Holistic Treatment of GERD

My middle daughter, Bella, suffered from GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). It was heart wrenching to see her suffer and be so uncomfortable. This is a subject that is close to my heart and I know effects so many families. You’ll be happy to know there are some holistic alternatives to the conventional medications on the market. Some can be used on their own, some can be used in unison with medications depending on your situation. If your baby experiences fussiness, sleep disturbances, excessive spitting up, gas with a tense abdomen, arching the back, a cough and/or inadequate weight gain they may be experiencing GERD.
During this post, I’ll be sharing with you notes from an online webinar with Dr. Randall Neustaedter on the topic of Holistic Treatment of GERD. He is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, and is certified in Classical Homeopathy. He practices in Redwood City, CA. You can find more about him, at his website.
In cases of newborns, it can be hard to decipher if it is colic or reflux your infant is experiencing. I found it very interesting to learn that 90% of babies experience some sort of infant reflux. Infants don’t have a developed esophageal sphincter, it can take up to 3-4 months to develop. So many times infants are labeled as having colic during this time and then they grow out of it, the most problematic age seems to be between 3 weeks to 3 months. So if you can get through this age in many cases the symptoms will subside.
There are many holistic options, we’ll briefly discuss some of them.There are many simple things to start with. If there are any breastfeeding issues, your first step would be to consult a La Leche League leader to resolve any  problems with latching, inadequate burping or inadequate milk supply. Studies show that staying in close contact with your baby, such as skin to skin contact with a lot of holding, is helpful for reflux. Baby’s who sleep with their parents and whose parents practice baby wearing are often found to be calmed more easily and tend to cry less.  Swaddling your infant in a fetal, upright position works with gravity to keep acid down. This hold is possible with many wraps and baby carriers.  Co-sleeping will normalize your infants biorhythms and help the babies hormones work along with the mother’s hormones. I found this fact very interesting, their body learns to function from the mother’s body, pretty amazing!
Addressing food sensitivities can be a big help in addressing colic and GERD. There are many foods that commonly cause colic issues for infants. If mom stops one of more of these foods, they’ll have less crying in many cases. These foods include dairy, wheat, eggs, broccoli, cabbage, onions, soy, peanuts, coffee, beans, and tomatoes. Dairy and wheat often cause the most problems in breastfed babies.
A healthy gut is of utmost importance in establishing a healthy immune system in your infant. Reuteris is a great probiotic.  Dr. Neustader stated that 95% of babies with allergic symptoms improved when given this probiotic.It is very helpful in treating reflux. It is an easy thing to try and can easily be bought at your local health food shops or online.
Chinese medicine is not something I’m very familiar with and was curious to learn more. It’s interesting to note in Chinese Medicine they also focus on the stomach for healing reflux. Chinese medicine says to strengthen the stomach and spleen. One Chinese tonic often prescribed for GERD is called Grow and Thrive.  A licensed health care practitioner can prescribe it. It works to promote assimilation of nutrients and the movement of food through the intestines to strengthen and support proper digestive function. Chinese medicine uses herbs that are adapted for babies and taste very good including Hyacinth bean, Chinese Yam,  and Lyceum.
Western herbs can also be helpful in treating GERD holistically. Chamomile, fennel, and licorice have all been found successful in a double-blind study. Products such as Organic Gripe Water have ingredients such as fennel, ginger, peppermint and chamomile, just be sure to pick a product without sugar and parabens.
Are you familiar with Acupuncture? This is something I’ve always been curious about, but have never tried it myself. Stomach 36 and Spleen 6 were points Dr. Neusteader stated to be helpful for treating GERD. Stomach 36 helps build stomach energy. In an infant this is approximately an inch below the knee, your finger will cover the point. Spleen 6 is approximately an inch above the ankle on the inside of the leg.  For a baby you would treat both sides, you can use this in a massage several times a day. Tui Na is a Chinese term for massage on acupressure points.
