Q: WHAT'S WRONG WITH ANTIBIOTICS? WHY DO WE NEED PROBIOTICS? ARE THEY RELATED?
A: There's nothing wrong with antibiotics as long as they are prescribed correctly and appropriately, and only when absolutely necessary. This means that a course of antibiotics should only be prescribed for bacterial infections (as opposed to a viral or fungal infection). In practice, it is not always possible to send off a swab for bacterial analysis every single time, so doctors often prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic that will kill off a wide variety of bacteria. The problem with this is that many bacteria--both good and bad--are killed, and we need the good bacteria in our gut as they form a huge part of our immune system.
Repeated courses of antibiotics (especially if they are given for longer periods than one week at a time, or if they are given repeatedly) can disrupt our gut microbiome (the normal bacteria populating our gastro-intestinal tract) to the point where the good bacteria to bad bacteria ratio shifts to an unfavourable one, with bad bacteria outnumbering the good bacteria. This doesn't just happen because of over-use of antibiotics. It can happen with a crappy, junk-food diet, because sugar feeds the bad bacteria.
In such cases, probiotics can help tremendously to re-populate our (or our children's) gut with the good bacteria. Fermented foods (e.g. miso, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, plain Greek yogurt) are all excellent sources of good bacteria. If someone (especially a child) has had more than one or two courses of antibiotics in their lives and they are now having digestive problems or chronic infections, I would suggest starting with a course of Saccharomyces boulardii, a special and foundational probiotic that will help re-populate the gut flora/microbiome. I will include a link below for the Canadian version by Florastor. The kids' version is in powder(sachet) form and I have found this to be highly effective for both children and elderly patients. After a week or 10 days of this, the child can then switch to a regular probiotic that includes the usual bacteral strains (Lactobacillus and Bifidobact.).
Of course, a healthy diet low in junk food and high in fermented foods should also be commenced as soon as possible.
Prebiotics are foods that feed the good bacteria, and include bananas, raw unpasteurized honey, garlic and onions, and should be included as part of a healthy diet.
A: A follow-up question to my antibiotics/probiotics Q&A asks about recommending regular probiotics for children and adults.
The honest answer is that it is impossible to give a generalized recommendation when it comes to supplementation. In homeopathy, we seek always to treat each patient as an individual, which means we need to take into consideration not just their current health issues but also their past medical issues and their family medical history (i.e. parents' and grandparents' health history). This is because everyone has different susceptibilities that are inherited . These may be thought of as weak links that can be weakened further by poor diet and over-medication, resulting in disease.
Just as I'm not a fan of daily vitamins, I'm not a fan of daily probiotics or any other daily supplement for that matter. We need to understand that there is no substitute for a healthy diet. Nutrition is foundational to health. There is no point supplementing with even the highest quality vitamins or probiotics when the diet is problematic (and likely to be triggering the digestive issues in the first place). .
Once we sort out the diet, once the child or adult is eating nutrient-dense real foods (as opposed to processed foods), then we can see if supplementation is still necessary. Often, with constitutional homeopathic treatment, we find that, with time, supplementation is no longer an issue because the body becomes very good at extracting whatever it needs from the nutrient-dense foods being eaten.
Q: MY CHILD IS FEVERISH! WHAT DO I DO?
A: No need to panic. We need to understand that Fever Has Its Purpose.
Fever in children always seems to scare parents, but that's because they don't realise that fever can be, and often is, a good thing. In fact, fever is one of the body's best defence mechanisms. By raising the body temperature, harmful bacteria and viruses are inactivated or even killed. This is why it can be dangerous to suppress a fever.
The rule of thumb is: when the child is running a fever but otherwise well (playing quietly, not complaining, no dip in energy, not irritable), then it's better just to observe. If we allow the fever to run its course, we often see a growth spurt on the other side of the fever. For example, a child who has been struggling to ride a bike finally manages to balance on two wheels. Or the child who has been reading very slowly, only one word at a time, is suddenly able to read a full sentence fluently. Such sudden developmental spurts can be observed by mothers who hold off on the "baby Tylenol".
