kids

Winter Blues Getting You Down?

I’m not sure how it is at your place, but where we are (and hearing from clients and friends) there are some NASTY bugs going around at the moment!  And winter has barely begun! 

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I’ve written before about some general tips on winter wellness but this month I’m going to delve a little more into specific remedies that I usually have at home for my own family (and like to use this time of the year).

Some of these are available over the counter as retail products, but some may require a consultation and prescription. 

The good news is that I do offer Express Consultations (15 mins) for acute issues like colds and bugs – so if you or your family get sick then please do call the clinic and book one in.  It’s only $35 for the consultation and will allow me to prescribe you what you require to help you get over these awful bugs a little quicker (we hope!).  If you can’t get in, then you can always ask at your local health food store or pharmacy about what they might have that is similar/equivalent.

1. Zinc & C
Zinc is always my number one go to for winter colds, and I use/prescribe a product that contains vitamin C in it as well.  The one I prefer is a practitioner product, meaning it does require a consult to prescribe it, however there are many retail brands that offer something similar.  BioCeuticals have a range that you can get by asking at a chemist/health food store, and Ethical Nutrients also do a product with Zinc & C in it.  If your family is prone to catching all the bugs, then it’s a good idea to take it at the recommended maintenance dose throughout winter as a preventative.

2. Vitamin D
If you get sick a lot, then speak to your GP about it and ask them to check your Vitamin D levels!  Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL for good immune function, and if it turns out you’re low it’s a simple fix to get it sorted.  Be mindful that there are “normal” levels (which are usually defined as within the reference range of the tests) and optimal levels.  It’s a good idea to chat with the GP about this, because the results might say your levels are normal, but they might be on the lower end of the scale, meaning you could still do with having them bumped up a bit more.

3. Probiotics
Yep, another one which keeps coming up.  There are a number of different types of probiotics that are specific for different conditions, and immune health is a key one.  As above, if you are someone who is prone to getting sick then I would suggest taking a probiotic which is specific for immune health all winter.  Retail brands that would be worth looking at are again BioCeuticals & Ethical Nutrients, though I prefer the practitioner brand that I use both at home and in clinic.

4. Tissue Salts/Celloids
Tissue salts & celloids can be really helpful to use as soon as you start to get a sniffle, cough or fever.  Tissue salts can be purchased at health food stores – the brand to grab is Scheussler’s.  The ones you will want to look for specific for winter colds are ferr phos (fever or inflammation), kali mur (for congestion or clear mucus) and kali sulph (for mucus that is yellow or greeny in colour).

Celloids are a practitioner only product but work in a similar way – I tend to use celloids more at home as I find they work brilliantly for the whole family.  I do also make up custom liquid tissue salts formulas for my kids and my clients.   These can be helpful for younger kids as liquids in a dropper are easier to just add to water or squirt in the mouth with a dropper.

5. Homeopathics
These are also generally available from health food stores, and the brand I stock/recommend are the Owen Homeopathics brand.  I always have these on hand in the home too to help try and kick the body into healing!  The remedies most commonly used through winter are as follows:

Aconite – This is a great remedy to always have in the home as it’s useful for pretty much any symptom that comes on very suddenly and seemingly out of the blue.  This could include a sudden fever, croup colds or coughs that come on suddenly after exposure to dry cold wind, exposure to temperature extremes.

Ant tart – Coarse, loose & rattling cough that feels suffocating with shortness of breath.  The chest feels like it is full of mucous that doesn’t seem to come up.  Worse early morning (3-4am).

Belladonnna – For use during the first stage of the inflammatory process, when the skin feels hot and red and the face is flushed.  Usually the symptoms come up suddenly.  Also can be used for intense tearing pain in the middle/external ear, a dry tickling cough or inflamed tonsils.

Bryonia – For a dry, hacking, painful coughs.  Tough mucous in the throat that only loosens after much hacking.

Euphrasia – Nose blocked up in the evening but can be watery during the day.  Sinus headache due to congestion, and a hacking cough that usually only occurs during the day and hoarseness of the voice.

Nux Vomica – Runny nose during the day which gets blocked up at night.  Cold weather causes the nose to get stuffed up and possibly alternating between nostrils.  Itching in the ears and tickly nose which triggers sneezing.  Dry, tight, hacking cough with gagging.  Tendency to feel chilly/shivers if uncovered, wants to stay wrapped up & warm.

6. Herbal Medicines
I like to prescribe custom herbal liquid formulas, so that I can ensure that the herbs chosen are specific to your symptoms or health complaint.  Herbal medicine is one of my major tools at home for my family! However if you are after an of-the-shelf brand, you really can’t go past the Kiwiherb range.  I always have their De-Stuff for Kids in the home, and use it regularly throughout the winter for both my kids.  They also do an immune range for adults which you can buy online.  Another great product is the BioCeuticals Armaforce - and they have recently created products for pregnancy and children as well.

Now it goes without saying that this information is not medical advice and does not replace the advice of your GP.  However they are very handy to have in the home at the onset of cold & cough symptoms, and they are a great complement to support your healing in conjunction with your health care professional’s advice.

Winter Wellbeing - Children & Immunity

Children & Immunity

Anyone with children knows that as soon as Autumn starts to roll around, all the kids at daycare or school start turning into snotburgers and inevitably your child ends up sick too.

