Any time of the year is good to prepare for the school year, and one thing is sure, your children will be exposed to all sorts of microbes and viruses that promote colds and the occasional flu, not to mention stomach bugs and everything else that is going around at the time. One teacher says that they work in a ” cesspool of germs”. Perhaps this comment is a little unkind but children are exposed to quite a lot while at school. So let’s have a look at a few issues –
- Children under the age of say 12 have immature immune systems or immune systems that are maturing. Immune systems are constantly developing and changing depending on exposure to bacteria and viruses, and environmental toxins. Recent research shows that to create a healthy immune system, one needs lots of exposure to different environments – zoos, dog parks, beaches, and farms. All are alive with organisms, both bad and good, that help develops a Healthy immune system. Conversely, Healthy immune systems are not developed sitting home watching TV! It has been found that if children are exposed to different environments, they are less likely to develop allergies and be less susceptible to colds and cases of flu.
- Developing Gut Bacteria starts right from when they leave the womb, and the Bacteria responds to the environment. It has been found that exposure to different environments and microorganisms helps to develop healthy gut flora. The gut flora becomes diverse and becomes better at handling the foreign allergenic pathogen or microbes that come along. A healthy gut promotes a healthy immune system as they are symbiotic. In other words, they work together.
- Digestive function is in its infancy. Children are not born with cast-iron stomachs ready to digest everything that comes along. Research has shown that the digestive process takes time to mature and that low stomach acid levels can be the norm at times. The Chinese typically start a child when ready for solids on a Congee. Congee is a rice gruel that has been boiled for quite some time, and either some vegetables or meat protein are added for increased nutrition. This is a respectful way to begin digestive life and then progress into thicker soups and eventually everyday solid foods. It is thought that warm cooked foods are easy to digest for the child. What a child is fed is debatable between parents and nutritionists. Still, it is believed that a broad spectrum diet containing most food groups is essential for exposing the child to a wide range of nutrients, fibres, and potential allergens. Since a little bit of everything is being consumed, this exposure lessens the potential to become allergic to a particular food. It is even recommended that exposure to eggs and peanuts be done in minute doses early to help develop immunity to these possible allergens.
- What to do for the Cold or touches of flu or stomach bugs?
- Upset tummy: probiotics are beneficial here, and children’s strains have been developed which are more appropriate to their stage in life. The probiotic or strain of probiotic tends to crowd out the harmful or pathogenic strains that may be contributing to the upset tummies. Upset tummies in children may reflect stress in the environment as the stomach is influenced by the vagus nerve, which is affected by emotional issues. Upset tummies respond well to weak warm teas of lemon balm, or ginger, or chamomile, which can be flavoured with honey ( Manuka honey is best )
- Colds: Colds are pretty standard in the classroom and are viruses, not bacterial. The best remedy is bed rest, warm chicken soups and appropriate doses of children’s cold medications such as the Herb Sambucus Nigra, commonly called Elderflower. This Herb has potent antiviral properties and, while it cannot cure a cold, will lessen its intensity. Children’s formulas are available, for example, Herbs of Gold brand -Children’s Cold care http://www.herbsofgold.com.au, typical of a good cold remedy.
- Coughs: Along with the colds, often comes a nagging cough with or without mucus. Recent research shows that Manuka honey in high strength is as good as any, and Manuka has anti-bacterial qualities. Essential oils such as Pine, Eucalyptus or Thyme, for example, are great examples of oils that can be vapourised at night next to the bed for sound effects. ( use electronic vaporisers only no candlelit as there is potential for fire ) Pharmaceutical cough preparations should only be used with professional advice and preferably avoided unless all else fails. Naturally, with any cold – cool drinks, cordials and fruit juices or milk should be avoided as they create more congestion due to sugar and allergen content. Warm foods and drinks are the best.
- Repeat Colds and congestion: This is a common problem with children exposed to others in the classroom, and it seems like no sooner than they get over one episode than they catch another, especially at the change of seasons. It is not unusual to hear of a child having 2 -3 lots of Antibiotics in a year. With some children, their immune systems are weak or taking time to develop and, as such, they may be more prone than others to catching anything that is going around. If this is the case, one famous remedy for boosting the immune system and has been used in Oriental Medicine for centuries; and is safe with children is called Yu Ping San ( Jade Screen Formula ). This formula contains Herbs that dry mucous and promote immunity. It is particularly suited to Children as it is also suitable for preventing responses to food allergies and Airborne allergies in general. Great for Asthmatics as a preventative and for those who have constant runny noses. Of course, good nutrition is everything in these types of children, and eating foods containing zinc is very beneficial. If this formula is not available, then liquid Echinacea and Astragalus is a great combination.
With Herbal remedies for Children, doses appropriate to age are necessary, so either follows the manufacturer’s advice or seek the direction of the Health consultant as to the best for your child.
If your child is not thriving, then think of a Naturopathic checkup available www.adelaidenaturopath.net.au
Peter Farnsworth N, D