Sunday, August 24, 2014

You're A Good, No Make That Great, Mom!

Not sure who I can attribute this piece to since it's been doing the rounds on social media without any citation as such but it fits my mantra and the theme of this blog so well, I couldn't pass up the chance to share! Here's to moms everywhere! (If anyone does know where it originated from, please do let me know!)


To the mom who's breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You're a good mom.
To the mom who's formula feeding: Isn't science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn't produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You're a good mom.
To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You're a good mom.
To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it's excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You're a good mom.
To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn't easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You're a good mom.
To the mom who works: It's wonderful that you're sticking to your career, you're a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it's fantastic. You're a good mom.
To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you're too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You're feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren't complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You're a good mom.
To the mom who gave her kids a home cooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they're learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You're a good mom.
To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can't run around. You're a good mom.
To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don't they? We've all been through it. You're a good mom.

To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.


Be the voice of encouragement!

~S~

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Outstanding Oil of Oregano

I've always been one to keep my word :-) In my last post, I mentioned that I had a lot to share since my pregnancy with baby K and that includes some new and rediscovered 'tools' of the (holistic) trade I've picked up in my time away.

We had a bout of the sniffles in the house a couple of months after K was born and in true chicken and egg style, everyone just kept reinfecting everyone else. Don't you just love when that happens? K went through a few weeks of alternating between a runny and a blocked nose and although he didn't have fever thankfully, he was uncomfortable enough for me to drop everything else and focus on fixing it (Cue Frozen's "Fixer Upper"). The issue with an infant is that you can't really use many of the remedies I listed in my My First Aid Box post and even though you could technically take huge doses of Vitamin C, Echinacea, garlic or GSE when you're breastfeeding, you can't help but wonder what that will do their little, fragile tummies. Sigh.

So there I was, yet again, on a journey to find something that would be gentle yet effective. Enter Oil of Oregano. Hmm not a new remedy to me by any means. I had taken it internally a few times during a stubborn case of sore throat some years ago. I had also used it on R & Z externally when they were sick with a similarly stubborn case of flu. I even mentioned it in an old post as a go-to for very stubborn infections!! I hadn't ever used it when R & Z were babies however and when we got hit by this latest viral attack, I was desperate. One option would have been to take the Oregano myself; since I was breastfeeding, baby could reap its benefits via me. As I said above though, there was still an indirect effect on his tummy to consider PLUS (and probably more importantly) Oregano can decrease milk supply. Well that effectively killed the idea. Who would have thunk it? So upon doing some research and reading through my various books at home, I came to the conclusion that the oil can be quite effective when applied to the skin. Of course infants are still very sensitive in the early stages of life and so all you really need is 1 drop massaged onto the soles of each foot or 1 drop massaged down the spine. Both sites are good choices as they absorb the oils effectively and the soles, in particular, enable the oil to enter the bloodstream quicker. Remember that all pure essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil e.g. almond, sunflower oil. Use a ratio of 1 drop to a tablespoon of oil. Or you can buy a pre-mixed oil like the one I recommend in my Where to Buy section. It took 2 days of doing this continuously to see a vast improvement in K's demeanour (yes with a u!). No more waking from sleep screaming due to a blocked nose=more sleep for me. Yay!

So, why does it work?

The oil is distilled from the flowers and leaves of the Oregano plant and contains a compound called Carvacrol. Carvacrol has the ability to arrest the growth of bacteria and other pathogens which makes it invaluable in both the prevention and cure of infections. This compound can also be found in Thyme which is why it is one of my favourite oils for chest infections.

A recurring theme in my past musings has been "prevention is better than cure" and I would be remiss if I didn't point out that incorporating this oil into your regular routine with baby or your older children can do wonders in warding off the nasties, especially during the winter. Happy to say that since I started this regimen, K hasn't had a single cold despite being in close proximity to flu-ridden hubby!

"So he's a bit of a fixer-upper,
But we know what to do
The way to fix up this fixer-upper
Is to fix him up with Oil of Oreganoo!"

~S~


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Three's A (Hazelwood) Charm

So, the cat's out of the bag. We had Baby # 3. Yes, that explains why 2013 (and half of 2014) was essentially non-existent as far as blog posts go. I had a pretty crappy first few months with every first trimester symptom you can think of! Nausea, dehydration, fatigue, anemia (which probably caused the fatigue) - you name it, I had it!! Didn't make for a perfect pregnancy story but then who needs perfect, right?

Baby K was born on 17th February after a speedy delivery that left me rather reeling! I had what is called "prodromal labour" {oh my goodness, I spelled labour without the u to begin with, nooo} for a few days prior; those lucky few who have experienced this know that it is probably one of the most frustrating things ever!! It is really just another term for early labour - as a student of English Literature it is my duty to let you know that it is derived from the Greek word "prodomos" which means the forerunner to an event. Prodromal labour can go on for a few weeks (yes you heard me) and in my case it went on for an excruciating week of constantly thinking "this is it" and then falling asleep and waking up and saying "oh guess it wasn't!". The good news though - there's always a silver lining - is that actual labour didn't last long at all and I did most of the heavy lifting in that week prior to K's arrival, at home and in my PJs, eating and drinking when I liked. I would take that over labouring for hours in the hospital any day.

