Sunday, 18 September 2011

Helping Baby Eczema Takes Time and Requires Patience

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
As a practitioner I try to communicate to parents and carers that treating baby and child eczema within a holistic framework takes time.  There is no quick-fix to a problem that involves many organ-systems.  Often we are working to correct functional problems associated with chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation.  Parents and carers need to have patience in order to reach the ideal of healthy skin.

This takes a methodical approach and may require additional tests such as mineral status, food sensitivity and stool analysis.  Clinicians also need identify the roles that diet, lifestyle and stress play in baby and child eczema. Once all the relevant history is obtained a treatment plan can be devised according to individual needs.

         One cannot expect that which has taken generations to acquire to disappear overnight

Successful treatment of baby eczema in a holistic framework is not a simple matter of taking a pill or using a topical cream.  It requires commitment and dedication on many levels.  Certain foods must be avoided while certain foods will need to be used.  Environmental factors such as clothing, bedding, detergents and cleaners need to be assessed and the potential of enviro toxins like xeno-estrogens and xeno-biotics must be explored. Many of these concepts are new to parents and carers, it takes time to educate and provide quality reference materials and information.

Often, the approach requires whole-family dietary and lifestyle changes.  This is no easy task.  Cooking techniques and ingredients may need to be altered and shopping lists may require amending.   Make no mistake, this takes time to get right and implement in day to day busy family life.

On top of this are the remedies that the child or baby will need to take.  I often make a joke that the medicine won't work if it sits on the shelf.  It sounds obvious but it requires certain dedication and attentiveness when using a holistic approach.  It can be quite a regime to implement several remedies over the course of a day, several weeks or months at a time.

The take home message is that successful treatment of baby and childhood eczema using a holistic model takes time and patience.  There is a sound and well proven methodology in place that will help your child immensely if the program is followed.  The parents that seem to attract the most success appear to be the ones who educate themselves in the holistic natural medicine.   Eczema is a complex and multi-factorial condition that requires a comprehensive and integrated approach to achieve success.  It thrives on a complete team; practitioner, parent/carer and child/family, all working together with the intention of providing the best outcome for those concerned. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Understanding Chronic Ear Infections

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
For children unfortunate enough to suffer these painful and debilitating infections natural medicine offers a clear path to ceasing the vicious cycle.  Chronic ear infections are an indication of reduced numbers of beneficial bacteria in the Ear, Nose and Throat passages. This causes the immune system to be compromised.  Babies are born sterile and rely on the passage through the birth canal and the consumption breast milk to acquire their beneficial bacteria.  Babies also develop beneficial bacteria populations when they come into contact with other people such as dad or other relatives.  Children rely on these beneficial helpers for robust and appropriate immune reponses.  So what causes these bacteria numbers to be reduced?
Things that will reduce beneficial bacteria and increase numbers of pathogenic species include dietary sugar (either by itself or in the form of refined foods), unnecessary antibiotics and paracetamol use, (both of which are heavily sweetened with sugar syrups) and the advent of overtly sterile environments due to overuse of antibacterial cleaning products.  When pathogenic bacteria increase in number they compromise the immune response. In the case of chronic ear infections this may lead to recurrent episodes or other upper respiratory complaints like sore throats, tonsilitis and swollen glands.

When beneficial flora become low in number the body tries to compensate by producing excess mucous. This can be seen as a warning sign.  If your child tends to be constantly battling a running nose or sounds raspy or congested then this should be seen as the immune system struggling. It may also be related to food allergy and sensitivity. The recurrence of ear infections are often due to a condition called'"Glue Ear'". This is an accumulation of bacteria-laden fluid in the Eustachian tube.  It can affect hearing, speech quality, balance and co-ordination and learning. Glue Ear is highly common and unless resolved will result in repeat ear infection. This is one reason why antibiotic fails to help chronic ear infections.  The other is that the bacteria develop resistance partly because antibiotic syrups have a high sugar content which actually help the pathogenic bacteria grow stronger.  In order to successfully treat chronic ear infection the underlying cause must be addressed .

