In the first part we discussed what a green pediatrician is and talked about some of the hallmarks of their profession. We also discussed vaccines and their problems in relation to green pediatrics. If you did not read the post there is a link to it here (insert blog link).
Today I want to talk about a few other things that relate to green pediatrics and our children’s overall health.
Childhood allergies seem to be on the rise, just like childhood disease. Whether it be seasonal, food, skin rashes, asthma, or respiratory problems, more children are acquiring these problems than ever before. As of 2007, as a nation, these disorders were affecting 35 million people in this country and we spend an estimated 6 billion a year in treatment. That’s not including productivity time lost due to appointments and such.
What is causing this rise? Well, the obvious culprits are pollutants in our environment and over stimulation to our immune system, due to these environmental factors. Unlike our ancestors, we are exposed to more allergens than ever before. Our immune systems were never intended to handle all of the toxins we meet in our daily lives. It has caused us to become more sensitive to allergens, says Dr. Michael Rosenbaum in Growing Up Green.
Tips to combat allergies
- Limit your family’s exposure to controllable allergens like pet dander and tobacco smoke. I know I’ve had to work on this in my parents’ house. My father is not allowed to smoke anywhere but their bathroom due to my allergies and my mother’s health issues.
- If you can afford them, get high efficiency particulate air filters in every room of your house. This is something I want to work on once I get my own place.
- In humid areas use dehumidifiers to limit mold growth. We have to do this due to my allergies.
- You can purchase allergy proof bedding to reduce symptoms if you have consistent problems. If not, then regularly wash your linens in hot water.
- Wash stuffed animals as they can hold onto dander and allergens.
- Carpet is an enemy to anyone with allergies. Either vaccum regularly or try to get rid of them.
- Use non-toxic house hold cleaners.
- Talk to you pediatrician about natural supplements that can help with preventing allergies. Some of these include: probiotics and essential fatty acids.
- Neti pots are your friend….and if that won’t clear it…try this recipe to clear your sinuses with one: 1 drop peroxide, 1 drop apple cider vinegar, a pinch sea salt and baking soda, and boiled water that has been cooled to room temp. It hurts but it’s the only thing that clears my sinuses.
The Dirty Theory
The dirty theory proposes that the rise in all these health conditions has to do with not allowing our children’s immune systems to develop naturally. This includes protecting them from everything dirty and overexposing them to antibiotics instead of allowing the immune system to do its job. Some of these toxic chemicals we use to clean our homes also destroy too many bacteria. We have become so germ phobic, with little to no need, that our immune systems don’t get their proper exercise.
There are tons of bacteria that are beneficial to our health. Our intestines would not work without some of the bacteria that live there and our body has to learn to tell the difference. That becomes harder when we don’t allow our bodies that opportunity.
If you would like to learn more about hygiene hypothesis or the dirty theory, there are tons of articles out there.
And if you would like to learn about helpful bacteria in the body, here is a link from Scientific American
We touched on this in the last article, but antibiotics are used way too often in modern society. A kid gets sick, the school wants them to immediately go to the doctor, get on meds, and come back to school. I know it’s inconvenient when your kid misses school, but pumping them full of meds that prevent their immune system from getting its workout isn’t the answer. Nor is sending them to school where they can infect more students.
This is not to say that antibiotics are bad. They are a great tool and they aren’t dangerous, but we do pay a price for using them too often. The more we use antibiotics the more resistant our bodies become to them. If we overuse them, they won’t work as well when we really need them to. Continuing this trend will most likely create superbugs that we can no longer treat.
It doesn’t help that they are encountering it in other items they eat and drink either. Milk and meat are pumped full of antibiotic due to our horrible farming practices.
Growing Up Green presents a few alternative options. I’ve posted a few of them on my Herbal Remedies page. The one I did not include was for colic as it was fairly intensive and meant looking at your diet and mental health. So, if you are struggling with colic in your baby you might look up colic in Growing up Green on Google Books if you just need to read that section.
I would also recommend looking up homeopathic and natural remedies whenever you can. I’m not saying to use them for serious conditions. Only that a cold or cough doesn’t need cough syrup when chamomile tea and honey will work just as well. There are natural remedies made with organic, non-toxic products that you can make at home for cheap (and most of the time they work better than the overpriced stuff you buy at the store). For example, burns can be treated with aloe vera plants, poison ivy can be treated with a tincture made of different plants. Or on a slightly less organic track, toothpaste can be used to make zits shrink.
Or if you’re not into making your own remedies I suggest looking up Boiron products. They are all natural holistic alternatives.
The Happy Pill
Just as antibiotics are over prescribed, so are meds for other mental health issues. From ADHD to depression, the doctors these days just want to throw meds at the problem without diagnosing the underlying issue. As a college graduate with a Bachelor’s in psychology this really disgusts me and is a disservice to the profession, as well as those they serve.
If we just look for the underlying causes we won’t have to use medication. Some problems like ADHD can be related to diet, while others may be rooted in past events and experiences in life. Giving a child, or adult, a pill and hoping the problem goes away is like putting a band aide on a gaping wound.
Not to mention the side effects that these meds may have. Unfortunately green medicine is fairly rare in psychology and mental disorders. I really do wish that we would stop trending toward self-gratification and the quick fix. Instead we’re putting children on meds that could damage their long term development because their minds and bodies are not fully developed.
I realize that some parents do not see an alternative, but there are solutions, you just have to look for them and find holistic doctors. It really is a choice and a lifestyle. The problem can be vitamins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or hormonal imbalances. These are complex issues that simply cannot be cured or treated with a pill and there not be consequences.
We know it runs rampant through the school system at times. Or you might catch it from your child’s friend. I know I often had to treat myself for it. But very few people know that lice are actually attracted to clean hair, so don’t take the infestation as an insult. However, please don’t insult your body by using toxic chemicals to remove the pests when there are much better alternatives. Using agricultural pesticides on our scalp or those of our children does not sound like a good idea.
Some oils can be used to prevent lice, such as tea tree, rosemary, lemon and ylang-ylang. If you already have it before you can work on prevention there are a couple of simple household products that work just as well if not better. You still need the lice comb though. Slathering your head with mayo , vegetable oil, or olive oil works great. I recommend vegetable oil as it is the easiest to get out of the hair. Just soak your child’s scalp and hair in the oil and cover it for about forty five minutes. The dense oil suffocates the pests and then you wash it out and nitpick just like you would otherwise. Another preventative tool is to rinse your hair in apple cider vinegar at the end of a shower. It just takes about a fourth of a cup poured over the scalp. It makes it harder for the little buggers to latch on.
Growing Up Green recommends an oil mixture of tea tree, ylang-ylang, anise, rosemary, marjoram, sage and eucalyptus in a coconut oil base. Mix it with a small amount of shampoo and leave it on for fifteen to thirty minutes then wash and repeat daily for a week.
These are just a few of the ways you can go green with your medical routine.