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!