• Seasonal Depression: What it is and How to Help.

    7 December 2015
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    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.  SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months; draining your energy and making you feel moody.

    Typically, symptoms progressively worsen throughout the fall and winter months, as the days shorten and exposure to natural daylight lessens.

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    Those suffering from SAD feel depressed, irritable, and tired. Their activity levels decrease and they find themselves in bed more often. This depression disorder not only affects their health, but it also affects their everyday life, including their job performance and friendships.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder is a subtype of major depression.

    Symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:

    • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
    • Feeling hopeless or worthless
    • Having low energy
    • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
    • Having problems with sleeping
    • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
    • Feeling sluggish or agitated
    • Having difficulty concentrating
    • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

    A diagnosis of SAD can be made after three consecutive winters of symptoms if they are also followed by complete remission in the spring and summer months.

    Symptoms linked only to SAD (not full depression): http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad

    • Depression: misery, guilt, loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, despair, and apathy
    • Anxiety: tension and inability to tolerate stress
    • Moodchanges: extremes of mood, especially dealing with rejection
    • Sleep problems: desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake or, sometimes, disturbed sleep and early morning waking
    • Irritability: Cranky feelings towards others
    • Lethargy: feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
    • Feeling Heavy: The arms and legs feel heavier and harder to utilize
    • Overeating, Appetite Changes, and Weight Gain: craving for starchy and sweet foods resulting in weight gain
    • Socialproblems: irritability and desire to avoid social contact
    • Sexualproblems: loss of libido and decreased interest in physical contact

    What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (Seasonal Depression)?

    As sunlight has affected the seasonal activities of animals for as long as we have researched, SAD may be an effect of this seasonal light variation in humans.  Animals hibernate and/or tend to have a change in reproductive cycles, along with diet changes and activity and energy decreases.  There seems to be a shift if the human’s biological internal clock (circadian rhythm) due to the changes in light exposure on a daily basis.  Even though the temperatures are dropping, and many people want to place blame on this changing air, SAD is linked to the lack of daylight and not freezing temperatures.  Sunlight triggers and limits the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep. An over-supply of melatonin is linked to symptoms of depression. The sleep-related hormone is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and is produced at increased levels in the dark.  Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases.

    The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:

    • Your biological clock
    • Melatonin levels
    • Serotonin levels: A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.

    Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/12/11/surprising-facts-about-seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

    • Being female.SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms.
    • The highest probability of experiencing SAD is between the ages of 18-55.
    • Family history.People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.
    • Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder.Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
    • Living far from the equator.SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.

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    Effects of Seasonal Depression

    Hypersomnia: Over-Sleeping may sound like a luxury, but in turn, it can wreak havoc on your body.  A domino effect takes place when the body goes into hibernation-mode.

    Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Eating pathology in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be more severe than hyperphagia during winter. Although research has documented elevated rates of subclinical binge eating in women with SAD, the prevalence and correlates of BED in SAD remain largely uncharacterized. High rates of co-occurrence between binge eating and SAD suggest that there may be common etiological pathways underlying susceptibility to both conditions. For example, dopamine signaling is hypothesized to affect the emergence of binge eating behavior across various disorders, including SAD and BED. Dopamine is thought to participate in the reinforcement of behaviors such as eating that enhance subjective pleasure. Individual differences in dopamine signaling may promote winter binge eating by strengthening the coupling of palatable foods such as carbohydrates to their hedonic effect. Therefore, it is possible that abnormalities in dopaminergic processing may increase risk for binge eating in both SAD and BED. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019042/

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    Treating and Preventing SAD

    http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

    Knowing that you are at risk and how to help, will ease the stress of the months ahead.

    Chiropractic Care: Those suffering from SAD can greatly benefit from chiropractic treatment. Due to emotional, physical and mental stress caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder, many patients have unfortunately triggered misalignments in their spine. Chiropractic care is a drug-free, natural approach to treat those with SAD by bringing the spine back into alignment and improving the function of the whole body. When the spinal joints are aligned and working properly, the brain is able to communicate effectively and efficiently with the entire body. In addition to pain resumption, proper alignment of the spine helps to improve sleep function, mood and energy which often affect SAD patients.

