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,


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,


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."


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,


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 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!


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. 


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. 



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):

riboflavin - B2
0.02 mg
niacin - B3
0.05 mg
niacin equiv
0.08 mg

vitamin B6
0.01 mg
vitamin C
0.21 mg
0.84 mcg
pantothenic acid
0.03 mg
2.52 mg
0.02 mg
0.18 mg
0.84 mg
0.03 mg
1.68 mg
21.84 mg
0.34 mcg
1.68 mg
0.09 mg

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!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

When The Child Becomes The Parent

It's funny the relationship between a mother and a child isn't it? The mother tends to her child from the day she first finds out she's pregnant - nourishing, caring & of course worrying. During the subsequent formative years she continues to put her child's needs before hers rarely ever looking back and rarely regretting the sacrifices she made. So much so that even when she's reached the stage where getting through life becomes a Herculean effort, she still wants to be the carer in the relationship, the dependable one, the strong one. Yet at the same time you, as the child, can see the vulnerability, the sense of hopelessness and that never ending guilt in your mother as a result of her needing you. That's the moment where you, the child, become the parent. The one who will set aside the need to be held and instead be the one to hold. The one who will not shed tears and instead be the one to wipe them away. The one who will comfort and spoil, the one who will make sure all vitamins are taken on time, the one who will put fears to rest. 

Being a mother to your children is a hard job but being a mother to your mother is even harder.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Coping With Crappy Conjuctivitis

If you've had a child with Conjunctivitis, you know why part of my title has the not-so-articulate word "crappy" in it. 'Coz it sucks and it sucks big time i.e. it's crappy. Waking up to my eyes glued together by yucky, gooey gunk is not my idea of a great start to the day. If you're a child, imagine that frustration 100 times over. Nope, Pink Eye, much as I love the colour pink, is not my cup of tea and yet I've had the fortune of having it a few times in my life which leads me to the bad news about this specific ailment   - it is CONTAGIOUS!!!  Don't underestimate (..the things that I will do..there's a fire burning in my heart..sorry I digress) this please because it is next to impossible to avoid contracting conjunctivitis once someone has it in the house. You have to have a super duper immune system and start dosing as soon as it rears its evil head in the house and even then, chances are you will get it. It's like death and taxes..inevitable.

Inevitable though it may be, there are some really easy things you can do to help ease your child's discomfort. Not even going to go into immunity boosting as I've mentioned it enough in previous know the drill!! Boosting immunity at the first sight of a cold is most important as more often than not, Pink Eye will develop after a cold. Please note that all bouts of Conjunctivitis are *not* bacterial and therefore antibiotics, whether oral or via drops, may not always help. The following tips can be used for either. 

First things first. Make your child more comfortable by gently cleaning the gunk off his/her eyes. I like to do this with a combination of Chamomile & Eyebright tea which has been brewed for a good 10/15 minutes to activate the herbs' medicinal properties. I've mentioned Chamomile tea as an effective soothing agent - Eyebright is similar in that it helps reduce inflammation and as its name suggests, is especially useful in ailments of the eye. Use a clean cotton ball, dip in the tea and gently wipe across the eyelashes. It will take a few tries to get it all out, especially if it's a bad infection. Since the eyes can be sore and therefore hurt,  your child might resist having them touched - what has worked for me in the past is to first use the warm tea as a compress on closed eyes. The heat feels good and will help relax your child before you start to pry his/her eye lids open. You can also use the tea as a wash throughout the day - this will help soothe the achiness (spell check showed me raunchiness, really????) but will also help fight the infection.

Also effective for reducing swelling and discomfort is putting a warm (or cold if your child prefers it) teabag on the eyes. I would make R & Z lie down to nap and put them on while they slept, changing every so often.  A regular teabag works wonders here as the tannic acid in it helps both to soothe and draw infection out of the eye. Rosewater is another effective eye drop and antiseptic - there are people back home who have told me they believe rose water (pure water distilled from the rose i.e) actually helps improve eyesight as well. Others believe warmed milk eye drops work wonders - if you are nursing, breast milk is very effective both as a wash and in the form of eye drops. Goes without saying that it is antiseptic. Another favourite of mine is raw honey which I've said time and time again is a great antibacterial tool - dissolve some raw honey in warm water and administer as drops and use as a wash too ( I wouldn't recommend this for a very young child as the honey will sting - only for a second - but will sting nonetheless).

Most of us know that carrots are recommended for good eyesight so it is logical that Vitamin A is a useful supplement to have at hand for kids that are prone to recurrent infections of the eye. Prevention is better than cure so start introducing Vitamin A rich foods into your child's diet - look at my previous post to read about herbs such as Parsley & Thyme that are good sources. Also look at greens such as Romaine lettuce, Spinach & Kale. These will all help your child heal faster even when they're in the throes of an active infection so consider upping intake for the entire family during an outbreak.

