Study Finds Most Olive Oils are Falsely Labeled.

4 Mar OliveOilShelf

Chances are, your olive oil is an imposter. A report published by the University of California, Davis, in 2010 found that 69% of imported olive oils labeled as “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” were either not extra virgin olive oil, were rancid, or were adulterated with other cheaper oils. They studied 52 samples from 14 of the top selling brands in California to reach these conclusions. The imported brands were the most frequent offenders. The tested California brands had a fail rate of only 10%. This is the pdf of the original 2010 report from UC Davis.

Check out this NY Times infographic called, Extra Virgin Suicide. which explains how and why imported oils are adulterated with cheaper ingredients. Short, informative (and entertaining) to click through.

A follow up study (as pdf) by UC Davis was done in 2011 to expand on the original by taking more samples of fewer brands, for more accurate results. This was sponsored by a few of the leading California brands that tested well, by the way.

Here are the brands whose samples failed the extra virgin oil tests:

  • Bertolli
  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Star
  • Whole Foods brand olive oils
  • Pompeian Olive Oil

And, here are the winners:

I did a little more research to learn about how to shop for olive oils. There is some consensus that olive oils confer the best health benefits when they are fresh, preferably less than 18 months old. Low temperature cooking is fine for culinary reasons, but the health effects come from consuming it raw: drizzle it over salads, or use it as a dipping sauce. The taste should have a fresh, fruity or even “grassy” flavor with at least a slight pepper-spice sensation in the throat. (Some can actually feel quite spicy!)

The container it comes in is also an important consideration. Glass or stainless steel is best. Plastic can leach chemicals into the oil that can be detrimental to health. If glass, it is best if it is darkened to protect the oil from degradation from UV light. If clear, it should be stored in a darkened area. Olive oil loses some of its benefits if it has been heated or stored in temperatures over 90 degrees. Here is some further reading material on the pros and cons of packaging.
So, what IS in that bottle on your counter? Without a lab or a trained nose, you won’t know for sure, because imposters can be artificially flavored and colored. However, if you put it in the fridge and it solidifies- you will at least know you’ve got an monounsaturated oil that COULD be olive oil (or it could be peanut, safflower, canola- which are cheaper monounsaturated oils.)

The takeaway message here is to avoid buying imported olive oil, unless you really know and trust your source. If possible, look for olive oils that are less than 18 months old, and preferably contained in darkened glass bottles. Organic domestic brands might be your best bet, for freshness, taste, health benefits, and for general safety.

When the Moon Doesn’t Hit Your Eye Like a Big Pizza-Pie

12 Feb shutterstock_227274373

shutterstock_227274373

While nearing the holiday that celebrates romantic love, I am reminded of the many ways corporations and media exploit these powerful feelings to drive sales: Victoria’s Secret. Penis pills. “Every Kiss begins with Kay (jewelers).” Fifty Shades of Grey. “Magic Mike 2″. The ever impressive stacks of “bodice ripper” romance novelettes in the used books bin of my grocery store. Screaming, bold-font headlines of checkout aisle magazines seem to suggest otherwise (Cheated!Pregnant!Hottest Beach Bodies!), but loss of libido is a relatively common concern for women (and men), and it is important to identify the potential root cause(s) or aggravating factors within the context of one’s overall health.

When I was a naturopathic medical student completing my preceptorships with practicing doctors, I remember feeling shocked by how many trial packages of Viagra were given out to patients in one oncologist’s office. There were always one or two drug reps from various companies waiting for him at any given point, and the office had a large closet stuffed full of free samples. What’s with all the Viagra, in an oncology practice?? He told me that many of his patients ask for this, and that it is a great opportunity to examine their cardiovascular health, as this is a major cause of sexual dysfunction in men.

For the purposes of this article, I want to now focus on a few common causes of loss of libido in women, because it is often not discussed openly anywhere else:

“It hurts.” Changes in hormones during the perimenopausal and postmenopausal years reduces lubrication, thickness and pliability of vaginal tissues. Using a lubricant that is water-based, and free of harsh chemicals during sex can promote more comfortable glide.They also help prevent urinary tract infections by protecting the urethra from mechanical irritation. Using a daily vaginal personal moisturizer with vitamin E is also recommended (this may be used in lieu of a separate lubricant- but it may not give the same “slip” factor), as a means to keep delicate tissues supple and comfortable. Surprisingly, I still encounter women who are prescribed conventional hormone replacement therapies (HRT), even though this has been conclusively shown to increase the risk of stroke and heart disease in well-defined, large studies. Naturopathic doctors are often able to help their patients ease these problems with careful supplementation and botanical medicine. For those who need a little more support, prescribing very small doses of bio-identical hormones to be applied topically directly to vaginal tissues is usually enough to improve tissue flexibility, thickness and lubrication, without the significant increase in systemic serum hormones seen in more conventional dosing regimens.

“I’m too tired.” Lack of sleep, being too busy, having low iron, thyroid problems and heart disease can all cause problems here.  Your doctor can help investigate whether there is a treatable medical condition contributing to your loss of libido. Meditation techniques can help alleviate stress responses that sap energy. Another common cause, especially for new moms, is feeling “touched out.” Sleep deprivation combined with having another human being constantly attached to your body and literally sucking the life out of you, can throw sex pretty low on the priority scale. This has to be an evolved reaction- a survival technique to help block another pregnancy from happening too soon. Time, sleep, and having some babysitting breaks might help get through the sexual desert faster.