    Vitamin D:  Multiple studies and ample research all prove that VitaminD drops drastically during the fall and winter months.  With this drop, the body’s immune system is at risk for illness, major depression, and seasonal affective disorder.  One study shows that a group of individuals suffering from SAD benefitted more from increasing their Vitamin D supplements than from the photo light therapy. “All subjects receiving vitamin D improved in all outcome measures. The phototherapy group showed no significant change in depression scale measures. Vitamin D status improved in both groups (74% vitamin D group, p < 0.005 and 36% phototherapy group, p < 0.01). Improvement in 25-OH D was significantly associated with improvement in depression scale scores (r2=0.26; p=0.05).” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10888476

    Light Therapy: Effectiveness of phototherapy is showed in nearly all controlled studies. Bright light appears to be most effective for patients with mild SAD.  One study shows significant differences found when comparing the scores after the baseline with the three-onlight exposures using the repeat light therapy. Depression scores after 40 minutes of light were lower than after 20 minutes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913518/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18053580

    Himalayan Salt Lamps: Our air contains an abundance of positive ions. Anything that is electrically charged contains positive ions; computer screens, televisions, telephones, etc. are all sources of positive ions in the air. Research shows that positive ions can cause feelings of lethargy, fatigue, and even depression. There are natural sources that increase positive ions as well, such as full moons, which accounts for the strange and aggressive behavior noted by medical services and police. Studies show that 75% of the population is noticeably and adversely affected by positive ion ratios. Salt lamps can help bring emotional balance into our lives because they generate negative ions, which help us to feel more energized and uplifted. In fact, rock salt crystal is known as one of the most efficient emitters of negative ions. Generally, the more negative ions you are exposed to, the better you feel!

    Specific Salt Lamps for Seasonal Depression:  (In coordination with the blue light therapy)

    Get Outside: Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun without wearing sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun).

    • Take a short walk outdoors or have your coffee outside if you can stay warm enough.
    • Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows.
    • Some people find that painting walls in lighter colors or using daylight simulation bulbs also helps combat winter SAD.

    Exercise: Regular exercise is a powerful way to fight seasonal depression, especially if you’re able to exercise outside in natural daylight.  http://www.helpguide.org/articles/exercise-fitness/emotional-benefits-of-exercise.htm

    • Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
    • Exercise can also help to improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem.
    • Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days. Even something as simple as walking a dog, for example, can be good exercise for you and the animal, as well as a great way to get outdoors and interact with other people.

    Ask for Support: Close relationships are vital in reducing isolation and helping you manage SAD. Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. It may feel more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will boost your mood. Even if you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect or start new relationships.

    • Call or email an old friend to meet for coffee. Or reach out to someone new—a work colleague or neighbor, for example. Most of us feel awkward about reaching out, but be the one to break the ice.
    • Join a support group for depression. Sometimes, just talking about what you’re going through can help you feel better. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and provide inspiration to make positive changes.
    • Meet new people with a common interest by taking a class, joining a club, or enrolling in a special interest group that meets on a regular basis. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that’s fun for you.
    • Volunteer your time. Helping others is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself, expand your social network, and overcome SAD.

    Diet: Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings.

    • While the symptoms of SAD can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas can boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash.  Even better, cut gluten from your diet.  If you are still struggling, try to cut dairy as well.
    • Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats—such as oily fish, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds—can also improve your mood and may even boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medication.

    Destress: Whatever the time of year, too much stress can exacerbate or even trigger depression. Figure out the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact.

    • Practicing daily relaxation techniques can help you manage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
    • Do something you enjoy every day. Having fun is a great stress buster, so make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be painting, playing the piano, working on your car, or simply hanging out with friends.

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  • Fevers in Infants and Children

    24 September 2015
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    Before diving into the benefits and confusion of fevers, I will start with explaining a fever by age.  You see, a newborn, infant and baby’s temperature is not categorized as a fever at the same numerical reading as a grown adult, or even a child for that matter.

    Did you know that a temperature up to 100.4* is completely normally in an infant under 12 weeks of age? A child over 12 weeks, a toddler, even an adult has not reached a true fever until 104*.  Nothing under this (100.4*) for a newborn is even considered an elevated temperature.  According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the normal range of temperature for an infant is between 97-100.4*F.  It is important to remember that a fever is not a form of illness. In fact, a fever is typically brought on by the body fighting off an infection or as a result of an immunization. Because a fever is generally caused by fighting off an infection, this can even be taken as a good sign of a baby’s developing immune system!  With a healthy immune system, the fever should break within 48 hours.

    Boost child's immunity (1)

    When the immune system is weak, or fighting something, it is smart to start supplementing to strengthen it.  By adding extra vitamin D, probiotics, and including colloidal silver, you can boost the immune system and have it ready to head into battle.

    col silver

    Fevers show that the body is doing exactly what it is designed to do.  They are the body’s way of healing itself.  When the child’s body increases in core temperature, it is preparing to battle.  The temperature will rise to a level that is necessary to keep the invading virus or bacteria from growing or reproducing more.  The fever causes everything to slow down and allows the body a chance to build up antibodies to fight off the disease.  Treating the fever with medication reverses this situation and tricks the body into cooling down before it is ready. The fever also acts as a catalyst to speed up enzyme reactions and metabolism.  It is during this time that the body begins to repair tissue.  Allowing the fever to run its course is the easiest and smartest way to beat the invading illness.