So why do kids seem to get sick more often than adults?  The short answer is simply that children have not had as much time for their immune system to mature, and as adults we have been exposed to more germs & viruses (pathogens) than most kids have.   Therefore kids are more easily affected by the pathogens that they’re exposed to as their immune system works to fight (and remember) them. (1)

Another key point to remember is the role gut health plays in immune function.   Living in the gut are tens of trillions of microorganisms, including over 1000 different species – and that’s just in one human! (2) These microorganisms (known as your microbiota) play an important part in maintaining your immune system balance and act as a first line defense against invading pathogens.   There are many factors that can affect the balance of your microbiota, ranging from diet, medications, to even the birth process. (3)

So what can be done by you to improve your child’s ability to fend off bugs and germs this winter?

1. Diet is Key!
As we’ve mentioned above, your gut health and microbiota plays a key role in how well your immune system functions.   And the food you eat can determine how well populated and diverse your microbiota is.   The “food” that your beneficial bacteria eat are known as prebiotics.  Prebiotics can promote the growth of many of your beneficial bacteria – and so it is important to include prebiotic containing foods in your child’s (and your!) diet.  Luckily, this can be achieved just by including fresh fruits and vegetables as part of your daily diet.  Examples of foods that are high in prebiotics include asparagus, garlic, beetroot, sweet corn, kidney beans, chickpeas, watermelon, nectarines and white peaches. (4)  Another benefit of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is that many of them contain other key nutrients essential for immune function including zinc, vitamin C and antioxidants.  Finally, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna are also beneficial for the immune system not only helping to reduce inflammation in the body, but by potentially enhancing the activity of some white blood cells. (5)

2.  Sleep (HA!)
If you’re a parent, then it’s quite likely that the mere mention of children and sleep sends you to the corner curled up in a ball rocking to and fro in a twitching frenzy.   However, as I discussed in my last blog post, sleep is an important requirement for overall health and wellbeing, and it is also very important for immunity.  Lack of sleep can suppress immune function and affect how our bodies fight infections. (6) This is true for both adults and children and so it is important to try (as best you can) to ensure that you child gets the amount of sleep for their age.  According to the Raising Children Network, children aged 3-5 years need around 11-13 hours sleep per night, children aged 6-9 need around 10-11 hours per night, and from 10 years they will generally need 9 hours sleep per night. (7) Some ideas for the evenings to help wind kids down include;

·      Turn off electronic devices 30 mins – 1 hr before bed time and have some sort of quiet activity to help ease them into bed time;
·      A warm bath with some Epsom salts and/or bath oils such as the Children’s Blend by Tinderbox to calm their mind and relax their body;
·      Flower essences such as Bach Rescue Sleep in the bath or under the tongue;
·      Diffusing essential oils in the house or in the bedroom, with calming scents such as Lavender and Chamomile (I personally love the Plant Therapy KidSafe blends);
·      Chamomile tea or extract (I love Kiwiherb Kids Calm) is also a nice choice to help unwind at the end of the day.

3.  Exercise
With the risk of sounding like a broken record, we come again to the importance of exercise.   As a rough guideline, children under the age of 5 should be getting a total of 3 hours of physical activity spread throughout the day, and children aged 5-17 should be getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. (8) People who are physically active have been shown to be less likely to develop a cold, and those who did recovered much faster than those who were less fit.   One theory is that exercise may increase the number of white blood cells which act to reduce a person’s susceptibility to certain diseases. (9) The other advantage of being physically active outside during the cooler months is that being in the sun can help the body make vitamin D, another another nutrient which is essential for immune function. (10)

There are of course many other actions you can take to help your kids get through the winter with minimal sick days – there are some beautiful herbal remedies available for kids that work well to improve symptoms of colds such as congestion and runny noses, and kids supplements that can be used in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle measures to help with improving nutrient intake over the cooler months.

If you would like to find out more about any of the oil blends, essences or extracts mentioned above, or feel you need a little extra help with improving your children’s health then please call 92932999 or email alexia@holistia.com.au to find out more or book your appointment.

 


References:
1.         Simon AK, Hollander GA, McMichael A, editors. Evolution of the immune system in humans from infancy to old age. Proc R Soc B; 2015: The Royal Society.

2.         Health GMf. Gut microbiota infon.d. 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/.
3.         Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14.
4.         University M. Dietary Fibre and natural prebiotics for gut health: FAQs2017 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/gastro/prebiotic/faq/ - 6.
5.         Gray N. Omega-3 backed to boost immune response, not just battle inflammation: Study2013 29 March 2017d. Available from: http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Omega-3-backed-to-boost-immune-response-not-just-battle-inflammation-Study.
6.         Mann D. Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds?2010 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep - 1.
7.         About sleep2016 29 March 2017. Available from: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sleep_the_hows_and_whys.html/context/730.
8.         Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. In: Health Do, editor. 2014.
9.         Lavelle P. Study proves exercise boosts immune system2010 15 March 2017. Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/11/02/3054621.htm.
10.       ScienceDaily. Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defenses2010 29 March 2017. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100307215534.htm.
Photo credit: Janko Ferlic, www.unsplash.com