s to a rousing game of “TAKE THAT!” for all of you.  No more colds, flus, viruses, bacteria, worms, lice, whatever!

It’s Thanksgiving!  My kids and I made this last year so I’m reposting the recipe.  We’ll see if I get it done for dinner tonight!  This recipe is adapted from one taken from, The Perfect Pie, by Susan G. Purdy, which is one of my favourite recipe books of all time.

Here you go…

Pie crust:

2 cups flour (we used whole grain spelt flour which makes the crust a little heavy.  You can use white spelt or all-purpose spelt if you like for 1 cup and 1 cup of whole grain spelt.  Our next attempt I’ll use kamut.)

3/4 tsp salt

Optional sweetener: 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (I think the kids threw some sugar in when I wasn’t looking!)

8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter (with our next attempt I might use coconut oil instead

3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening

1 large egg yolk (save the white part to glaze the semi baked crust)

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (the kids loved squeezing the lemon)

4-5 Tbsp ice water, as needed

(Egg glaze: 1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, into a bowl.

Cut up the butter and shortening and work them into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly, with bits the size of rice.

Add the yolk and lemon juice.  Toss lightly.  Add ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, just until the dough begins to cling together in clumps.

Turn the dough out onto wax paper and form it into a ball, then flatten into a 6 inch disk, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Roll out the pastry to about 1/8th of an inch and grease the 10 inch pan.  Be sure the fluted edge is high so it will contain the filling.  Partially blind bake for 12 minutes with weighted liner (You can buy fancy liners at specialty stores – we used a smaller pie plate.  The liner keeps the pastry from rising and turning into a big puff ball.) Remove the liner and bake for another 5 minutes until starting to look golden.  Brush the warm crust with egg white glaze.  (In the olden days I used my fingers to “brush” on the egg white.  My husband bought me a pastry brush and, well, it’s much better.  Go figure.)  Cool on a wire rack.  Reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees F.  Place a flat baking sheet in the oven to get hot.

The filling:

2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk

2 cups cooked and mashed fresh organic sugar pumpkin

1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar to taste

1 1/2 cups coconut milk (that’s right! the full fat kind from a can (organic is better to avoid the BPA in the liner but it’s pretty hard to find) (I know, I know, genius, right?!))

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (maybe you could use coconut oil if you’re going totally dairy-free?  I haven’t tried it yet since we’re okay with butter in our household)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp cloves

In an electric mixer or in a bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs and yolk, then add the pumpkin and beat well.  Beat in the sugar, coconut milk, melted butter, salt, and spices.  Set the pan containing the pastry shell on a flat baking sheet for ease in handling.  Pour the filling mixture into the prepared pastry shell, and set it on the preheated flat baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the custard 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  When the knife comes clean at the custard’s edge, the pie is done even thought the center may not be set; the internal heat of the pie will complete the baking out of the oven.  Cool the pie on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature.  (You can use whipped cream as a topping if you like and you’re not dairy-free.  We ate it on it’s own.)  Refrigerate leftovers.

In our house, we’re just going through our first family cough of the season.  And as the elder kid hacks, she says, “Ha!  Take that, virus!  Get out!”

Apparently sheʼs actually been listening to me all along.

Coughs, as you may know, are our bodiesʼ way of moving a virus / bacteria / fungus / pollen / foreign body out of our airways. As we cough, air if forced out and along with it, any intruder that might be causing trouble. Add some mucus to trap that intruder, and itʼs an ingenious system to expel pathogens.

That all said, coughs can be uncomfortable and shouldnʼt last beyond 7 -10 days. There are many wonderful naturopathic therapies to help soothe a coughing airway and support your body to purge the germs causing the illness. Good to know since pharmaceutical cough medicines are no longer recommended for children under the age of 12. And the puffers recommended for coughs are pretty heavy duty. Great to have them if necessary, but even better to help the body do the work, itself.

Here are a few natural cough helpers:

Honey

Soothing for the throat, it actually contains antimicrobial properties to help kill germs. Conventional medicine has been studying honey recently and the conclusions have been that it is an effective medicine for coughs. Local honey that is not highly processed is best. Add it to a warm water with lemon, herbal tea or warm rice milk with a little organic cocoa to entice a sick kid to drink it up. Babies under 1 year old should not have honey.

Mullein

I love this herb. It soothes irritated mucus membranes (the lining of airways) and helps spasms of coughing. It doesnʼt suppress the cough altogether but it calms down spasms and eases breathing. We call it the “sore throat cough tea” in our house. The flavour is mild and if you add honey to it, youʼve got a double whammy cough remedy. Mullein is generally safe, however, it is best to check with a qualified practitioner (ie. herbalist of naturopathic doctor).

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies are quite specific in their effectiveness for coughs. Some work best for dry coughs, others work best for productive, gunky coughs. Like mullein, homeopathics donʼt suppress the cough, but help the body work more efficiently to get the intruder out. Some common remedies for coughs include: Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, Drosera, Ferrum phos. Check with your practitioner to find a precise single remedy or remedies may be combined in a liquid cough medicine, available at most health food stores and some conventional pharmacies.

