Antibiotic Alternatives

A friend shared her story about her most recent visit to a pediatrician.  She was the last patient of the day in a typical 5000 patient practice. She said she spent about 45 seconds with the doctor.  In those brief moments, the doctor explained that her child had an ear infection and prescribed an antibiotic. Thanks and goodbye.  She felt frustrated and let down.  She could not get more information from the doctor, had no time to ask questions, wasn’t able to voice her concerns about antibiotics, and couldn’t discuss alternatives with the doctor.


1 in 5 pediatric sick visits result in a prescription antibiotic.  It is an open secret that we as the medical community can do better when it comes to antibiotic usage.  30 percent of antibiotics are medically unnecessary.  Healthcare providers commonly prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory infections like common cold and flu, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, and sinus and ear infections– caused by viruses and not responsive to antibiotics.


By the age of 20, the average American child will have had 17 courses of antibiotics contributing to physician-caused problems and bacterial resistance to antibiotics, as well as leaving lasting effects on our children’s immune system, gut microbiome, and metabolism. A well-cited and recognized study shows that a single antibiotic administered to a baby before a year old significantly increases that child’s risk of developing asthma.


What are your options?  While it is torture to see your child suffering in sickness, sometimes a wait and see approach is best. Instead of practicing the popular mantra, “Don’t just sit there, do something,” we should consider the opposite as more powerful, “Don’t just do something, sit there!” A host of natural approaches that may be applicable for a first-line treatment are available. We also recognize antibiotics are vital life-saving drugs serving a critical need, however, their overuse will render them ineffective when they are most needed.


If you have visited my office with a sick child the odds are you have left here at some point with a bottle of Biocidin. What is biocidin and why do we use it? Biocidin is a well researched, well tolerated, and effective botanical blend with proven antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It’s ingredients include:


Bilberry extract (25% anthocyanosides), Noni, Milk Thistle, Echinacea (purpurea & angustifolia), Goldenseal, Shiitake, White Willow (bark), Garlic, Grapeseed extract (min. 90% polyphenols), Black Walnut (hull and leaf), Raspberry, Fumitory, Gentian, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Lavender oil (plant & flower), Oregano oil (plant & flower).


We use Biocidin before turning to antibiotics for mild to moderate broad spectrum infections. While this works for my practice where we have more time to educate patients and patients have greater accessibility to allow for follow up visits, it may not be right for everyone and you should talk to your healthcare provider.


Here are a few more common visits and possible alternatives to consider. It is important to keep in mind that about half of all children’s ear infections will resolve without use of antibiotics.  Dr. Rusty who has been practicing medicine with a natural approach for over 40 years says that 80% of ear infections will be self-limiting and subside within about 72 hours. His first line treatment for ear infections is a mix of garlic and mullein oil with 1-2 drops in the ear followed by applying warmth.  Depending on the patient he may recommend Motrin for pain relief. Sore throats are another common culprit of childhood sickness and pediatric visits.  80% of sore throats are caused by viruses. Elderberry syrup is an effective treatment with broad-ranging health benefits and immune support for sore throats. Dr. Thornburg will use high dose vitamin D3 once a day for three days along with symptom relief strategies.


Share with us which homeopathic and natural treatments work for you and your family because we are a connected network of families committed to health and wellness.

Indelible Scar of Stress

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” – Hans Selye, MD, PhD


There it is in a nutshell.  Stress is essential to our survival and takes a little bit of our life force from us at the same time.  Dr. Selye is credited with the discovery of stress and giving it its name in the 1930’s.  Stress like many great scientific discoveries was an accidental discovery.


Dr. Selye was a young promising endocrinologist in search of a new hormone. He began injecting an ovarian extract into lab rats when he thought he hit the jackpot.  He was 28 years old and already discovered a new hormone!


This hormone, so he thought, was causing swollen adrenal glands.  These are the glands that produce cortisol, adrenaline, and aldosterone.  We knew then that these chemicals increase your heart rate, increase blood pressure, increase blood sugar levels, decrease immune system, enhance your brain’s use of glucose, and couches nonessential activities like digestion, reproductive systems, and growth processes.  


