You may be risking your life for a good night’s sleep.
There are two different categories of sleeping medications: Over-The-Counter (OTC) and Prescription. I’m going to talk to you about the risks of both, beginning with OTC. OTC sleep aids may seem to be an easy fix, not addictive like prescription versions, and even safe because they are made so readily available. This is not the case, is it ever these days? If you are not sleeping well, or not falling asleep well, there is a deeper issue at hand. Finding a natural, healthy solution to the rooted issue will not only solve your sleeping troubles, but improve your overall wellbeing.
Most people assume that taking an OTC sleep aid won’t cause harm, but the sad truth is that a few doses can cause long-term problems. The main ingredient in many OTC sleeping pills is an antihistamine which results in the drowsy and sedative effect. Many OTC sleep aids also contain acetaminophen (Tylenol type products), especially if they advertise pain relief as well. For more specific information on Tylenol risks read here: https://peaandthepodchiropractic.com/the-truth-about-tylenol-dangers-for-infants-children-and-pregnant-women/
Most Common OTC Sleep Aids:
- Tylenol PM
- Advil PM
- Other store-name brands
OTC Sleeping Pills May Increase Your Risk of Liver Failure and are linked to brain damage.
The number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States is taking too much acetaminophen, which is incredibly easy to do considering just how many over-the-counter and prescription products contain this drug. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/21/FDA-Changes-Tylenol-Warnings-But-Doesnt-Tell-You-How-to-Take-it-Safely.aspx
Overdosing is as easy as taking a dose for a headache, cold or achy back that’s making it difficult for you to sleep, but having already taken one or more acetaminophen-containing products to relieve your pain and other symptoms during the day. Not realizing that compounding doses of acetaminophen can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, is what causes an overdose. This risk is important to be aware of, especially if you take Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM or other acetaminophen-containing sleep aids on a regular basis. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/29/overthecounter-sleep-meds-are-not-effective.aspx
The numbers are alarming, over $100 million or more is being spent on OTC sleep aids, and research shows that children 12 years and older along with adults are downing these medications like candy.
Taking these OTC Sleep Medications, even sporadically, can put you at risk of: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860
- Skin rash
- Appetite increase, weight gain, loss of appetite, or even anorexia.
- Hypo-tension (abnormally low blood pressure).
- Blurred vision.
- Prostate problems.
- Liver toxicity.
- Morning hangover. Waking up groggy and feeling “drugged” is a common side effect.
- Daytime drowsiness and fatigue. OTC medications tend to last longer than 8 hours, leaving you unable to function well throughout the next day.
- Dental Decay
Benadryl and Sominex have previously been found to cause hallucinations in the elderly. All of the listed OTC drugs can negatively affect your brain, causing long-term cognitive impairment. These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine – a nervous system neurotransmitter. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease typically have a marked shortage of acetylcholine. The results of some studies indicate that these drugs with anticholinergic effects may be yet another piece of the puzzle that might explain the sharp rise in dementia and cognitive decline.
Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol, and Elavil are available only by prescription.
“Research involving data from more than 10,500 people who received drugs for poor sleep (hypnotics) showed that “as predicted, patients prescribed any hypnotic had substantially elevated hazards of dying compared to those prescribed no hypnotics” and the association held true even when patients with poor health were taken into account — and even if the patients took fewer than 18 pills in a year.
The study suggested that those who take such medications are not only at higher risk for certain cancers, but are nearly four times more likely to die than people who don’t take them.
Sleeping pills linked to these risks included benzodiazepines (such as temazepam), non-benzodiazepines (such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines.” http://www.darksideofsleepingpills.com/
Not only are prescription sleep medications linked to increased risk of death, but they place you at a 35% higher risk of cancer.
In addition to the side effects of the OTC versions, prescription sleep aids add the side effects:
- Sleep walking, sleep eating and even sleep driving
- Confusion and disorientation
- Complete amnesia from events, even those that took place during the day
Sleeping Pills Help You Fall Asleep Just 13 Minutes Faster and Sleep Only 11 Minutes Longer
Sleeping pills do nothing to help the underlying reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping in the first place. This is likely why studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can treat insomnia better than drugs
Better Options for a Good Night’s Sleep
Whether you are not able to fall asleep, wake up too often, or don’t feel well rested when you wake up in the morning, these options may provide you with techniques to improve sleep problems.
There are many factors that can influence your sleep, but one that many fail to consider is the use of lights, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of blue light that will suppress melatonin production and hamper your ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you’ll want to turn them off at least an hour prior to bedtime.
Next, making sure your bedroom is ideally suited for sleep can also go a long way to ensure restful and uninterrupted sleep:
- Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness.
- Consider using a Himalayan salt lamp. It will give off a soft red glow, purify the air, and help you rest easier.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius)
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well.
Natural sleep aids and insomnia treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy take time to treat this sleeplessness, usually a minimum of several days or weeks. It takes time and hard work to learn how to sleep if you have insomnia.
Chiropractic care and wellness adjustments will help you to relax. It also improves the blood flow in the nervous system and corrects any misalignments, or sublaxations in the spine. These subluxations compress the nerves and cause lack of communication between the spine and the brain. These subluxations lead to a process called stress response which puts the body out of balance and do not let the body rest.
Avoiding gluten, grains, dairy and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
Omega-3 fats (Like Krill Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil) are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins.
