Child with stuffed bear

Fight or Flight

Does your child always seem to be in a state of fight or flight response? The nervous system of an adult or child dealing with constant high stress loads will often shift out of balance and primarily operate in sympathetic mode. If you recall, the nervous system is made up of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is our high alert mode, keeping us ready to fight or flee during a stressful situation. The parasympathetic nervous system allows us to “rest and digest,” essentially winding the body down from previous nervous system activity. Healthy nervous systems find a balance between stress mode and relax mode, but children with PANS/PANDAS, ASD, tick-borne illness, or any other chronic illness tend to be stuck in sympathetic nervous system overdrive. Our children are in a unique situation of psychological stress (infections, detoxification impairments, mitochondrial dysfunction, etc.) and perceived stress (social challenges, schoolwork, fears, etc.), because of the inflammation present in their brains. As a result of this chronic and persistent stress, they are likely struggling with nervous system dysregulation and adrenal dysfunction.

ADRENAL GLANDS AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

The adrenals are small, kidney bean shaped glands that sit on top of our two kidneys. Adrenals have two layers: the cortex and the medulla. The cortex is responsible for secreting hormones such as glucocorticoids (i.e cortisol), androgens (i.e estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA), and mineralocorticoids (i.e aldosterone). The medulla is the center part of the gland that secretes catecholamines (i.e epinephrine and norepinephrine). Although epinephrine and norepinephrine are more well known for their impact on the fight or flight response, another major player that is often overlooked in children is cortisol.

Cortisol is released to help the body manage stress so that the body can go back into homeostasis (the medical term for “balance”). However, when the body is constantly exposed to stress, both psychological and perceived, cortisol dysregulation occurs, causing the adrenal glands to feel “burnt out.” This process is known as “General Adaptation Syndrome,” and it was first identified by Hans Selye in 1974. He described this syndrome in three different phases.

The first phase, known as “alarm,” is when the body encounters the stressor. The second phase, adaptation, occurs when the body learns to cope with the stressor. However, the body’s resistance and coping mechanisms can only last so long before the third stage sets in. The third phase, exhaustion, begins when prolonged stress has caused the body to deplete its reserves, leading to an abnormal cortisol pattern. When cortisol is dysregulated, it impacts many different physiological processes, the most important of which include sleep-wake patterns, immune function, metabolism, and mitochondrial/energy production.

CORTISOL AND SLEEP

For healthy individuals, cortisol is highest in the morning, about 30 minutes after waking, getting us ready to take on the day. In a healthy sleep-wake cycle, cortisol levels will then slowly drop throughout the day, until they are the lowest in the evening, preparing us for sleep.  Cortisol has an inverse relationship with melatonin, a hormone that promotes deep sleep. Therefore, when cortisol is high, melatonin is low, and this can cause insomnia or abnormal sleep behaviors, such as night time waking with difficulty falling back asleep and decreased amount and quality of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Humans require more REM sleep than any other animal--about 20% of our total sleep--because of our high degree of cognitive intelligence. REM sleep increases our ability to recognize socio-emotional signals (body gestures and eye contact and mass group behavior) and helps emotional navigation as well.

CORTISOL AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which lead to increased inflammation. This is a detriment to our children with immune dysregulation, as it contributes to additional inflammation that they are already burdened with. Cortisol has also been shown to decrease white blood cells and lymphocytes, cells essential to a healthy and robust immune response, and can activate latent viruses. Because of this, cortisol is directly related to a higher risk of chronic immune dysfunction and inflammation issues, so addressing cortisol in our children dealing with chronic illness should be a high priority in all treatment plans.

CORTISOL AND METABOLISM

Cortisol impacts our metabolism by affecting thyroid and blood sugar regulation. It has the ability to decrease thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and to impair the conversion of T4 to T3 (active thyroid hormone), instead converting it to reverse T3. Because of this, elevated cortisol has been associated with clinical or subclinical hypothyroidism, often seen in adults and children alike experiencing fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, constipation, cold sensitivity, hair loss, or delayed puberty.

Elevated cortisol levels can lead to blood sugar issues because it bombards insulin receptors, leading them to become insensitive to signaling, also known as “insulin resistance.” This is a precursor for Type 2 Diabetes mellitus, which sets the stage for future metabolic complications, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Cushing's syndrome. If your child has been diagnosed with any of these conditions, it would be worth investigating cortisol and ruling out adrenal dysfunction.