The worst thing you can do is to wake a sleeping child who's only mildly feverish and give them baby Tylenol. First of all, sleep is healing. Do not wake a child just because they're running a low fever. Most healthy children and adults (but not babies) can tolerate a fever as high as 103°F (39.4°C) for short periods of time without problems. The deciding point about whether to lower the fever lies in how they are behaving, as noted above. If they are sleeping soundly, let them sleep.
If you really do feel that the fever needs to go down, there are natural options like ice lollies which do double duty-- keep the child hydrated and reduce temperature at the same time. Also, sponging the child down with tepid water, putting small wet towels around the neck (and groin regions of younger children and babies) - as these are where the major carotid and femoral arteries run - by cooling the blood in these two pairs of arteries, you will quickly cool down the entire body.
There are always natural solutions to health problems and there is really no need to use a chemical drug like Tylenol which has serious side-effects. By using it indiscriminately, you are creating a toxic situation within the body, from the bacterial/viral toxins, and from the Tylenol which itself is toxic to the liver. The innocuously-named "baby Tylenol" is NOT safe.
Children are meant to get sick from the usual childhood diseases (e.g. chickenpox), common cold, "flu, etc. This is how the developing immune system gets stronger and learns how to differentiate between what's dangerous and what's not. If we try to suppress every symptom (e.g. fever, cough, runny nose) by using chemical drugs (prescription medications), we not only trap toxins within the child's body, we deprive the immune system of the opportunity to get smarter and stronger. Sure, by "getting rid" of symptoms quickly, the child may seem fine for the time being, but they may start to develop allergies (the immune system failing to recognise what's dangerous and what's not) or even, as they get older, go on to develop more serious illnesses. This is why we're seeing an epidemic of auto-immune diseases in young people in their 20s. This should not happen, but is happening because of large-scale suppression of common innocuous diseases and over-vaccination.
If you haven't already, please do get hold of pediatrician Dr Paul Thomas' book "The Vaccine-Friendly Plan":
Q: MY CHILD WILL ONLY EAT A SHORT-LIST OF FOODS (PEANUT BUTTER, JAM, CANDY, COOKIES, BREAKFAST CEREALS, PASTA). WHAT CAN I DO?
February 5, 2018
A: You need to ask yourself: "Am I feeding my child or am I feeding the bad bacteria and other parasites in his gut?" A child whose diet consists mainly of highly processed foods has an immune system that is compromised, making him or her highly susceptible to all sorts of germs going around. This child is likely to be sick a lot of the time.
There is no alternative to a healthy, real food, diet. Nutrition is foundational to good health. If your child has had more than one or two courses of antibiotics, his gut flora (the bacteria in his gut) is already compromised, with bad bacteria outnumbering the good ones. This is why the child asks for junk food. Instead, give a course of probiotics (e.g. Florastor Kids), then replace the junk food (e.g. candy and soft drinks/pop) with real foods (e.g. dried fruits like date and figs, fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha).
If the child is undergoing constitutional homeopathic treatment, the remedy and gemmo(s) will also help to change dietary preferences. Very soon, you will have a child who enjoys eating real foods like fruits and vegetables. The nutrients in these foods will ensure that the child's body becomes adequately nourished and resistant to common bacteria and viruses.
Q: HOW MUCH VITAMIN C SHOULD I BE GIVING MY CHILD?
May 9, 2018
Most of us try to eat healthy and give our children fruits and vegetables every day. It's not easy to eat multiple servings of these highly nutritious foods even if we want to, and the quality of such foods has gone down in recent years, meaning that their vitamin C (and other important phyto-nutrient) levels have decreased. If we or our children are getting less than 6 servings of fruits and veggies a day, then it makes sense to supplement with Vitamin C. It makes even more sense to supplement with higher doses of Vitamin C when we're not well, especially if it's a viral illness like most colds and flu. The type of Vitamin C is also important and depends on individual needs. Rather than one-size-fits-all, we need to assess each person's needs depending on their age and health status.
So how much constitutes one serving of fruit or vegetables? One piece of fruit (small apple, orange, banana) or half a cup of berries or vegetables, would constitute one serving. We're aiming anywhere from 5-12 servings per day, depending on age and requirements of the child.
Q: CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES OF SAFE SUNSCREENS TO USE FOR MY CHILD?