My delivery was quick and painful and I forgot my main mantra during labour - stay relaxed! I panicked and that didn't help. I know it's hard to remember with all that's going on during this time but please, please try to remind yourself that keeping calm is so very important! Despite having my Rescue Remedy and my birthing homeopathy kit (Aconite would have been a good remedy in my condition) in my hospital bag, I threw all my Naturallysta-ism out the window and fell victim to good ol' fashioned distress. Ugh!

Still, here I am almost 6 months later with a happy (well, most of the time) baby who is a source of much joy in my life. I truly love him. Yes I know that sounds silly. D-UH I hear you say. Seriously though, I cannot put into words how much this little being already means to me.

I have much to write about and much to share and hopefully, baby K will give me some respite so that I may pen it all down. For now though, to make up somewhat for my absence recently, I do want to share a new discovery that I am bowled over by. Drum roll, please:

Hazelwood!

Hazelwood is an 'alkaline wood' i.e. one that has the natural property of absorbing and neutralizing acid via direct contact with the skin. The wood comes from a shrub that is native to Quebec, Canada and for those of you who are interested in Botany, here is a Wikipedia link that gives some more detail. Back to why I love it though - given its alkalizing ability, conditions that result from acidosis in the body can benefit from one wearing the wood. A list of such conditions, I hear you ask? Here are but a few:

-- Joint pain inc. arthritis and osteoporosis
-- Acid reflux/heartburn/digestive issues
-- Diabetes
-- Weight issues
-- Low energy/chronic fatigue
-- Allergies
-- Eczema/acne
-- Teething!!!!!!

Oh this was a Naturallysta mission just waiting to happen! Imagine my glee upon discovery!

Happy to report that since wearing the necklace (you can put it on baby's ankle during nap and at night for safety), K has been drooling less and sleeping better! Not really placebo when there is a marked difference in nap duration (30m vs 2h), eh? The necklace that I bought also had Baltic amber beads in it which are reported to have analgesic qualities that can help ease teething pain as well. You can buy Hazelwood necklaces on Amazon and if you're breastfeeding, consider getting one for yourself too since any hyper acidity in your body is likely contributing to baby's (tell tale signs: sour stools, raw bottom after stool, red rash around baby's mouth because of drool).

'Wood'ja try it?


~S~

Thursday, June 20, 2013

'Bach' with a Bang! A "Rescue Remedy" Rant

I know, I know. I have been veering off course for some time now. My apologies. As with all moms, I am forever in the throes of trying to balance life and kids and somehow, I just wasn't finding the inspiration I needed to write a new post. Throw in the new job (yes commuting to the city daily, sigh) and voila! You have one hodge-podge of stress and little time for anything else.

Fear not, however, as I am 'bach' to talk about Rescue Remedy and how I have used it in different situations.

Bach remedies are essentially flower essences that are homeopathically prepared (for FAQs on homeopathy, please see my links section on the home page) and address emotional imbalances by gently transforming negative emotions into positive ones. The most common of these is a combined essence called "Rescue Remedy" and this is a blend of 5 of the flower remedies (there are 38 in total) which help with stressful situations. As with homeopathy, the key to identifying the correct remedy is to really look at the emotional state of the individual; however the Rescue Remedy blend basically addresses the main causes of stress and thus works well on children. It contains:

Impatiens
Keynotes => Impatience & the frustration that comes with it. Prefers to be alone. Low energy [Hmm, all moms with small children?!]
Positive Change => Teaches empathy and understanding of and patience with others.
Star of Bethlehem 
Keynotes => For trauma and shock, whether experienced recently or from some time ago. Withdrawn.
Positive Change => Teaches the ability to come to terms with the trauma and regain sense of normalcy.
Cherry Plum
Keynotes => Fear of losing control of one's mind/thoughts, especially afraid of doing something bad. A child in the middle of a temper tantrum is an e.g.
Positive Change => Teaches trust in one's wisdom and the courage to charge ahead, even in the face of adversity.
Rock Rose
Keynotes => Extreme panic or terror - a child just having woken from a nightmare for e.g.
Positive Change => Provides courage in the face of fearful situations. Creates a sense of calm
Clematis
Keynotes => Dreamy state, not connected to reality and lives in imaginary world 
Positive Change => Brings clarity and focus - teaches ability to stay grounded in reality

Rescue Remedy can be used for 'acute' situations i.e. ones which are not chronic and are temporary. Examples (for kids especially but by no means limited to):

-- Before an exam
-- Before & after a doctor/dentist visit 
-- First day of school
-- After a shock (e.g.death in the family)
-- To calm general anxiety
-- To help calm an overactive mind before sleep (Rescue Night)

My first experience with Rescue really goes back to the time that my father passed away. I used it a lot along with homeopathic remedy Ignatia (which is for grief) and truly believe that it helped me get through this very challenging time in my life. Since then, I have used it for both R & Z to help them sleep better (Rescue Night) and also generally when tantrums were nigh and not an ounce of patience was in sight (Rescue Kids).