GENERAL SYMPTOMS OF ADRENAL DYSFUNCTION

  • Weight gain
  • Sleep disturbances – can't fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, don’t feel refreshed after sleep
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Food cravings – most commonly salt or sugar
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive or easy perspiration
  • Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
  • Blood sugar issues – hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, irritability if a meal is skipped, early satiety
  • Aggression/Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness/Syncope
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles
  • Brain Fog
  • Cold/Heat intolerance

PHYSICAL CLUES OF ADRENAL DYSFUNCTION

  • Scalloped tongue – seen as indentations on the sides of your tongue
  • Stretch marks
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Clamminess

SUPPORTING THE ADRENAL GLANDS

  • Increase water intake – at least ½ body weight in ounces
  • Increase salt intake – up to an additional teaspoon per day
  • Increase exercise
  • Decrease exposure to blue light (a nervous stimulant) by decreasing time spent on electronics or wearing blue light blocking glasses while exposed to electronics
  • Spend more time in nature to upregulate parasympathetic nervous activity
  • Talk to your health care provider about herbal adaptogens, which help to balance sympathetic and parasympathetic activity

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Because my practice specializes in the care of children with chronic illness, all of my patients are clinically evaluated for adrenal dysfunction in their initial workup. The majority of cases of adrenal dysfunction can be diagnosed by a simple history taking and basic physical exam. For cases that require further investigation, I will recommend cortisol testing either through blood, urine, or saliva, which can guide a more tailored treatment plan if needed.

If you are interested in becoming a patient of our practice, please visit my website at www.lindseywellsnd.com or call our office directly at (203) 834-2813.

RESOURCES

  1. Selye H.  Stress without Distress. New American Library; New York: 1974.
  2. N. Vgontzas, C. Tsigos, E. O. Bixler, et al., “Chronic insomnia and activity of the stress system: a preliminary study,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 21–31, 1998.
  3. A. N. Vgontzas, E. O. Bixler, H.-M. Lin, et al., “Chronic insomnia is associated with nyctohemeral activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: clinical implications,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 86, no. 8, pp. 3787–3794, 2001.
  4. E. Van Cauter, R. Leproult, and L. Plat, “Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth
  5. Carlsson E, Frostell A, Ludvigsson J, Faresjö M Psychological stress in children may alter the immune response.. J Immunol. 2014 Mar 1; 192(5):2071-81.
  6. Morey, Jennifer N et al. “Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function” Current opinion in psychology vol. 5 (2015): 13-17.
  7. Walter, Kimberly N et al. “Elevated thyroid stimulating hormone is associated with elevated cortisol in healthy young men and women” Thyroid research vol. 5,1 13. 30 Oct. 2012, doi:10.1186/1756-6614-5-13
  8. Geer, Eliza B et al. “Mechanisms of glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance: focus on adipose tissue function and lipid metabolism” Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America vol. 43,1 (2014): 75-102.

Happy children

Helminth Therapy

Helminth therapy is by far one of the most effective treatments that we have seen in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, including PANS/PANDAS and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In fact, we often refer to the therapy as a possible “game changer” for many of our children. In my practice, we do not order or administer more invasive immunotherapy interventions (such as IVIG, plasmapheresis, or rituximab) because we typically do not need to; helminth therapy has been so effective, most of our patients do not need to seek out other treatments.

I will say that the biggest hurdle to helminth therapy is simply wrapping your head around the idea of putting an organism in your body to treat illness. Admittedly, it is not a common intervention, and can take some persuasion for most families! Still, if you can get over the “ick” factor with helminth therapy, I strongly recommend it as an easy, safe, and non-invasive treatment that could absolutely be a “game changer” for you or your child.

WHAT ARE HELMINTHS?

Helminths, also known as HDCs (Hymenolepis diminuta cysticercoids), are mutualist organisms in the form of microscopic eggs, interacting with their host to both parties’ benefit. This is different than the actions of a parasite, as parasitic interactions occur when one organism (the parasite) benefits and the host is harmed.

In an overly simplistic explanation, rats are the host of adult tapeworms, which do not cause disease in the animal (hence the mutualist relationship). The eggs of these tapeworms are excreted in the feces of the rat, and grain beetles eat these eggs. Scientists can dissect grain beetles to harvest the HDCs for clinical use.

Here is a picture I took of HDCs under a microscope when in a lab harvesting them. Aren’t they beautiful?

