Saturday, February 25, 2012

Natural Cure for a Cut Lip

Sometimes I think I'm jinxed. How else do you explain managing to cut your lip open with Scotch tape?? Funnily enough, it didn't happen while trying to cut the tape with my teeth oh no, no, no - this little piece had a life of its own and just flapped about when I was trying to work with it, smack on to my lip, kissing off a chunk of skin. Ugh!

10 minutes later and I'm still bleeding. Ice didn't help neither did pressure. What did work was..wait for it.....HONEY! Yes good ol' raw honey. Smeared some on it, stung for a millisecond but arrested the bleeding pretty much immediately. Yayy!

This was too good a cure not to blog about straight away..more the meantime, what better way to treat a wound for a child than with something that tastes and smells great!!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh No, Fever!

The very word conjures up an image in most people's minds; an image rather like Voldemort from Harry Potter (I did warn you) i.e. "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". Fevers are often perceived to be harmful when in fact they are the body's way of dealing with bacteria/viruses and actually do more good than harm. The presence of a fever may indicate a more serious, underlying disease (such as pneumonia) but in of itself, it is really nothing to worry about. R & Z have run temperatures of 103 and have been jumping up and down on the bed - I called my ped. in a frenzy the first time this happened and he laughed it off stating that as long as they were in good spirits, I had nothing to worry about! This does not apply to newborns and infants under 3 months who should be taken to a doctor immediately if they have a fever over 100.4 as this can signal a serious infection.

Why do we get fevers? The answer's quite simple actually. The hypothalamus in the centre of our brain is responsible for regulating our body's temperature and on realizing that it has been invaded by green aliens, it cranks up the heating to make them go back to Planet Virus forever.  Honest!

It is also said that white blood cells (responsible for fighting infection) work better in higher temperatures so by letting the body do its job, you're actually warding off the infection quicker and more efficiently.

So now that we've established that fevers are not the end of the world, let's concentrate on what you can do to make your child comfortable:

~ Lots of liquids: what you want to avoid in a fever is letting a child become dehydrated as fevers tend to increase evaporation of water from the body. Let them sip on watered down juice or water flavoured with a little lemon.
~ Warm water compresses: note that I say warm, not cold. You're just trying to make your child comfortable. Cold compresses can cause a sudden drop in body temperature which is not good for the body and can induce shivering. You can add some lavender oil or Rescue Remedy to the warm water to help relax.
~ Loose, light clothing: try not to overdress your child when they have fever as overheating can lead to an artificially raised temperature.
~ Dose with the appropriate immunity boosters: again, the aim is not to reduce the fever but attack whatever is causing it. Whether the cause is flu or a stomach bug, you'll get good results if you start immediately. 
~Relax! Teach your child that having a fever is nothing to be afraid of and give them extra reassurance while they're sick so they can overcome it easily and quickly. You can help them relax by using Reiki or Essential Oils or even Rescue Remedy. Remember the point about cues!

Don't be concerned if your child sleeps excessively during a fever. It's normal for the body to be tired when it's working overtime to combat an infection and the extra rest will help. A feverish child will also not likely want to eat much and that's fine too. Ever heard the phrase "Feed a cold, starve a fever"?! While you don't need to starve it, you also don't need to force feed it :-) Ensuring adequate liquid is far more important and trust me from experience, any lost weight will come back!! 

As always, use your judgement and assess the situation practically. You know your child best and if something doesn't feel right, please consult a pediatrician. In most average cases however, you'll be surprised to see that the body can actually deal with a lot more than we give it credit for, especially if you equip it with the right ingredients.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away (primarily 'coz it contains Vitamin C!)


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of Teething

It frequent plagues me how much children have to deal with in the first few years of their lives. I mean, really. From the trauma of passing through the birth canal through learning how to crawl, eat, walk and talk it seems that their rites of passage will never end, especially to an already sleep (and sanity) deprived parent. Take children's teeth for e.g. Kinda an "on-again, off-again" type of scenario, dontcha think? Cutting the teeth, losing them then growing them back again?? Ai yai yai!!

On a more serious note, teething is one of the biggies, a leading source of miserable days for babies and parents alike. Unlike other ailments, you can't really 'fix' teething - it is the inevitable and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. What you can do is make your wee one more comfortable so he/she (and you) can get through the teething period with all your hair intact.

~ Chomp on hard, cold things

Freeze some carrots and have your baby bite down on them. Both the pressure and the cold will help soothe. Some mothers also swear by frozen washcloths and teethers although I had better success with the carrots probably because they taste better :-) You can soak the washcloths in Chamomile tea before freezing for maximum punch.