You can purchase the remedy in many different forms, the most common of which is liquid in an alcohol base. If, like me, you don't want the alcohol based one, you can use Rescue Cream, Rescue Kids, Rescue Night Melts or Rescue Pastilles which are all equally effective. {See Where to Buy section to purchase}

For treating more long term emotional issues (or more complex ones), it is best to consult with a Bach Flower Practitioner who can help determine which remedies best apply to your child. Often a practitioner will make a customized blend and ask that you administer a few drops several times a day over a period of several weeks. To find a practitioner, check out http://www.bachcentre.com/found/ref/usa.php that gives a listing for the USA by state and you can search by other countries as well.

You know - one of the core reasons why I love natural remedies, and try to learn about as many as I can, is because they give me hope; the hope that there are cures out there for my family that I can rely on, that are safe and easy to use. As many a theorist on happiness has pointed out, hope is really one of those essential 'tools' in life to help you stay happy. On that note, I leave you with a quote (by self-help author Dr. Anthony Robert) that I came across recently:

"Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after.”

With hope,
~S~

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ode To My Dad

I never really thought of my dad as a real individual until very recently. I know it sounds weird but I guess one thinks of one's parents as different entities in a way. I never really paid attention to his personality or to what he liked/disliked. Sure, I knew things about him but I always took that knowledge for granted and it was only when he passed away that I began to remember random facts that gave me many a light bulb moment. For example, I didn't link my love for chocolate to his until last year when one day, while sitting drinking tea, I realized how he always brought back chocolate when grabbing a newspaper from the local corner shop or when filling up the car at the petrol station. Even when he became diabetic, he continued to find ways to eat chocolate and made sure that his fridge was always stacked with sugar-free goodies (which I raided when all else failed and not a single chocolate-resembling edible was in sight).

Even though he seemed like a very unemotional person on the outside, from the inside, my father appreciated art and music and loved animals - and I mean loved them! He wanted dogs, birds and chickens in our garden (much to my mom's chagrin) and his eyes would light up when he spoke of his childhood pets.

I also never appreciated what an involved dad he was. Now, with kids of my own and my mommy antenna always in tune, I can see what a great father he truly was - not only do I remember him always being around, he took us out to the park, for doughnuts & milk on the way back from the car wash and my favourite of them all, trips to London to his office.

Oddly enough, my dad was also the face of encouragement in the family - while my mom was ever strict about getting good grades and was naturally the one who did our homework with us, my dad was the one who always said, "Don't think about the people who did better than you, look at the ones who you did better than" and yet he was so, so proud when we brought back good results. 

When he died, what struck me the most about my dad's personality was his kindness - people came up to me at his funeral, many of whom I didn't know, to say how my dad had helped them in different ways - finding a job, giving advice and financial support that ranged from loans to reimbursing his office security guard's lunches because he didn't make that much money. What melted my heart was when people said how much my dad loved his daughters.

This July will be the 5th year my father hasn't been around and it has been a long, difficult period of time to say the least. I miss his advice, his laughter, just his presence, at every waking second. And yet I remember him with a smile and hope that my kids will inherit their grandfather's kindness and his positive attitude. I leave you a quote from poet Anne Sexton:

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was" 


~ S~



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teach Your Child Compassion

I'm so tired of hearing bad news everywhere lately. It bothers me so much that my whole day goes south from then on and I often wonder how this world got so messed up, so violent, so utterly hopeless. Yes, I'm sure you International Relations and Political Science gurus out there can come up with a number of academically sound reasons along with perhaps some equally sound suggestions on how to fix it but in my simplistic mind, the solution is clear: spread the messages of compassion, of kindness, of love. Oh, I know what you are thinking - that I'm very na├»ve and that I am viewing this complex world of today too simplistically, but see, like my views on health, I'm rather holistic in my beliefs too - don't just (to borrow a term from my manager) "band-aid" the symptoms - get to the root of the issue and fix it from there. Don't get me wrong, I undoubtedly believe in gun control or increased school safety for e.g and think they are much required first steps in addressing the number of shootings we see here in the US BUT they are not, by far, the only. If every single one of us treated the people, we met and interacted with daily, with respect and love and also spread that message of love via social media, word of mouth and more importantly, our actions, I can guarantee it would have a domino effect - granted, the results may not be visible immediately and yes it may take a generation for it to really take hold in a way that has long lasting impact but think about it for just one second - it really doesn't take much to set it in motion. If we can share pictures, our kids' achievements and our work woes, why cannot we encourage those around us to be kind? I am amazed, constantly flabbergasted in fact, at the number of people who overlook a simple "hi" when met with in a work kitchen or those who skip saying a quick "thanks" to their train conductor, bus driver or cafeteria lady. 

Where has basic compassion gone?

We, as parents, have to reinforce these concepts with our children. We need to teach them to *understand* why a bully may act the way he/she does or why a friend is sad. By doing so, not only are we teaching our children to be better human beings, we are giving them hope and trust in humanity in general - a 'tool' to get through those bad moments in life and make some sense of them. 

I recently read an article about an Amish community that not only forgave but comforted someone that killed several of their children out of grief over the death of his own infant child. We talk about the Lanzas, the Chos and the Harrises with contempt and hatred but what about compassion? Those kids weren't born like that - circumstances, their parents, hell life, made them that desperate that the only way they were able to express their frustration was through mass murder. How bad must their lives have been for them to do something that an average person would never dream of doing? I'm not condoning what they did or even saying that it is easy to overlook such a huge crime - I am simply saying *understand*. Perhaps if they had had friends that overlooked their initial 'weirdness', friends who had tried to connect regardless of it, they may have had a reason to value their own lives and others'.

Leaving you with a quote for the day:

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive" ~ Dalai Lama

~S~

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Diary Of A Frustrated But Determined "Crunchy" Mom

I'm on the edge...of glory? Nope. Of sheer despair. Have had a terrible week with R & Z being sick, sick and sick again and I've reached the end of my tether. We've had coughs, colds, conjunctivitis, crankiness galore around here. Yes, my dear readers, today I am writing to let you know that you are not alone in the overwhelming frustration that is not being able to quickly cure a sick child (or worse -ren). Despite my going on and on about how great natural remedies are and how efficiently they work, there are a handful of times where those awful germs are so damn stubborn, it takes an army and a half to get you all through the ailment. 

I'm going through one of those times right now and boy do I hate it. Here's my list of reasons why this hatred is especially heightened this week:

-- I hate seeing my children sick for so many days. It breaks my heart to see them lethargic and not their usual funny, hyper and crazy selves!
-- I'm in my second week of a new job. A new job = no more work from home = commuting into the city daily = I cannot afford sick children, especially not in the first few weeks!
-- I got zapped by the bug this time around too. Mom sick = whole house upside down.
-- The kids are on winter break, J & I even have a few holidays and we haven't done ONE single fun thing since it started not to mention we've had to miss out on getting together with friends on more than one occasion.

-- I HAVE NOT SLEPT PROPERLY IN DAYS!! (this one, as always, deserves a line of its own)

-- It really upsets me to let the bad guys win. Yes, I'm taking this fight too seriously and yes I'm a geek. Thank you, tell me something I don't know. 

Anyhoo, my long winded way of cutting a long story short is to declare that PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!! Don't let those preventative measures slide and even when it seems like your child is getting better (as was the case with R&Z) keep dosing, applying your oils, whatever rocks your boat, for a few days after. In fact, I would say a week at least.

In an attempt *not* to make this post solely a space to vent my mommy frustrations, I will endeavour to share some more naturallysta tips on getting through the winter season.

  • Ask, no make, your kids wash their hands often. I know, I don't like being OCD on such things either but for a few months a year, it is totally warranted and completely needed! If nothing else, keep a healthy sanitizer (I like the EO one) on hand and at least clean before your child eats anything, ESPECIALLY after playing in a public place
  • Keep Oil of Oregano on hand and massage a few drops (dilute in olive oil if pure) into your child's back, down the spine and on the soles of their feet. This is a natural antibiotic and keeps those nasty germs away (safe for babies as only external)
  • Vitamin C and tons of it. Start at the beginning of the winter and carry on 'til the end. I would recommend at least 2000mg a day and if (unlikely but just in case) you notice loose stools, you can cut down a little to find the optimal level your child's body can absorb. Don't worry about overdosing as Vit C is excreted easily from the body and is not toxic
  • Flu with weary body and fever? Administer a dose of Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy, at the first sign of symptoms
  • GSE! See my earlier post for more info. The time to give GSE is before your child starts to suffer major symptoms because once they're feverish and lethargic, getting them to drink juice frequently through the day will be hard
  • Humidifier with some drops of Eucalyptus & Lavender added to the water. Eucalyptus will help your child breathe and Lavender will relax
  • Stay positive and don't panic! Reassure your child, give them lots of hugs and let them sleep in your bed if they need to!!! A loving touch goes a long way to heal
  • Don't be in a hurry to medicate fever. Fever is the body's way of getting rid of toxins and if you suppress that mechanism, you're likely to prolong the illness Keep your sick child cool with wet washcloths and make sure they keep sipping water
  • An interesting tidbit I picked up recently was the relationship between the lungs and the stomach in TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine. The theory is that the two are related and you will find that if one is not functioning at full capacity, the other will not be either. So use the relationship to help you cure a cough/bronchitis/pneumonia - replenish the gut with good bacteria and make sure your child is not constipated or there will be more of a burden on the chest. See my post on constipation remedies for help with this
  • Honey, honey and more honey. Add it to teas, give by the teaspoonful and as I did for R's very recent case of pink eye, dilute it in water and drop it into the eyes for instant infection relief
  • Oh and I finally tried the onion pack for incessant coughing - it works!!! Heat some freshly sliced yellow onion packed into a cheesecloth - I used Bounty and microwaved, not terribly crunchy but all I had on hand - tape to your child's chest at night (please use medical tape ;-)) and get some well deserved rest


OK, I think that's enough info for today. Pray I survive the next few days, please!

