The return to school marks the major shift in every child’s life-year. New friends, new learning, new teachers, a host of changes and new experiences.
It is also a time of changes in season, climate and daily schedule. Perhaps due to all of these reasons – and the major one of increased contact with lots of other children – this is the time of year when children are most susceptible to catching colds, coughs, flu, ear infections and sinus infections.
This can also be a trying time of year for parents, as they try to protect 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 others don’t?
Why do some children recover quickly while other children’s symptoms linger for weeks?
Are there 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?
Antibiotics or Herbal and Nutritional Remedies to Treat My Child’s Illness
All too often, the antibiotic prescription is reached for and given, when these maladies can be addressed safely, easily and naturally with herbal and nutritional remedies.
This article will cover all the aspects of “Cold and Flu Season” and give you the understanding, knowledge and practical details of how to support and be naturally proactive, during this upcoming winter season.
Factors Behind Who Catches The Flu
Susceptibility – who catches the flu?
There are always two deciding factors whenever a child (or adult) catches a cold or flu:
- The strength of the bug (the bacteria or virus)
- 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.
Germs, Bacteria, Viruses and Our Children’s Immune Systems
The strength of your child’s immune system on that particular day and moment when they are exposed, determines whether they will catch a cold and get sick or not. 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 caught it and those who didn’t is the strength and integrity of their immune system.
Natural Flu Prevention
This is not to say that a healthy child should never 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.
Does Your Child Need to Strengthen Their Immune System?
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 and we need to look at what can be done to strengthen their overall immune response. Remember, almost everyone is exposed and comes in contact with the flu virus, but only those with a susceptible immune system will catch it.
Maintenance and Prevention – How to Avoid the Flu
The difference between catching or not catching the flu is the current state of your child’s immune system. So how do we know what the overall strength of each child’s immune system is, and what do we need to do to maintain, strengthen and keep their immune systems growing healthfully?
First, 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 been given antibiotics in their life so far?
- Have they taken, or are they currently on 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 and potential is at full, moderate or low strength.
Supporting Our Children’s Immune Systems With Supplements
Now we can look at what can be used naturally for strengthening, maintenance and prevention.
Multi Vitamin/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 can not make them. They must be delivered in the right amount, the right form and on a daily basis. 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 foundational platform for their immune system to work from.
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 for 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. Provided by the mother of all mammals, colostrum is the first nourishment given to the newborn baby through breastfeeding. For the initial 36 hours after birth, colostrum is provided by the mother; only after that does the breast milk begin 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 colostrum as the first food, indicates the profound importance of the nutrients found in colostrum for creating and supporting healthy immune function.
By providing the above three supplements to your child 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.
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.