Chiropractic can also help infants to bring quick relief. Acupuncture and Chiropractic can often help in one treatment. The birthing process can cause tension and twisting of the upper spine and neck, taking this tension out of the neck will result in a relaxing of the spinal cord and a relief of nerve irritation. Our family has a great chiropractor, you can find a great pediatric chiropractor in your area by searching ICPA4kids.org
Homeopathy is something I’ve briefly discussed before in my blog posts. It’s a wonderful option because it doesn’t have side effects and can be safely used with any other medications or method of healing.  The dosage ( 6, 12, 30X or C) isn’t as important. Simply crush and dissolve the pellets in breast milk or water and give as needed for symptoms or routinely if the crying is continual. Visit a trained homeopath to help identify the correct medicine. They will be able to do this by observation of your baby, they’ll notice how the baby looks and acts and be able to give proper recommendations. Hyland’s makes a colic remedy that you can use from home and there are also many books on the subject to help you research your options. A great resource is http://www.abchomeopathy.com You can type in the remedy and learn more about them at their site.
Here are some Homeopathic remedies to consider:
Colocynth- This remedy is most commonly used for colic symptoms like crying and screaming. Typically the infant wants to double up with pain and pressing on the abdomen feels better (over the shoulder or over the lap). Gas and bloating with tension in the abdomen are also symptoms, they often feel better after having a bowel movement.
Dioscorea Villosa- This remedy is recommended when the pain is worse from bending forward, arching back and stretch, and they tend to show more symptoms in the morning.
Jalapa- This is for babies that cry all night and then are fine during  the day. May have watery, sour-smelling diarrhea.
Conventional doctors will prescribe treatment to address acid in the stomach. H2 blockers such as Zantac and Pepcid are used to block the action of releasing stomach acid. This includes side effects such as an increased risk of pneumonia and digestive system infections. These side effects happen because white blood cell function is inhibited. These drugs alter the bodies normal stomach flora. In reviews of many studies these drugs have been shown not to be effective for adults and children.
I thought this was a fantastic webinar with a lot of great information. Even though our family struggled in dealing with GERD in it’s severest cases I still was able to learn a lot. I wish I had this information a few years ago.
Does someone in your family struggle with GE
RD or colic? What have you found to be helpful?
Always remember to check with your own healthcare team before trying anything new. I am not prescribing a specific course of action I am sharing this information from an online webinar that I attended presented by Kiwi magazine.

photo by bbaunach

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Natural Approaches to Seasonal Allergies

More than likely you or someone in your family suffers from seasonal allergies. It can be absolutely miserable!  When the sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes,  and congestion starts, what’s a mom to do? I attended a webinar with Dr. Lawrence D. Rosen, MD from the Whole Child Center in NJ. It was a very enlightening webinar with some great solutions that any family can put to use. I took notes and thought I’d pass them along to you.
Dr. Rosen first addressed the issue of addressing seasonal allergies early, even prenatally. It can be done! Dr. Rosen encourages families to look for a root cause, not just the symptoms.  Allergic rhinitis effects 60 million people in the US and it’s increasing, statics point that perhaps 40% of children suffer from allergic rhinitis. More and more children are being affected and the cost to treat is rising. From 2000 to 2005 the cost doubled to $11.2 billion. Prevention is the preferred treatment whenever possible because it is almost always safer, usually more effective and less expensive. Dr. Rosen focuses on  Integrative medicine, it’s  becoming more and more popular. What does that mean exactly? It’s when doctors are using conventional medicine along with complimentary therapies. Many families are using complementary therapies such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, homeopathy, and herbs, but they aren’t always telling their doctor. Dr. Rosen encourages families to be more open with with their doctors and share with your doctor all of the therapies you are using with your family.
“Let thy food be thy medicine.”- Hippocrates
Nutrition plays a large role in allergic disorders. Dr. Rosen points to clear evidence that breastfeeding exclusively for 4-6 months helps prevent against allergies. What a simple thing to do to get babies off on the right start. Nutrition during pregnancy and infancy can play a role in developing allergies. He discussed the issues of introducing solids. Many cultures introduce solid foods  at 2-4 weeks, but waiting until at least 4 months helps to prevent allergies. He also encourages parents not to start with grains (specifically mentioning white rice). He recommends starting infants on fruits and veggies that are local and organic.
He shared a website http://www.organic-center.org/ ; it’s a great resource. Organic foods have a higher density of nutrients and this helps prevents against allergies. To learn about the dirty dozen and clean fifteen visit http://www.foodnews.org/ . I have a little list I keep in my diaper bag for when I go grocery shopping, the list changes each year, so keep checking for updates.
In discussing nutrition in relation to allergies, he said Vitamins A, C, E, and D can be helpful in prevention. Improving Vitamin D intake can make a big difference in children’s health, particularly those children that struggle with asthma. Quercetin is nature’s antihistamine without the side effects, these can be found in foods such as apples and onions. Bromelain is an excellent anti-inflammatory that can be found in pineapple. He encourages it to be taken early in the season for effectiveness.
Healthy oils are another issue he discussed. We get plenty of Omega 6s in packaged foods, what we need is Omega 3s. These healthy fats can be found in northern oily fishes such as salmon, krill, and algae. The best forms of these oils are in food form though you can find pharmaceutical food grade fish oil supplements. Eating these healthy foods in their original, true form always seems to be your best bet.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that line the intestinal tract that play a large role in digestive and immune health. Having a healthy digestive tract helps prevent against allergic disorders. Prebiotics are food sources for the probiotics. Dr. Rosen encourages moms to eat yogurt and cultured foods during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, this can result in a 50% reduced rate for allergic disorders for their children.
Honey is another option in fighting allergies. Small amounts of local honey provide homeopathic doses of pollen. These small amounts on a daily basis help to build a tolerance to pollen in you area. It’s crucial to start taking the honey before allergy season starts. Some persons show allergic symptoms to honey so he encourages starting with small doses.
Herbal/Botanicals can interact with conventional medications so Dr. Rosen encourages parents to please be open with your doctors when coming up with a treatment plan.  Dr. Rosen mentioned Butterbur for adults, and children over 12, it has a positive effect on seasonal allergies, though the herbal community debates its safety in larger doses. Pycnogenol has been used control ADD as well as pine bark extract. For exact dosages, you need to find an herbalist, naturopath or doctor. Boswellia aka Frankincense is great for inflammatory issues and Crohn’s disease. Stinging nettle is a natural antihistamine and in purified forms, it builds and teaches the body tolerance.
Homeopathy is based on the theory of “like cures like”. In homeopathic medicine very small particles are diluted and can work well for easing allergic symptoms. In homeopathy a derivative of an onion can clear up runny eyes and a runny nose, this is based on the law of similarity. These remedies have been shown to be very effective. Some families swear that certain single and combo remedies have been successful without sleepiness or hyperactivity from conventional medications. I wrote  more about homeopathy here.
Dr. Rosen also briefly mentioned Traditional Chinese Medicine that works with flows of energy to connect with the energy around us working to increase or decrease chi to promote health.  This isn’t something I’m very familiar with. These remedies can be used on young children if used with a skilled practitioner. Manipulative therapies such as chiropractic care, osteopathy, and massage work together for the best of the child. Chiropractic is the most widely used complementary used therapy. Our family has regularly monthly visits to the chiropractor. Even NICU’s are now embracing massage therapy for infants.
Environment control during peak pollen time is essential.  This just makes sense, Wash it off!! Wash your hands, face, hair and change your clothes (and/or your children’s). This is an important and simple step to reduce your exposure to allergens and can make a difference. HEPA air filters in sleeping areas filter mold, pollen, and pet dander. Use a Neti Pot, this is an incredibly simple way to use saline water to rinse the pollen from the nasal cavities. Children as young as 2 and 3 can be taught to use a squeeze bottle to rinse pollen from their nose. You can search YouTube for videos of children using a neti pot. I know a Neti Pot has been such a huge help in our family. As soon as allergy season starts or my sinuses start to ache, the first thing I reach for is a Neti Pot, it’s really been a life saver for me.