B vitamins are important for energy production in cells. And vitamin B6 works with the sleep aid 5-htp to help create serotonin.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3:
Adequate calcium and magnesium in your daily diet are also important nutrients for helping you relax and get a good night’s sleep. But according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, millions of Americans are not getting adequate amounts. Magnesium in particular may help with fatigue and stress reduction. Multivitamins almost never contain much calcium or magnesium, so you may need to supplement if your diet is lacking in these two essential nutrients. You should also make certain you are getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day (1,000 IU supplements are even better, especially during the dark winter months). Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption.
Make sure to use high quality supplements.
A melatonin sleep aid can be very effective for some people, especially for jet lag. Melatonin can be taken by itself as a natural sleep aid. It is also often seen as a blend in supplements, which may be the most effective way to use it.
Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, this substance is produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. In supplements, 5-htp often comes from Griffonia simplicifolia seed extract. 5-htp is a precursor to serotonin and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that has many functions, one of which is to regulate sleep. One of the great things about 5-htp is that it crosses easily from the blood into the brain. That’s why 5-htp taken by itself may be effective for reaching a natural calm mood and also help with depression.
As a natural sleep aid, it’s probably best to use 5-htp as part of a supplement blend.
This brain neurotransmitter is included in some natural sleep aids because it has a calming effect and relieves anxiety that can keep a person awake at night. GABA does promote drowsiness and may help some people fall asleep faster.
This is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It has a wide range of uses, including for insomnia, anxiety, and to improve mood.
This is also an amino acid and is naturally found in green tea. Studies have shown that green tea contains about 1 to 3% theanine. It has a relaxing and anti-anxiety effect on the mind.(Green tea itself is not a natural remedy for insomnia because this tea contains caffeine, but you can find a decaffeinated version.)
Herbal Sleep Remedies:
The best natural sleep aid will have some combination of sleep herbs in them.
- Lemon balm
Not all of these herbs need to be present for an all-natural sleep aid to be effective. Most herbal sleep aids will also often have melatonin mixed in with them, though not always.
Tips for falling asleep fast: http://www.sleeppassport.com/how-to-fall-asleep.html
Breast Cancer is growing in staggering numbers – and in younger generations. We can blame hormones in the water, birth control, our food system, toxins in the air, and chemicals in our body products… and of course genetics, but the truth is, we just do not know what causes it. There are many links, and much research to support these thoughts, but the case may be different for each person battling the cancer.
This article is not meant as medical advice, but instead as a way to help those struggling to cross into a more natural-minded lifestyle while battling breast cancer. One person’s “right way” is not the same as another’s, so there is no judgement or shaming, only acceptance and words of guidance as you start to include more organic, back-to-the-earth options into your arsenal.
So, you have breast cancer. You have a team of doctors and surgeons. You have started chemotherapy and radiation. You have never questioned medicine in your life, until now. You have started googling and have become so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to go from here. You are starting to think that you need to change your lifestyle, whether to beat this cancer, or to prevent it from coming back in the future. You may even be worried about some of the things you have already put your body through.
The first thing I can tell you is this: BREATHE. You are being proactive. If you have a slow growing tumor or time in between treatments, then take the time to educate yourself with options and start a list of changes you would like to implement. The hardest battle you will fight is against closed-minded medical professionals. But remember that this is your journey to health, not theirs, and you have the right to include (or not include) what you feel would better your body. If you present your research, hopefully your team will be open to hearing your thoughts.
Everything that I will talk about can be done in conjunction with medical treatments, or whatever path you have chosen thus far. I’ve broken them into basic categories so you are not overwhelmed. You can pick and choose, dig deeper into more research, and go at your own pace. I am in your corner, and am here if you have questions or would like further ideas.
Bridging Gently into the Natural World While Battling Breast Cancer
Detoxing and Flushing Out the Toxins
There is no doubt that your body needs to eliminate toxins. The cancer toxins, and any radiation or chemotherapy that has been used so far. Chemotherapy and radiation does its jobs in killing the bad cancer cells, but they don’t stop there; they kill all of the good cells too. By killing these good cells off, you increase your risk of a second cancer later in life. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199206253262605
Fundamental to detoxification are the main organs of elimination, the liver and kidneys. Special attention is paid to the liver which processes chemotherapy and eliminates it. The safest and most effective natural detox will optimize liver function and restore liver health.
Detoxification during or after chemotherapy should always include the foundational approaches of maintaining high water intake, eating a proper diet rich in fiber and phytonutrients, and appropriate use of exercise. Combining these fundamentals with liver support, antioxidant therapy and the most current research make up the strongest detox protocols.
- Increasing Water Intake: Drinking (in ounces) at least 50% of your body weight allows enough fluid to help flush toxins.
- Detox Baths: Detoxing through a bath is a gentle and soothing way to release toxins. Make sure to shower and rinse off before climbing out of the bathtub.
- o Detox Bath Example:
2 cups Epsom salt 2 cups baking soda (aluminum free) 8 drops of pure Rosemary and Juniper Berry essential oils
Basic Procedure: Add salt and baking soda to a very warm bath and let dissolve for five minutes. Add four drops each of Rosemary and Juniper Berry essential oils, as both are specific for detoxing the body.
Diet and Supplements
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies.
Cancer is a glucose metabolizer. Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. Cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility, so when you eliminate carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, you effectively starve the cancer!
You can create your own diet based on your research, of course, but the top things I would recommend are:
- Ditching Sugar
- Lose the Processed Foods (anything in a box – or with a long shelf life)
- Eliminate Gluten and Dairy as they are inflammatory agents.