    The best piece of advice you will get is to step away from the thermometer.  You will know when your baby is under the weather and feverish.  Unless that baby is so hot that your mama bear instincts are screaming at you to run to the ER, then knowing a specific number won’t do anything but cause you anxiety. (And have you rechecking that temperature every 10 minutes!)  Fevers are more frightening than harmful.  They are usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection of some kind.  According to www.askdrsears.com the top three reasons for a fever in an infant are:

    Viral Infection: The most common cause of fever in children.  Roseola, colds, flu, hand-foot-mouth disease, chicken pox, fifth disease, along with many other viruses cause fever.  Most viruses are not dangerous. They simply need to run their course over several days. They are not treatable with antibiotics.  They are contagious, though, and baby should be kept home until the virus has passed.

    Bacterial Infection: Ear infections, sinus infection, pneumonia, bladder infection, and strep throat are all bacterial infections that cause fever.  Antibiotics can be used (or homeopathy and other natural remedies), but a trip to the emergency room is not needed, call your pediatrician in the morning.

    Teething: A fever up to 101*F is common while teething.

    Fever is also a very common side effect of vaccines and should be treated as a vaccine injury if the fever causes a seizure, brain swelling, or any other illness.  (Directly from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm )

    Being skin-to-skin with baby in a lukewarm bath will assist in cooling baby off gradually and will prevent him from getting too cold too quickly. It is also encouraged to ensure your baby is drinking a lot of liquids and kept in a cool room, out of the sun. If you are breastfeeding, nurse him around the clock.  Breastmilk has antibodies in it created specifically for your child and the environment you are currently in.  (www.kellymom.com )

    If your child is old enough to consume food, is no longer nursing, and is showing signs of illness, most people will recommend you supplement with pedialyte.  Before you go grabbing the sugar, preservative, and dye-filled drink, think about making a homemade version instead.

    Homemade Pedialyte Recipe: (Source: 100 Days of Real Food)

    Mix together:

    • 1 quart water
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Note: If you fear your child will think this drink is too plain consider adding in a couple splashes of orange Juice. Also, the sugar and salt may dissolve more easily if you warm up the water first.

    The main reason to treat your child’s fever is to make him feel better.  When he is achy, fussy, crying, not sleeping, or slightly lethargic, you may want to try a handful of natural methods of lowering the temperature to help with his comfort level.  Just remember that you are treating a symptom and not the illness by lowering the temperature.   Another note worth mentioning, a fever does not always present itself as a hot forehead, a fever can show as lethargy, overly thirsty, a poor appetite, poor sleeping, or a seizure.

    Ways to help: (www.askdrsears.com )

    • Skin-to-skin, kangaroo care keeping baby chest to chest with you to help regulate body heat
    • Rest: Do NOT wake your child up. Rest is best!
    • Give your child plenty to drink to prevent dehydration (not enough fluid in the body) and help the body cool itself. Water, clear soups, and popsicles are. If your child isn’t getting enough fluids, don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t feel like it. (Breastfeed around the clock if possible.)
    • Keep your child quiet. Moving around can raise the temperature even more.
    • Keep the room temperature between 70°F to 74°F.
    • Dress your child in light cotton pajamas so that body heat can escape.
      Don’t over bundle your child. Overdressing can trap body heat and cause your child’s temperature to rise.
    • If your child is chilled, put on an extra blanket but remove it when the chills stop

    A fever is the body’s way of testing the immune system.  Regular chiropractic care keeps the immune system ready to fight. A study showed the effects of specific upper cervical adjustments increasing healthy cell counts. Along with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, chiropractic care adds to the building blocks of a strong immune system.  (http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Kent_Model_of_Subluxation.pdf)

    Most pediatricians recommend to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help reduce fever.  Here is the APA stance of alternating therapies:

     

    “…questions remain regarding the safety of this practice as well as the effectiveness in improving discomfort, which is the primary treatment end point. The possibility that parents will either not receive or not understand dosing instructions, combined with the wide array of formulations that contain these drugs, increases the potential for inaccurate dosing or overdosing.  ”

    So, it is best to let the fever ride out and don’t panic it’s just a fever.

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    Contrary to everyone’s belief, taking the temperature rectally is quite controversial should not be done at home. A thermometer must be inserted at least 5 cm to obtain a stable core temp. This insertion temp risks perforating the rectum and can possibly end in death. Perhaps, leave this for the extremely rare instances in the hospital when the absolute most accurate reading is needed.   (http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/nixrectl.html )

    Above all, trust your gut instincts.  If you truly feel that your child is seriously ill, contact your doctor or head to the emergency room.  You have every right to call your pediatrician and ask questions to calm your anxiety and have your questions answered.

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  • Studies Prove 70% improvement of Asthma with chiropractic alignments!! So, why aren’t more children under chiropractic care?

    26 March 2015
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    By Dr. Brenda Fairchild

    I hear all the time in the office from parents that their doctor has told them that there is not much that he or she can do about their child’s asthma.  Conventional pediatricians suggest that the child may outgrow it, and in the meantime prescribe steroid treatments and/or inhalers for acute symptoms.  Parents often feel like they have tried everything.  Inhalers, steroids, and all different types of medications and nothing has helped. They are sick and tired of hearing their child struggle to breathe.  They are sick and tired of missing work and for their kids missing school … according to the American Lung Association, “Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism; in 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost school days in children with an asthma attack in the previous year.”  How much school as your child missed?? http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/resources/facts-and-figures/asthma-children-fact-sheet.html

    Parents come to me, Dr. Brenda Fairchild, because they are frustrated, feel helpless watching their child gasping for air, and feel like they are failing as a parent.  They are tired of their child being one of the 7.1 million children chronically suffering from asthma.  When I first meet a parent and child(ren), I always ask why they are in my office.  Did they hear that chiropractic can help with their child’s condition?  Were they referred by a pediatrician (highly doubtful…but you never know)?  Most parents aren’t always sure why or how they ended up at Pea and the Pod, but they know they need to make a change in their family’s health and NOW!  So, what can a pediatric chiropractor do to help their family?  I am going to give you a best kept secret to help your child’s asthma.  You will be amazed how much better they will feel!

    First and foremost, any child with Asthma, difficulty breathing, or other health condition, will be physically adjusted. This is not an option in care at my office.  And here is why: the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery conducted a study of 3,013 patients with bronchial asthma  published  in 2004 found they were able to “alleviate bronchial asthma and allergies by improvement of neurology causes by chronically narrowed intervertebral foraminae from the 2nd to 4th and 8th  to the 10th thoracic vertebrae…Asthma patients improved by 70%.”  This is jus11016309_10203917234346625_100385389_nt a complex way of saying that professional adjustment of the spine in the right place can alleviate breathing difficulties by 70%.  That’s right!!  A 70% improvement!!!  I don’t think any medicine can claim that much of an improvement.  What this means to YOU and YOUR child, is that misalignments of the spine in the mid-back of your child can be exasperating the asthma.  This is why chiropractic care is SO important for the health of your child!   This is why I will not see children whose parents do not what their children adjusted.  I cannot ignore a 70% improvement of asthma and you should not either.   https://ispub.com/IJOS/2/1/8061

    Another random clinical trial of 36 children with chronic asthma were studied over 3 months with chiropractic care along with medical care. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11514813 Those with chiropractic care had greatly improved quality of life  and decreased asthma severity, while those children under standard medical pulmonary treatments, showed little to no statistical improvement. Please read that sentence again.  Chiropractic care along with medical care improved symptoms, while medical care alone did not!

    Another study by the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research of 81 asthmatic children reported an improvement in 90.1% after being under chiropractic care for 60 days, ages ranged from 1-17 years of age. The number of asthma “attacks” decreased by an average of 44.9%, and 30.9% decreased their medication by 66.5%. The authors concluded that “Chiropractic care, for correction of vertebral subluxation, is a safe, non-pharmaceutical health care approach which may also be associated with significant decreases in asthma related impairment as well as a decreased incidence of asthmatic `attacks.’”

    http://vertebralsubluxation.sharepoint.com/Pages/1497_0042_impairment.aspx

    This is why, before you change anything, your child should be being seen by a pediatric chiropractor ASAP.  But it just doesn’t stop at chiropractic care, you have to look at diet and make changes, and possibly add supplements.  In my office, I generally order blood work on my clients as it can help to reveal the big picture.  Is your child also allergic to milk or gluten?  I like to start with removing dairy from the diet first, as it is the a more common intolerance, and easier to remove from the diet than gluten.  In addition, dairy products are implicated in excess mucus formation.  How much added sugar is your child consuming?  Is your child vitamin D deficient??  Many children are, especially in the winter months, and supplementation can help breathing (and overall health and immunity) improve significantly.  Are there pets in your house?  How often do you clean your house?  What kind of cleaners are you using?  What other medications or supplements are your children taking?  These are all questions you should be asking yourself.  Taking control of your child’s health is important and I know from the conversations in my office that many doctors are not addressing these questions.  At Pea and the Pod Chiropractic we will help guide you and your family, and help you figure out the best way to heal your child.  There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for children.  Individuals need individual care and we will be your partner in health!

    Call Pea and the Pod Chiropractic today to make the change! 302.368.0800 And don’t forget, Dr. Brenda is specialized in Pediatric Chiropractic Care!