Frustratingly, yet ever crunchily,

~S~

Monday, November 19, 2012

Update - Reversing Z's Cavities

Have had a rough few months recently and so have not been actively blogging - something I not only feel bad about from a personal point of view but also just from the perspective of having more to share and not having been able to do it. I talk to so many of my friends daily whose kids are sick and not getting better and I can relate so well sometimes, it makes me want to wave a magic wand and make it all go away, both for the mom and the child because frankly it is both that need the relief (enter Rescue Remedy - if you don't have this at home, run, run, run now and get it!).

While I'm finishing up another post, I thought I'd give an update on how things have been going since I blogged about Z's dental issues. As I outlined in this entry, we went to the dentist last year and found out that Z had cavities. Not cavities as in the odd one or two but a whopping SIX of them, distributed between her upper and lower teeth, right and left sides, molars and incisors. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. So, rather than filling them we began on a journey to see whether diet & supplementation could make a difference.

I have good news and bad news. Which one do you want first? Well, actually, since I teach R&Z to *always* focus on the good and the positive first, I'll start with the good (sorry for offering and then retracting, that wasn't very nice of me).

The good news is..wait for it..drum roll please...we managed to reverse 4 of the 6 cavities completely! Yayyy!! I mean completely, as in, the new dentist could not see them, feel them or identify them on Z's x-rays. The 5th one is very tiny so I'm pretty sure we are on our way to reversing that one too. Mommy -  5 and Tooth Decay - 0.Yes!

Now onto the bad news :(

The 6th one, which is in Z's upper left molar, is huge and was causing Z a lot of pain. When we started off trying to remineralize (extra points for those of you who remember what this means!), this one was a bit of a doozy. Well, it turns out it hadn't healed and in fact had reached the nerve - the dentist wanted to extract and I almost had a heart attack. Bad flashes of the warnings I didn't heed came flooding back, bringing with them tons of that lovely mommy guilt. Dammit, I should have filled that one when I had the chance. Mommy - 0 and Tooth Decay - 1. Noooooooo!
 
So, I made the extraction appointment with a heavy heart and left the office, dejected and mad at myself. It was a weekend and I was distraught at the idea of Z suffering for a few days before the appointment so I set out, initially, to find ways I could alleviate the pain. I got in touch with my homeopath and then hit the search engines. I found another dentist who used laser dentistry and a therapy called Ozone which basically uses Ozonated water to clean out debris and decay from the tooth. I decided to visit her impromptu for a second opinion and she gave me a third alternative (i.e. aside from root canal therapy or extraction) which involved cleaning out the cavity using Ozone and then placing an interim, sedative filling (using oil of cloves) in the cavity to see if that would help. She didn't make any promises for complete recovery and said we had to monitor it carefully but at least it helped with the pain and we have been sleeping soundly for 2 nights since. Thank God and fingers/toes crossed, knock on wood etc etc!

As an aside, since the decay has reached the nerve and is threatening to damage it - I also researched how to repair nerve damage and what I could give Z to help keep the nerve intact. Turns out B-complex is my best friend (I do have a few too many of these friends, don't I?) and so that is my next port of call along with continuing with the CLO, homeopathic support and trying out Xylitol.

Send some positive vibes over for my princess, wouldja please?

Let the remineralization continue,

~S~


p.s the moral of this story is...cavities can be remineralized but there is a chance you may miss the window if you wait too long. While there may still be a chance I could save Z's tooth, I have been warned that this is probably going to be very difficult to do for the length of time until she gets her permanent molar (4-5 years from now). So start treating your cavities early and even those of you that are lucky not to have to deal with tooth decay, I would strongly recommend incorporating best practices to keep it that way. 

 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Different Way To Look At Illness

Been missing in action lately, I know. I do have an excuse unfortunately as my mother has been unwell and I have been beside myself trying to get her back to the 'Ami' (Urdu for mom) I've known all my life. It's so hard to watch your parents get sick, isn't it? You somehow see them as infallible, unwavering pillars of strength that will never get too old. It is a rude awakening when you discover just how vulnerable they are and as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, even more shocking when you suddenly find yourself in a reversal of roles. Yeah, doesn't feel as good as it did when I was 13, when I fantasized about having that much power over my mom. Nope, not even close. 