Since you're asking, you are no doubt aware that there are many undesirable, highly toxic ingredients in conventional sunscreens, even the ones marketed as being suitable for children. It is very important not to slather sunscreen on yourself or your children multiple times a day. It is not only unnecessary but can be harmful, not just because of the toxic chemicals but also because we want some sun exposure in order for our bodies to manufacture Vitamin D.
We need to understand that our bodies require a certain amount of sun exposure in order to manufacture enough Vitamin D. This is very important for health and well-being. Many people are now deficient in Vitamin D, mostly due to not spending enough time outdoors, using too much sunscreen, or living in a climate where there is very little sun exposure during winter months.
Having said that, there are a few safe sunscreens available, such as those by the Canadian company, Green Beaver. Apply once and only re-apply after swimming or copious sweating.
Please read this article by the two Drs. Wolfson (cardiologist and chiropractor):
Please avoid the popular conventional sunscreens, the worst of which include ones by Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Neutrogena.. Check out this list according to EWG:
The only safe fluoride is naturally-occurring calcium fluoride. The only calcium fluoride that I prescribe, usually for children with a history of dental cavities, is Hyland's tissue salt #1 (Calc fluor), always in conjunction with Hyland's tissue salt #2 (Calc phos). Both are important nutrients not just for teeth but also for bones, so these two are tissue salts that I also prescribe for osteoporosis.
The fluoride in most toothpastes is in the form of sodium fluoride. This is also the fluoride used by dentists to "strengthen teeth" and "prevent cavities". The problem is that while sodium fluoride does harden the enamel (the outermost layer of our teeth), it does nothing for the underlying dentine. This means that while the enamel may be really hard and resistant to decay, the underlying dentine is still vulnerable and unprotected, and therefore still susceptible to decay.
The only way to strengthen both enamel and dentine is to use the Hylands' tissue salts #1 (Calc fluor) and #2 (Calc phos), often in conjunction with Abies pectinata as this gemmo helps with calcium and phosphorus metabolism.As with any supplements, be careful not to follow the instructions on the bottles as that may be too much, especially for children.
Please read the following article to understand how dangerous a particular type of fluoride is: the APF (acidulated phosphate fluoride) added to municipal water supplies is basically an industrial waste product. It is highly toxic but works very insidiously, over a long period of time. It can cause a myriad of health issues, including brain damage, lowered IQ especially in young children, and is known to harm the pineal and thyroid glands. This is why we should never drink tap water, and should invest in a good filter such as reverse osmosis.
If your child is not going to sleep at an age-appropriate time, chances are that their bodies are not producing enough melatonin and other sleep hormones. This is increasingly common because more and more children have access to computers/ipads/iphones. The blue light emanating from these screens suppresses the production of sleep hormones because the melatonin-producing pineal gland responsible for our circadian rhythm (how we determine night from day) is fooled into thinking that the bright light is daylight and therefore it is not necessary for sleep hormones to be produced.
Parents need to understand that electronic devices are not toys or pacifiers, that they produce harmful EMFs, and that games are designed to be highly addictive. While you may get an hour's respite now and then, you are setting your children up for serious trouble down the road. Too much screen time has been linked to insomnia, poor physical and mental growth, emotional issues such as anxiety, loneliness and depression, even in children as young as 9-years-old. Teachers are telling me that there are children who wait for their parents to fall asleep and then get out of bed and play electronic games for several more hours in the middle of the night. These children are zombie-like during the day, incapable of learning at school, and are at risk of developing other addictions such as substance abuse.
At the very least, for older children who need to be on their computers for homework in the evening, get them a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. If they are already wearing glasses, ask their optician about blue light-blocking lenses.
While children are young and parents still have some control over them, it is crucial to set some ground rules and communicate your expectations to them. Young children in particular need structure and boundaries to feel safe, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Children who never learn discipline at home will not learn how to self-discipline and therefore become low achievers academically. As a rule of thumb, put away all electronic devices at least 3 hours before bed-time to allow for enough sleep hormones to be produced in order for sleep to occur naturally and at the age-appropriate times. Failure to do so will result in a child who has problems hitting their milestones, learning difficulties, and behavioural problems.
Just as there is no alternative to a healthy diet, there is no alternative to adequate sleep.
Recent studies have found that excessive exposure to blue light can also damage vision: