Thursday, 16 July 2015

Treating a fever with herbs

A fever is the body’s first line of defence. The reason for the increase in temperature is to kill the invading bacteria or virus. Modern medicine decrees that we suppress the fever. This is a fear based idea, which does more harm than good. There is altogether too much suppression of natural disease processes these days, which can lead to chronic illness.
Breastfed babies rarely get ill so it's not very likely that baby will get a fever while 100% breastfed. However, your baby might have an older sibling at preschool who brings home a bad cold, which is passed on. If this happens and a fever develops, it's a healthy and normal response and shows that the immune system is working well. If your baby develops a fever, just keep him warm, and continue to feed regularly as normal. Don't give any pharmaceuticals to lower the fever, as this can prolong the problem. The fever needs to do its work - to fight the infection.
What has caused the fever? It could be a virus or bacteria. There may be an ear infection, tonsillitis, bronchitis, measles, chickenpox or any other common respiratory infection.

A fever needs to be well managed. Monitor it regularly. Make sure that your baby gets plenty of fluids. You will be able to see the fever rising over a few hours, and can decide when to take action. Most people worry when the fever reaches 39 deg. At this point you can give a herbal tea to encourage sweating and “break” the fever. Very often the fever only lasts for 24 hours and your baby is fine again. This probably means that the fever did its work. 

Fever tea
Elderflower        1 teaspoon
Peppermint        1 teaspoon
Yarrow                1 teaspoon 

Place in a jug with three cups of boiling water and infuse for 60 minutes. Strain. Drink one cup with every feed, and give baby one teaspoon (in a dinky feeder) every ½ hour.
If baby is older and on solids already, give him some tea to sip every half hour. He might not want more than one sip, but that's fine. Don't try to give solid food while there is a fever. Usually the child isn't hungry and you'll probably end up wiping up a pool of vomit.
If the fever doesn't break within 24 hours, you should take your baby to your phytotherapist (Herbal Practitioner) who will examine his ears and listen to his chest and generally check baby over for signs of a rash or other symptoms. Your phytotherapist will also be able to make up a medicine to help fight the infection. Herbal medicine helps the body without destroying vital microflora, which antibiotics would do.
If you don't have a phytotherapist near you, then of course go to a doctor but don't insist on an antibiotic. You need a diagnosis and then you can use the appropriate medicine, herbal medicine or homoeopathic medicine to treat your child.
In some countries doctors won't give antibiotics for a normal respiratory infection. In South Africa you will most probably get a prescription for an antibiotic. Studies are showing that antibiotics cause resistance for up to two years after a short course.  Infections are very common in small children and many are getting antibiotics for every single infection. If the child gets a serious illness, antibiotics might not be able to save his life, because of the resistance that has been built up. Antibiotics should NOT be used for everyday infections.

DISCLAIMER: This is a herbal blog and advice offered is related to herbal medicine for the reader who is under the guidance of a registered phytotherapy practitioner or medical practitioner. The author will not accept liability for any negative event as a result of reading this blog.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Greatest Gift of All - Germs

When you hold your precious newborn in your arms it is the greatest gift in the world. It is also the greatest responsibility.
From the moment your baby emerges a miracle happens - a whole set of natural events that start a process of immune building and set a course of symbiosis going that will last for your child's life.

Symbiosis - a mutual benefit system of living together - your baby and a myriad of invisible organisms (known as microflora or microbiota) that will live inside your baby's gut and on your baby's skin.

Experts are not in agreement yet. Some say the baby is born with microflora, others say that the baby only gets them during the birth. A vaginal birth is important for this to happen. All mammals are born close to the anus for a good reason. (A whale's teats are close to the anus, so that the calf gets microflora during feeding.) Later on as baby gets bigger, it is no accident that everything gets put in the mouth! Another way to get those all important micro organisms into the gut. Sterilising baby's things with chemicals is seriously harmful for the development of good health.

Once the baby is born, the first thing that happens is that instinct kicks in and the sucking reflex happens. Baby is put to the breast and colostrum flows into the baby's gut where the first microflora get their first feed. So far so good! Colostrum is not only the best food for baby, but also for the microbiome - the massive organism of microflora that has started life in your baby's gut.