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  • Practical Tips for Flu Prevention

    strong immune systemIn light of the news that this year’s flu shot is, at best, 23% effective (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/flu-vaccine-working-23-percent-effective-28249610), many people are wondering what they can do to help protect themselves and their family from the flu.  In fact, there are a lot of lifestyle changes that you can make in order to help keep your family healthy during what we have been calling ‘the sick season.’  In addition to influenza, norovirus (what most people refer to as a ‘stomach bug’ or ‘stomach flu,’ that includes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever), and rhinovirus (the common cold), all run rampant this time of year.  Many of the tactics that you can use to prevent the flu will also prevent the spread of other common contagious illnesses.

    First and foremost, practice proper hand washing!  Check out this awesome poster from the World Health Organization.  You can print it out and hang it in your bathroom for your kids: http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/How_To_HandWash_Poster.pdf. One of the best best strategies that you can implement to help prevent the spread of illness, is have everyone take off their shoes and jackets, and WASH HANDS as soon as you get home.  From anywhere!  When you get home from school, the drugstore, the mall, the grocery store, a friend’s house, your mom’s house, anywhere.  Every time you walk in the door make it a habit to wash your hands.  If you are running multiple errands, or will be in a location where soap and water is not readily available, it is a good idea to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but keep in mind this does not kill norovirus, clostridium difficile bacteria, or many strains of the flu virus.  Experts have said that hand sanitizer is more effective at preventing germ proliferation, rather than at killing it off, so it’s important to use soap and water whenever it’s available, and not to rely on hand sanitizers.

    In addition to hand washing, when you are out and about, it’s important to try not to touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth!  This is more difficult than people realize.  It’s habit to rub our eyes when we are tired, scratch our nose, or eat something with our hands.  Spend any time with children, and you will notice how often they have their hands in their mouths, and fingers in their nose!  That’s one of the best ways to spread germs, so talk to your kids about keeping their hands away from their face.  This will be almost impossible for them!  But it’s still important to try, and it’s never too late to begin instilling good hygiene habits in our children.

    Typically, the influenza virus is considered a “droplet transmission” virus, which means you must come into contact with the secretions of someone who is infected.  Some strains have been known to be “airborne,” which means the microscopic droplets can stay suspended in the air for some time and you can become infected by breathing them in.  For this reason, if you are going to be in contact with someone with the flu, or if you MUST go out in public when you have the flu, it is prudent to wear a respiratory mask.  These are available at any drugstore.  While you might feel silly wearing it, it’s better than getting the flu or spreading it to someone else!  Alternatively, you could wear a Scough and pretend you are covering your face because you’re cold! http://wearascough.com

    Getting regular chiropractic adjustments can help keep you and your family in optimal health.  In order for our immune systems to function appropriately, our body and brain need to be able to send effective messages to each other!  These messages are sent up and down our spinal cord (in a complex process I won’t bore you with here), and a simple adjustment can make all of the difference if some of those pathways are blocked.  Chiropractic adjustments can be especially helpful for children who have frequent sinus and ear infections as the adjustments help to keep those areas open for drainage.

    Vitamin D deficiency is almost epidemic in this country, especially during the winter months when we are exposed to very little sunshine.  However, vitamin D is crucial for proper immune function and many other functions in the body. In order for our bodies to make adequate vitamin D, we need to have adequate levels of cholesterol in our bodies, and at least 15 minutes of face and arm exposure to sunlight per day.  Clearly no one one in the Northeastern United States is getting that amount of exposure during the icy cold winter months.  A high quality vitamin D supplement can help fill in the gaps until we can all lay out in the sunshine during the warmer months.  We like Bluebonnet brand, Xymogen, and Nordic Naturals, but you can ask your chiropractor or naturopath which supplement brand they recommend.  It is especially important for breastfeeding mothers to make sure that they are not vitamin D deficient.  Many pediatricians mistakenly claim that breastmilk is deficient in vitamin D and that babies need supplementation, but this is only true if the mother is deficient.  Some breastfeeding mothers need as much as 5,000-10,000 IU supplementation in order to have enough vitamin D for themselves and their nursing baby.  Your chiropractor or other health practitioner can order a blood test so that you know what your vitamin D levels are.

    It is very important to maintain the healthiest diet possible when trying to prevent the flu and other illnesses.  By now, most of us know how damaging excess sugar can be to the immune system, so it’s especially important to keep the sugar down during outbreaks of illness!  We know how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet when fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t as available and when all you want to do is curl up with some hot comfort food.  Nourishing soups that contain a lot of garlic, onions, and ginger will help fight the flu and other illnesses.  Bone broth is a wonderful addition to everyone’s diet, see our favorite recipe here: http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/ Organic oatmeal with grass-fed butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup is a delicious and nourishing way to start the day.  Pastured eggs have plenty of protein, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D.  Don’t forget to eat the yolk!  That’s where the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are.  Snack on organic almonds and walnuts, organic dried fruit and seeds, and grass-fed cheeses.  If you must have something sweet (as we all must sometimes), you can make your own organic low-sugar hot chocolate.  Organic, fair-trade pure cocoa powder, plus the milk or milk alternative of your choice, and just a couple teaspoons of organic cane sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth.