So, on my everlasting quest to find natural ways to cope with illness, in this case Ami's, I stumbled upon a book (thank you to my cousin, A, for introducing it to me) which tackled the concept of being sick in a different way. The book, "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay is based on the premise that our negative thought patterns cause disease and that by changing those very thoughts, our bodies rid themselves of the ailments that plague us. Sounds easy, right? Well it's not, trust me. We've managed to do a fine job all these years of filling our heads with negative crap and it's amazing just how much resistance we're going to put up in the face of change. Still, it's all about the habit breaking, isn't it? Don't believe the 'you can't teach old dogs new tricks' and "old habits die hard" adages - change is good and it's going to make you feel better.

What I found the most interesting about the book was the correlation between certain kinds of negative thought patterns and common illnesses, some of which applied to children. For e.g. issues with the ears were said to be caused by the need to drown out things you didn't want to hear, parents arguing for instance. Similarly, coughs caused by the need to be heard by the world. The A-Z list towards the end of the book provides these correlations along with some positive affirmations to practice saying to combat the negative thinking. I was fascinated; having always believed in positive thinking and reinforcement, this theory resonated with me deeply. 

Now, I know what you are thinking *wiggling my finger* - "great, another reason to feel that mommy guilt  because my children are getting chronic ear infections/coughs due to the environment at home" - NO, NO, NO!! The very premise of this book is to drop the negative thinking and guilt is prime suspect # 1. The point is to understand why your children might be getting sick and that very understanding and compassion may just prevent the illness from rearing its ugly head or help it disappear quicker than it would normally. 

Still, I can appreciate, despite all my patronizing, that this is not the easiest concept to get one's head around. I am a bit of a self proclaimed geek when it comes to holistic therapies and so, as I once said in an early post, I literally want to jump up and down on the bed when I come across a new one :-) Nerd I am, yes.

I leave you with an affirmation from Ms. Hay which I would like all my readers to adopt:

"Today I release the need to blame anyone, including myself."


~S~

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Oils Are 'Essential'

I might as well entitle this post as I did the one for GSE - P.S I Love You Too (Eucalyptus)! To be fair to the other essential oils though, I went with the more generic title - after all I'm nothing if not fair! [My true, secret love is Eucalyptus though because it is my best friend during bad bouts of the sniffles or coughs.. shhh]

I discovered essential oils - surprise, surprise - after R was born and I was looking at ways to arm myself against the big, bad world of germs. I bought a book (check Reference Books section), purchased the recommended ones for kids and was ready for combat! (Note to self: I really need to curb this war talk).

Aromatherapy is really a study in of itself  because although there are certain oils whose therapeutic actions you are familiar with, there will also be so many that you will either not know about at all or be unaware their full healing potential. For e.g. I knew that Rose Essential Oil had a wonderful fragrance and is good for the skin but didn't realize it was also a very effective therapy against fevers. (Fun fact: did you know it takes about 10,000 lbs of rose petals to distill 1lb of oil?!)


So, what are essential oils, essentially?! They are basically essences of plants, steam distilled from their different parts e.g. the flowers, the seeds, the leaves. You can combine more than one oil depending on your child's condition and they are safe as long as they are used correctly i.e. diluted in a carrier oil before applying to your child's skin. I know some aromatherapists may call for ingestion of oils occasionally but it is definitely not recommended and I would not suggest you attempt to either. Inhalation or massage works best. More on that later.


My Favs


It is rather daunting to start your aromatherapy journey because there are so many oils to choose from. To help get you started, here are my picks for oils to keep around the house at all times:


1) Eucalyptus Radiata (suitable from 2mos+ for colds, coughs)
2) Lavender (suitable from newborn+, for relaxation, insomnia, wounds, insect bites, great for burns!)
3) Roman Chamomile (suitable from nb+, for stomach cramps, relaxation, headaches, teething)
4) Thyme Linalol (other Thyme may be too strong for a child, suitable for 2y+, for coughs, all infections)
5) Lemon (suitable from 2y+, for general antibacterial action, cleaning around the house)
6) Tea Tree (suitable from 2mos+, for thrush/yeast, infections, insect bites)
7) Rose Otto (suitable from 2mos+, for fevers, relaxation)
8) Geranium (suitable from 2mos+ natural insect repellent, sunburn, anxiety)
9) Ginger (suitable from 2y+, for stomach cramps, for coughs, for nausea)
10) Mandarin (suitable from nb+, for digestive issues, irritability, constipation)

How to use

Skin: Massage/Body Rub. Always dilute before applying to the skin. A good carrier oil is Sweet Almond Oil but you can use any bland smelling oil that doesn't overpower the essence.

Inhalation: Tissue/Pillow/Clothes/Steam Inhalation (for older kids). Keep away from the eyes (make your child close the eyes when using steam) as eyes can water/sting from close contact. Dilute for younger kids, can use pure oil for older ones with this method. 

Water: Sponging/Compresses/Baths. Add to a bowl of water to sponge or for a compress (great for fevers). Or add diluted oil to bath and swish.


