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Taking Charge Of Your Family’s Wellness, Naturally

“Self empowerment” is the buzz word of our time. Yet, many feel disempowered when it comes to the care of their family’s health. Integrated medicine, taking the best of all worlds, is a sensible, responsible approach to healthcare. Here’s more from Andrea Candee, author of Gentle Healing for Baby and Child.

Trying Herbs

Grandparents recognize this as the health care approach of their youth: administer natural remedies at home unless the situation requires more professional help. Perhaps this is why grandparents seem to be the biggest purchasers of books on natural wellness for children, offering it to their adult children for the care of the grandchildren.

Turning to the health food store or even the kitchen pantry, and given a medical diagnosis, a parent educated in medicinal herbs can return a youngster to health or soothe discomfort until seen by the family care provider. And what better way to empower a child about their own wellness than to engage them in their healthcare, creating an awareness that will stay with them for their entire lives. They learn that taking care of their bodies preventatively is every bit as important as consulting a doctor when they are sick.

Statistics indicate that 75 percent of children have at least three ear infections before the age of six. Most of us either have or know a child who repeatedly suffers from what we have tacitly come to accept as a common childhood illness. Doesn’t it make you wonder why, with all the advances of modern medicine, children seem to suffer from ear infections more, rather than less than they did even 20 years ago?

Some children respond well to antibiotics; others are put on a round robin of antibiotic treatments (sometimes for years); and others still require surgery. A study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that children given antibiotics for ear infections were two to six times more likely to develop a recurrence than children who did not receive the antibiotic treatment.

I am not the only one asking the question: What long-term effects do antibiotics have on developing immune systems?

“We found that, in the case of ear infections, sometimes the prescribed medicines created other problems and occasionally didn’t even cure…We have had the opportunity…to observe how effective, gentle and well tolerated these (herbal) remedies are in children.” (Larry Baskind, MD, FAAP, Riverside Pediatrics, Croton on Hudson, NY; excerpted from the foreword of Gentle Healing for Baby and Child [Simon & Schuster] ).

First Signs of Ear Discomfort

I recommend the following courses of action at the earliest signs of ear discomfort:

  • Limit the intake of sugar. Processed sugar is a challenge to the body and feeds fungal, parasitic, and bacterial infections. Reduce fruit juice intake by diluting with water. Learn how to use echinacea, an invaluable immune system support found in health food stores, at the first sign of infection. Colds usually wind up in the ears of children predisposed to weakness in this part of their body. If you can prevent a cold from blossoming, you will have prevented another ear infection from developing.
  • If a cold does take hold, you may choose to introduce an herbal decongestant.
  • Add garlic to your child’s diet. Garlic is naturally anti-bacterial, as well as anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. A fresh clove can be chopped into mashed potatoes or put on toast with butter.
  • If infected fluid has settled in the ear, and there is no perforation of the eardrum (check with your family practitioner to be sure of this) add a drop or two of anti-microbial garlic oil in each ear, along with a drop or two oil of mullein flower. Mullein flower is well known for its anti-inflammatory, decongestant action in the ear. The easiest time to administer ear drops is when a child is sleeping.
  • If there is pain in the ear, add a drop or two of St. John’s Wort oil. Its ability to calm nerve sensitivity may help to diminish the discomfort.
  • For many children, chiropractic adjustments have been instrumental in preventing recurrent ear infections. If there is a misalignment in the spine affecting nerve and muscle function, chiropractic adjustments could help by enhancing proper drainage and function.

Don’t be afraid to implement all of the above protocols even if your child is on an antibiotic (To maintain the integrity of the intestinal tract, if your child is ever on an antibiotic, be sure to provide your child with a good source of probiotics). When a parent is informed and courageous enough to take charge of the situation, I have seen even the most chronic ear infections turned around—indeed eliminated—from the child’s life.

View article references and author information here:

Ear Infections

Van D. Merkle, DC Says:

  1. Become informed about Prevnar vaccine (PCV7), also known as the pneumococcal strep vaccine, or ear-ache vaccine. The literature does not support its use.
  2. Avoid ALL dairy products, sugar, and congestive type foods.
  3. Try Monolaurin, an immune system enhancer.
  4. Echinacea: 3/day. For infants 4 months to 25 lbs use 1 echinacea per day; open the capsule and put in food or water.
  5. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be of great benefit.

Management of Acute Otitis Media Summary

  1. Nearly two thirds of children with uncomplicated ear infections recover from pain and fever within 24 hours of diagnosis without antibiotic treatment. Over 80% recover within 1 to 7 days.
  2. More than 5 million cases of acute ear infections occur annually, costing about $3 billion.
  3. The report points out that in other countries otitis media is not always treated with drugs at the first sign of infection. Rather, in children over the age of 2 years, the norm is to watch and see how the infection progresses over the course of a few days.
  4. The report notes that in the Netherlands the rate of bacterial resistance is about 1%, compared with the US average of around 25%. 1

What Causes Damage to the Ear and/or Ear Infection?

Ear Wax: “During more than 25 years in pediatric medicine, I have never seen a case of permanent hearing loss as a result of ear infection…Parents and doctors can be responsible for injury to the ear canal and the eardrum because of the efforts to remove wax from the ear. It is inadvisable for you or your doctor to use ANY kind of instrument to remove wax forcibly from your child’s ears, even a cotton swab.” – Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD

The best was to remove ear wax is by inserting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear twice a day for 2 or 3 days. Let the peroxide remain in the ear for several minutes and then rinse the ear with gentle bursts of water from a syringe.

Pacifiers: Pacifier use was found to cause a 40% increased risk of ear infections in infants, as well as higher rates of tooth decay and thrush, according to Dr. Marjo Niemela and associates from the University of Oulu in Finland. Pediatrics September, 2000;106:483–488.

Don’t Drink Your Milk!: Ear specialists frequently insert tubes into the ear drums of infants to treat recurrent ear infections. It has replaced the previously popular tonsillectomy to become the number one surgery in the country. Unfortunately, most of these specialists don’t realize that over 50% of these children will improve and have no further ear infections if they just stop drinking their milk. This is a real tragedy. Not only is the $3,000 spent on the surgery wasted, but there are some recent articles supporting the likelihood that most children who have this procedure will have long-term hearing losses.

“The most common culprit [that causes ear infections] is cow’s milk, in its natural form or as found in infant formula. It causes swelling of the mucous membranes, which interferes with the drainage of secretions through the eustachian tube. Eventually infection results because of the accumulated secretion.” – Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD