This is the time of year when children are most susceptible to catching colds, coughs, flu, ear infections and sinus infections. It can also be a trying time of year for parents as they try to protect their children’s health as well as their own.
Perhaps you have wondered:
- Why do some children seem to catch every bug that goes around and some children don’t?
- Why do some children recover quickly while other children have symptoms that linger for weeks?
- What are the natural alternatives to the much publicized flu vaccine?
- How can I use natural medicine and supplements to protect and strengthen my child’s immune system this season?
All too often an antibiotic is prescribed when these maladies can be addressed safely, easily and naturally with herbal and nutritional remedies. This article will give you the understanding, knowledge and practical details of how to use natural remedies to be proactive and support the immune system during this winter season.
Strengthening, maintaining and supporting your child’s immune system is the greatest physical gift you can give your child.
The integrity of the immune system that is created in childhood
will establish the quality of your child’s health for the rest of his or her life.
Who Catches The Flu?
There are always two deciding factors whenever a child (or adult) catches a cold or flu:
1. The strength of the bug (the bacteria or virus)
2. The strength of the child’s immune system
These two factors determine who catches the bug, who gets sick and the severity or degree of symptoms that they experience.
All day long, all year long, we are all being exposed to germs, i.e. bacteria and viruses. The strength of your child’s immune system on that particular day and moment when they are exposed, determines whether or not they will get sick. When any sort of flu or other virus is going around the community, almost every person will come in contact with it in some way. Generally, however, only 5-10% of those who came in contact with it will catch it and develop symptoms.
The sole difference between those who catch the flu and those who don’t is the strength and integrity of their immune system.
This is not to say that a healthy child shouldn’t ever catch a cold or flu. Colds and flus are a normal and natural part of how each child’s immune system is challenged, develops, matures, strengthens and creates antibodies for later in life. However, when a child with a strong and healthy immune system does catch a cold or flu, the right herbal and nutritional formulas should be able to help them recover quickly and easily.
Do You Need to Strengthen Your Child’s Immune System?
How can you find out what the overall strength of your child’s immune system is and what do you need to do to strengthen and then keep their immune system growing healthfully?
To gauge the current state of your child’s immune system, look back over their life and see how many infections of any sort they have had so far. Then consider the following:
- How long does it generally take for them to recover and recuperate from coughs, colds, flus, ear infections, etc?
- How many times have they taken antibiotics?
- Have they taken, or are they currently taking any sort of allergy medications?
- Is their diet based on clean, organic, whole foods or processed, chemical and additive-laden junk and fast foods?
- Do they currently take any vitamin or nutritional supplements?
By evaluating the above questions, you can get a sense of whether your child’s immune system is at full, moderate or low strength.
If your child catches every bug that goes around and then it takes a lot of time, effort, medications and antibiotics for them to recover, that is a sign that their immune system is not as strong as it should be or could be. Remember, almost everyone is exposed and comes in contact with the flu virus, but only those with a susceptible immune system will catch it.
Prevention and Maintenance: How to Avoid Colds and Flus
By providing your child the following three supplements on a daily basis, you will be proactively supporting and strengthening their immune and natural defense systems. This is the best way to protect and support your child during the cold and flu season.
Essential vitamins must be delivered in the right amount, in the right form and on a daily basis.
MultiVitamin/Mineral: There are sixteen “essential” vitamins plus primary minerals. They are termed “essential” by the National Academy of Sciences because they are required for so many important functions within the body and brain and our bodies cannot make them. Some play a more direct role within the immune system, like vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. However, all of the vitamins and minerals are vital members within the orchestra of essential nutrients. Providing your child with a well-balanced diet and a good multivitamin/mineral formula is the first step in establishing a strong foundation for their immune system.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been the subject of thousands of research and particularly immune function studies. From the very first reports by Nobel prizewinner Linus Pauling in the 1960s, vitamin C has been shown to perform as the number one vitamin in supporting immune function. Vitamin C is also known as one of the primary antioxidants within the body. Antioxidants help to protect children from the effects of environmental pollution and thereby help to relieve stress on their immune systems while also encouraging and maintaining immune strength. Provide extra vitamin C in addition to what is found in the MultiVitamin/Mineral.