~ Chamomile/Lavender/Clove Oil

Mix some chamomile and lavender oil into a carrier oil and massage along the jaw line and behind the ears. Chamomile and Lavender are both soothing and they will help relax an irritable child.

Cloves are a spice well known in the subcontinent as they are widely used in everyday cooking. They are antiseptic and a natural analgesic which makes them an ideal remedy for sore, inflamed gums. Be *extremely* careful with clove oil as it can burn if not diluted properly. Put only 1 drop in a large quantity of Almond (or other carrier) Oil and rub with your finger on the affected gum. You can buy a pre-mixed oil called Gum-omile which I've provided a link to on the "Where to Buy" page.

~ Homeopathy (Check out my links section for more info and to find a practitioner)

Homeopathy can be an invaluable tool especially since the right one yields quick and long lasting results. It is a little tricky to get the hang of because its premise is identifying the symptoms that correspond to a particular remedy but if you spend some time reading up on it, it is actually very useful to know. The most common homeopathic remedies for teething are:

Belladonna: children needing this remedy emanate heat and experience intense pain. Keynotes are restlessness/starting in sleep, red face and inflamed gums.

Calcarea Carbonica: use in cases where a baby is slow to cut teeth i.e. delayed teething and is sad/anxious   in the process. Keynotes are night sweats (on the head) and delayed milestones in general.

Coffea Cruda: use when your baby is wide excitable and finding it hard to sleep while teething. Keynotes are the insomnia and also better with cold application to the gums.

Chamomilla: this remedy is best suited to a child who is irritable and in fact angry due to the intolerable pain. Keynotes are one red cheek and the other pale, better when carried and in some cases green-ish stools/diarrhoea. 

Pulsatilla: a baby that is tearful and needs constant comforting may need this remedy. Keynotes are better when in the open air and with the cold and also clinginess.

Use the 6C potency of whichever remedy matches your child's emotional and/or physical state. You can administer the remedy in water by putting a pellet or two in a bottle of water and then giving a teaspoon up to 3 x a day for one day only, shaking the bottle before each dose. If it hasn't helped by then (i.e. you don't see a marked difference), stop and select another remedy. For optimum health, it's worth getting in touch with a professional homeopath to address general health issues. Mine has helped me through many a hurdle through the last few years and I don't know where I'd be without her.

~ The human touch

Babies are no different from adults in that they need to know everything is going to be okay! Give your baby lots of hugs and let him/her know there's nothing to fret about. Massage helps (use olive oil) as does reflexology. Try applying pressure to the toes for relief around the ears and sinuses. An excellent article on the tooth-body relationship can be found here and you can either massage the equivalent spots on the feet or apply Reiki to them.

~ Chill out!

'Tis hard work looking after a teething child so kick back your feet and relax! Sip Chamomile tea yourself during the day, meditate, listen to music and take a soothing bath! You'll be much better equipped to deal with an irritable baby if you do! If you aren't able to find the time to do the above (trust me, I know hard it is to spare a second with a baby!) try taking some Rescue Remedy to soothe your nerves.

Enjoy that first tooth when it does finally come out; it makes for a perfect picture!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays

Digressing again! Can't help it...blogging is really addictive :-) It's also hard to really type whatever comes into your mind while you're writing about something as serious as solutions for a sick child (although I do take some liberties on this front!).

So, it's Sunday night and I'm listening to "Rainy Days & Mondays" by the Carpenters. How appropriate. I hate Mondays (love the Carpenters however). Stating the obvious, I know. I really hate them though - it's that feeling of dread that your relaxing weekend is coming to an end and that the rat race is about to begin again. Right now, Friday is not 5 days away, it's EONS away. Taking the cake for why I hate Mondays is the fact that I usually have an early morning conference call to dial into. Plus, I am back on the time bomb that is getting R & Z ready for school. Amid Z's cries of  "I want to wear a dreeeesssss" and "I don't want to go to the bathroom", I am running around like a headless chicken, negotiating breakfast choices with R and trying to respond to work e-mails. What's worse is that I don't have my partner in crime with me tomorrow, as he's travelling. Sigh. 

I think I was the only one in this country not watching the Super Bowl tonight! 

May *your* Mondays always be sunny and cheerful!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Love and Coughs Cannot be Well Hid"

...says George Herbert, a Welsh poet. Poets know what they're talking about, trust me. Ever had a child that coughed all night and couldn't sleep (*cough* let you sleep)? Those of you who have shared my agony will attest to the fact that it is really one of the most difficult situations to deal with. I've had plenty of experience with this one as Z is very prone to chesty coughs. It's that dreaded post nasal drip. So, here's my 2 cents on what works for coughs.