    Remember also, that the majority of your immune system resides in your gut.  There are certain food additives and over-the-counter medications that are known to harm the beneficial bacteria inside your large intestine that protect you from infection.  NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can damage gut flora when taken in excess or over long periods of time.  Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) have been known to kill off beneficial bacteria. Always read labels of all over-the-counter medications as many contain sucralose or aspartame.  Pedialyte, often given to children for dehydration during illness, contains sucralose, which is almost guaranteed to make your child feel worse.  Check out this blog for an all-natural rehydration drink for kids: http://dontmesswithmama.com/homemade-citrus-electrolyte-drink/

    If you or your family members do happen to come down with the flu, in the absence of other serious medical conditions, it is usually a self-limiting illness.  It is important to stay at home, preferably in bed, and to REST, when you are ill!  Our culture encourages pushing yourself to the limit, but it’s important to STAY HOME when you are sick in order to prevent passing the illness along to others.  Plenty of rest also results in a quicker recovery.  Keep hydrated and eat nourishing meals such as bone broth.  For kids without an appetite, I make a delicious, immune boosting rice dish that I have put on my birth blog here: https://birthinfullbloom.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/immune-boosting-rice-dish-for-sick-little-ones/

    Stay hydrated with coconut water, electrolyte drinks, organic juices, and tea.  Organic Lemon Balm tea is both antiviral and delicious!  Even kids like it, sweetened with a little raw honey (honey is not recommended for babies under 1 year of age).  Breastfeeding babies and kids are much less likely to come down with the flu, but if they do, it is important to nurse frequently for hydration, calories, and immune boosting effects.  If you are nursing a baby and your older child comes down with the flu, pumping breast milk and giving it to your older child in a cup can help them benefit from the antibodies it contains.  We have yet to read a convincing study indicating that Tamiflu is indicated for treatment of the diagnosed flu, but this is something you must discuss with your healthcare provider.

    There are many herbal remedies that are safe for treating common illnesses at home.  These include Echinacea and Elderberry, the two most common, Lomatium, Olive Leaf Extract, and others, but as herbal remedies are out of the scope of this blog post, we suggest directly contacting an herbalist or naturopath for dosing recommendations.  As always, boosting probiotics and vitamin C will help almost any illness.  Note that too much of either can cause loose stools in both adults and children.  If this does happen, remember that is normal (and often indicates you have just passed the therapeutic dose), and simply discontinue or back off the dosage.

    There are so many ways that you can help protect your family from the flu this season, and not all have been listed here.  If you have any questions about the information you’ve read here, please contact us at peaandthepodchiropractic.com or 302-368-0800.

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  • Chiropractic Care in the Treatment and Prevention of Pediatric Ear Infections

    Many children in the United States suffer from recurring middle ear infections, known as Otitis Media.

    In fact, 3 out of 4 children will experience at least one ear infection by the time that they are 3 years old.

    Ear infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or be the result of allergies, and include symptoms such as severe pain, fever, and irritability. The most common conventional treatment is antibiotics, but these will only work for bacterial infections (many ear infections are actually viral infections), and often don’t resolve the und10720886_10203030691383605_1006833486_nerlying condition. The result is then more recurring ear infections and subsequent antibiotic prescriptions. This in turn can create antibiotic resistance, persistent gastrointestinal distress for the child, and a myriad of other problems. Recurring ear infections can even temporarily or permanently damage your child’s hearing, also resulting in speech delays. For this reason, prevention and treatment of the underlying condition is of utmost importance.

    One of the causes of persistent ear infections is actually allergies, both seasonal and allergies to certain foods. Allergies create an accumulation of fluid in various compartments of the body, including the middle ear. This fluid accumulation provides a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. These organisms cannot grow well without the fluid. Eliminating the causes of fluid build-up, by both reducing allergen exposure and receiving chiropractic adjustments to relieve compression around the ear, can reduce the frequency of ear infections.

    Ear infections also occur after a child’s immune system has been lowered for any reason. A child’s Eustachian Tube is short, narrow, and horizontal. Because of this, bacteria and viruses (from a common cold for example) can easily make their way to the middle ear. If there is also misalignment of the structures around the ear, the microbes build up and grow even more. There is new research that the overuse of antibiotics and vaccines given early in life can contribute to recurring ear infections. As Dr. Brenda Trudell of New Beginnings Chiropractic explains, “Antibiotics given early in life, or with the first ear infection may alter infants’ immune systems in such a way that they are unable to fight off infections on their own. Some vaccines are known to lower immunity for a period of time, which can make an infant more susceptible to viral or bacterial infections. And six childhood vaccines, including Hib, have “Otitis Media” listed as a common adverse reaction, meaning the vaccine itself is a known cause of ear infections. With vaccines given at birth, 2,4,6 and12 months, it may be a reason why 62% of children are diagnosed under the age of one. A large study in New Zealand showed that vaccinated children were 3 times as likely to get OM than unvaccinated children” (http://newbeginningschiropractic.net/chiropractic-approach-to-childhood-ear-infections/) For this reason, she recommends that children who are showing any signs of illness or fever, NOT be vaccinated at that time. If their immune system is busy fighting off something else they will be more susceptible to a vaccine-induced ear infection.