You can also add to a humidifier or vaporizer which is especially effective when your child has a cold and  can't breathe at night or has trouble sleeping in general. Another method I thought was interesting was adding to a spray bottle to mist around the house - replace that Febreze stuff!!!

All in all, Aromatherapy has been a Godsend for me both when the kids have been sick and also just generally when I needed help to calm them down or get them through the night when they were having trouble sleeping. 

Try it!


Essentially yours,

~S~

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Only 'D' You Won't Fret About!

Before R was born, I had a severe case of cough that bruised my side. My then not-so-holistic doctor put me on Advair because I couldn't breathe, the pain was so bad. Turned out I had a calcium deposit which in turn was caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D. In fact my deficiency was so bad, my MD put me on weekly doses of 100,000 IU (not to mention I took Advair for nothing, *scowl*). To give you a yardstick to compare, the RDA (Recommended Daily Intake) for Vitamin D is 600 IU. 


What a difference, eh?


I later learned that the RDA is substantially less than the dosages naturopaths recommend which is usually in the realm of 2,000-8,000 IU. Although this vitamin can be toxic in very huge amounts, the average Joe Schmoe is deficient in Vitamin D and will benefit from regular, high doses. Pediatricians also recommend that exclusively breastfed babies get 400 IU via drops - something I scoffed at when R & Z were babies. I don't need to supplement, I have a good diet and I am giving my children the best nutrition possible! I was oh-so-wrong and am to this day eating very large slices of humble pie. See, that attitude is fine when the bf mama's blood D levels are optimal (min ~ 40 ng/mL) but in my case, I was deficient and so was definitely not passing enough of this crucial vitamin to my babies. You can fix this by exposing your baby to 20 minutes of sunlight daily - try to expose as much skin as possible to absorb optimal amounts of the vitamin. However, if you live in an area where this is not feasible, you need to make sure your levels are high enough and if not, start taking Vitamin D3 supplements yourself (I do adhere to the 6 month rule of exclusive breastfeeding so recommend supplementing baby directly after this mark). If you are not breastfeeding or want to supplement directly, you can give your baby Carlson Vitamin D3 drops which will serve the purpose nicely. Point is don't assume your Vitamin D levels are optimal! 


I honestly believe that it was my Vitamin D deficiency that contributed to Z's teeth being in the condition they are today. Mommy guilt aside, both my kids have the same diet, were breastfed for the same amount of time and  have the same oral hygiene. So, what gives? With Ro, I took a regular prenatal and ate a balanced diet which I suspect raised my levels somewhat. With Z, the sickness was so bad I could not take any supplements, I was nursing Ro through my pregnancy and my father passed away soon after she was born, not the most optimal foundation for good immunity is it? If you're reading this when you grow up Z darling, please do not take this in any way as an indication that you were not loved or cared for as much as R - it was purely circumstantial and was never intentional and I love you so very much!


I digress..as usual might I add :-)


Vitamin D is not only essential for good bone health (including teeth) but a great immunity booster. I have read accounts of people mega dosing with Vitamin D when sick and finding that they recovered from colds faster. Research studies also show that certain types of cancer can be prevented by taking adequate amounts, same goes for ailments such as diabetes & depression. For women, this vitamin is essential for hormonal health - it plays a significant role in reproduction and fertility and has been reported to help with PMS as well.


The best way to supplement is really to get out in the sun, as I said earlier. Even if you don't live in a climate that's sunny most of the year around (ah if only I could live in San Francisco), try to maximize your exposure in the months that it is sunny outside because your body does store Vitamin D and those levels can get you through the winter months. Remember to try and get at least 20 minutes of bare skin exposure and at a time when the sun is at its peak. If you do want to supplement, always buy Vitamin D3 as that is the most natural form. Vitamin D2 is synthetic and although widely available, can even cause problems with the functioning of Vitamin D3. Another way of getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is by supplementing with Cod Liver Oil. See post on cavities for more info.



Boosting immunity just by sitting in the sun every day? Yes, please!

~S~

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

P.S I Love You (GSE)

Don't roll your eyes please. I know I talk about GSE a lot but I just have to report its efficacy in my last head-to-head with the flu, which was a real doozy let me tell you! I've said before that my kids always spike high fevers so I wasn't overly concerned when R got sick last Monday. The fever continued for a couple of days, I didn't medicate and was expecting it to go away, like it usually does, by the end of the second or at worst, the third day. He was drinking lots so I wasn't afraid of dehydration and although lethargic, he would have times during the day where he would be more energetic. I dosed with Echinacea only as he kept spitting out the OJ with GSE and I had run out of Vit C. No issues I thought to myself, we'll be fine.

