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It’s that time of year again when colds, flus, and infections start popping up everywhere.  With the kids back to school lots of families are exposed to all kinds of viruses and bacteria just waiting to grab hold.  Here are some easy herbs that fight these infectious little stinkers:

Garlic – Garlic is currently being studied in the treatement of bacteria resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics and the results are promising.  Researchers have found that garlic posseses anti-bacterial properties on it’s own but they have also found that garlic enhances the effect of chemical antibiotics on resistant bacteria.  Garlic is also anti-fungal and anti-parasitic.  Studies are inconclusive if it works against viruses but traditional medicine uses garlic for all sniffles, coughs, fevers, and infections.  Add extra raw garlic to hummus, pasta sauce, soups, stews for yummy flavour and microbe killer action!

Basil – We have a ton of basil growing in our garden this year.  In fact, 5 of our neighbours have sheepishly admitted to stealing our basil leaves!  I think my enthusiastic mini-lecture on it’s wonderful anti-microbe properties took them by surprise.  But, truly, I love this herb.  Basil’s anti-bacterial properties are also being studied for usage in drug-resistant bacterial infections.  Specifically E. coli infections.  And happily, basil works to kill these super-adaptive little guys.  It has also been shown to kill viruses – and researchers are checking into it’s anti-parasitic characteristics.  One of the reasons I love this herb is that kids will often chomp on basil without complaint.  You can add it to everything.  You can make your own basil oil by adding a bunch of fresh or dried basil to olive oil and let it sit for several hours.  Add garlic and, boom, microbes don’t stand a chance.

Rosemary – Have you seen those gorgeous rosemary potted “Christmas trees”?  They’re beautiful and so easy to care for.  And…anti-microbial! Rosemary also works to kill E.coli resistant to conventional antibiotics and is used to kill fungus, parasites, and viruses.  Studies have focused specifically on the Herpes virus and, again, results are positive.  Rosemary is a pretty strong flavour but can be added to potatoes (especially roast potato skins), meats, breads, pasta and rice dishes.

Ginger -Ginger kills all kinds of nasty microbes.  Here are a few germs that researchers have found ginger to be effect against: Streptococcus, E. coli, Pseuomonous, H.pylori (these are bacteria – some of which are resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics), herpes simplex virus, human respiratory syncytial virus, Blastocystis hominis (a tiny and determined parasite), Candida species.  So… bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus.  Pretty great.  Lately my hubby has been putting ginger into sauces with honey and garlic which are delish.  The kids will dip veggies and sausages in ginger honey sauces.  And they’ve enjoyed ginger, lemon, strawberry popsicles.  Nice.

I haven’t even mentioned that garlic helps the cardiovascular system, rosemary and basil work as tremendous antioxidants, and ginger works as an antinausea.  Oh, and all of them have anticancer properties.  Oh, and they’re delicious!

Here’s to lots of flavourful herbs to kill microbes and keep us healthy.

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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!

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Yay Breastfeeding!

If you are having any trouble breastfeeding please give us a call. We can refer you to excellent lactation consultants, suggest herbs for milk production, advise about mastitis, answer many questions about breastfeeding.
Because…

Did you know that…

  • breastfeeding is a skill to learned by both mama and baby? It takes excellent instruction and practice to get it right
  • the World Health Organization and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend mothers breastfeed their kids for “up to 2 years and beyond”
  • breast milk is the perfect food for babies
  • breastfeeding helps satisfy the emotional needs of children
  • breast milk’s content changes as children grow older
  • breast milk contains immune molecules that help children fight infection and decreases the risk for auto immune reactions, including allergies and asthma, and decreases the risk for certain childhood cancers
  • breastfeeding helps decrease insulin requirements in diabetic mothers
  • breastfeeding decreases the risk for breast cancer, endometrial cancer and uterine cancer for women
  • there are many many more reasons why breast is best!

Let us know if you’re having trouble. We can help.

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This post is about natural remedies to help with bug bites.

Now, I’m sure you have noticed that bugs love to bite some people and  just leave others alone.  I don’t know the science or research behind it but I sure do know that having tons of bites stinks.  I’m one they loooooove to bite.

Turns out, so is my elder daughter.

It also so happens that myself and my daughter are allergic, inflammatory type people and that we react pretty strongly to bug bites.

She swells up with impressive welts and itches like crazy.  I’ve been thrown into a full histamine response with rashes, swelling, fever, diarrhea – the whole bit – just from lots of bites.  Puts a damper on activities like camping, hiking, going to the cottage.