Elderberry

Elderberry juice, elderberry tea, cooked elderberries – all are wonderful to help ease coughs and fight colds and flus. (Sadly elderberry pie has too much sugar to join the list.) Cooked elderberry products are generally safe for children and most adults, however, uncooked berries and ariel parts of the plant are poisonous if not cooked. If you have young children around the house, I would suggest using the pre- made juice or cough syrup so there are no tempting berries for little ones to eat. Elderberry juice with honey added is delicious as well as soothing for coughs.

Garlic

Garlic is tremendously anti-microbial when used raw. Raw garlic can sometimes be a hard sell for children, but I find that if I add extra crushed up raw garlic to hummus, dips, or spreads, I can usually get a little extra into my kids. For adults and kids with a wide palate, crush a clove of garlic in a mug, pour boiling water over top and add honey. Drink as a tea and eat up the garlic bits at the bottom of the mug.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg of naturopathic remedies we can use to help the immune system fight pathogens. There are deeper acting herbs and remedies that may be used for people dealing with recurrent infections or infections that take ages to get better. These are best recommended by a qualified practitioner – ie, an herbalist or naturopathic doctor.

Hereʼs to supporting a cough and getting rid of that infection!

1.  EAT VEGETABLES.

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?  Before I was a mom, I thought my kids would eat 10+ servings of organic fruits and veggies every day.  I was sure they’d grow up thinking kale was wonderful and broccoli delightful.  Well, of course, I was wrong.

I do find that they consume more veggies using these tricks:

  • cutting veggies into fun shapes eg. carrot circles for eyes, red pepper slices for eye brows spinach for hair, beets for ears
  • playing “who can make the loudest crunch”
  • adding dips (hummus, balsamic vinegar and olive oil)
  • making smoothies with veggies or greens powder
  • blending veggies in soups
  • making vegetable based baked goods like pumpkin bread and zucchini cookies

And, while processed “kid food” cuts out vegetables all together, most children will eat a few veggies if they know the veggies help kill germs that cause colds and coughs.  It’s a treat when a child comes for a follow up visit bursting to tell me that they’ve been eating green beans or swiss chard!

2.  AVOID PROCESSED SUGAR.

Sugar slows down the white blood cells responsible for attacking bacteria.  Once again, I find that kids make great choices when they understand the reasoning.  If you eat sugar, you’re more likely to get sick.  And stay sick longer.  Keeping sweets as treats for once in while helps the body stay strong to fight infections.  You can read labels with your children to check if there is added sugar.  For example, I never remember which tomato sauce is free from added sugar.  The kids love reminding me.

Click here for a link to video of a white blood cell engulfing some bacteria.  The bacteria are the little dark ovals in clusters.  The white blood cell overtakes them in a process called phagocytosis.  My kids love to cheer for the white blood cell.  And we talk about what foods will make it strong and fast.  We boo for which foods will slow it down.

3.  EAT HONEY.
Honey contains antimicrobial properties that help the body fight infections.  It has been shown to be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical cough syrup and topical antimicrobial for burns.  It soothes sore throats and helps prevent viral and bacterial infections from taking hold.  Local honey is best and the less processed, the better.  Babies under the age of 1 year should not consume honey.

4.  SLEEP.
Again, I was certain, pre-children, that mine would go to bed early, sleep peacefully, and generally regulate themselves with rest.  Hilarious.  Home from after school care / daycare, dinner, homework, reading, bathing, lice prevention combing, after school playdates and activities – it’s next to impossible to fit it all in.  As parents, we need to be mindful that children need loads of sleep.  Not only to recharge their bodies to fight infections, but also to dream away stresses of the day, to process new skills, and to recalibrate all kinds of systems of the body.  If any of these jobs are not completed, the child becomes more susceptible to colds and flus.  I enjoyed this recent article from the Globe and Mail about back to school sleep routines.  I, myself, must remember that bedtime is non-negotiable.  And earlier is better.  (Grown-ups take note for yourselves as well!)

5.  SUPPORT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS.
There are so many helpful herbs and supportive supplements to help the body fight colds and flus quickly and efficiently.  Some herbs you can add to foods include: garlic, tumeric, cumin, oregano, basil, onion.  Deeply therapeutic herbs to support the immune system include: Astragalas, Codonopsis, Eleuthrococcus, Elderberry, Yarrow, Mullein.  These are wonderful for children but best taken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner (ie – naturopathic doctor or herbalist).  Some supplements that help children’s immunity include: fish oils, vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc.  Again, best to check with a practitioner for dosages and strengths.

Here’s to a healthy fall season for your children!  (And you too!)

A recent study looked at the relationship between SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and weight gain, waist circumference, BMI, blood sugar, cholesterol levels.  Each SSRI affected these markers for health with Paxil increasing each of them after only 16 weeks.

