When Mom has the Flu?

You do not want to give up snuggle time but you also do not want to be Typhoid Mama either. So what is a dedicated mom to do…

 

You want to generously dole out affection but not germs.

 

#1 Wash your hands.  Everyone wash your hands with soap and water.  There would be far less infection in the world if everyone washed their hands more frequently.

 

#2 Keep your distance.  Maintain at least a 3 foot bubble from all loved ones unless you have recently washed your hands and have not sneezed all over yourself.

 

#3 Wear a mask.  Not just any disposable mask, but a N95 mask that blocks 95% of  particles that are 0.3 microns.

 

#4 Continue to nurse. New mommies may consider maintaining space from infants, but should continue expressing breastmilk because nothing is as nutritious and helpful to a baby’s immune system as breastmilk.  Mommy should wash her hands and wear a mask when expressing milk while a healthy family member handles feedings if possible.

 

#5 Disposable tissues. This will help reduce the spread of germs often associated with sneezing and coughing into the air, clothes, or hands.  Flu germs can stay airborne for about 3 minutes, so anyone who walks into the that once empty space you sneezed in may get sick.

 

Remember illness usually has a lower severity when the virus enters a healthier terrain. Eat well, sleep well, exercise well, hydrate well, relationship well – daily. 

16 reasonable and natural ways to save your skin and self-esteem from acne

When we have blemishes

One of my older teenage male patients complained of his acne and asked his mom to take him to the dermatologist. He wanted to go on EpiDuo for acne. I am all for treating acne but in this young man’s case his acne was mild and Accutane/Isotretinoin requires repeated blood tests to check liver function. The medicine can have very serious complications. Well, two issues became apparent. The vanity of teens and the need to write about natural acne treatments.

Try these 16 reasonable and natural ways to save your skin and self-esteem from acne.

WHAT IS ACNE?

Sebaceous glands reside in the dermis, the mid-level of your skin, and produce a fatty waxy oil called sebum. There are on average 5,000,000 of these glands covering your whole body, except for the palms of your hands and bottoms of your feet. One gland exists for each hair follicle if you wish to see it that way. The sebum produced by the sebaceous gland inside the mid level of the skin travels up the follicle and out of your pores to lubricate and waterproof your hair and skin. Also, dead skin cells exit the body by traveling up the follicle with the assistance of the sebum and make their way out of a pore. Sometimes these canals get jammed up by excessive sebum (thanks, hormones! and other inflammatory agents!) The body then seals off the area and bacteria like P. acnes begin to feed on the sebum and spew out inflammatory by-products. Voila! That’s when a pimple grows. Bacteria can spill over to nearby areas and acne spreads.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON CULPRITS OF ACNE?

The essence of acne is inflammation rearing its ugly head. To manage acne we need to look at common causes of inflammation.

Dairy: Non-organic milk and dairy products contain growth hormones like IGF-1 and inflammatory substances that clog your pores and cause acne. Milk and dairy cause an insulin spike in humans that cause the liver to produce even more IGF-1, leading to even more acne. Dairy also causes excess sebum which inhibits dead skin cells from exiting the pores causing further clogging. Cow milk is good for cows and good for acne.

HACK IT: Expand your culinary limits! Try nutritional yeast sprinkled onto foods instead of Parmesan. With its rich nutty cheesy savory flavor it is a dairy substitute that could easily be in the starting lineup. Explore and experiment with it. Also, try tofu with your crackers next time, or smoked tofu like a provolone on sandwiches. If you cannot give up dairy and cheese look to goat milk based products- much easier on the digestive system.

Sugar: Beware or be damned. Sugar contributes to and causes acne in two ways. Sugar in the soda we drink (who are we kidding, sugar is in everything) creates a spike in your GH-1 production and bioavailability. In short, sugar causes excess sebum and skin cells to multiply setting off a chain reaction to acne. At the same time, sugar was observed in studies to increase C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which is regarded as one of the best measures of inflammation. Finally, sugar causes Candida to grow beyond the normal range. On the face excessive Candida growth causes inflammation, and excessive Candida growth can cause havoc in the gut which indirectly contributes to acne.

HACK IT: Opt for honey, coconut-based sweetener, or stevia-based sweeteners. If you touch the Splenda, or high fructose corn syrup, I’ll have to remove you from our Newsletter and Facebook Page.

Wheat and gluten: You probably already know that gluten is a protein found in wheat, that if you are gluten intolerant the body does not recognize gluten as food, and this causes the body to treat gluten as a foreign body like a bad bacteria or virus. Basically, your immune system fires up causing inflammation which indirectly affects acne.

HACK IT: Quinoa is a great alternative grain. Look for an ALDI grocery store for a growing selection of affordable gluten-free products.