- Let go of GMO’s: Nothing chemically altered should enter the body
- Eat the Rainbow: Include all the fruits and vegetables of the rainbow, as many as you can, and on a daily basis.
- Read labels: or better yet, don’t buy things with labels.
Several studies highlight two citrus flavonoids, hesperetin and naringenin, found in oranges and grapefruit, respectively, and four noncitrus flavonoids, baicalein, galangin, genistein, and quercetin. These have been tested singly and in one‐to‐one combinations for their effects on proliferation and growth of a human breast carcinoma cell line. Tumor development was drastically delayed in the groups given unprocessed, organic orange juice or fed the naringin‐supplemented diet. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635589609514473
o Antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by chemotherapy or the lingering free radicals it creates. Antioxidants are also used by the body to clear waste and cellular debris left in the wake of chemotherapy oxidation. Research shows that antioxidants such as Vitamins A, B, C, E, etc. reduce chemotherapy side effects while increasing efficacy against tumors.
o There are specific phytonutrients that are even more promising antioxidants than these standard vitamins. Grape Seed Extract, for example, has been shown to be about 50 times more effective than Vitamin C at scavenging free radicals and through multiple mechanisms can inhibit cancer cell growth.
o Vitamin D: Studies show that by optimizing your vitamin D levels, you can double the chance of surviving breast cancer. Have your doctors check you levels regularly and supplement accordingly. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/13/vitamin-d-breast-cancer-prevention.aspx
Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is known as an elixir for your liver and is the king of detoxifying herbs. It contains the flavonoid silymarin, which is thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/14/milk-thistle-benefits.aspx
Curcumin (found in turmeric): Curcumin changes the regulation of DNA to help kill cancer. In fact, curcumin not only influences epigenetic settings, it also manages the downstream consequences, helping to guide multiple steps in the way gene orders are implemented. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/13/this-powerful-herb-changes-your-genes-to-combat-cancer.aspx
Omega 3: Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer, and studies have found that by simply supplementing the diet with animal-based omega-3 fats, you may reduce breast cancer risk by 32%. Studies also show that omega-3 fats influence two genes involved in keeping breast cancer at bay, all while reducing cancer cell growth. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/27/omega3s-reduce-your-risk-of-breast-cancer.aspx
Melatonin (only supplement if you are having trouble falling asleep): Peer-reviewed and published research has shown melatonin offers particularly strong protection against reproductive cancers. Cells throughout your body — even cancer cells — have melatonin receptors. So when melatonin makes its nightly rounds, cell division slows. When this hormone latches onto a breast cancer cell, it has been found to counteract estrogen’s tendency to stimulate cell growth. Read more on how to naturally increase melatonin levels: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/19/melatonin-benefits.aspx
Several studies show how juicing (organic, whole foods) fruits and vegetables can increase the body’s ability to fight cancer, especially breast cancer. You will come across so many recipes, your head will spin, but don’t over think it. Start with just basic juicing of foods that you know you will enjoy. Juicing allows you to “eat the rainbow” easier on a daily basis.
A few pieces of research to read:
On including wheat grass: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635580701308083
On including pomegranate: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-012-2264-5
Creating a “Green Juice” and incorporating it into your diet a few days a week (4-5 or so) can assist in the rapid removal of metabolic wastes from the body and the rebuilding of damaged tissues. Juicing helps clear the kidneys of toxins and contributes to the proper digestion of food.
A note: All items need to be organic and in whole food form (not powdered).
One example of a “Green Juice” is:
1 apple (to sweeten) 1 orange 2 stalks of celery 1 cucumber 1 carrot 1 bunch of parsley 1 bunch cilantro 8 beet greens 1 red bell pepper 1 green cabbage 1 lemon 1/2 bulb of ginger
- Eliminate Toxic Environments: To the best of your ability, eliminate toxins from entering your body.
o Avoid second hand smoke, or smoking yourself.
o Stop using synthetic products, such as candles and scented items in your home.
o Eliminate skin care products that contain aluminum, other chemicals, dyes, and artificial ingredients.
o Avoid storing food in plastic or styrofoam containers, and limit or eliminate the use of a microwave.
o Turn off electronics whenever possible and do not rest phones, laptops, etc on your body.
o Make your own cleaning products with vinegar, natural soap, and essential oils.
- Exercise: Create more oxygenated blood flow, produce sweat to release toxins, and practice deep breathing to detox the lungs.
- Coffee Enemas: these will aid in detoxing the body by increasing the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Oil Pulling: Pulling with a high quality coconut oil (or other oil) for 20 minutes 1-2 times a day will draw toxins from the body.
- Essential Oils:
o Frankincense (also known as Boswellia serrata): Frankincense has anti-inflammatory properties and, as research shows, is a potential treatment for brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers. Cancer scientists emphasize that this potency makes frankincense a viable candidate for both cancer prevention and treatment. It can be used in diffusers with ease to treat respiratory conditions, or you can use it as an essential oil or salve directly on your skin. You can also take frankincense (Boswellia) as a supplement with a few essential oil drops placed under your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or in powdered capsule form for treatment of many health conditions. http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/frankincense-oil.aspx
o Thyme: Wild thyme has been used to induce cell death in breast cancer cells. After 72 hours of treatment, thyme essential oil killed 98 percent of human breast cancer cells, with researchers concluding wild thyme “may be a promising candidate in the development of novel therapeutic drugs for breast cancer treatment.” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635581.2012.719658?journalCode=hnuc20&
Doctor Selection and Including Alternative Care
Make sure that you trust and feel comfortable with your cancer team. Include a holistic naturopathic doctor who supports cancer patients. Insurance typically do not cover these doctors, and bills can add up very quickly; however, meeting with a naturopathic doctor just once may be enough to help you on your journey.