Helminth's under a microscope

ALLERGIES, AUTOIMMUNITY, AND HELMINTHS

Helminths affect the body’s autoimmune response, and the higher prevalence of autoimmunity in modern times can best be summed up by the “Hygiene Hypothesis.” It is estimated that 20% of children are diagnosed with chronic illness, and the rates continue to rise (Blackwell et al., Pediatrics, 2019). Some reports estimate that one in every two individuals are diagnosed with a chronic illness, many of which are autoimmune diseases. The Hygiene Hypothesis, first proposed by David Strachan in 1989, intended to explain the increasing rates of asthma in highly developed countries. He observed increased allergies in firstborn children, and postulated that this is because they are exposed much later to infections brought into the home, versus earlier exposure to their younger siblings. He suggested that contact with a high number of infections early in life could appropriately train the adaptive immune system, and that significant changes in human living standards and the improvement of sanitary conditions meant that people had less exposure to infection in general, but especially in childhood. This in turn causes an impaired, hyper reactive immune response to environmental triggers (Strachan, BMJ, 1989).

The “Hygiene Hypothesis of Autoimmunity,” proposed in the early 2000s, states that the decreasing incidence of infections in western countries and now in developing countries corresponds to the increasing incidence of both autoimmune and allergic diseases (Jean-Francois Bach, N Engl J Med, 2002). This is because some infectious agents – notably, those that co-evolved with us – are able to protect against a large spectrum of immune-related disorders.

Figure 1

Alterations of microbiota are also responsible for the increase in autoimmunity. The gut microbiome of the general population has been altered because of the increase in births by Caesarean section, which has been linked to increased allergic diseases (Thavagnanam et al, Clin Exp Allergy, 2008), and the increase in formula feeding over breastfeeding (Charbonneau et al, Cell, 2016). Smaller family size tends to have a negative impact as well, as studies have shown that children from large families are at lower risk of developing allergies (Penders et al, Gut Microbes, 2014). Where you live can influence the diversity of your microbiota, too. Studies in Finland show that living close to green space and agriculture, rather than close to a town, increases biodiversity.

Furthermore, the overuse of antibiotics has a detrimental impact on the gut, and the damage sustained by prolonged antibiotic use can be transmitted to future generations (Sonnenburg et al, Nature, 2016). The good news is that pets can have a beneficial impact on the diversity of the microbiome, as people share their microbiota with their dogs, which greatly increases the microbial biodiversity of the home (Song et al, elife, 2013). Not only does Dogtor Ed help with my mental health by providing me with such joy, he is also strengthening the microbiome of my family! #dogsaresuperheroes

Unfortunately, we humans have altered our microbiota to such an extent that the immune system is quite susceptible to environmental factors that can lead to autoimmunity. This is where HDCs can shine. William Parker, MD, refers to HDCs as an “exercise for the immune system,” and their ability to positively impact the immune system is quite impressive.

Helminth therapy works by reconstituting our microbiome by reintroducing Hymenolepis diminuta cysticercoids to the human biome. HDCs were part of our normal microbiome before we became an industrialized society, and are still prevalent in the microbiome of citizens in other countries (where there is less autoimmune disease as a result--see photos below). The decrease prevalence of autoimmunity in these countries is a direct result of HDCs, which we have found are Th2-inducing organisms, and are able to regulate and control an overactive Th1 cytokine response (Coakley, et al, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 2016). As a result, the presence of HDCs in the microbiome help the gut to remain in homeostasis, or balance, and decrease the likelihood of hyper reactive immune or inflammatory response.

Map of Helminths infestation

WHAT DOES HELMINTH THERAPY ENTAIL?

Helminth Therapy is simple, and involves drinking ~1 ml of a salty liquid every 3 weeks. This intervention is very easy to implement in even the most restrictive and picky children, as many parents will add it to a liquid that they know their child will drink completely.

HDC therapy intervention is very safe, and risk of infestation is extremely small, as long as you or your child are not constipated and not on any immunosuppressive medications. Helminths are unique in that they do not breach the barrier of the GI tract, unlike hookworms or whipworms.

When we implement this intervention in the office, we always start slowly, building up tolerance over a few months up to the dosage determined by your care team. We then recommend continued treatment at the appropriate dosage for at least three months. When this intervention is first implemented and when increasing the dosage, it is possible that there will be an increase in symptoms for a short period of time. This is similar to a “die off” presentation or Herxheimer reaction, but it is caused by the body’s response to increased histamine and inflammation from the HDCs. If this occurs, discuss with your provider about implementing an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory protocol to manage the reaction, and be assured that this is a temporary issue and a part of the healing process.

I hope that you have found this post helpful and feel comfortable trying HDCs if they are recommended by your healthcare provider. If you are looking for a doctor familiar with helminth therapy, and are interested in becoming a patient of the practice, please visit my website at www.lindseywellsnd.com or call the office at (203) 834-2813.

RESOURCES

For more information regarding the research on helminth therapy visit:


Green vegetables

Basics of Detoxification

At its core, the concept of detoxification is quite simple: whatever goes in, must come out, in order to maintain balance (homeostasis) in the body. For many people, this process happens without any conscious thought or intervention. For children with neurobehavioral or neurodevelopmental complications, this doesn't always happen according to plan, and detoxification must be assisted.

I liken detoxification to the way a household air filter works. If the air filter is in proper working condition and the air pollution in the room is low, the filter has no trouble maintaining a healthy environment. However, if the air filter is placed in a large room with many airborne toxins, it may not be able to keep up with the demand and may not be very effective. Imagine now that the air filter is placed in a polluted environment AND is not in optimal working order. The combination of the two is overwhelming, and the air filter eventually may not have any impact at all in keeping a healthy home.

Our bodies are made of up several "air filters," or organs of detoxification, including the respiratory system, the liver, the skin, the digestive system, and the immune system. Each of these plays an important role in reducing harmful chemicals or pathogens that can trigger inflammation in the brain, which is the primary cause of neurobehavioral and neurodevelopmental symptoms.

That's it! Honestly, "detox" is just the body's process of packaging and excreting harmful substances, and it is often functioning suboptimally in our kids. This can be caused by genetic predisposition, insufficient nutrient status, infection, abnormal inflammation response, or excessive exposure to toxicants.

The basics of detox are simple:

  1. Diet
  2. Stooling
  3. Exercise
  4. Sleep

DIET

Focus on whole foods that are organic, and non-processed. Focus on a large amount of the following:

  • High antioxidant foods like berries, artichokes, kale, spinach, beets, dandelion greens, red cabbage, and dark chocolate
  • Culinary herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, cilantro, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano
  • Cruciferous vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, etc.
  • High fiber foods like nuts and beans
  • Grass-fed organic meats, wild-caught (not factory farmed) fish
  • Filtered water: a general guideline is to consume half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150-lb adult should consume roughly 75 ounces of water per day)
  • Remove sugars, additives, preservatives
  • Avoid your specific food sensitivities

Not convinced? Give it five days. A 2006 study found that five days of "eating clean" reduced the mean urinary excretion of organophosphorus pesticides to nondetectable limits (Lu et al, 2006)!

STOOLING

I always recommend that my patients have at least one bowel movement per day, of sufficient quantity, but honestly, the ideal is to have a bowel movement after every meal! I know that this is much easier said than done with children in general, and with children with neurobehavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders in particular. It is possible to be constipated even if you are having a bowel movement daily. Look for these signs of constipation in children:

  • Hard, small, pellet/ball-like stools
  • Encopresis (soiling of underwear when past the age of toilet training)
  • Posturing on hard surfaces at abdominal area

If your child is presenting with aggression or self-injurious behavior, it is likely gut-related, and we need to rule out constipation and other causes of GI dysbiosis

My favorite tools for addressing constipation:

  • Increasing fiber in diet (i.e. flax, vegetables, fruits, etc.)
  • Increasing fluids – at least ½ body weight in oz daily
  • Probiotics
  • Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Oxide
  • Aloe – must be certified and organic aloe
  • Vitamin C

Other Tricks to Try:

Sucking on a lollipop or homemade ice pop: the sucking can help with peristaltic movements to get the bowels moving

Having your child sit on the toilet consistently every day at the same time for 10-15 minutes

Using a Squatty Potty

Qi Gong Massage

  • Rub abdomen in counterclockwise direction fast, 9x
  • Rub abdomen in clockwise direction slowly, 9x
  • Rub abdomen in counterclockwise direction fast, 9x
  • Pat down his legs (starting with his thighs and moving down his legs to his toes)
  • Put hand behind legs and gently squeeze and move from their calf down to the ankle

Also, talk to your healthcare team about adding antimicrobials if gut dysbiosis (i.e. yeast overgrowth, clostridia, parasites, etc.) is a possibility!

EXERCISE

Exercise is the most underutilized treatment for chronic illness in individuals of all ages! Opinions on the best way to exercise vary between practitioners, but my simple rule of thumb is to move to the point of SWEATING. I recommend at least 30 minutes of continuous exercise a handful of times per week, but shorter sessions with more intensity that alternate exercise with rest are effective, too.