    Childhood ear infections can also be caused by trauma at birth and in this case it is especially important to visit your chiropractor. Infants born via C-section, forceps, or vacuum, are at a much higher risk of spinal and cranial injury and should be seen soon after birth by a chiropractor who specializes in Pediatrics. Babies who are born via C-section and thus were not exposed to the beneficial bacteria of their mother’s vagina are at an even greater risk of developing recurring ear infections.
    One natural treatment for ear infections it to put drops of organic garlic infused olive oil or breastmilk in the ear (not to be used if a rupture is present). Supplementing your child with 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D (supplement yourself with 5,000 IU if you are breastfeeding a baby or child), up to 250 mg of vitamin C, and a high quality probiotic will also help their overall health. Exclusively breastfed infants also have much lower rates of ear infections. Most importantly though, if you are planning on treating your child’s ear infections naturally, it’s imperative to clear the fluid out of the ear and open up the space where the bacteria or virus is growing. Otherwise any treatment is going to be short-lived at best. The conventional medical treatment of this scenario is to insert tubes in the child’s ears. Ear tubes are tiny cylinders placed through the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to allow air into the middle ear. The insertion of ear tubes is currently the most common childhood surgery requiring general anesthesia. Both general anesthesia and antibiotics are serious medical interventions that are not without risks. Chiropractic adjustments of the neck and skull have been recommended by many doctors, including Dr. Sears, to aid in the treatment and prevention of ear infections in children, and these adjustments may prevent the need for tubes. Dr. Joan Fallon DC, describes her treatment of ear infections in an article for the American Chiropractic Association.

    Before yet another round of “maybe-they’ll-work-and-maybe-they-won’t” antibiotics or the drastic step of surgery, more parents are considering chiropractic to help children with chronic ear infections. Dr. Joan Fallon has published research showing that, after receiving a series of chiropractic adjustments, nearly 80 percent of the children treated were free of ear infections for at least the six-month period following their initial visits (a period that also included maintenance treatments every four to six weeks). “Chiropractic mobilizes drainage of the ear in children, and if they can continue to drain without a buildup of fluid and subsequent infection, they build up their own antibodies and recover more quickly,” explains Dr. Fallon. She’d like to see her pilot study used as a basis for larger-scale trials of chiropractic as a therapeutic modality for otitis media. (http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=69)

    Chiropractic adjustments for treating and preventing ear infections usually involve the bones of the neck, skull, jaw, and cervical spine. Correcting the alignment of the small bones in the head and neck allow fluid to properly move and drain. As Dr. Trudell explains, “Chiropractic adjustments remove interference within the nervous system by correcting misalignments in the spinal column, jaw and possibly cranial bones, without the use of drugs or surgery. Correcting misalignments also reduces muscle tension, decreases inflammation, increases mobility, and establishes proper blood flow and lymph drainage, all of which can affect the function of the middle ear and Eustachian tube.” These adjustments are very gentle and nothing to fear! Relief can even begin as early as the first treatment.

    If your child is suffering from recurrent ear infections, come and see us at Pea and the Pod! There are many factors that impact recurring ear infections and Dr. Brenda can help you find which health and lifestyle changes will help your family. We also are proud to now have an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff, Mona Liza Hamlin. Exclusively breastfed babies have lower rates of ear infections and if you need help with nursing your little one please give us a call!

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  • Adjusting the Newborn

    3 September 2014
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    10728792_10203030831587110_593695768_nDid you know that even newborn babies can benefit greatly from chiropractic care? Conditions such as colic, reflux, and other common issues can be treated with physical adjustments. But perhaps one of the most important visits is the first visit after baby’s birth.

    As soon as mom and baby feel well enough to leave the house, it can be beneficial to be seen by a chiropractor. The act of being born is not inherently dangerous for baby. In fact the compression of the contractions and the hormonal and probiotic cocktail to which they are exposed during labor and delivery are all beneficial to baby.

    However, as a result of increasing rates of cesarean section and continued instrumental deliveries, many babies undergo mild to moderate physical trauma during the birth process. Even a typical vaginal delivery in the United States, complete with an epidural and mom pushing from flat on her back or a semi-sitting position can result in trauma to the newborn baby. Labor inductions can also cause unusually intense contractions that excessively compress babies skull, neck, and spine. C-sections, forceps, and vacuum deliveries often involve an inordinate amount of tugging and pulling, both of which can cause their soft bones and joints to come out of proper alignment.