Alternative Care you may choose to include:
Chiropractic Therapy: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/chiropractic
In order to truly restore your health, you will need to ensure that you are detoxing through all pathways of the body. These include:
- Colon: 1-2 Bowel movements a day
- Kidneys and Bladder: Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water and organic tea a day
- Skin: Sweating or Skin Brushing
- Lungs: Deep breathing exercises
- Emotional Cleansing: Forgiving others and evaluating relationships
If you are concerned about overdose, or a toxic level of Tylenol being consumed, contact poison control immediately. More information on the toxicity can be found here:
“Oxidation” is a normal process in the body that happens when we use oxygen to create energy for the cell. The byproduct of oxidation is the creation of “free radicals” which are unstable molecules. Free radicals are “bad” because they can damage cell DNA, potentially causing permanent mutations. The body uses anti-oxidants to “scavenge” free radicals, neutralizing them so they can’t damage the DNA or any other part of the cell.
Glutathione is a sulfur-containing molecule that can absorb the impact of many of these free radicals. Once it absorbs a free-radical it needs to be converted back to the active form. When the body takes a large oxidative “hit” it causes the depletion of active glutathione. The result is lots and lots and lots of oxidative damage. Glutathione is especially important because it is active in the brain, unlike most other antioxidants. Can you imagine what would happen if you deplete glutathione in the brain? You end up with oxidative damage, inflammation and brain injury.
So guess what medicine is known for depleting glutathione?
You guessed it, acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Tylenol has been called into question for decades now, but yet remains to be the last remaining member of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics” on the market. Acetaminophen only blocks the feelings of pain and reduces fever, it exerts no anti-inflammatory action. In reality, Tylenol can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation on the brain, all while masking the symptoms.
But Tylenol is Safe, Right? NO.
Acetaminophen (known as paracetamol in the UK) is linked to more deaths per year than any other over-the-counter pain reliever.
Acetaminophen (sold under the brand name Tylenol, among others) may be among the most dangerous medicines on the market. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to most of you, as virtually every single household keeps a bottle on hand for the occasional ache and pain, and doesn’t think twice about taking it.
Not thinking, it turns out, could cost you dearly… Acetaminophen overdose is actually the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the US—more than 100,000 instances per year—and, each year, is responsible for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths due to liver failure.
The International Journal of Epidemiology said children born to mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy were more likely to have behavior problems and slow motor development at age 3. Another study cited an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 7.
Even scarier than this information is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rating system for drugs in pregnancy ranks Tylenol safer than ibuprofen, and much safer than aspirin. The truth: There are no “safe” pharmaceuticals to take while pregnant (or at all.) So much is unknown about fetal development, especially in relation to pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, every mother should do her best to avoid taking any pharmaceuticals.
Brain Development while in utero: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Research data suggest that acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor, and abnormal hormonal exposures in pregnancy may influence fetal brain development.
Acetaminophen is the most commonly used pain and fever medication during pregnancy. Research shows a positive correlation between acetaminophen use and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and the longer duration the use of the medication (i.e., use for >20 weeks in gestation), the further increased risk of ASD or infantile autism with hyperkinetic symptoms occurs (almost twofold.) Studies suggest acetaminophen exposure early in fetal life may specifically impact this hyperactive behavioral phenotype. (Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.)
Infants and Children
The thing that makes Acetaminophen dangerous, especially for children, is that the difference between a “dose” and an “overdose” is fairly small. If twice the recommended daily dose is taken, liver damage can result. That does not give you much margin of error. It is very easy to improperly measure Tylenol drops and give your child too much.
There are four easy ways for your child to get an overdose of Tylenol/Acetaminophen:
- Giving your child the wrong dose of the medicine by mixing up infants’ and children’s Tylenol. If you have several children of different ages and one of them is an infant, this mistake can be extremely easy to make, especially at night.
- You can accidentally give your child a double dose. One parent gives the child a dose of tylenol, and then the other parent does the same thing 10 minutes later because of lack of communication.
- You give your child two medicines simultaneously, both of which contain Tylenol/Acetominophen.
- You drop a Tylenol pill on the floor, your toddler pops it in his/her mouth, and because Tylenol is “safe” you don’t even think about the ramifications.
Children Given Acetaminophen are at risk of:
*Note: These can be caused while in utero if the mother takes acetaminophen.
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders (ADHD)
- Learning Disabilities
- Prolonged Illness
- Liver Damage
- Hyperkinetic Disorders
- Leaky Gut
- Fatal Skin Reactions
Strong evidence proves that acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol or Paracetamol) increases in the rate of autism, asthma, and attention deficit with hyperactivity in genetically and/or metabolically susceptible children. http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/study-evidence-that-acetaminophen-especially-in-conjunction-with-vaccines-is-a-major-cause-of-autism-and-asthma/#sthash.bxNDiAiS.dpuf
Using Tylenol in lowering fevers actually prolongs illness: Studies show aspirin and acetaminophen suppress production of antibodies and increase cold symptoms, with a trend toward longer infectiousness.
- In a study of children with chickenpox, acetaminophen prolonged itching and the time to scabbing compared to placebo treatment.
- In test-tube studies, therapeutic levels of medicine suppressed the ability of human white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
- Another study found that a host of pain relievers, including aspirin, tylenol and ibuprofen, inhibited white-cell production of antibodies by up to 50 percent.