Day 3 and the fever dropped to 101F during the day but it would go up again at night to 103F. Went to the pediatrician to rule out anything bacterial and she confirmed he didn't have strep or an ear infection and he didn't sound chesty so no chance of bronchitis or worse, pneumonia. She said it seemed viral and we should wait a week since that's usually how long a viral infection runs its course. I continued to dose with Echinacea but he didn't seem to be shaking the fever. We reached Day 4 and he started coughing a little, had a runny nose but was still at 101F and I was beginning to worry. So I told him he had to have the "juice medicine" several times during the day to help him recover - I upped the amount of juice and he started having it every couple of hours. Bullseye! By the end of that day, his fever had dropped to 99.5 and he was in much better spirits, eating more and getting back to his "normal" self, running around the house chasing his sister :-) I continued the GSE for 3-4 days after that to ensure full recovery. 

Phew! 

So, the moral of my short story is don't underestimate the power of Grapefruit Seed Extract and start dosing right away! While Echinacea is great and works for mild colds and coughs, I think GSE is a much more powerful immunity booster and is needed for those stubborn infections that are hard to shake. 

Cheerio!


~S~

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Honey, Honey

"Honey Honey how you thrill me, aha
Honey Honey
I'd heard about you before
I wanted to know some more.."

Yes, yes I know. I'm corny. I am so corny that I know all the words to this ABBA song (the other lyrics just weren't relevant to this piece; I mean where would I be if I started this with "Honey Honey, really kill me"??) 

In case you haven't got it yet, my post today is about honey and its amazing healing properties. Surprise!

Honey has long been a staple in my diet (even before I became a crunchy mom so to speak) as it is mentioned in the Quran in several verses as being a "healing" drink. I often used it as a sweetener for tea, knowing that it was good for the throat and for coughs but was surprised to learn of its many other healing properties.

For example, did you know that honey lowers blood pressure? My mother in law's remedy is tried and tested: boil a tablespoon of honey in a glass of water and leave (covered) to cool overnight. The next morning, remove the foam on the top and drink first thing, before eating or drinking anything else. Do this consistently and you'll notice a change for the better.

I have blogged recently about how honey helped my cut lip (cringe) but did you know it was good for burns in addition to wounds? Apply honey regularly to a burn or a wound and watch it heal! It may sting slightly but I am testament to the fact that the sting lasts a fraction of a second and the results are instant and so worth it! Recently, Z fell and in the process she bit down hard on the inside of her lip - ouch! She had these big ulcer looking things as a result but a couple of days of applying Manuka honey and she was as right as rain!

Oh yes, at the risk of repeating myself, remember *raw* honey is best and to kick it up that one extra notch,  try to find local honey so you can reap the allergy fighting benefits. Which brings me to my next super duper reason for eating honey - help with allergies! The principle of local honey helping with allergies is rather similar to the "like cures like" premise of homeopathy. If your honey is local, it is created out of the pollination of local plants and flowers - the very culprits in the crime that is constant sneezing and watery, itchy eyes! The small amounts of pollen that are contained in your honey slowly build your immunity against the allergens and over time you'll notice you are less sensitive to them. Pure genius, right?!

Did I mention I love honey:?!

Use it for curing a myriad of infections - I mentioned its benefit in my Tummy Bugs post in relieving gastroenteritis (I much prefer the phrase tummy bug, don't you?!) and also in my Conjunctivitis post but it can really be used for any infection as a general immunity builder + antioxidant. 

Ever had a canker sore? Lose the Orajels & Bonjelas of today and use honey instead! It provides relief immediately and used regularly helps cure them (unlike OTC meds that just numb the pain but don't actually do anything by way of cure).

Since I'm such a stickler for stats, I just had to write that 1oz of honey contains (taken from the Whole Foods website):


nutrient
amount
%DV
riboflavin - B2
0.02 mg
1.18
niacin - B3
0.05 mg
0.25
niacin equiv
0.08 mg

vitamin B6
0.01 mg
0.5
vitamin C
0.21 mg
0.35
folate
0.84 mcg
0.21
pantothenic acid
0.03 mg
0.3
nutrient
amount
%DV
calcium
2.52 mg
0.25
copper
0.02 mg
1
iron
0.18 mg
1
magnesium
0.84 mg
0.21
manganese
0.03 mg
1.5
phosphorus
1.68 mg
0.17
potassium
21.84 mg
0.62
selenium
0.34 mcg
0.49
sodium
1.68 mg
0.07
zinc
0.09 mg
0.6

Even though the above shows only trace amounts, isn't it amazing that a small amount of yummy liquid can contain a variety of different vitamins and minerals?! (I'm not a nerd, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not)


I guess what I love most about honey (and the primary reason I'm posting about it) is that it is so easy to give to our munchkins. R & Z rarely ever put up a fight when I give it to them, well except for when I add ginger into it and I can dose freely and often when they're sick. Plus it makes the yuckiest of herbs taste good and I need all the help I can get if I want to stay on my crunchy path! (remember, honey is usually not given to children under the age of 1 due to the risk of botulism).


I will leave you with a quote from another favourite cartoon character of mine, Winnie the Pooh!


"The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey....and the only reason for making honey, is so as I can eat it."

So there!

~S~