Photo Credit: dudeiwantthat.com
Dr. Brenda Fairchild
The Wonders of the Neti Pot
As many of you know… I can talk about the neti pot all day. I think this product is one of the greatest inventions of modern times!! Now, I know not everyone loves to see and feel the neti pot doing its job, but it is a wonderful way to naturally rid your sinuses of congestion and infections. And when you are pregnant and not a lot of options as far as decongestants go, this is a wonderful alternative!!
The word Neti means “nasal cleansing” and comes from ancient India. It has been around for over 5,000 years!!! Yoga masters used this technique to help with mediation. They felt they could get to a higher and deeper state of mind. Some yogi’s also believed it helped with mood swings and addictions as well. The neti pot was then massed produced in the early 1970s and has since become a favorite for those of us looking to relieve the sinus pressure naturally!
Benefits of the Neti Pot
- Lessen the time of cold, flu, or allergy
- Relieve the pressure of sinus headaches
- Help reduce pollen from the nasal passage
- Remove mucous
- Allows for easier breathing
- Great for post nasal drip
- Allows for easier breathing
Using the neti pot is pretty simple and oddly satisfying. You can get a simple pot at most of the chain stores. And most come with packets of sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride. Usually under $20. You can get ceramic to metal ones at health food stores or online. Now, from personal experiences, I highly suggest the packets!! I have tried just plain water, and it did not feel well. But, it is all up to you. I like to use filtered water if I can. I don’t use it all the time, but I try to as much as possible.
How to use the Neti Pot
Add one packet to the warm water and let them mix. I like to start with draining my most clogged nasal passage first. This means the pot is pouring the water into the good side and the clogged side is towards the sink. And let the magic begin!! I use about half the pot per nasal passage. Depending on what is going on with you our your child, the nasal mucous could be green or yellow which could be an infection to clear which could be allergies. When in doubt, call your primary physician. If there is a bad infection, there may be some blood mixed in. When you have done one side, gently blow your nose. You want to rid the body of the mucus, which is inflammation. I always tell my patients “better out than in!” You will instantly feel the pressure release!!! It is amazing!!!
I start to use the neti pot at the first sign of a cold coming on. I will do this 3-4 times a day if it is really bad. And use that over the course of 2-3 days if need be. It really cuts down the time of the cold or allergy. And can help you get some sleep at night due to your breathing better!
Other recommendations to follow the neti pot. Get Adjusted!!! It helps with aligning your body and helps with draining your sinuses as well. Watch your dairy, gluten, wheat, and sugar as they can be inflammatory. Stay hydrated with water. Get Sleep and make sure you are getting you vitamin D!
Dr. Brenda Fairchild
Benefits of Dry Brushing
I am a huge fan of dry brushing to help with lymph drainage. But, there are so many other benefits of dry brushing as well. First off, let’s talk about why lymph is so important!
Lymph system helps with keeping us healthy! Aids in boosting our immune system. The lymph system contains tissues and organs through out our body to help us eliminate waste and toxins. When we are sick, the lymph node can swell due to increased lymph fluid. As our body starts to get rid of the virus or bacteria, the lymph nodes should start to decrease. But that is not always the case. We also have other organs that help with maintaining a healthy body:
As you can see, these are pretty important organs, and why I am not always happy of people getting rid of their tonsils and adenoids. If they are swollen, we have to figure out why!!!! Not just get rid of them!!
Dry brushing is an amazing way to help our bodies get lymph fluid moving to keep us healthy!
Other benefits of Dry Brushing:
- Helps with Digestion!!! You all know I am all about pooping!!!
- Exfoliates your skin. Your skin will be sooo soft and smooth, and some of my patients notice more even skin color tone.
- Can help with cellulite. Helps to move stored fat around.
- Improve circulation of the body.
- Helps you feel more energized! I like to do my brushing in the morning before my shower. I will help wake you up and set the tone for the day.
- Less swelling in hands and feet.
- Stimulates the nervous system!! As a chiropractor, it is super important! Every cell, muscle, organ are controlled by your nervous system. That is why spinal alignments are just as important as dry brushing. Dry brushing helps tostimulate our senses especially touch.
- Can help alleviate stress and anxiety which can lead to better mental health! Being happy and grateful can help with improved circulation and improved immune function.
As you can see, dry brushing extends beyond just the lymph system!
How to Dry Brush:
- I always start at my feet and you want to brush up your leg towards the center of your body towards your groin. I do my standing using my bed to stabilize me. Work all over your feet, then calf, then thigh. As you get to know your legs you will start to feel some knots or areas that may need more attention and go over them a little more often or vigorously. Just not too hard to effect your skin. I spend about 15-30 seconds per area. So, one leg may take 45-60 in total.
- Next, I then start working in my hands and arms. Here I hold my arm in the air and work downward towards my armpit, breast, and heart. Make sure you are getting into the armpit as it will tickle but very important! Spend about 60 seconds each side.
- Then I will do face and neck. Do lightly or have a separate brush for face and neck that is a bit softer. There again, brush downwards toward the heart. I spend 20-30 seconds on this area.
- Next, is back and glutes. This is not the easiest. Do the best you can. My brush has a long handle. I try to go circular or downward over my back. For my glutes, I start int he middle and move outward to the front of my groin. 30-60 seconds
- Chest area including breast, brush downward to the abdomen. Lifting the breast as well to get underneath. I spend 20-30 seconds on chest and breast.
- The abdomen is where you want to spend the most time and most important for elimination. Sometimes I will lay not the bed on my back, but not necessary. Start over the bladder just above the pubic bone and brush in a clockwise direction until you get back to the bladder again. You are going in the same direction of your bowel and this will help with elimination. I spend 1-2 minutes just on the abdomen alone.
I like to dry brush 1-2 times a week. I usually do in-between my epsom salt baths. Opposite days. I will do it more if my legs are sore form working out, or if I am feeling sick.
I use a bamboo brush. You can spend as much as you want. My brush was about $20. You can find a dry brush is most bath stores, Amazon, or health foods stores.
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.
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 underlying 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 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!
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.