Common childhood sickness is not something you think much about before your baby is born. But you can bet that it will be a recurring theme well before any birthday cakes are conceived.
According to medical estimates, the average child is sick up to twelve times in its first year of life and eight times in year two. If you consider also that each bout of sickness might take around two weeks to clear, we are talking about a big chunk of a little life.
In the Absolute Essential holistic health care clinic, I see a lot of young parents who need reassurance as much as anything; reassurance that their child is not suffering from something really serious and that their immunity is as strong as it should be.
What is the single most important fact that offers a healthy perspective on childhood illness?
Childhood illness is a necessary part of normal immune development
We are all born with some degree of natural immunity. Breast milk will offer a temporary extension of the mother’s immunity also. But our innate ability to fight off infection and develop specific immunity to the many different virus and bacteria gets built up over time, through exposure to illness.
When we talk about childhood illness we are mostly referring to colds and coughs, and mumps, measles and chickenpox. Though unpleasant and disruptive, these are not in themselves life-threatening diseases.
Assuming that your child inherited reasonable natural immunity, his first line of defense is a general and fast immune response which very often you will see as inflammation, rash, pus and fever – these are the signs that an unwanted virus or bacteria is being attacked and pushed out of the body. But immunity is two-fold because with time the body produces antibodies designed to disarm the specific type of invader. And this equips us against future invasion from the same bug. These two ‘types’ of immunity are in fact complementary aspects of the same system, playing tag-team towards a common goal.
A while ago I wrote a blogpost on the benefits of allowing just one of these immune functions – fever – to run its natural course. The main point was that there is no real evidence of overtly high risk and in fact new evidence to support the natural health view of fever as a process that improves recovery and long-term health.
Interestingly, there is other medical research that also backs the general natural healthcare belief around common sickness as beneficial to immunity and long-term health.
An article by long-time anthroposophic practitioner and MD Philip Incao makes for interesting reading. He sees the increase of allergies and asthma in children since the 1960's as directly related to the rise in the ‘over-use’ of antibiotics and vaccinations and their effect on immunity. He cites medical research and personal case-studies that strongly support using well-administered alternative medicine to help children heal naturally through the common ills, to give them a greater sense of health and wellbeing in the long term.
Helping parents to understand
If you can access the resources to help your child to cope with the symptoms naturally, their body is more likely to develop a balanced, fully active immune system.
If this seems daunting, look into it all before you are right in the thick of it. Dr Incao tells us about measles, for example, saying ‘scientific studies have shown that the stronger the initial symptoms, the less likely it is that the child will get the damaging or dangerous complications, such as encephalitis or pneumonia’. Knowing such things in advance may help you keep a clear head when your own child is dealing with a high fever and an intense body rash.
What can you do to improve the odds for your child in the upcoming winter months?
Apart from using natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms, such as I described for fever in that blog, we can also focus energy on giving our children the best fighting chance with immune boosting measures throughout childhood; measures that will reduce the amount of sickness that occurs; and measures that will enhance the body’s capacity to function effectively - for a prompt return to health - when it does occur: eat fresh, sleep well, exercise often…
Holistic health care practice
Over the many years of holistic helath care practice, I have gained great respect for the power of certain essential oils and their synergistic benefit on the immune system.
Some pure essential oils work to help stimulate the production of the white cells that specifically fight infection. Others enhance cell regeneration that is an essential part of healing. We can promote the restorative energy of rest and sleep with relaxing and calming oils.
And we can help the body to detoxify naturally. Plus of course we can do much for respiratory issues with deep cleansing aromas; we can access anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, ant-viral and analgesic properties that can be absorbed by the body, as well as diffused in the air to inhibit air-born germs.
My own Immune Plus blend
This made such an impact on my adult patients in the winter months that I was soon asked to formulate something akin, suitable for small children.
Child Immune Plus uses milder plant relations to create a frequency that is both safe and effective for the developing child. It can be dropped in the evening bath, released by a night burner or blended with a light carrier, such as Olive or Almond oil and massaged into the chest and throat.
Making a significant difference
One day-care teacher tells me she noticed a significant difference to the previous winter, with less sickness among the children when she diffused it in her class room each day. Another friend says she used it along with Lavender True to support her two young children through whooping cough with minimal drama and no lingering illness.
Remember to always use 100% pure essential oils and certified organic from a reputable natural health store. And make sure you have all the information you need – preferably from a qualified practitioner – to use them safely and confidently.
Watch the ‘Healthtips’ on this page
Stay tuned for our up-coming briefs on caring naturally for your child with therapeutic essential oils through the common ills.
A large range of Therapeutic Plant Oils are available at www.absoluteessential.com and at select retail outlets. Absolute Essential is an eco-ethical company with over 20 year’s expertise in Holistic Healthcare.