ADHD: Exposure to acetaminophen in utero and in infancy, increased both the likelihood of a diagnosis and prescription, and more exposure increased the chances even more. Based on the researchers’ estimates, any exposure to acetaminophen increases the risk of an ADHD prescription by 30 percent.
Asthma: A major study of over 20,000 children suggests that giving this popular medicine even as infrequently as once per year could have a permanent, life-threatening health effect – Asthma. Children who receive Tylenol (or other acetaminophen) only once per year are at 70% greater risk for asthma while those receiving Tylenol once a month or more were shockingly 540% more likely to have asthma. The study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, also found that children who had even a single dose of Tylenol before their first birthday had a 60% risk of developing asthma. http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706
Liver Damage/Failure: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26706992 Acetaminophen is the cause of many poisonings, which lead to liver damage. (Acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly HALF of ALL acute liver failure cases in the US.)
(The liver is the place where your body processes acetaminophen to remove it from the bloodstream. This natural removal process is the reason why you have to take Acetaminophen every four hours or so. When you take too much acetaminophen, it overloads the liver’s ability to handle the drug. In the process, it creates a toxin that kills your liver, eventually killing you.)
Fatal Skin Reactions: Acetaminophen has been linked to very serious skin reactions. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/26/acetaminophen-overdose.aspx
As of 2013, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) reports the following cases of skin reactions caused by acetaminophen:
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS):This reaction begins with flu-like symptoms that progress into a painful purple or red rash that blisters and causes the top layer of your skin to slough off. This can lead to serious infections, blindness, damage to internal organs, permanent skin damage, and even death.
- Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS):TENS also typically begins with flu-like symptoms (cough, headache, aches, and fever) and progresses into a blistering rash. Layers of the skin may peel away in sheets, and hair and nails may fall out. TENS is often fatal, typically as a result of infection.
- Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP):This skin eruption causes numerous pustules to appear on the skin, often accompanied by fever. This condition typically resolves within two weeks once the acetaminophen is stopped.
Leaky Gut Syndrome: 50-70% of chronic Tylenol users (even children) have increased intestinal permeability, which is linked to autoimmune diseases. http://www.side-effects-site.com/tylenol-side-effects.html
Cancer: New research shows that acetaminophen can be linked to blood cancers. Chronic acetaminophen users (as young as childhood even) have nearly twice the risk of developing blood cancer. The definition of “high” use was using acetaminophen at least four times a week for at least four years — an amount that numerous Americans could easily exceed without even realizing it. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/25/this-common-otc-painkiller-found-linked-to-cancer.aspx
Hyperkinetic Disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk for HKDs and ADHD-like behaviors in children.
Autism: “In the early 1980’s about 42% of women used acetaminophen during the first trimester of pregnancy. The rate (of autism) climbed to over 65% in the early 1990’s, where it has essentially remained through 2004.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030462 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
Tylenol and Vaccines: Research shows that acetaminophen use after measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination is significantly associated with autistic disorder when considering children 5 years of age or less. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
A large part of what makes acetaminophen so dangerous is that it’s found in so many products. Please read your labels and understand the possible outcomes of your choices.
Remember that adults are at risk for the above mentioned side effects (and others), but today, we are just focusing on the pregnant mother and child.
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Many times you read that anxiety is a normal part of life, but if you are googling and researching because of how your anxiety makes you feel, then you may have an anxiety disorder. Chest pains, nightmares, atypical fears, and non-diminishing anxiety are cause to dig deeper.
Diagnoses that may actually be anxiety related:
Brain chemistry can affect your mood and mental health. Researchers have linked abnormal activity in certain brain structures to anxiety disorders. There are a number of factors that have been identified by specialists as being related to anxiety. The brain of an overly anxious person is already more sensitive to stress. When the body is confronted with a perceived threat in the environment, the brain prepares it to react. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) becomes active in stressful situations. The SNS is what triggers physiological reactions in the body such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Dilation of the pupils
- Tensing of the muscles
- Accelerated breathing
- Trembling hands
While a healthy person’s brain recovers from stress at a normal rate, the brain of a person who is prone to anxiety takes longer to re-adjust itself to a normal state. An anxious individual is also more likely to experience acute stress because even in a relaxed state, the brain of someone with anxiety issues is somewhat over-excited. Anxiety disorders cause the affected person to be in a perpetual state of stress, so events and situations can further upset the balance of the body.
A chemical in the brain which is involved in the onset of anxiety is norepinephrine. When it is released in the brain, norepinephrine functions as a signal to the body to panic. In some cases, panic attacks are triggered in people with very little external cause. (http://emetophobiarecovery.com/)
MTHFR and Anxiety
MTHFR, short for “Methyl Tetra Hydro Folate Reductase” controls the formation of chemicals in your brain. If you inherited a non-functioning gene, or your gene is not working properly, you will have low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, which can cause genetic anxiety or depression. MTHFR is responsible for a process called “methylation,” well known for changing homocysteine into methionine. The MTHFR enzyme is also involved indirectly in the production of many neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinepherine, etc), as well as SAMe and glutathione (a pivotal anti-oxidant molecule involved in the body’s natural detoxification process).
There are 31 currently known variations of this gene. The two most common are known as the 677 and the 1298 (which makes reference to the specific location on the gene where the abnormality is).