A few of my favorite exercises for children with sensory processing issues, neurobehavorial and neurodevelopmental disorders include:

  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Bouncing on a stability ball
  • A gentle game of “tag”

Exercise helps maintain excellent digestion and sleep cycles, with additional benefits of helping with motor skills, social skills, and health benefits (Toscano et al, 2018). We also see that regular exercise can decrease autistic traits such as stereotypy (Ferreira et al, 2018 and Petrus et al, 2008)!

SLEEP

Sleep is critical component of detoxification for the brain! During sleep, our bodies are able to clear byproducts of neural activity that accumulate during the day. This incredible process is facilitated by the glymphatic system in our brains, clearing away toxins and waste products. Our glymphatic system is about ten times more active during sleep than when we are awake, making sleep an essential brain detoxification method. While we sleep, our brains undergo physical changes that allow the glymphatic system to work faster and more efficiently. Brain cells shrink by 60%, increasing the spaces between them, so that toxins can be flushed away more effectively (Xie et al, 2013), which I think is brilliant!

Here are some tips for quality snoozing:

Establish a nighttime routine with a consistent bedtime

Discontinue the use of electronics at least one hour before bed

Block out blue light from all electrical devices

  • Utilize phone features such as the "night shift" setting and blue light blocking apps
  • Try blue light blocking glasses

Consider turning off WiFi in the house at night

Have your house evaluated for EMFs

Dim lights around 60 minutes before bed

Establish a completely dark room at bedtime

Cool the temperature in your child's bedroom

Consider talking to your healthcare team about melatonin or various herbals that can help with sleep as well!


Homeopathy at Home

Homeopathy is a powerful form of medicine that when used correctly can make a significant difference in one’s health and wellbeing. Professionally, I have incorporated homeopathy into hundreds of treatment plans for both acute and chronic illnesses with great success. Personally, I have found my own healing with the use of homeopathy and so has my husband. Our personal experiences with homeopathy were so profound, that we asked our homeopathic doctor (who is also my homeopathy mentor) to officiate our wedding ceremony as we truly believe neither my husband nor I would be who we are today without homeopathy.

WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY

Homeopathy is an energy based medical therapy that improves your general level of health by strengthening the internal defense system. It is a powerful form of medicine that focuses completely on the individual rather than on a diagnosis. The individual’s unique physical, mental, and emotional characteristics are taken into account when prescribing the specific homeopathic remedy. Homeopathic remedies are formulated based on the principle that “like cures like” meaning that if the body is given what its suffering from, the body will naturally regain its state of health. Also, homeopathy is based on the minimal most effective dose. Homeopathy is considered energetic medicine since the substance used to make the remedy is diluted to such an extent that the energetics of the substance is all that remains. This minute dosage suffices to trigger a healing response without causing pain or debilitation so that the body can regain its strength to heal.

All homeopathic remedies are prepared from herbal, mineral, or animal substances that are regulated by the FDA and are made in accordance with Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). Homeopathy is non-allergenic and has no known drug interactions making it a safe and effective for all ages!

Homeopathy is truly the medicine of individuality and therefore it has the ability to successfully treat every person and disease. This form of medicine has been proven for hundreds of years to be extremely effective in treating mental, emotional, or physical ailments as well as acute and chronic illness.

HISTORY OF HOMEOPATHY

Samuel L. Hahnemann is the founder of homeopathy. He was a medical doctor who early in his career was unhappy with the state of medical practice because he felt that what he was taught was doing more harm than good for his patients. Therefore, he stopped practicing medicine and he started translating medical texts for a living. He was translating a section on Peruvian bark and he was struck by the similarity between the symptoms of poisoning from Peruvian bark (also known as cinchona, which quinine is derived) and the symptoms of malaria. He was intrigued because quinine was the ingredient in the medication used to TREAT malaria. It occurred to him that this similarity might not be coincidental but rather it might be the very basis of the medicine’s curative power – hence the “like cures like” principle of homeopathy. After that, Hahnemann conducted numerous experiments over several years and he concluded that any medicine could treat a particular disease if it is capable of producing symptoms in healthy individuals, which are similar to the disease symptoms in the sick. This is how “rubrics” of remedies were created in order to create the homeopathic Repertory and Materia Medica, which are the tools used by homeopaths around the world to prescribe the right remedy for an individual based on their presentation.

HOW TO USE HOMEOPATHY AT HOME

It is always recommended that you contact your child’s pediatrician for medical advice regarding any ailment. However, I find that having remedies at home can empower parents to help their children during mild acute illnesses or injuries while waiting to hear back from or waiting for an appointment with their pediatrician. Here are a few of my top choices to have on hand.