So this last time we went camping, I tried to remember every preventive and comforting remedy I could, so we wouldn’t suffer so much.

Happily, they worked well and though we were both bitten more than the people we sat next to, neither of us reacted in a huge way.  Which means that camping was actually lots of fun!

So here is a short list of cheap, easy things to do to help deal with bug bites.  Feel free to let me know if they work for you and your sensitive kid!

Apis – a homeopathic remedy that can be taken orally (which is what I do with my kids) or topically as a gel or cream.  Apis helps prevent swelling and itching if it’s given early enough.  If it’s given after the fact, it’ll help decrease the swelling and itching.  Homeopathic remedies come in different strengths and this year we went with a higher strength.  I actually watched a welt on my daughter’s leg decrease down to a little bump, right before my eyes.  I see and hear about health improvements all the time, I’m a naturopathic doctor, after all, but this was enough for me to say: whoa.  If you give the remember to give the remedy before bedtime, it’ll help the itching enough that hopefully, your kid will sleep.

Vitamin B – moderates the inflammatory response and keeps swelling and itching at a lower level.  We’ve found that it decreases the itching substantially – the bugs still bite, but the itching isn’t as intense.

Vitamin C – puts off the allergic response and helps tissues rebuild themselves (after having been scratched like crazy.)  So in practical terms, the bites are somewhat less itchy with less swelling and the traumatized skin heals faster.

Stinging nettle tea –  (you can make it as iced tea at the cottage or camping) – a natural anti-histamine it helps the body keep calm and interrupts the over-reaction that creates the swelling and crazy itching.

Aloe – you can slice open the leaves and squish out  the gel to use topically (ingesting it will cause major diarrhea so just topically, please) to calm down the itching and prevent a rash from coming up.  Do a spot test with this one as I’ve had some reports of it making the situation worse, especially if the skin is broken.

Decrease sugar – I know, I know, you’re camping, at the cottage, it’s summer fun-time, you and your kids want to eat buckets of marshmallows and banana boats.  Sugar is like throwing alcohol on fire for the immune system.  It does all kinds of things to increase inflammation and generally cause mayhem for allergies and reactions.  If you keep it to a minimum, it really makes a huge difference for decreased swelling and itching.  Sorry.

Those are a few suggestions.  Dosages for your children should be checked with your Naturopathic Doctor since what may be effective for one kid, may be inappropriate for another.

Good luck and enjoy those delightful great outdoors!

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Did you know that allergies could be the root cause of children’s trouble to make good behaviour choices? That is – tantrums and trouble listening…

Over and over again I see children who are suffering with allergies misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD.

Often kids who are dealing with allergies have fluid in their ears preventing them from hearing properly. As allergy symptoms come and go, this hearing loss may not be picked up during a regular screening hearing test. You can imagine that if you can’t hear instructions or suggestions quite right, it’s pretty much impossible to follow them. Of course this scenario becomes frustrating for both the grown up who’s instructing and the confused child. Usually the result is tears and screaming (possibly for both the grown up and child!).

Naturopathic treatments can reduce and eliminate the allergic response and clear out the ears. When we help to calm down the whole body and improve the child’s hearing, we often see a decrease in frustration, improvements in behaviour choices, and increase in focus and concentration.

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Cleansing with Kids

Cleansing works for kids too! Just like grown-ups, children are exposed to toxins all over the place. Human bodies are designed to break down and clear out toxins but, sometimes the body becomes overloaded.
Children benefit tremendously in the short term from detoxing – clearer thinking, smoother digestion, stronger immune system, again, just like adults.
But imagine the longer term impact if we clean out those toxins before they have a chance to be stored in the fatty tissues of little bodies. Cleansing a couple of times a year with your kids is a tremendous investment in their long term health.
Involving children in the planning of healthy meals and snacks and the “why’s” of choosing healthy foods helps with the change of diet. Framing a cleanse as an experiment for children to observe and report how they feel before, during and after helps kids feel involved and learn to make great choices.
Spring is the perfect time to spring clean with your kids. Book in with your ND to plan a cleanse for your kids.

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According to the Globe and Mail yesterday, approximately 450 schools will have their roofs repaired and fitted with solar panels by AMP Solar Limited.  At their peak the panels could produce up to 66 megawatts of green energy a year – enough to meet the needs of 6000 average Toronto households!  After the company recovers the cost of the roof repairs, the TDSB will collect 14.5 per cent of the energy revenue.

Hooray for the TDSB for not just for going solar, but for providing an example to our children of a mutually beneficial green choice in action.

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