Having one or two of the lower functioning MTHFR enzymes can contribute to symptoms of so many things (we will break these down in future blogs):
- Cardiovascular risks associated with high Homocystiene
- Folate deficiency related pregnancy and development problems
- Neurotransmitter issues like Anxiety and Depression
- Significant decrease in ability to eliminate toxins, especially heavy metals
MTHFR being tied to anxiety is not well known yet, but should be taken very seriously. A simple blood test can be done to determine your MTHFR status; along with this test, testing for B12, folate, and homocysteine labs will allow you to learn how to correctly supplement for your results. Many patients that have these less-than-optimal genes experience significant (and sometimes dramatic) improvement once beginning the “MTHF Repletion” protocol.
Anxiety is not an all-in-one disorder.
Several types of anxiety disorders exist and all should be taken seriously: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
- Separation anxiety disorderis a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that is excessive for the developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
- Selective mutismis a consistent failure to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when you can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
- Specific phobiasare characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
- Panic disorderinvolves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pain.
- Agoraphobiais anxiety about, and often avoidance of, places or situations where you might feel trapped or helpless if you start to feel panicky or experience embarrassing symptoms, such as losing control.
- Generalized anxiety disorderincludes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is usually out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and interferes with your ability to focus on current tasks. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorderis characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety or panic that are a direct result of abusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical conditionincludes prominent symptoms of anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
- Specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorderare terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
Several herbal remedies have been studied as a treatment for anxiety: www.naturaldatabase.com
- In some studies, people who used valerian reported less anxiety and stress. When it’s time to stop using valerian, it must be tapered down to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- A few small clinical trials suggest that passionflower might help with anxiety. In many commercial products, passionflower is combined with other herbs, making it difficult to distinguish the unique qualities of each herb.
- This amino acid is found in green tea and may be found in some supplements. Preliminary evidence shows that theanine may make some people feel calmer.
Lifestyle changes can make a difference.
- Keep physically active.Develop a routine that includes lifting weights. Be sure you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities. (Strength training has been proven to balance hormones, so make sure to include this into your regular routine.)
- Avoid alcohol and other sedatives.These substances can worsen anxiety.
- Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking coffee.Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
- Use relaxation techniques.Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
- Make sleep a priority.Do what you can to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested.
- Eat healthy.Healthy eating is linked to reduced anxiety. Consider gluten free and dairy free as both are inflammatory foods. Avoid alcohol and drug use, as these can cause or worsen anxiety.
- Get outside. The lower the Vitamin D level, the higher the risk of anxiety disorder or depression. Let that sun hit your skin and soak up all the Vitamin D possible.
Chiropractic Care for Anxiety:
All of your moods, feelings and health are based upon chemistry. Your internal organs and brain chemistry is regulated through your nervous system. Your nervous system is the master control system and it controls every aspect of your body and your health.
When your fist, second or third vertebrae become misaligned they put pressure on your brainstem causing neurological and CHEMICAL INTERFERENCE. When the brainstem gets pressure from the vertebrae its normal production of brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) are affected. As a result, the person’s production of serotonin is low causing changes in their mood and their behavior. Adjustments can help. http://thelifelounge.ca/anxiety-depression-and-chiropractic-care/
Ways to Cope:
- Learn about your disorder. Educate yourself on your condition and ways to help. Seek and ask for help.
- Stick to your treatment plan. Keep therapy appointments. Consistency can make a big difference.
- Involve your family.As with any illness, asking your partner or family members for help is an important part of coping.
- Join an anxiety support group.Remember that you aren’t alone. Support groups offer compassion, understanding and shared experiences. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America provide information on finding support.
- Don’t let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities. Social interaction and caring relationships can lessen your worries.
There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:
- Get help early.Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Keep a journal.Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
It is important for people with anxiety disorders to understand what’s happening to them when they experience stress. Family and friends of those suffering need to be educated on the biology of anxiety. Knowledge of a condition can benefit the person in distress and his or her loved ones. It helps the afflicted person to cope with the illness and the people in his or her life to be supportive.
Reflux: How to Help Naturally.
Arching his back while screaming, spitting up when eating, not sleeping, these are all signs of reflux in an infant. While some choose to overlook these symptoms, others want to know more, to understand what their baby is suffering from, and more importantly, to help.
Over 50% of infants suffer from reflux.
Doctors will typically ask parents to cope with their unhappy child for a few months until their reflux dissipates. If the parent is persistent or the child shows poor signs of poor growth, a doctor may perform one of the following tests:
- Ultrasound: detecting an obstruction in the opening between the stomach and small intestine
- Blood Work: to rule out or identify any possible causes of recurring vomiting
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: measuring the acidity in the esophagus by inserting a tube through the nose
- Upper Endoscopy: using a tube with a camera lens inserted through the mouth, the doctor will see into the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. Samples of tissue may be taken for study. This procedure is done under general anesthesia.
Less invasive doctors will first suggest that a breastfeeding mother remove dairy from her diet. A formula fed infant will be given a list of different formulas to try. If the reflux continues, medication will naturally be recommended. H2 Histamine Blockers such as Zantac or Pepsid are prescribed, followed by stronger medications such as Prevacid or Prilosec (proton pump inhibitors). As all medications do, these have a laundry list of side effects from dizziness to vomiting. There have been no studies conducted on children and dosages of zantac.
There are other ways. Natural ways. Ways to help your crying, pained child.
Let’s discuss reflux.