Integrative medicine is putting all of these modalities together. Dr. Rosen said looking back to the future of medicine, is looking back to the food we drink, the air we breathe, good nutrition, and healthy exercise. Going back to basics makes a bigger difference than the expensive modalities we spend a lot of time and money on. I thought that was a good point! I thought it was a great webinar.
Lastly, the webinar ended with a few questions.
How do you know if it’s really allergies (or a cold, etc.)?
If there is a fever, it’s not allergies. Allergies usually last longer than a week or become worse when you go outside. Nasal congestion along with itchiness means allergies.
Can babies have allergies?
It is unusual, but babies are developing allergies more and more. If they are outside and get a runny, itchy nose and there is a strong family history or allergies this is a possibility. Eczema, reflux and chronic congestion may be some signs of allergies in an infant.
Is a humidifier helpful for allergies?
Rarely is a humidifier helpful for allergies. Humidifiers can present mold issues since mold can grow in wet and moist areas. If you use a humidifier it’s important to clean it once a week with distilled vinegar. A humidifier can be helpful with a dry cough though a steam shower may be more effective.
What about eye drops for allergies, do you have any recommendations?
Boiron and Hyland’s make homeopathic eye drops. You can also use saline drops to flush out pollen. Cool compresses can also be helpful. Potatoes, onions and chamomile tea bags on the eyes can help. A drop of breastmilk in the eye really works for eye irritation.
This webinar was sponsored by Kiwimagonline.com.
I found this to be a very informative webinar. Did you learn anything new?
photo by Yashima

Odds and Ends

Spring has arrived! I have been loving the sunshine and flowers these past few weeks (achoo!!). My Little guy has been waking up and running with his shoes in hand to the door and signing “outside”, and saying “owww,owww”. He is obsessed with outside right now. As a result of his obsession I’ve been spending a lot of time outside and a lot less time inside, thus, my house and blog have suffered. That’s what spring is for, right? Some positive results have come from this. I’ve started my garden! No, this is not a picture of my garden, unfortunately.  I hope to write and post pictures on that soon. I’m so excited about it this year, I am doing a square foot garden in my front yard. I have had zero success in  my past ventures in my shaded back yard, so I moved it to the front and I am feeling hopeful. I was very inspired by the Dervaes family. If they can do all of that, surely I can do a small garden and keep it going this year. It’s also working as a great homeschooling project. Big Sister has really been enjoying the planting and watering. I hope she continues to feel motivated, ( and me too!).
So I have a lot of odds and ends to share with you. If you haven’t already heard via Facebook, please check out our most recent Soapnuts giveaway through http://www.baby2green.blogspot.com/ Your chance are looking pretty good at winning!
It’s World Homeopathy Awareness week ( April 10-16th). I’ve written recently about homeopathy and some basics about getting started with your family. If you are looking to research in further this may be a good place to start. Several different states are having events, unfortunately, there is nothing in TN, but there is in GA!
I wanted to mention the Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver. Have you seen his new show? I’m in love with it. I love his passion for whole, healthy foods for children and families. I was shocked at  what the children were eating in the elementary schools, and even more shocked that the 7-year-olds weren’t able to identify a tomato or a pea!! If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, check it out on Friday nights. It looks like you can watch past episodes online.
On a final note, ChildOrganics was chosen by Melodie at  Breastfeeding Moms Unite to be a sponsor of her site for the month of April. She was searching for breastfeeding supportive businesses, and we were one of the businesses chosen to be featured. She is hosting a Body Image Carnival this week, so there are some great articles to be read on her site. So go on over and check her out!
I hope you are having a fantastic week enjoying the sunshine and your families!
Photo from woodleywonderworks