ARNICA MONTANA

  • Favorite remedy for any acute physical trauma that results in bruising or soreness
  • I carry this remedy in my purse, car, and in my hiking backpack if needed for falls and minor injuries

APIS MELLIFICA

  • Swelling with a burning sensation that is better with cold applications
  • Great for Bee Strings! ** This should not be used as a treatment for anaphylactic reactions to bee strings.

ARSENICUM ALBUM

  • Diarrhea that is watery and offensive in order. Your child may complain of a burning sensation in their tummy but yet their symptoms are better with heat
  • Great remedy to use for symptoms of food poisoning

BELLADONNA

  • Remedy used for fevers. Belladonna may be indicated if your child is red, hot, restless, and not thirty.

CANTHARIS

  • Remedy used for burns and scalds

CHAMOMILLA

  • Sensitivity to pain that presents with irritability
  • My favorite remedy for TEETHING!

IGNATA AMARA

  • Sudden loss and grief
  • This is a very helpful remedy for those who have experienced the loss of a family member, friend, or pet

IPECACUANHA

  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Personal Story: A few years ago, I gave my dog, Ed, raw salmon as a treat without knowing that raw salmon is poisonous to dogs. Ed started to vomit all over the house. Once I realized my horrible mistake, I dosed him with IPECACUANHA and he stopped vomiting.

RHUS TOXICODENRON

  • Used for skin symptoms that are red and swollen with intense itching. Symptoms may be worse at night.
  • My favorite remedy for POSION IVY

SPONGIA TOSTA

  • Can be used for dry barking cough
  • I use this remedy in practice for croup cases

 

 


Healthy ingredients for sore throat

Sore Throat & Cough Syrup Recipe

This is an easy recipe to make a surprisingly tasty syrup with ingredients that are commonly found in your pantry. The syrup coats your throat while supporting your immune system to fight off infections. The three ingredients all have immune enhancing benefits. Garlic contains alliin, a compound shown to have antimicrobial benefits against bacteria, viruses, and fungus. In order for alliin to be released, garlic has to be crushed which is why the directions specify smashing the garlic. Research has shown that garlic can shorten the length of illness and decrease the severity of illness. Onions contain many immune supporting antioxidants such as zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. In addition, onions contain quercetin which is a potent anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Another benefit of quercetin is that it is a zinc ionophore, so it helps to get zinc inside cells to implement its anti-viral properties. Honey has superpowers due to its various medicinal benefits. It is high in antioxidants and has antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Research has shown that it can work as a cough suppressant and can be as effective as over the counter cough medications that contain dextromethorphan. I encourage you to try this tasty and effective syrup. This should be a go-to intervention for your family if symptoms are presenting with sore throat or a cough.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup of raw local honey

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Place chopped onion and smashed garlic into a bowl

2. Pour in one cup of raw local honey and cover onion and garlic

3. Cover bowl

4. Leave for 8-12 hours

5. Strain liquid from the onions and garlic

6. Refrigerate liquid for up to 2 weeks

DOSAGE:

  • 1 tablespoon 3-4x/day while symptoms persist for adults
  • 1 teaspoon 3x/day while symptoms persist for children over the age of 12 months

** Do not give syrup to infants under the age of 12 months due to risk of botulism **

REFERENCES

1. Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(12):1107-1110.

2. Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93. doi: 10.1007/BF02850113. PMID: 11697022.


Self-care candles

Self-Care for Caregivers

As a caregiver, it can become easy to put your needs aside to prioritize the child/children in your life with special needs. As a physician, I have seen the impact that childhood chronic illness has on the whole family unit. I have also seen that when family members practice self-care, there are dramatic improvements in their health AND the health of the child. I believe that practicing self-care and incorporating naturopathic medicine into this practice leads to healthier individuals and stronger family units.

My top recommendations for caregivers include mindfulness, movement and management. See below for more information that I hope you will find helpful.

MINDFULNESS

It is common to associate the word mindfulness with envisioning a person meditating for extended periods of time (or that’s at least how I associate the word mindfulness!). However, there are many different techniques that you can implement that fit into your schedule and resonate with you. Here are some examples:

PRAYER: Prayer is a powerful tool for many people, both religious and non-religious alike. It can take the shape of memorized psalms or verses, chanting, singing, or quiet contemplation.

TAPPING: Known also as Emotional Freedom Technique or psychological acupressure, tapping utilizes meridian points to balance qi or "vital force." One of my favorite points to tap when stressed is Kidney 27, located in the soft spot lateral to where the sternum and clavicle meet.