Did you know that reflux is actually the symptom of TOO LITTLE stomach acid? This can be traced back to pregnancy and mom’s morning sickness and heartburn. These ailments can be passed to baby in-utero. As we get older, our acid drops and there is an increase in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
The medications given are actually making the problem worse by suppressing the acid. The absent acid is hydrochloric acid (HCL), and when low, an organism called Helicobacter pylori or H. Pylori causes a low grade inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and over time the body’s response is to want to get rid of it. This is reflux.
Make sure to wean from any medications gradually, as the body will rebound and worsen the reflux if you quit cold turkey.
Behind ear infections, reflux is a close second as to why parents visit the office. After learning more about the child, mother, pregnancy, diet, supplements, and medication usage, we will discuss and plan dietary changes and a supplement plan. If breastfeeding and keeping the baby’s gut “pure,” the plan will be only for the mother. But infants can be supplemented as well as the mother. If not breastfeeding, infant should be supplemented.
- Vitamin D: More than likely, the mother is deficient in Vitamin D. Without knowing your vitamin D levels, you can follow recommended doses of a liquid vitamin D; however, testing to know your levels is most beneficial. (I usually recommend Xymogen brand.) If you are not as concerned with keeping your child’s gut “virgin,” then you can supplement your child with recommended dosage.
- Probiotics: (AMAZING) They help heal the gut and boost immunity. Did you know 85% of your immunity comes from your gut? You want a probiotic with a minimum of 7-10 strain. You just don’t want to take acidophilus. (We recommend Davinci Mega Probiotic davincilabs.com ) Taking care of the gut, yours and your infant’s will boost your immunity and help with a healthy life. Please follow the label for dosage. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166766/
- Digestive Enzymes: Mom can incorporate these alongside the probiotics to help break down fats, proteins, carbohydrates and milk sugars. Our foods today are not broken down like they once were due to over-processing.
- Limit/Eliminate Dairy, Gluten, Caffeine, Alcohol: Dairy can produce histamines, which cause irritation to the lining of the gut and causes a decrease in the production of acid. Gluten also irritates the gut. Stick with organic as far as your budget allows. Look for no antibiotic use, no hormone, and free range with meat and dairy.
- Water: Stay well hydrated for breastmilk supply.
- Unrefined Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt: These salts help produce HCL(hydrochloric acid) in the stomach, fighting off parasites and aiding in digestion.
- Complex Minerals: The body needs an average of 80 essential minerals a day, but the typical person gets 10-15. Also, a diet high in meat and processed foods can demineralize the body; and a diet low in salt will make the body deficient in nutrients. (Schroeder, HA. Losses of vitamins and trace minerals resulting from processing and preservation of foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 24: MAY 1971, pp. 562-573.) We recommend Youngevity’s Cheri minerals http://youngevity.com/
- Aloe Juice: Aloe coats the lining of the gut to allow healing from the repeated acidity that has irritated the lining, therefore allowing nutrients to be absorbed. Mom should consume in the morning on empty stomach and before night time on an empty stomach for 4-6 weeks or until the reflux has resolved. Aloe juice can be given directly to the baby, morning and evening.
- Inclined Sleep: place a wedge or small pillow under the mattress of child’s bed/crib to prop her up at a slight This keeps the body in proper alignment for digestion.
Reflux in Toddlers:
Along with supplementing a toddler, helping to close the cardiac sphincter, the valve that allows everything in and out of the stomach, will help control the reflux. This can be done by laying the child down after eating and feeling under the breast bone and sternum (small knob) for a pocket of tissue, no bone. That is the sphincter. Depending on if the child is infant or older, you may use 1 or 2 fingers, pressing down about ¼ to ½ inch and then aiming your hand toward the feet (almost like a scooping motion) using sustained pressure for 20-30 seconds after every feeding.
Chiropractic Care for Reflux:
Misalignments in the upper neck due to childbirth or not being positioned correctly in the womb can be a cause of reflux. Parents tend to place baby in a swing or seat inclined to aid in reflux relief. This then causes the legs to be elevated and the spine to flex and curve forward, putting added stress on the infant’s body that shouldn’t be there. This causes tight and spasming muscles. The chiropractic adjustments will help to calm the muscles down and align the spine, allowing for the body to function more effectively.
Studies Prove 70% improvement of Asthma with chiropractic alignments!! So, why aren’t more children under chiropractic care?
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 just 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.’”
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!
In 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.
Countless children in the United States are diagnosed with chronic constipation every year. Many pediatric GI specialists will tell you that it is the most common condition that they see, accounting for nearly 25% of all visits. There are many factors that can cause this, and most cases of constipation require a variety of treatments to resolve. Each family must take the time to discover both the physical and environmental factors that are contributing to their child’s problem, as constipation tends to have both a physical and emotional component.
Many of us have heard of the ‘gut brain’ but don’t really know what it refers to. This is the enteric nervous system, which can not only send and receive messages, but also respond to emotions. Your gut, or entire digestive system, contains over 100 million neurons – this is more than are found in the spinal cord! It is no wonder that gut health is so influenced by emotions. For this reason, almost all children and adults who are diagnosed with digestive diseases and disorders must address both physical and emotional symptoms.
For children who are diagnosed with chronic constipation, there is likely more than one factor involved. If a child has even one episode of constipation that results in hard and painful stool, they may internalize a feeling of fear or expectation of pain when the need to pass the next stool arises. Some children will instead hold the stool in, rather than face the pain of attempting to pass it. Like the colon, the rectum can also absorb water, so stool that remains unpassed in the rectum gets harder. This can make it even more difficult and scary for the child to pass. It becomes a vicious cycle of withholding and subsequent painful stool! This can cause both a rectal and bowel impaction if not addressed in a timely manner. Sometimes small pieces will break off, so called ‘rabbit pellet’ stool that some parents observe in their toddlers and young children. Parents might think this is just their kids ‘normal’ stool, and not know that it’s because there is a large mass stuck inside. Withholding for long enough can cause such a large blockage that only soft or liquid stool can fit around it. Children with this condition will pass frequent very small loose stools. In younger (and occasionally older) children this may present as encopresis, or soiling. This occurs when small amounts of soft or liquid stool leak from the rectum without the child’s knowledge, staining the underwear. Many parents won’t realize that the cause of this is either chronic constipation or a rectal or bowel impaction. Other signs of a rectal impaction include increased urination or wetting accidents. An overly full rectum can put a large amount of pressure on a small child’s bladder, causing accidents or bedwetting.
Diet of course plays a crucial role in helping your child get relief from constipation. Children should be drinking plenty of water every day. If constipation is severe, try organic no-sugar-added juices such as apple, peach, pear, plum, or prune. (Fun fact, many ‘p’ fruits are also high in fructose and promote bowel movements!) Adding 2-4 oz of aloe juice to other juices will soothe and lubricate the intestines. Many kids are resistant to high fiber foods, but encourage them to eat carrot sticks or celery sticks with almond butter and raisins – (bonus for more fiber!), or other crunchy raw veggies that they like. Many kids become constipated from an excess of pasteurized dairy products. Eliminating all dairy other than butter and yogurt might help your child. If your kids will eat broccoli with cheese try buying a raw milk cheese from your local health food store as raw milk tends not to have the same constipating effect. Adding organic raw coconut oil, organic ground flax seeds, or organic chia seeds can also encourage softer bowel movements. Many kids love the texture and taste of chia pudding which can easily be made or purchased already prepared at most health food stores.
Over the counter laxatives and enemas should be avoided until needed as an absolute last resort. Some GI specialists will recommend a ‘clean out’ for your child to relieve the impaction. They will likely recommend senna-based laxatives, Miralax, magnesium citrate, or a combination of all of the above. If your doctor recommends this, ask if it can be done with magnesium citrate only. Senna-based laxatives not only cause painful cramping, but can quickly becoming habit forming. Miralax is also habit forming, and while less so than senna laxatives, has never been approved for use in children, despite the fact that many doctors prescribe it regularly for long term use. There are many natural products that can be used to keep the stool soft and moving that are not habit forming. Organic oils are very lubricating to the intestines and can be given daily – raw organic coconut oil has a laxative effect for many people. Others to try are organic sesame oil or olive oil.
In addition, address any emotional issues that your child might be having. Is there a negative attitude in the home surrounding defecation? Does your child feel the need for a certain amount of control? Harsh punishment for encopresis or soiling will only make the problem worse. Many kids thrive on somewhat of a schedule during the day. No need to be militant, but kids like to know what’s coming up next. A particular effective strategy is that of ‘toilet sitting time.” Pick one or two times during the day when you know you will be home, and have your child sit on the toilet for 10 or 15 minutes. Give them a book to look at it if they’d like. Have a stool for their feet to encourage a more squat-like position, and give them some time to see if their body will relax enough to have a bowel movement. Having ‘sitting time’ at the same time every day will encourage your child’s body to move the bowels at that time. Many adults naturally have a bowel movement in the morning. If mornings are not rushed and there is time for your child to sit on the toilet for a while, try that. If evening is a more calm time in your house, try sitting time after dinner. Don’t expect immediate results. This is a complex problem that will involve a fair amount of work on both you and your child’s part. Seek help and support from other parents or a professional if you are getting frustrated or not seeing progress.
Regular chiropractic care can be a critical aspect of managing your child’s chronic constipation. The message that a child needs to defecate is sent from the intestines and rectum to the brain. If the spine is maladjusted in any way, a young child will not receive the message, so to speak. If your child is not consciously realizing that they need to defecate, stool will continue to harden in their rectum. In addition, many children will have been constipated or withholding stool for a long time before parents realize that something is actually amiss. By this time, the child’s rectum can be stretched out, and they won’t even receive the message that their rectum is full and needs to be emptied until the stool is too large to pass comfortably. One simple adjustment may be all your child needs to break the cycle! Other children require more frequent and regular care to maintain a healthy frequency of bowel movements. A case study presented here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1479235408000588 demonstrated that chiropractic care not only increased the frequency of bowel movements in constipated children, but that the stools were “described as soft without the accompanying straining, pain and rectal bleeding.” A more in-depth study can be found here: http://drdianemeyer.com/Dr%20Meyer.pdf
Chiropractic America describes in easy-to-understand terms how chiropractic care helps relieve both the symptoms and some of the underlying causes of constipation: “Chiropractic adjustments (particularly in the lower spine) may help relieve constipation in certain individuals. Muscles in the intestine push stool to the anus, where stool leaves the body. Special nerve cells in the intestine, called ganglion cells, make the muscles push. These nerves connect directly to the celiac ganglion, which also innervates the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, kidney, small intestine, and the ascending and transverse colon. The celiac ganglion, in turn connects to the spinal cord (and the brain) through nerve roots that exit the spine in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar region. Pressure on these nerve roots caused by misalignment of the vertebrae in this area may interfere with the normal function of the bowel as well as other organs of the digestive system.”
If your child is suffering at all from constipation, even just occasionally, come see us at Pea and the Pod. Like many health issues, constipation is easiest to relieve when addressed early.
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)
A 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