These medications increase the serotonin available to the brain and body by interrupting the mechanism that breaks down this neurotransmitter.  Now, we know that serotonin plays a part in mood, inhibition, satiation, as well as in digestion and sleep.  It also affects how sugar is metabolized or modified in the body.

Metabolic syndrome is a diagnosis used to describe the following symptoms which increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

  • central obesity (weight gain in the abdominal area)
  • dyslipidemia (messed up triglycerides and cholesterol)
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased fasting blood glucose

So, this study raises lots of questions about the relationship between SSRI’s and cardiovascular and diabetes risks.

One of the reasons I think naturopathic medicine is so important is that it can work to moderate the side effects of medications without messing up the therapeutic effects of that medication.  Sometimes pharmaceuticals are necessary and important and naturopathic therapies can mediate the ill effects.  Sometimes there may be effective alternatives to the pharmaceuticals so the patient may bypass the ill effects entirely.

In the case of SSRI’s, weight gain, increased BMI, high triglycerides and cholesterol there are many naturopathic changes that will help.  Nutritional supplements, diet changes, herbal remedies, acupuncture – all are effective in treating these worrisome changes in the body caused by SSRI’s.

And, of course, there are safe and effective naturopathic remedies to treat depression and anxiety.

Thinking further about this study, I’ve noticed in my practice that children who take SSRI’s gain weight around their middle, crave sweets and simple carbs, and usually decrease their exercise.  All indicators that the metabolism is not functioning optimally and that their blood sugar may be going awry.  There don’t seem to be studies about metabolic changes with SSRI’s in children, but, well, I’m thinking about it.

Here is the link to the study, if you’re interested in having a better look.  And please do comment if you’re interested in a discussion.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23798963

Here’s to healthy mental, emotional, and physical health!

The Environmental Working Group has come out with it’s recommendations.  Click here to check their evaluated list of sunscreens.

Also check this link to read about a few more don’ts for sunscreen.

Each year my older, very fair skinned and super sensitive daughter and I do a variety of patch tests on each of our forearms and check the results.  This year, Badger did not give her a rash (me? – big rash) and ranked highly on the EWG’s list.  Sounds great, right?

Well, since she is super sensitive, she hates the feel of the sunscreen on her skin.  She hates the scent (unscented) and she hates the lumps.  I must say, I can’t really blame her.  I also eschew sunscreen and, full disclosure, avoid it as often as I can.

I wrote a couple of years ago about things I’ve tried to get the sunscreen onto her skin with no screaming (herself and myself) and in a decent amount of time.  (You can read that post by scrolling down.) Well, a few of them work now that she’s 7.  We have reason and understanding consequences on our side now.  Still, though, while the other kid slathers on any old sunscreen without rash or squirm, the elder kid, has a hard time indeed.

So, dear readers, if you have any suggestions at all, please do leave a comment.

Here’s to a safe and skin-happy summer!

Spring is finally upon us and with it comes the sneezing, sniffling, itching, burning, wheezing, and irritibility of allergies.  It is not too late to nip these symptoms in the bud with a family cleanse.  If you and your family do a cleanse now, you can lower the inflammation in your body and help your immune system calm down to decrease the allergic response.

I’ve written, before, about my older daughter who is now 7.  This week she’s had eczema pop up on the inside of her elbows and she’s been sneezing and rubbing her nose and scratching her entire body.  Poor kid.  The other day she said to me with exacerbation, “Mom, when are we doing our family cleanse?!”  And I had to admit that with birthday parties and life’s general craziness, I hadn’t gotten around to it.  Sigh. Another parenting fail.

However, this week is the week we’ll start.  Ours is pretty straightforward – no wheat, no dairy (except butter), no sugar, no corn products, and no junk food.  For the grown ups – no alcohol or caffeine.  I give a homeopathic cleansing combo to the kids and my husband and I take a stronger herbal combo.  This year I might throw in some natural anti-histamines since both my daughter and I have started our symptoms.

The idea is to give the body a break from foods that may increase inflammation and trigger the histamine response.  My daughter and I can generally get away with a little wheat and sugar here and there if we’re guests for dinner or at a party but during allergy season, nope.

The theory is that the inflammatory response in the body has a threshold where, when reached, it goes whole hog and creates symptoms to get rid of invaders – runny nose to flush out the nasal passageways, runny eyes to flush them out, and, well, you get the idea.  The trouble with allergies is that the body creates this response over non-threatening invaders like pollen and grasses.  We can’t control the amount of pollens and grasses – so those are going to bring us closer to our threshold, but we can control our food.  If we keep “offensive” foods out of the diet, we’re going to avoid getting closer to the inflammatory threshold, therefore avoiding that allergic response.

The theory makes sense to me and I’ve seen great results with myself, my daughter and my patients.  If you’d like guidance with foods and cleansing products, check in with your naturopathic doctor.  Here’s to feeling better!