MANTRAS: You may have heard mantras in a yoga or meditation class, and while the ancient Sanskrit mantras (such as "Om") can be very helpful, any short, positive saying repeated with intention can be just as meaningful.

My favorites: "Purpose over Perfect" and “I am enough, I do enough, I have enough”

JOURNALING: Keep it simple! Try writing one sentence per day and journaling at the same time each day for three weeks. Good topics can include documenting your dreams, gratitude, travel, good memories, or current feelings (good or bad).

MEDITATION: Meditation is a mindfulness practice which focuses on the breath, object, thought or activity to increase your attention and awareness to achieve mental clarity and calmness.

If you're new at meditation, try some of these basic techniques to begin the art of calming your mind:

  • Sitting quietly for 2 minutes
  • Inhale through your nose to the count of 4, pause to the count of 1, and slowly exhale through your nose to the count of 8. Repeat.
  • Try guided meditations through apps such as Headspace, 10% Happier, Calm

MOVEMENT

Movement is essential to keeping your joints gliding smoothly, the stimulation of healthy endorphins, and ensuring natural detoxification and metabolic processes are optimized. Daily movement has been shown to impact the body both physically and mentally, reducing toxic load, elevating feelings of happiness and wellbeing--not to mention helping you shed extra weight. It might be difficult or uninspiring to go to the gym every day, so try to incorporate other exercises into your routine, such as walking, tennis, dancing, or yoga, as they may be able to fit into your schedule more easily. The most important thing is to create a routine that's fun to do and works for you. Remember to start small and slowly build up your endurance and intensity, as this will ensure your safety and comfort. It's also helpful to incorporate movement with the entire family, as it will increase compliance and bonding. Movement increases endorphins (your "feel-good neurotransmitters") and helps to improve your mood by decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression. My favorite form of movement includes being outside in nature, so I that can reap the benefits of both increased activity and nature therapy.

MANAGEMENT

One of the biggest ways to manage stress is by supporting your adrenals. Cortisol (your "stress hormone") is produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney. It is responsible for the "fight or flight" response, the most basic response of our nervous system to stress. Cortisol plays a role in our ability to handle stress, metabolism, inflammation, blood sugar, blood pressure, and sleep/wake cycle, making its presence in healthy levels essential in keeping us well! The consequences of prolonged stress can result in the imbalance of cortisol in our bodies, and therefore can lead to various chronic illnesses. Symptoms of cortisol imbalance or "adrenal dysfunction" include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changing appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Salt cravings
  • Low blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Changes in sleep

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, you need to give your adrenals some extra love by increasing filtered water intake to at least 80 oz per day, increasing your salt intake (I prefer pink Himalayan salt), and adding adaptogens.

Adaptogens are herbs that strengthen and support the adrenal glands are often called "adaptogens." They are especially helpful for managing adrenal stress because they can either give tired adrenals a healthy boost or calm overactive adrenals—thus being incredibly adaptable. Adaptogens are used to support the body's varying physical and emotional stresses and can increase energy and the capacity to

handle stress. My favorite adaptogen for caregivers is ASHWAGANDHA. Ashwagandha is calming, useful for stress management, anxiety, sleep disturbances. In addition, it has thyroid support and

also contains anti-fungal properties

I hope that you will give yourself the opportunity to implement some of these recommendations. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of YOU since you child’s health depends on it! Remember to always be gentle with yourself. You are doing an AMAZING job.


Woman putting on socks

Magic Sock Treatment

This is my tried-and-true intervention for acute illness. I often feel that when I recommend this to my patients, they think I’m crazy but once they have tried it for themselves, they become huge fans of this intervention. As a health care provider, I am good at telling others what to do in regard to their health, but I can be guilty of not always following my own advice when feeling under the weather. However, at the onset of illness this is the one intervention that I ALWAYS implement to support my immune system. I find that this treatment works best for acute viral illnesses, fever, respiratory infections, congestion, coughs, and headaches. In addition, it can have a sedating action and I have experienced myself that I tend to sleep much better during the treatment. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. It is important that you implement it for three nights in a row to experience the full benefits, but most people will notice an improvement after the first night.

SUPPLIES:

  • 1 pair cotton socks
  • 1 pair thick wool socks*
  • Towel
  • Warm bath or warm footbath

DIRECTIONS:

1. Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water (the colder the water the better!). Be sure to wring the socks out so they do not drip any water.

2. Warm up your feet in warm water or take a warm bath for at least 5-10 minutes. This is very important, as the treatment will not be effective if your feet are not warmed first.

3. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

4. Get dressed for bed.

5. Place cold wet socks on feet. Cover the wet socks with the thick wool socks. Make sure the wet socks are completely covered by the wool socks.

6. Go directly to bed to avoid getting chilled.

7. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

8. The wet sock treatment is best when repeated for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your physician.

*If you are allergic to wool or don't have wool socks, use thick socks of another material or cover wet socks with 2 additional pairs cotton socks.

Once you have tired this intervention for yourself you will realize why it is called “Magic Socks”. The healing benefits are truly magical and when you wake up in the morning the wet socks will be completely dry! Kids tend to find this fun and they become more compliant with the intervention after the first night after experiencing the magic powers of this treatment.


Child taking vitamins

How to get Your Child to Take Their Supplements and Medications

It is no secret that children can be very sensitive to tastes and textures. Therefore, it may be a challenge to be able to incorporate supplements and medications that your child will tolerate. Here are some suggestions and tips to help:

Make sure the food or liquid that you are using to mix the supplements into is at room temperature or cooler. This is important because adding supplements to hot foot or liquids will change the composition of the supplement so it will not be as effective.

Using liquids as your vehicle to incorporate supplements is the easiest. The best form of liquid to use is fruit juices. It is important to use juices that are organic and do not contain any added sugar. My favorite juice to implement in Pomegranate juice due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. However, other options are orange juice, mango juice, lemonade, and apple juice which all mask the flavor of supplements really well. It is best to add the supplement to about 1-2 oz of liquid so not many sips are required. Also, putting a lid on the drink is key. Lids are a way to decrease the smell of supplements so your child’s sensitive nose will not be able to pick up on the supplement. In addition, use a colored cup so they won’t see the change in the color of the fluid due to the added supplements.

Other forms of foods that work well to hide supplements are:

1. NUT & SEED BUTTERS

Best option for strong tasting supplements and for children that struggle with the chalky/grainy texture of supplements. In addition, it is great at masking the bitterness of herbal medicine. * Avoid if your child has a known nut allergy

2. HONEY

This is an option for children over one years old. Honey is wonderful at masking the taste of bitter supplements. Also, it is a good option for children who have a sweet tooth! * Never give honey to children under 1 years old due to the risk of botulism!

3. MAPLE SYRUP

Another sweet option to mask the taste of bitter supplements and the gritty texture of supplements.

4. BERRIES

Add liquid or powder to the hollow portion of berries. Works best with raspberries, blackberries, hollowed out strawberries. This can be a quick and pleasant way to administer supplements with the added benefit of the antioxidant properties of berries.

5. JAMS

You can get creative with the flavor of jam depending on your child’s preference. This is a sweet way to disguise the taste and texture of supplements.

6. APPLE SAUCE

Apple sauce is an easy way to incorporate supplements into your child’s diet. The powerful apple flavor masks the taste of the supplements and the chucky texture of the apple sauce disguises the gritty texture of the supplement powder.

7. SMOOTHIES

Smoothies are the best for incorporating nutritious foods into a child’s diet. Make a smoothie with frozen berries and get your child involved so they can create their own flavor! If your child likes a creamier consistency use an alternative nut-based milk (such as almond, coconut, cashew milk etc.), ½ banana, or ½ avocado. While you are at it, you can throw in a handful of spinach or kale to increase your child’s vegetable intake!

8. YOGURT

Good option if your child doesn't have a food sensitivity to dairy! If they have a dairy sensitive, consider the non-flavored alternative yogurt options (almond, coconut, cashew, pea , etc.) The creamy consistency of yogurt makes it easy to blend supplements in without your child knowing.

9. ICE POPS

This is a great way to incorporate supplements in the hot summer months. Just purchase an ice pop mold and your child favorite juice. Add the juice and add the supplements into the mold, mix, and freeze. Just make sure to use organic, no sugar added fruit juice.

10. HOMEMADE FRUIT LEATHER

You can find a fruit leather recipe online and after your fruit leather has cooled you can put the powder from the supplements on the portion of the leather and put another piece of top, essentially making a supplement sandwich with the fruit leather. This is a tasty treat for children!

If you have an infant that is too young to eat solid food the best way to incorporate necessary supplements is through an oral syringe. Administer supplements by gently squirting the supplement mixed with breast milk or formula in the pocket of your infant’s cheek. Just be careful not to squirt the contents of the syringe into the back of your infant’s throat because it may trigger a gag reflex.

Best of luck!

Dr. Wells