Nip it in the bud quickly and start dosing!

Oh I know I sound like a broken record. It's so important though and so very much easier than having to treat a full blown attack. This means that, at the first sign of a runny nose, you should be going at it with all guns a blazing whether it be Vit C, Echinacea or GSE. In my opinion, the dosage on the label is useless. Give a dose every hour for the first day and in many cases, you will be able to stop it right there in its tracks. (Pls. refer to my initial posts for information about what to have at hand and my "Where to Buy" page for links to products).

Hit the jacuzzi!

If you're lucky enough to have one. For the rest of us, sitting in the bathroom with the shower on full steam usually does the trick. It loosens the mucous and will help you aspirate or if an older child, help him/her blow it out. Also keep a humidifier (cool mist is best) in your child's room and keep his/her head propped up either through extra pillows or by putting some books under the bed to elevate it.


Thyme is a good expectorant, that is, it helps to expel mucous from the chest and lungs. Boil some fresh thyme (fresh is best but can use dried too) in water and let is steep for some time. Add honey to sweeten the deal as it will not only make the tea easier to digest but will also aid in soothing the cough and fighting infection. I like to use raw, unfiltered honey as most of the commercially prepared honey has been heated so much that all the enzymes have been killed off. It is said that darker honey is supposed to work better than lighter honey e.g buckwheat. Manuka honey is supposed to be a great natural antibiotic in fact but it is darned expensive and has a little bit of a spicy flavour to it which may make it a little harder to get into your little devil's mouth. (Honey is not suitable for children under 1 due to the risk of botulism so exercise caution with babies please).

Ginger is also not only an expectorant but is known for its antispasmodic properties meaning you can nuke (hmm side note: is there a bit too much of the passive-aggressive in me?) those awful night long coughing fits with it. Try grating some ginger into a big spoon of honey and giving it to your (1+) child - I have noticed it helping arrest the cough almost immediately.


Try rubbing some Eucalyptus oil (remember to dilute it in a carrier oil e.g. almond; never use directly because it will burn!) on your child's chest. Even better mix it with some ginger oil and apply to the chest and the back a few times during the day and before bedtime. Eucalyptus helps open the airways and is, at the risk of repeating myself, also an expectorant. Also it's great for a stuffed up nose which you'll often find accompanying a cough. 

Onion Soaked in Honey

You can make a cough syrup by pouring honey over a sliced onion (some people layer the honey with the onions) and letting it sit for several hours. The onion juices seep into the honey and you can give the resulting liquid as a cough syrup. Onions are known for their anti inflammatory properties and they are also expectorants so they do double duty to help dispel the cough and any underlying infection.

Although I haven't used this one, I have read that making an onion 'pack' for your child's chest can help ease coughing spells as well. It involves heating sliced onion slightly so it's warm but not too hot to the touch, wrapping it in a muslin cloth and then applying it to the chest for 10-15 minutes at a time, re-heating as needed. You can add a hot water bottle for an older child or just cover with lots of blankets to keep the area warm. Yes, this will stink. Sorry! At 3am in the morning when you're dying for some sleep, do ya really care? I didn't think so...

Updated: Happy to say I have used this a number of times now and it works great! Use medical tape to keep the pack in place and if you don't have muslin at home, use a paper towel - it works just as well!

H2O & Chicken Soup for the Soul

Finally, make sure your child is hydrated throughout this time. Fluids will help thin out the mucous in the chest and make it easier for him/her to dispel. Water is best as juices and milk may make the problem worse. 

Also wonderful are soups whether in the form of old fashioned chicken stock or a vegetable medley that adds vitamins. Children often won't eat much when coughing so this is a good way of getting some nutrition into them. Add some ginger & thyme and you're attacking that darned cough from all sides (there's me being passive-aggressive again!). Following the folk remedies back home (Pakistan), I also add some other spices which are known to bring heat to the chest and also help expel the gunk that often causes prolonged coughing. These are (all in whole, not powdered form, for maximum effect):

-- Black Peppercorns 
-- Cloves
-- Cinnamon

Add some fresh onion, garlic in addition to the above and you've got yourself a nutritious and medicinal soup that your children will enjoy! My kids drink it by the mug. 

Off to go fix my cough now!



P.S My hubby rightly points out that I don't really distinguish between dry and congested coughs here - since the above are all natural remedies and the aim is not to suppress the cough but make it useful (that is remove whatever is irritating the throat/chest), these will work for all coughs. You can't really go wrong with any of them. E-mail me if you have any questions about specific types of coughs.