Next Dr. Selye observed that the test subjects developed atrophy of the thymus glands which play a critical role in a healthy immune system.  The thymus gland trains T-cells which defends against pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  The Thymus gland also neutralizes T-cells that have gone rogue attacking our own body as if it were a foreign object.  This new discovery might mean a great deal to immunocompromised patients.


To great disappointment, he repeated the experiment over and over with other extracts.  He discovered that no matter what he injected into the rats they developed the same symptoms.  Therefore, he could not say exactly what was eliciting this response of swollen adrenal glands, bleeding stomach ulcers, and shrunken thymus glands.  He followed the breadcrumbs to a certain commonality in his experiments. It was not what was in the injection, it was the process of injecting the lab subjects!


As a pediatrician, I can tell you that our young patients often develop a common response to seeing our nurse, Ms. Denise.  It begins with a tenseness in the muscles, a dilation of the eyes, and a more emotional state than normal.  Typically followed by a preventative plea, “No, I don’t want a shot today!”  


Dr. Seyle must have had a heavier hand than our Ms. Denise.  The lab rats were developing what Dr. Seyle originally called ‘non-specific unpleasantness.” Cornered, caught, stuck, injected, and dropped the lab rats developed swollen adrenal glands, shrunken thymus glands, and bleeding stomach ulcers– some of the hallmarks of stress.


The Stress Response


In its simplest form stress is your body’s response to a demand.  The demand may be physical, mental, or emotional.  Whether or not the stressor is real or imagined is of no consequence as the results are very real.


3 Stages of Stress Response


Dr. Sayle created a useful three-stage model identifying what we now refer to as the Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal (HPA) Axis.  


Stage 1: Alarm

Our first reaction, alarm, is triggered by being upset by physical, emotional, or mental stimuli. The hypothalamus raises our biological alarm system by identifying threats. The hypothalamus bypasses our logic and reason which is necessary for life or death situations.  This is why we literally sense threats before we can process or conceptualize what is happening.  If a threat is determined we get flooded with chemical messengers and hormones that prepare us for fight or flight.  Adrenaline begins coursing through our veins and our metabolism changes.  Our lungs open up to allow for more oxygen to our muscles and our brain.  Our blood pressure and heart rate rise to the occasion.  Our memory gets enhanced to record these experiences for future reference or reference past encounters.  Though, resources are finite and costly when stepping on our biological gas pedal.  Energy is redirected from less immediate tasks.  We stop growing, stop repairing, stop healing, stop digesting, and stop reproducing.


Stage 2: Resistance

If we do not remove ourselves from the perceived threat then we begin to fatigue.  We enter into Stage 2 of stress response which is appropriately called resistance.  We resist our perceived aggressor, we resist surrender, we resist rest and relaxation.  Glucose is removed from stores and finds its way back into the bloodstream.  Adrenaline gives way to cortisol for longer-term energy.  It becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain our alertness, strength and stamina.  Frustration and anxiety are commonly experienced. Homeostatic pressures build for us to return to a neutral state. We require relief from our stressor stimuli less we progress into the third stage of Stress Response.


Stage 3: Exhaustion

If we do not find refuge from chronic stress, or repeatedly bounce between alarm and resistance, we become physically, emotionally, and mentally depleted.  Our glands and organs are already depleted.  Our immune system is all but shut down.  We are literally sick and tired.  Our spirits become defeated and we can succumb easily to depression.  Nobody wants to be here.