Omega-6 fatty acids: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are needed for many functions related to growth and repair in the body. Our bodies can’t produce them, we must get them from food (or supplements). Omega-6s mostly come from plant oils like corn oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil and the standard American diet (SAD) provides plenty of omega-6s. So when the ratio of these becomes unbalanced and heavy on the omega-6 side, which is easy for Americans, then we get inflammatory immune system responses, thus causing acne to flare up.

HACK IT: As this is about ratio and not about whole values you can look at increasing your omega-3 intake. We recommend a potent liquid fish oil, or potent soft gels if you prefer not drink your omega-3s. It’s that simple.

Alcohol: It is part of our work hard culture and here is how it affects our acne. Alcohol causes a spike in insulin, if you are drinking it with a sweet mixer then you can account for a greater spike. Alcohol also affects our hormones and can reduce our quality of sleep. If we are drinking to take the edge off, then we are also probably dealing with some stress which further aggravates acne. Finally, alcohol can lead to dehydration which inhibits our ability to flush toxins from our body.

HACK IT: Drink in moderation. Stick to red wine or clean spirits, if needed.

Stress: Picture someone feeling tired, anxious and stressed out. How is their complexion? Science tells us that stress doesn’t necessarily create acne, but it does make an existing case worse. Stress throws us into an inflammatory response that causes walls of pores to break therefore enabling the spread of acne-causing bacteria. Stress throws the adrenal gland into overdrive. Androgens (male hormones) increase. Higher levels of androgens lead to more acne, and this is especially true for women because they produce a larger percentage of their androgens in the adrenal gland.

HACK IT: It starts with an appreciative and positive mindset. Surround yourself with other positive and appreciative people. Take time to yourself so that you are in prime health and wellness. Finally, breathe, be in the moment, let feelings wash over you and let them go.

Exercise: This may sound contrarian but exercise can be quite good for your skin. Exercise increases circulation and promotes sweat which helps the body rids itself of toxins and pushes impurities out of pores. We can also mediate our stress levels in a healthy manner through exercise. Exercise also helps us produce endorphins which create a sense of happiness, calm, and well-being. This may have an anti-inflammatory effect which is really what we should all be after.

HACK IT: Leave the lycra at home in favor of natural materials to prevent body acne. Leave the makeup off to permit your body to sweat cleanly. Gently wash your face with cool water after exercise.

Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with gentle soap. Avoid touching your face, or anyone else’s for that matter. Wash your face twice a day. Washing it more will dry out your skin and promote sebum production. You can use water based face moisturizer. Tea tree oil and aloe are good products for the face. Tea tree oil has antiseptic qualities, and aloe has a soothing moisturizing effect. Avoid toners with alcohol. Wash right after exercising to prevent heat and moisture buildup, which become bacterial breeding grounds. And wash your pillow, and pillow cases frequently.

NATURAL REMEDIES

If you have had acne then you have probably tried one or all of the following; medicating it, meditating it out, hoping it goes away, praying it goes away, harsh soaps, gentle soaps, alcohol, oils, clays, masks, changing your diet, and maybe some voodoo. What really works?

Here are some natural approaches to attenuate acne and cultivate a healthy glowing radiant skin.

Exfoliation: Do it the right way and with the right frequency. Exfoliation helps the body with the natural process of desquamation, showing our older skin cells to the door. As we age our body does this less efficiently. Exfoliation can give your skin a youthful glow, but if done too stringently it can leave you red blotchy and more susceptible to infection. Ever think about using natural baking soda? Use about a tablespoon and gently rub in circles. You can make a paste with sea salt lavender essential oil, or another of your favorite essential oils. Finely ground oatmeal is ideal for sensitive skin. You can buy or make your own Kefir for use as a face wash. Kefir is loaded with good bacteria and pH balancing properties. Honey can be used alone or with any of the other treatments mentioned. Honey is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It reduces inflammation and hydrates. Gentle is key, we aren’t sanding a reclaimed wooden desk.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar: Tried and true apple cider vinegar is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent.
Dabbing blemishes with a cotton swab twice a day will keep bacteria in check and soothe skin. Also, taking 1 tablespoon with purified water can work internally to alkalize and detox the body. This will help to ease inflammatory processes.

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Oil): This oil is a traditional topical antiseptic, antifungal remedy, and it is an extremely effective acne treatment. This remedy is particularly good for those with oily skin. You can add it to your favorite moisturizer, too.

Colloidal Silver: A suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. Colloidal silver can be used topically for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. We recommend talking with a healthcare professional before ingesting colloidal silver because it can have adverse events.