For those of you that have kids with allergies, you may find that they develop eye infections with bad bouts - Vitamin D is great for helping with allergies and Cod Liver Oil which contains Omega 3s and Essential Fatty Acids which are also invaluable for fighting allergies and asthma. 

Use an emollient under the eyes to prevent dryness and itchiness. You can add a drop of Lavender or Roman Chamomile Essential oil to help heal the infection via Aromatherapy as well.

Finally, homeopathy can help. Here are some of the common remedies for Conjunctivitis:

-- Apis Mellifica (keynotes are swollen, red & puffy eyes, better with cold, burning sensation)
-- Belladonna (keynotes are sudden onset, throbbing/bloodshot eyes, sensitivity to light)
-- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum (keynotes are irritability, sensitivity to cold, warmth helps & yellow discharge)
-- Mercurius Solubilis (keynotes are green discharge, sensitive to both heat & cold, excess salivation)
-- Pulsatilla (keynotes clinginess, yellow/green discharge, weepy)

Fun fact: Tears and mucus contain an enzyme (lysozyme) that breaks down the cell wall of many bacteria, which helps keep the germs at bay. So let those tears flow (for once)!!!!


p.s please take your child to the pediatrician if he/she is showing signs of blurred vision, has extreme pain or the above remedies do not help within a few days.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Packing a Vitamin Punch With Herbs & Spices

Chances are you have at least one, if not more, picky eater in your family. Sound familiar? I feel your pain. I used to be one of those annoying moms who everyone hated because her children ate everything. Oh and I mean everything. Serve me right for being so vain because now my children will, at best, turn their nose up at everything. Well everything apart from Mac 'n' Cheese. Yuck! If I never have to make MnC again, it will be too soon! For those of you who are at wits' end because your children aren't getting enough vitamins & minerals, herbs & spices are a *great* way of sneaking some nutrition into your fussy eaters. This is going to be one of those posts I guarantee will make you stop and think, "Wow, I didn't know that!" - that was my exact reaction when I first Googled "the nutritional value of Thyme". Intrigued? Read on...

I have mentioned Thyme a lot in my previous posts, namely in relation to coughs, as it is such a great expectorant. What I didn't know was just how much nutritional 'punch' it actually had. Did you know that just 100g of fresh Thyme leaves contain large amounts of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin A, C, B-6 & even dietary fibre? You can add Thyme to soups, pasta/pizza sauces and chicken marinades. If your children are like mine and are fond of tea, you can boil the leaves in some fresh, filtered water and add honey to sweeten. For those parents with anaemic kids that are desperate to get some Iron into their kids, this is a fantastic way to bridge some of the gap. 

Let's move on to Nettle. You may have had Nettle tea during your pregnancy if you had a midwife that tended to you as Nettle has a high percentage of Calcium and Vitamin K (Vitamin K is known for its blood clotting properties and in fact, babies in the US are routinely and controversially given a K shot at birth). Nettle is also a great source of protein oddly enough and I read somewhere that 1 serving of Nettle provides as much protein as a sink full of Kale! Add in the fact that Nettle is great for asthma and allergies and you've got yourself a super food! 

Having fun yet?! (Okay so I'm a little crazy, I'll admit it. It's also kinda late and I'm sleepy so don't be too harsh when judging)

Next stop and one of my faves, Fennel Seed. Fennel is a carminative as I've said before and is wonderful for tummy ailments. My usual use for it is in my Tummylicious Tea recipe but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it has high concentrations of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin C! I love the taste of Fennel and can have it by itself but the easiest way to give it to a smaller child is in the form of a tea.

You may have heard of Turmeric, another spice that is known for its antioxidant & antiseptic properties. Turmeric is great at fighting infection and people in the subcontinent use it for a variety of different  ailments ranging from arthritis to coughs. It has a high proportion of the mineral Manganese which activates enzymes needed to absorb several key nutrients in the body e.g. biotin which is needed for healthy hair and skin. It also has large amounts of Iron and also Potassium. In Pakistan, we add Turmeric powder to our curries so it is part of everyday cooking. You can make a tea out of it or add a few shakes to honey to give to your child. 

Parsley is a good herb to have at hand for both taste buds and nutrition alike! It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, C & K and also has good amounts of Iron, Folate & Potassium. Use fresh leaves on pizza or add it to sandwiches. I use it often as a topping for Garlic Bread and salads. It is rich in flavonoids which are antioxidants that help fight infections.

This is just a sampling of herbs & spices that you can use to enhance your child's vitamin and mineral intake. Other common herbs include Basil, Peppermint, Coriander & Dandelion and spices such as Black Pepper, Cloves & Cinnamon all of which have something to offer when it comes to fighting disease and strengthening the body overall. 

Spice up your life!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kids That Go Bump in the Night (or Day)

I remember the first time R rolled off the bed. One minute he was drifting off to sleep while nursing and the next minute - THUD! I awake to a piercing scream and find my baby face down on the floor. "I AM A TERRIBLE MOM!" - the words were stuck in my head like one of those songs you annoyingly keep singing despite best efforts  (Achy, Breaky Heart, anyone?). When Z was born, I was confident and almost cocky in my mothering abilities. I wasn't about to repeat the same mistake twice, oh no. We bought a bed rail and pushed the other side of the bed against the wall. When I travelled, I even put a mattress on the floor next to the bed, just in case she did, via some circus act, manage to make it to the floor. Guess what? She managed to roll off two connected twin beds, on to the mattress and then on to the floor under the bed. I found her a few minutes later on her elbows, under the bed, looking rather pleased with herself.  SERIOUSLY?!!! Point is that getting injured is a rite of a passage every child goes through at one point or another; no point beating your head against the wall (sorry couldn't resist!) and ditch the mommy guilt too please!

Bumps 'n' Bruises

Time to revisit our ol' friend, Arnica! Arnica is one of those things no one should be without. You can rub some ointment gently into the bruise a few times a day and you'll be amazed at how quickly the swelling goes down. Better yet, keep some in the fridge so you can attack the swelling from all fronts. You can also administer Arnica in tablet form (30C or 30X a few times a day) for very severe bruises similar to the egg shaped one R acquired in Gym class. Sigh. There are some other simple remedies you can try like using lavender oil and also ice of course. There's also a folk remedy my mom swears by which is a 1/4 tsp or so of Turmeric powder mixed in hot milk - it's supposed to heal deep injuries from within. The milk is the carrier because apparently Turmeric works best when mixed with high fat content foods - you could substitute the milk for something else that has similar properties. This works well for injuries to the bone. The herb Comfrey is also known to aid in healing of bones and muscles and can be used as an external soak for inflammation. Add some Epsom Salts to a hot bath (Magnesium Sulfate) and the heat combined with the properties of the salts will also aid in reducing any associated pain. My final remedy for aches and pains general is a rice sock - take an old cotton sock, fill it with uncooked rice, microwave and voila! You have a home made heat pack.

Here is the link to a post from a fellow mommy blogger who details the things to watch out for when your baby gets a bump on his/her head. Dizziness/concussion is an alarm bell and any signs that your child is behaving out of the ordinary after an injury should be treated seriously and addressed by a doctor. 

Cuts 'n' Scrapes

I've talked about Calendula being great for wounds before so I won't go on like a broken Billy Ray Cyrus record (tee hee). Clean the wound with some witch hazel or my favourite, California Baby's Boo Boo spray a.k.a diaper wash first because Calendula tends to seal wounds with alarming speed. In my embarrassing post about my cut lip, I also mentioned raw honey working well for cuts - it arrested the bleeding immediately so it's a good one for wounds that don't respond to pressure or ice. If after a cut, you notice bruising or inflammation around the wound, it is likely the wound is infected and you should have a doctor see it (although Calendula and honey will work to prevent infection so if you catch it in time, this should not happen).


Raw honey works equally well for burns. Another great homeopathic cream like Arnica & Calendula is Urtica Urens. Great for burns and has helped me avoid blisters if used immediately. Vitamin E oil (break open a capsule or buy the oil itself) can help prevent scarring and also helps in healing the skin. This is really for first degree burns only. For more severe burns, take your child to the doctor to be on the safe side and use homeopathy to help help with the healing. The more common remedies for burns (with a young child, symptoms will be difficult to determine however) are:

-- Cantharis (restlessness associated with burn, better from cold)
-- Hypericum (shooting pains in nerves)
-- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum (infection associated with a burn)
-- Urtica Urens (stinging pain, worse from cold)

AOBs (Any Other Business..I have to use my Project Management skills somehow!)

-- For insect bites, try applying a drop of neat lavender oil (this is the only essential oil you can apply undiluted) directly on the bite. Also use a baking soda paste to help with itching.
-- For splinters, tape a piece of banana peel onto the affected area and leave for 5 mins. The properties of the peel are supposed to help draw the splinter out
-- For bee/wasp stings, try homeopathic Apis Mellifica especially if the area is hot and swollen.
-- For nosebleeds, try a pinch of organic Cayenne pepper on a moistened q tip. Doesn't sting much contrary to belief and works immediately. 

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favourite Mr. Men stories, Mr. Bump ;-)

"The trouble was that Mr.Bump just could not help having little accidents. If there was something for Mr. Bump to bump into, he'd bump into it all right."