Colostrum: Colostrum is nature’s number one food for restoring, strengthening and regulating immune function that is provided by the mother of every mammal. Colostrum is the nourishment given to a newborn baby through breastfeeding during the first 36 hours after birth. After this, breast milk begins to flow. The reason nature set things up this way is because colostrum contains and provides all the immune peptides, immune factors and growth factors for initiating and supporting the development of the immune system in the newborn baby. Nature’s wisdom in providing this as the first food indicates the profound importance of the nutrients found in colostrum.
If your child has a history of recurrent infections and it takes a while for them to recover each time, then use the above supplements on a daily basis. If your child’s immune system is strong and they only occasionally catch something, then use the Multi-Vitamin and extra Vitamin C on a daily basis and give Colostrum every other day through the winter cold and flu season.
At the First Sign of Symptoms
When your child starts to show signs of catching a cold or flu, the most important action is to start giving them the recommended support and formulas as soon as possible. This reinforces their body’s natural defenses. The extra support and response can help to prevent the bug from gaining a strong foothold giving the immune system the upper hand. Often, the first signs can be just a slight change in energy level, mood or temperament. These are then followed by the more physical signs of congestion, temperature, headaches, sore throat, achiness and a cough.
The following support is suggested at the first sign of symptoms.
First Defense: This formula is designed to be given at the very first sign of any symptoms and used 3-4 times daily until all symptoms are gone. It is specifically formulated for children to help their immune and natural defense system respond effectively and quickly to any challenge throughout the year and especially during the cold and flu season.
First Defense contains: Olive Leaf extract, St. Johns Wort, Larch Arabinogalactan, Colloidal Silver, Vitamin C and Zinc. Together, these herbs, minerals and vitamins provide an extremely effective formula that has continued to prove itself over the last five years.
It can also be used preventively if your child has been exposed to or around other children who may be sick. In this case, just use for a day or two until you are sure your child is all clear.
Vitamin C: Always use at the first sign of any symptoms. Increase the Vitamin C dosage until all symptoms are gone and recovery is complete.
Summary of Dosages
First Defense: immediately begin to give 3-4 times daily until all symptoms are clear.
Vitamin C: also 3-4 times daily until all symptoms are clear.
Colostrum: increase from the maintenance dosage and give 2-3 times daily until all symptoms are clear.
Continue use of the above formulas until all symptoms are gone and your child’s mood and energy are completely back to normal. At that time, continue to provide the formulas for another two days, but at half these dosages. This will help to reduce the chance of any relapse.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
Every time your child successfully heals from any infection by using these natural remedies, here’s what occurs:
- their immune system grows stronger
- their immune system learns to perform the task it was created for
- the infection is cleared
- antibodies are created for protection in the future.
Just as we grow strong and wiser through experience, so too, does the immune system.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 25, 2011 and has been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
About SafBaby’s Health Expert: Dr. Murray Clarke, ND., D.Hom., L.Ac.
Dr. Murray Clarke is a doctor of naturopathic medicine with licenses and doctorates in homeopathic medicine and Chinese medicine (including acupuncture and herbology) and is a leading homeopathic physician for children in the Los Angeles area. He is also the founder of ChildLife® Essentials and author of Natural Baby-Healthy Child: Alternative Health Care Solutions from Pre-conception Through Childhood.
Natural Baby-Healthy Child utilizes diet, environmental detoxification, nutritional supplementation and holistic modalities including homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture to help parents–from pre-conception to pregnancy, to the baby’s first year through childhood–make the right health decisions for themselves and their child, naturally. Natural Baby–Healthy Child is an essential medical road map that will help keep children firmly on the path to robust, long-term good health and the realization of the full potential of body, mind and soul. For more information, please visit NaturalBabyHealthyChild.com.