Bentonite Clay: This is a favorite holistic acne/skin treatment of many natural moms and health/beauty practitioners. Perhaps a gift of Pele the Hawaiian Fire Goddess and Goddess of volcanoes and lightning. Bentonite clay is derived from volcanic ash and produces an electrical charge when hydrated. It is a healing clay used across many ancient cultures. Bentonite Clay pulls excess hydrogen from the skin and allows oxygen to take its place. The clay absorbs toxins and releases healthy minerals for the body to use. Bentonite can be used topically and internally. Baths, masks, washes, and powders are all possible with Bentonite Clay.

Omega-3s: Studies have shown that using fish oil supplements for the intake of omega-3s heal acne faster. The positive effects of omega-3s are difficult to overstate. This is one of the supplements we recommend for everyone along with, Vitamin D3, and a quality probiotic.

Zinc: Zinc plays an important role in cell division and regrowth. Few foods are rich and zinc, therefore, many of us are zinc deficient. Zinc also has anti-inflammatory effects which can also help with acne. Take a zinc taste test to learn if you are deficient.

Probiotic: The contrarian approach to the typical dermatologist that prescribes an antibiotic. By maintaining a healthy gut with good bacteria you will better absorb nutrients from food and reduce immune system inflammatory responses. This is a force multiplier for great health and wellness.

Spring Renewal: A Natural Home Cleanse

Out with the old and in with the new.  A friend of mine who moved once told me that rather than finding the process chaotic, she found it cathartic. A time to take stock in what was truly needed in her home and to start fresh. Generations ago our ancestors undertook this domestic overhaul in the spring, scrubbing off months of soot and grime that had accumulated in their homes thanks to winter fires, kerosene lamps, and the impracticality of beating carpets in the snow. These days, few of us have to worry about creosote in our kitchens, but the annual ritual of spring cleaning prevails because it just feels so good when the job is done. This year, use this time of renewal to revisit your goals for living cleanly. Take a critical tour of your home, assessing how you’re living up to your own healthy standards. Have you fallen back on great intentions? No worries – we all do. Now is the time to get back on track.

Clean Up the Kitchen

What is under your sink? Purge those cleaners that claim to have magical powers but don’t list ingredients – or who’s ingredients are clearly questionable (if it is purple and smells like a meadow, it probably is questionable). Replace them with non-toxic, plant-based alternatives and avoid sprays, which disperse much of the cleaning agent into the air. It is also easy to make your own effective, inexpensive cleaners using household ingredients such as white vinegar, cornstarch, lemon, and baking soda (see recipes at eartheasy.com). Be sure to check the sink itself for leaks that may keep this area damp and attractive to mold.

How about the cabinets? Clean out old water bottles and food storage containers (including bags) and replace them with non-BPA alternatives that are now readily available at grocery stores. Eliminate non-stick cookware, or at least get rid of any that is showing signs of wear such as scratches or flaking. Consider switching to enamel or cast iron, which will become non-stick if properly seasoned. The fact that it may introduce iron into food is actually a nutritional benefit!

Detox Laundry

Ever think that maybe it isn’t a good thing that your clothes smell like perfume days after they’ve been washed? Artificial fragrances (which often contain hundreds of synthetic chemicals) and funky colors aren’t necessary to clean clothes. Use natural, environmentally-friendly detergents that are just as effective at removing dirt and odors – not masking them.  These products usually list ingredients on the package for consumers.  Hold the same standards for other laundry products like dryer sheets, stain spray, and bleach. Try natural brands that are up front about what they contain (and what they don’t).

Healthier Sleep

Dust mites be gone! Actually, it is impossible to be completely rid of these microscopic creatures, but it is relatively easy to manage them. Wash all bedding – including comforters, mattress pads, bed skirts and pillows – in very hot water. For items that can’t be laundered in hot water, adding tea tree or eucalyptus oil to cooler wash water kills the mites, and smaller items can be put in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Use a couple of teaspoons of essential oil mixed with a pint of water to damp dust furniture and clean floors. You can also buy allergy covers for the pillows and the mattress and create a physical barrier.

Move alarm clocks, phones, and other electronics away from beds to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Consider using a salt lamp. By naturally flooding an area with negative ions, salt lamps may improve air quality, reduce stress, improve sleep, increase energy levels, and reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. They’re great for every room in the house!

A Better Bathroom

How’s your medicine cabinet? Clear out the post-date products and ensure a good supply of basics including supplements such as a whole food multivitamin (such as IntraKid and IntraMax) a probiotic, vitamin D and fish oil. Take a close look at your health and beauty products, eliminating those that will expose your body to irritating and harmful chemicals (see www.EWG.org and www.SaferChemicals.org) such as parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan, and phthalates in products such as moisturizers, soaps and shampoos, cosmetics, nail polish, and deodorant. Women should pay special attention to feminine care products and lubricants which may expose sensitive, highly absorptive areas to toxic chemicals. If a product doesn’t list its ingredients, move to one that does. Cotton products may pose less health risk than synthetic fibers (such as rayon), and it is best to avoid scented tampons and pads.