If all goes to nature's plan the baby will be breastfed and the baby's "inner world" (the microbiome)will get the perfect food for it to get established and balanced. Balance or harmony in the microbiome is extremely important for health. Good organisms must be in harmony with potentially harmful organisms and keep everything under control.

Most people are completely unaware of this fundamental key to their baby's health.

Some facts about the microbiome:

  • There are more organisms in the microbiome than cells in the human body
  • Up to 90% of one's stool consists of micro organisms
  • The micro organisms are not only bacteria, but many other organisms common to mammals
  • Diversity of the microbiome is important and many people have fewer species due to diet and medication 
  • Micro organisms prefer certain foods for their health and diet can change them, making them less healthy
  • The microbiome of the average western child is not as healthy as that of the average non-western child.
  • Fibre is an important food for the microflora
  • The microflora make certain vitamins for us
  • The microflora  detoxify and help keep us safe from many environmental toxins
  • A healthy microbiome keeps pathogens in check.
  • A healthy well-balanced microbiome can protect against allergies, obesity, mental disorders like depression, anxiety and more
  • We only are as healthy as our microbiome.

In an ideal world a baby would be exclusively breastfed until the first solid foods were introduced. Our ancestors probably chewed the first solid foods for the baby (thereby partially digesting the food with enzymes in the mouth). Babies didn't have special food, they got what everyone else was eating, just well chewed up! This ensured a healthy amount of fibre.
The introduction of solids is a huge change in the baby's life. New foods are being introduced both to the baby and the baby's microbiome. This can influence big changes in the baby's health, depending on what kinds of food are fed.
My advice would be to start with fibre rich vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato and gem squash. A little extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil can be added which helps with the absorption of beta carotene. Later some finely pureed legumes such as lentils, peas, chick peas etc can be added.

Weaning from breast to solids can be a time where the diet deteriorates badly. Many baby foods are devoid of fibre, and phytonutrients ( nutrients found in organically grown, colourful vegetables. I say organically grown, because studies have now shown without a doubt that commercially grown vegetables and fruits have much lower nutrient density, than organically grown.) Included in this scenario is the switch from breastmilk to cow's milk and the introduction of "treats" which can be heavily sweet or salty and fatty. This can be the time where there is a huge shift in the microbiome as the foods change. Coupled with this there may be medication prescribed as the child gets a few colds. Studies have shown huge alterations in the microbiome after antibiotics, which can be the start of a progressive decline if antibiotics are prescribed repeatedly. It can take up to two years for the gut to recover after just one course of antibiotics.

So, the greatest gift you can give your baby is the gift of a healthy microbiome. This can affect future behaviour, performance at school, general health and happiness. Feed your baby with the microflora in mind.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Your baby in a toxic world?

WE are severely challenged these days when it comes to trying to be healthy. You want the best for your baby, and from the baby bottle to the pram you buy, it takes a bit of planning. Just about everything is contaminated. Here are just a few examples of what we face in day to day living.

Unavoidable toxins:

  • The air we breathe – the “safe” level of pollution in the air is deemed to be 25. In many cities in China it ranges from 100 to 700. The sad fact is that we share the air with the whole world, wherever we live.
  • The water we drink – even where the water quality is good, it is doctored with chlorine and often fluoride.
  • Virtually all our food – Genetic modification, pesticide and herbicide residue, veterinary medicine residue in meat and poultry, heavy metals in sea food

The world is already challenged regarding providing us with a safe environment in which to grow and thrive and then we make it worse by making our own contributions:

Avoidable toxins: These are things you don't need to buy, but many people routinely do, without realising the effects

  • Air freshener – if it’s synthetic it  actually pollutes the air if you think about it
  • Fabric softener- pollutes water more than necessary
  • Toilet sanitisers – pollutes water and prevents bacterial action on sewage
  • Insecticide sprays – poison in our homes and gardens
  • Body products – full of chemicals which land up in our water systems as well as absorbed by us
  • Car products – Chemicals that you breathe when you are in the car
  • Soft furnishings – carpets and sofas impregnated with chemicals
  • Paints – full of toxic chemicals
  • Cleaning agents – pollute the air and the water systems
  • Electromagnetic – mobile phones, computers, television, wifi (part of life, but can be restricted)
  • Food additives; GMO's
The list goes on and on.
When my parents grew up everything was organically grown because there was no other way. The introduction of commercial agriculture and the chemicals left over after the second world war, changed all that, and the concept of growing food with chemicals was born. Today there is a widely held belief that one cannot grow food without chemicals, but the few, hardy organic farmers in the world prove that this is not true.
The world is not and has not always been ideal for newborns, but we have survived. The trick is to be sensible and to make the best choices for the health and wellbeing of your child.
Food is no longer what it used to be:
Somewhere along the line, someone decided that processing foods was a very profitable idea. Take a simple grain and stretch it by first removing all its natural goodness, adding sugar and lots of air and you have a fancy cereal.  Add a colour, a few synthetic vitamins and a smidgen of “fibre” to make it “healthy” and the manufacturer becomes a millionaire, but the child you are feeding becomes a sugar junkie.
  1. Nearly all foods are contaminated with pesticide or herbicide residue.
  2. Many foods are genetically modified
  3. Other toxins, as a result of pollution, ground water contamination, storage of grains, can lead to harmful elements in every day foods.
  4. Mass production of meat, chicken and fish/seafood had resulted in veterinary contamination of these foods with antibiotics, hormones and other drugs.
  5. Fish, especially the larger, longer living fish are often contaminated with poisons and micro particles of plastic.
  6. Commercialisation of foods has resulted in mass production of cheaply made, badly designed meals with poor nutritional value and  potentially harmful health side effects. Usually they have high sugar content or high fat content (or both), with high sodium and low fibre.
  7. Commercialisation of food has resulted in many additives in the form of preservatives, colourants, flavour enhancers etc., causing foods to be chemical cocktails.

So what is the solution?
                                                                 Home grown veggies
  1. Buy fresh and seasonal food
  2. Buy organically grown foods
  3. Avoid foods that have been genetically modified, by buying foods that have been organically grown.
  4. Buy from reputable food shops.
  5. Buy free range, or organic meats from reputable shops.
  6. Don’t buy take away, instant or ready made. Make your own.
  7. Making your own food means you know what went into it.
  8. Grow your own vegetables and fruits
  9. Use natural medicine where possible
  10. Go to restaurants that are ethical and use fresh, wholesome ingredients. (Everyone needs a treat!)
This is about being aware. So many people have no clue about nutrition and think their child is on a healthy diet, when in fact it is made up of commercially produced, nutrient poor "tummy fillers". A healthy child rarely needs medicine, whereas a sickly child will sometimes be getting antibiotics every month.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Getting started

Having a baby, especially if it's the first time, creates many emotions: anxiety, trepidation, excitement, awe, to mention a few. No one can really prepare you for the change it will bring about in your life, even though the baby room is ready and you have decided you are going to do everything perfectly! You can however, eliminate quite a few of the issues that you will face by having the right support and empowering yourself. Empowering yourself, means taking charge of your decisions instead of allowing others to make all the decisions for you.

This blog is designed to be helpful in terms of creating good health for your child. It's also important that children learn about health as they grow up. As a Practitioner for 20 years, I have seen so many children who are on antibiotics every month, who are eating the most shocking food as a staple diet, and the parents don't realise how bad all this is for their child. They in fact think their child is healthy! This is because they have never stopped to think about what real health is. According to the media you can eat what you like as long as you take your vitamins! The emphasis is always on making sure you get all your nutrients, never on what harmful effects many "foods" have on the body and what should be left out of the diet.

I'm hoping to be able to shed some light on the issue of health and why it is so important. When I refer to diet, I mean what foods the diet is made up of, not a slimming diet!

Also, because I am a phytotherapist, I'll be looking at herbs and which herbs can be safely used to help treat everyday ailments. Herbs have been here on this earth to help us for thousands of years, and so much of modern medicine is derived from plants - but if you use herbs instead of modern medicine, you are often ridiculed. This is insanity! There is a balanced middle way, and I hope to share my thoughts on this in weeks to come.