How Natural Medicine can help resolve these infections.
  •  Remove foods that create mucous: Dairy, Sugar and refined processed foods.  In some cases this alone has resolved glue ear and prevented the return of ear infections.
  • Give a therapeutic probiotic: Administer this by tipping the contents of a capsule onto the child''s tongue just befor bed.  It will provide a localised anti-bacterial effect allowing the immune system to fight back.
  • Reconsider antibiotic use: studies between children given antibiotic therapy verses no therapy for ear infection found the recover rate to be the same!
  • Seek to use alternatives to counter a fever greater that 38 degrees (100F) Herbal teas and  tinctures, homoeopathic medicines and mineral therapy are safe and work wonders. Unlike paracetamol they are not laced with sugar. Also, rmember that fever is a beneficial body response and should be encouraged unless dangerous.
  • Keep your child warm: Keep a hat on your child''s head and keep their chest warm.  Use warm fluids and offer soups.  French onion soup is particularly good for ear complaints.
  • A few drops of warm olive oil or Mullein oil can help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Top Ten Influences which damage Immunity

1. Sugar and everything containing it: sweets, soft drink, ice-cream etc.
2. Processed carbohydrates: cakes, biscuits, chips, snacks, breakfast cereals, white breads
3. Chemically altered and artificial fats: margarines, butter alternatives, cooking and vegetable oils, processed foods prepared with these fats.
4. Lack of quality proteins in the diet from meats and fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and beans
5. Exposure to man-made chemicals: cleaning and washing chemicals, personal care products, paint, fire retardants, petrochemicals, pesticides, etc.
6. Exposure to man-made radiation: electronic screens (TV, computer, play station), mobile phones, high power electricity lines, nuclear wastes, X-Ray
7. Drugs: Antibiotics, steroids, anti-depressants, pain killers, anti-viral drugs, anti-cancer drugs
8. Lack of Fresh Air and physical activity
9. Lack of sunlight
10. Lack of exposure to common microbes in the environment. Living in a too sterilised environment is strongly associated with compromised immunity.  The immune system needs constant stimulation from the microbes in the environment.

Top Ten Influences which Boost Immunity

These are taken from Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride's book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
1. Fresh animal fats (from meats and dairy) and cholesterol-rich foods (particularly raw egg yolk)
2. Cold-Pressed oils Olive oil, Fish oils, Nut and seed oils
3. Onions and Garlic
4. Freshly pressed vegetable and fruit juices
5. Regular consumption of greens: parsley, dill, coriander, spring onion, spinach etc
6. Probiotics supplements and fermented foods
7. Contact with animals: horses, dogs etc. Having a pet in the family can do a lot for children's immune status.
8. Swimming: in unpolluted natural waters: lakes, rivers and sea
9. Physical activity: in the fresh air!
10. Sunlight exposure and sensible sunbathing.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dairy Free Diets provide Necessary Calcium

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
As a health provider I work with many parents who are advised to cease their child's dairy intake for health reasons.  Naturally, a lot of parents are concerned that their child may be missing out on calcium and ultimately adversely affecting their health. 
To help put minds at ease I thought parents may find it useful to learn that “dairy free” does not necessarily mean calcium deficient.   I have added a list below outlining recommended daily intake (RDI) for age groups as well as non-dairy food options.  The news is great and should help parents feel more comfortable that removing dairy from the diet will not lead to adverse health outcomes.  

Age related Recommend Daily Intakes 
Non-Dairy Calcium Sources
0–6 months*200 mg
Soy Milk 1 cup - 400mg
7–12 months*260 mg

85gm Canned Salmon - 181mg
1–3 years 700 mg

Spinach 1/2 cup - 120mg
4–8 years 1,000 mg

Tofu 1/2 cup - 200mg
9–13 year 1,300 mg

85g Sardines - 325mg
14–18 years 1,300 mg

1 cup Cereal 100 - 1000mg

 Other calcium sources include Almonds, Figs, Eggs, Molasses and Green Leafy vegetables.  What’s great about the above list is that it shows how easy it is to attain the RDI quite easily.  By the time three well rounded meals have been served one can see how an age related RDI is easily met.
For all those parents out there who have children requiring dairy free diets this is great news.  It hopefully assures you that your children will get enough calcium from many other food sources and will in no way become deficient in this wonderful.  Perhaps it may be an opportunity to delve into the world of nutrition and understand that natural food sources provide a rich and bio-available source of essential nutrients. By the way, I haven't had a glass of cow milk for 37 years and I have no issues with the integrity and strength of my bones.