Take it Outside

As bulbs push their way through the soil, so do weeds. Few of us have the patience to individually pick them from our lawns (kudos to those of you who do!), so we’re understandably tempted to engage a chemical lawn care service to feed our obsession with perfect turf. STOP! Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides widely associated with neurological damage, reproductive harm and cancer are routinely used in chemical lawn care, and there are safer alternatives. Find a service that provides organic lawn care using natural fertilizers such as chicken poop. There are also many organic options for do-it-yourselfers available online or in hardware stores.

The act of spring cleaning can itself be therapeutic, so embrace the ritual! Set aside time to detox your home and start afresh. Then sit back, relax, and be mindful of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

How Long Is Your Sick?

sick-child-rexThis is from an article in the British Medical Journal and explains how long common illnesses last in children.  This should be informative and relieving to parents as they experience their child’s illness.

“In most (90%) of children, earache was resolved by 7-8 days, sore throat between 2-7 days, croup by 2 days, bronchiolitis by 21 days, acute cough by 25 days, common cold by 15 days, and non-specific symptoms by 16 day.”

I recommend to my patients high dose vitamin D3 once a day for 3 days at the first onset of an illness to boost the immune system, saccharomyces boulardii for non-bloody diarrhea and high dose probiotics and/or Histamine DAO for allergies. Please check with your physician for the appropriateness of these supplements before taking them.

References:

Thompson M, et al. BMJ,2013;347: f7027

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7027

Mysterious polio-like illness affects kids in California

child-polio-californiaDoctors believe they’ve identified as many as 25 California children suffering from a mysterious, polio-like virus capable of paralyzing limbs. The best-case scenario is complete loss of one limb, the worst is all four limbs, with respiratory insufficiency, as well. The median age of those stricken is 12.

Parents should not panic. This is really very rare and is isolated to California. The CDC is watching closely but has not become involved yet.

The question in my mind is why has a rare virus affected these children and not affected adults – if this really is being caused by a virus.

Here are the facts as reported by the media. The cause of most of these cases is not known. Some clinical and laboratory features, such as the pattern of inflammation seen in the spinal cord on MRI, are consistent with a viral process. Samples from two of the children tested positive for enterovirus 68, a rare virus that has been linked to severe respiratory illness in the past.

The medical histories on these children are not available so I cannot look for pre-existing conditions to explain their vulnerabilities.  I can look to common sense though to shed practical light on this situation and to allay fears all parents must be having.

Assuming these were/are healthy children then they developed this condition as a result of a vulnerability to this bug while most people are not and/or they built up toxins that resulted in a neurological condition.

Here are some reasons that could make once susceptible:

1. They had an innate genetic vulnerability; and/or

2. They had a genetic mutation occur as a result of generational toxin exposure from living in a modern world; and/or

3. They had a genetic mutation occur as a result of the radiation from Fukushima melt down; and/or

4. They were unable to detoxify and eliminate these toxins because of genetics; and/or

5. They were unable to detoxify and eliminate these toxins because of poor diets and/or inadequate supplementation; and/or

6. They had a weakened immune system from environmental toxins such as pesticides, poor diet, poor supplementation, Japanese radiation, dysbiosis from previous antibiotic use, among others.

My point here is we live in a toxic soup and our bodies need help to maintain proper and healthy functioning.

  1. Eat organic to limit toxic exposure,
  2. Diet with plenty of phytonutrients to assist mitochondrial, antioxidant and detoxification functions,
  3. Limit carbs, gluten, dairy and animal fats,
  4. Exercise,
  5. Clean out the gut and restore balance of proper probiotics and microbiome since this is the major detox and immune pathway of the body,
  6. Educate yourself on a functional body,
  7. Hydration,
  8. Sleep for 7-9 hours a night with a regular bedtime,
  9. Health relationships and a strong sense of community, and
  10. Good fish oils to protect cell membranes and reduce inflammation.

Unusual illnesses like the one devastating children in California may be the result of our lifestyles, genetics and understanding of the body. Sometimes infections and disease are unavoidable but stack the odds in your favor. Find a doctor that will help you heal by addressing the missteps in biological and physiological functions at their root causes rather than throwing antibiotics and immune suppressants to cover symptoms from occurring.

It is hard to change your food culture, but if you want to keep your family safe then this must be addressed. The idea of eating and living in unhealthy ways because it feels good or because this is your family culture, only to seek a symptom-control approach once the body starts to break down is crazy thinking. Sadly this is the prevailing approach in this country and around the world. Fight your temptations to slothfulness and gluttony. Chronic disease and vulnerability to illness can be largely prevented. You make this decision by the small daily decisions on how you choose to personalize your life.