Tag Archives: colds

FDA says no cold meds for kids under 2- but there are alternatives

Today, the government issued a Public Health Advisory warning parents that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products should not be used to treat infants and children under 2 because of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, including convulsions, rapid heart rates, decreased levels of consciousness, and death.

So what to do when your baby or toddler has a cold? There are a number of safe alternative treatments in Own Your Health: Your Sick Child, by John D. Mark, M.D., of Stanford University Medical School. These include herbal remedies, saltwater nose rinse, herbal steam inhalation, and anti-inflammatory foods—such as hot blueberry soup.

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Filed under children's health, colds and flu

Herbs for Health

Here are some herbs that will help you have stay healthy, especially during winter. My expert is Alexa Fleckenstein, MD, author of Health2 0 and Healthy to 100. Here is what she told me:

“Herbs have been with us throughout evolution. They fit into our ancient physiology like a key into a lock. In prehistoric times, we always ate herbs from the wild. In modern life, a bitter green or strong root might just be what your body needs to find its way back to balance.”

Unlike the new “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics, bacteria and viruses do not easily develop resistance against herbs, says Dr. Fleckenstein. That is because a single herb contains hundreds or more of compounds, and many of these compounds work on killing off the germs. Since point mutations in bacteria can only develop one by one, it is highly unlikely that an herb becomes ineffective against a pathogen, because there will always be plenty of compounds to destroy the microbes first.

“The word for these compounds working together is synergy,” she explains. “Synergy is the reason why I recommend whole herbs (tinctures or so-called phytocaps with extracts of the whole plant) instead of ‘taking the best’ from several pants, and making a patented medicine. Patent medicines exist because natural plants can’t be patented, and so firms try to make money by taking single compounds from a plant, combining it with other single compound, thus producing a ‘new’ medicine which allegedly is better. The truth is that in many cases it is not better because you cannot improve on nature.”

So what does Dr. Fleckenstein recommend that you have on hand this winter in case illness strikes?

For colds and flu: echinacea, osha, pau d’arco, olive leaf, elderberry
For simple urinary tract infection: Uva ursi, usnea, cranberry. (Drink lots of warm water, too.)
For indigestion: dandelion, peppermint, milk thistle. (And think of cleaning up your diet!)
For cough: horehound, echinacea, linden flowers
For insomnia: valerian, hops, passionflower

Important caution: Always check with your doctor before taking any herb, since there could be dangerous interactions with other medicines you are taking!

For more information, check out her books (which include not only advice about herbs, but also about cold water, nutrition, movement and life balance). Another great resource is The Green Pharmacy, by ethnobotanist James Duke.

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Got Milk? For Some Children, the Answer Should Be “No!”

“For some children, the possible adverse health effects of cow’s milk outweigh the benefits, despite what the dairy industry would have us believe,” asserts Stanford University pediatrician John D. Mark, MD.

In his new book, Your Sick Child, part of the Own Your Health series about combining alternative and conventional medicine, Dr. Mark refers to research showing that cow’s milk and dairy products, due to their saturated fat content, can increase inflammation in the airways and other parts of the body. “This inflammation may exacerbate asthma, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and colds,” explains Dr. Mark, an expert on the lung diseases of children. “I regularly try an elimination diet of cow’s milk, cheese and butter from my patients’ diets, and often there is a dramatic improvements in their respiratory problems.”

What about calcium and strong bones? “There are other and often more nutritional ways to get calcium, vitamins and protein, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, calcium-fortified juices, cereals, beans, sesame seeds, almonds, figs, seaweeds, and fortified soymilks,” says Dr. Mark. “We are the only species that drinks milk from another species, and the only species to drink milk at all after infancy. Many children – and adults as well – have trouble digesting cow’s milk. Many children are simply not biologically meant to drink it.”

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Filed under asthma, children's health, colds and flu, ear infections, Health