Mind Body Spirit


Stress response and HPA axis are the perfect embodiment of mind body and spirit.  Here we see how our thoughts have a bearing on our bodies and our spirits.  There was a study done in Germany that looked at two headmasters from 2 different group homes.  While not the most academically rigorous it did have its merits.  One of the headmasters was thought to have been a bit more caring while the other was noticeably more stern.  It was observed that the children of the first group home with the more caring headmaster grew faster and taller than the children of the other environment.  After a period of time the headmasters switched homes and again the children with the more caring headmaster posted more positive physical growth versus the other group home.  One might expect that a certain amount of growth was expected from the late bloomers, but the caring headmaster had brought with him some of his favorite children whom also continued to grow at accelerated rates.  The thought is that the children lived under stress with the stern headmaster which put the breaks on growth.  

There is another story of the effects of stress on growth which is somewhat more well known.  When a mother lost her eldest child she was overcome with depression and treated her living son with disregard.  “Is that… oh it’s just you.”  It may have been the trauma of his childhood that lead to his psychogenic dwarfism and having never conceived a child in marriage later in life.  This is the true story of J.M. Barrie who created none other than the Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.



Neutrality of Stress

Our core values and beliefs will exert the greatest influence over our reaction to stress.  Dr. Selye noted, “It is not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to stress.”


Most stimuli are neutral, but through our personal filters, we allow them to become stressors that elicit our stress response. Not every stimulus is a hungry lion trying to make a meal out of us, not every stimulus requires the race or fight of our lives. The magnitude of our stress response is mediated by our mental attitudes towards the stimuli.  Traffic is an excellent example.  Traffic is really a neutral event that poses no threat to ourselves.  Two people sitting in the same traffic, having the same stressor, may have very different stress responses to this scenario.  My friend’s wife never seems to be bothered by traffic, partly because she is from Manila and very little compares to it, partly because she didn’t have a car in Manila so having A/C is a luxury, and partly because she views car time as family time.  Meanwhile, others suffer road rage with the harshest of consequences.


Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers


In his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Stanford University biologist Robert M. Sapolsky brilliantly explains why Zebras aren’t suffering from stress like humans do.  After the Zebra launches into flight from a lion on the savannah he quickly puts the whole thing behind him and goes back to enjoying the grass.  For all that humans are, we are a thoughtful bunch of mammals.  We tend to spend too much of our faculties thinking about our past pains and future pains that have yet exist.  We live in a state of chronic stress thinking of stressful situations raising the alarm and putting our foot back on the biological gas pedal until we are running on empty.


Sapolsky goes on to explain, “Chronic stress has the ability to suppress our immunity below baseline. Aids has taught us that if you suppress the immune system sufficiently, a thirty-year-old will fester with cancers and pneumonias that doctors used to see once in an elderly patient during a fifty-year career.”


Dr. Selye put it this way, “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.”


5 Ways to Relieve Stress

  1. Counting and breathing.  There is a reason this is still part of our culture because it is effective.  We become more aware of the present moment while letting go of our thoughts and feelings.
  2. Cultivating the attitude of gratitude. We can’t be upset if we are grateful.
  3. Healthy stress relievers.  Sure eating ice cream or having a glass of wine helps dull the pain.  So does a swim, a run, a bicycle trip, or a yoga class.
  4. Write. Letting go of your feelings and putting your thoughts on paper will help free your mind and lighten your heart.
  5. Service. Consider some casual volunteering to connect with others emotionally and spiritually.  

Ancient Energy & Modern Balance – By Marissa Fatica

Tis the season of holy spiked eggnog, I have a hundred and eleven things to do! Sitting down and planning, creating and mapping out my upcoming obligations is an exhausting task and it only requires my brain, a piece of paper and a writing utensil…. How am I going to accomplish it all in my current state of confusion with a hint of heavy eyelids. The mere lines of needs and expectations are starting to blur together. If only I can divide and conquer, but as a woman with multiple hats I just can not!

So as I sit and ponder my life choices, and ask myself why did I take on all these tasks, I looked for a solution to my lag and I want to share my eureka moment!

Fatigue  and stamina the one thing I loath and the one think I crave, what can I due to address both issues I am facing. So to the innerweb I went, because lets face it, it has become the source of all self-relied knowledge. After getting lost in ads, blogs, self helps, I came across the holy grail! Two words will change your life and I hope you are sitting down and yes, feel free to send me copious amounts of love mail!!MACA ROOT!!

What is Maca Root you ask, well let me blow your mind and expectations with a simple supplement. No, I am not selling anything, this is not a pyramid scheme this is a root that is a treasure grown for us from mother earth herself. Maca root is known to help with chronic fatigue syndrome it promotes energy/stamina/endurance. It helps with stress relief and supports endocrine health. For us ladies it help with hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, and it has been know to dabble in helping our come hither here moments. It also helps boost a much need gland that we don’t think of or don’t know could use a helping hand. That gland is known as your thyroid gland, it is supports  a lot of things in your body.

Don’t take my word just take my challenge, it’s a week long and involves water and the simple task of swallowing a few pills. So lets reconvene and talk about how awesome and knowledgeable I am in aiding you in checking off all your assignments and goals, all while feeling like your younger self, you remember the one with no responsibilities.  

This is Marissa signing off with your irrefutable life hacks!!

Seeking O’Silent Night

Imagine your whole world coming to a standstill and the only sound you hear is the gentle inhale and exhale of your own breath.  How does that feel?

Within the dashing excitement and twinkling lights of this holiday season try to make time for silence and stillness to recharge your soul.  Sit down on the floor with your kids and introduce the practice with your kids. You have to start somewhere and the earlier your children see you slowing down to be present the better.


Virtually every moment of the day our consciousness is penetrated and interrupted by noise.  Reflecting the noise of the world is the noise of the mind with our varied thoughts be they loving, anxiety inducing, angry, happy, or exciting. Searching for silence is a reprieve from the excitement, distraction, and stimuli swirling around us like a whirlwind.  


When we set aside time for silence we cast an emptiness upon our minds which gives way to awareness.  We start being and stop doing.  Stillness gives way to peace and we start to cultivate an inner serenity that we bring with us into the world.  If you would like to experience a more joyful and peaceful holiday this year share the gift of silence and stillness with your family.

Are you a supermom?

Are you a supermom?

Tis the season in the era of superheroes.  What do we expect from the greatest superhero of them all during the holidays?  Supermoms are cooking up extravagant architectural designs for the grandest gingerbread homes on the block.  Supermoms are waiting in line at 3:00 am to get the perfect present to make this the most memorable holiday until next year.  Supermoms are baking mouthwatering healthy treats that are as delicious to the eyes as they are to the tummy.  Supermoms are doing it all and looking great doing it.  More than any other time of year this when supermoms shine like shooting stars streaking across the night sky.


The uncomfortable truth about being a supermom is that it is often a recipe for stress, resentment, anger, and sadness leading to physical illness. “Super syndrome” and “Supermom syndrome” are two terms gaining traction in psychology and life coaching circles.  Supers try to control every detail of life and often sacrifice their time, energy and health for the love of others.  Supers aim for perfection in service to their children, their spouses, their jobs, and their friends.  


What could possibly be wrong with possessing a strong drive to serve?  Supers aim for an idea that does not exist but in abstract, perfection.  It is an unattainable summit and in the process their own needs are not met.


Since the goal is beyond reach and essential human needs are not met, supers develop excess self-criticism, self-disbelief, depression, and pessimism.  As a result they often lose sleep, have a constant drip of cortisol in their blood stream, may suffer eating disorders, have poor self image, and lose motivation.  Sure to follow from living an imbalanced life would be adrenal fatigue, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular damage, and mood disorder.


There is hope for supermoms and other superheroes.  Dr. Molly Barrow, a clinical psychotherapist, suggests drawing a pie chart each day and blocking off 8 hours for sleep.  She recommends putting your priorities into the pie chart and celebrating your successes each day.  “Well I was able to make Christmas decorations with my child today, but I wasn’t able to paint his room.”  Treat it as a victory.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  We all ought to try to be a little more human and a little less superhuman.  Try learning to let go, embracing the imperfect, and celebrating the incomplete this holiday season.