    Chiropractors who specialize in Pediatrics have the skill and knowledge to properly assess and adjust tiny newborns. In a review of thirty three studies on chiropractic care and pregnancy and the postpartum period, research indicated evaluation and spinal adjustment of the infant to be beneficial.

    “The induced vector of force that may cause trauma to the newborn includes traction of the cervical spine coupled with hyperextension during the birth process.31 Forceps, cesarean, and suction or vacuum extraction can also cause trauma to the newborn’s cervical and thoracic spine and spinal cord31 and may warrant chiropractic evaluation…In a review of 1000 infants, Gutmann suggested that birth trauma frequently affected the atlanto-occipital joint, causing blockage or vertebral subluxation.31 Correction of such a presentation may be accomplished through a light, precise, biomechanical adjustment, using various gentle techniques.32” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/)

    IMG_0331Wordy I know! But the gist is that a precise, gentle, adjustment by a skilled provider can greatly improve baby’s comfort level and promote proper development of the spine. As with any practitioner, is important to always choose your chiropractor wisely. Like your medical doctor, make sure that you are choosing a practitioner who listens to your health concerns, respects you and your family, and has a firm knowledge base in your particular issue. While most chiropractors are trained in the care of infants, it is best for babies to be adjusted by those who specialize in pediatrics. And once baby is correctly aligned, it is important to maintain said alignment! Babies are meant to be carried and worn by their parents and even older siblings. Babywearing promotes both mental organization and proper spinal and hip alignment. But more on that in our next post!

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  • Can chiropractic care help your colicky baby?

    24 July 2014
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    There is hardly anything more frustrating for a new parent than when your previously sleepy newborn baby turns into a colicky mess. Before we were parents, most of us had heard the term ‘colic,’ may have thought it had something to do with gassy babies, and hoped it would never be something we would have to deal with. Colic typically begins at around 3 weeks of age, and consists of crying spells that last more than 3 hours, 3 or more days per week, and lasting 3 weeks or more. Colicky crying applies to babies who have been fed, changed, burped, are dry, warm, being held by a parent, and otherwise comforted but cannot seem to relax or sleep. They may arch their back like babies with reflux do (note: although reflux and colic often go hand in hand, this is not always the case. See our next post about reflux!), and twist up their face in grimaces of pain. Theories as to the causes of colic include intestinal gas, food intolerances to either mom’s milk or formula, baby adjusting to their new gut microbiome, and others. However, these are all just theories and unhelpful to mom and dad in the middle of a crying spell! Breastfeeding on demand can help soothe your baby. Many babies cluster feed in the evening, and if baby is happy as long as he is attached to the breast, then let him be there! However, if baby is full, does not want to comfort nurse, and is not comforted by swaddling, rocking, shushing, nursing, or any of the usual methods, you might be dealing with colic.

    Babies have quite the time of it as they emerge from the womb. Although their skulls and spines are built to withstand (and even benefit from!) the uterine contractions and descent through the birth canal, fetal malposition during labor, instrumental delivery, a supine delivery position, or cesarean section, can all have a detrimental effect on how babies adjust to life outside the womb. A skilled chiropractor will check babies pallet, belly, neck, and spine, and do any necessary adjustments to help your baby feel more relaxed, and have less pain, resulting in less crying spells. Infant chiropractic care is very gentle, yet can make a world of difference in the comfort of you and your baby!

    Recent studies have shown that chiropractic care can relieve some of the symptoms of colic and help your baby be more comfortable. Infant chiropractic adjustments by a qualified practitioner are both safe and efficacious! In a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial in the UK, they found that chiropractic manual adjustment reduced crying behaviors in the colicky infants. The findings showed that knowledge of treatment by the parent did not appear to contribute to the observed treatment effects in this study. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23158465)

    10729051_10203030688663537_1444652710_nA 2011 review of available literature resulted in the following findings: “Our systematic review of the literature revealed 26 articles meeting our inclusion criteria. These consisted of three clinical trials, two survey studies, six case reports, two case series, four cohort studies, five commentaries, and four reviews of the literature. Our findings reveal that chiropractic care is a viable alternative to the care of infantile colic and congruent with evidence-based practice, particularly when one considers that medical care options are no better than placebo or have associated adverse events.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571236)

    A study at the Center for Biomechanics at Odense University in Denmark found that chiropractic manipulation reduced crying by up to 2.7 hours! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543581) Other studies have shown parent-reported improvement of symptoms of up to 94%.

    If you think your baby is suffering from colic, don’t wait it out! Come see us at Pea and the Pod Chiropractic

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