“I’d rather just read my book.” Sometimes, health and functions are fine, but the interest just isn’t there. It can be that things have simply gone into a rut. One of the ways to combat this is to do something different together, and it doesn’t have to be sexual. Trying a new adventure, activity or interest together can be enough to jazz up more interest. Feeling warm and comfortable also helps; a study led by Gert Holstege from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that warming feet (by wearing socks) increased rate or female orgasm to 80% of participants, up from 50%! Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can also reduce libido as a common side effect. This is often a big reason that naturopathic patients are seeking alternatives to continuing with their antidepressant medications. Physical contact through dance, or massage, can be another great way to feel closer again. Essential oils such as ylang ylang, rose and cinnamon can add sultry scents to massage oil to help the mood, but it is really all about what scents appeal to each person- whether it’s floral, vanilla, bacon, or “new car smell” (why yes, that really exists as a product!) And when an extra boost is desired, a small dose of bio-identical hormones applied topically can add the extra, “Va-va-voom.” Sharing intimacy with a cherished partner can happen in many ways over the years, and change is OK. It does not necessarily mean that there is a problem if you don’t feel like you did in your 20’s anymore, or feel exactly as you did during the early courtship days of your relationship. But keeping the lines of communication open and supporting each other is key. Don’t forget the vaginal moisturizer and/or lubricant.

And there’s always “Fifty Shades of Grey.”*

*(The author has never actually read or seen, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, but social media contacts seem to like this one. ;)

Cora Rivard, N.D.

Wet Sock Treatment: Part #1 of Home Hydrotherapy 101

14 Jan sick kid

sick kid

by Cora Rivard, N.D/Seasons Natural Healthcare,LLC in Derry. N.H.

This is part #1 of my blog series for using classic naturopathic techniques of home hydrotherapy, or water therapy, to improve wellness and reduce discomfort. The main idea of hydrotherapy is to move circulation in ways most beneficial for resolving a problem. We’ll start with one of the favorite ones for this time of year:

Wet (or Warming) Sock treatment for nasal and sinus congestion relief:

This can be used for both children and adults with colds and flu, it works very well to improve ease of breathing and restful sleep at night, without the need for medications. Very important: always make sure that feet are already warm before beginning this treatment- you can use a warm water soak to prepare as needed.

Preparations. In the evening before going to bed, prepare by having a pair of cotton socks and a pair of wool socks. They must be at least 90% cotton and 90% wool, respectively.

Step 1. Soak the foot part of the cotton socks in cold tap water and wring them out thoroughly. Place the socks close to the basin or bathtub used in the next step. Note: If your feet are already warm, you can skip to Step 3.

Step 2. Put your feet into a basin or bathtub of hot water to warm up your feet. Soak them for a few minutes until they are comfortable hot

Step 3. Remove your feet from the hot water and quickly dry them off. Immediately put on the cold wet cotton socks, and then over them, put on the dry wool socks.

Step 4. Go directly to bed and keep the feet covered through the night. The therapy does not work if you or your feet are uncovered, such as when walking around or sitting in a chair uncovered.

When the Wet Sock Treatment procedure is followed correctly the feet will start warming up within a few minutes of getting covered in bed. The congestion will usually start to be relieved within 30 minutes. It will often work better than a decongestant or antihistamine to relieve congestion during sleep. In addition, it is not uncommon to see a small child or infant fall immediately to sleep after they are put to bed with the Cold Sock Treatment. After approximately four hours the socks should be totally dry, the feet warm, and the symptoms will be much improved (if not gone).

If necessary the Wet Sock Treatment can be repeated through the night or used on consecutive nights. In repeating the treatment in the same night or if an illness starts during the night, it is not necessary to warm the feet in hot water since they will already be warm. Simply apply the wrung out cold wet socks and the dry wool socks and go back to bed

Instant Sinus Pain Reliever

Here is one that you can use anytime of the day or night to help clear your sinuses:

You will need: 2 bowls of water- one hot, one filled with ice. Keep a washcloth in each.

While reclining comfortably, wring out the hot cloth and drape over bridge of nose covering cheeks, eyes and forehead. Relax and breathe in the steam comfortably until cloth begins to noticeably cool- maybe 1 or 2 minutes. Then, remove warm cloth and wring out cold cloth, and apply the cold to the same area- this time gently rubbing your sinuses. Replace hot cloth back into hot water to soak, or heat up under a faucet. Do this for about 20-30 seconds. Repeat process 2 more times. Always start with hot, and end with cold.

Explanation: Hot water causes surface blood vessels to dilate and release excess heat from the body. Ending each cycle with a cold water “searing” causes those surface vessels to then constrict, creating a pump to help mobilize areas of congestion and move circulation.

I hope you find this post useful!  Writing educational blog posts is one of my creative outlets. I am a licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.) who has been serving the healthcare needs of families in southern NH and northern MA since 2006. I help my patients find the safest and most effective resolution for their health problems- i.e.- getting to the underlying cause(s) of issues, while at the same time improving their overall wellness. My area of expertise is using natural, non-medication-based therapies whenever possible. www.seasonsnatural.com

This is an informational article only and should not be taken as medical advice in any way. Always check with your doctor to make sure that a therapeutic technique is safe for you to try. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.

How Green Smoothies and Gluten-Free Foods Can Cause Kidney Stones

13 Jan green smoothie

green smoothie

It’s January, and we heave a collective sigh as we pat our bellies and remember the over-indulgences of the holidays. As you resolve to make healthy changes, lose a few pounds and get in better shape, please consider the following information to avoid some unnecessary and painful complications:

Beware the green smoothie/juice: I am a fan of green smoothies. However, there is a real danger of causing kidney stones by consuming too many ingredients high in oxalates day after day. Oxalates are naturally-occurring substances in foods that are highly reactive and bind up with minerals like calcium, creating crystal complexes which can cause pain as well as inhibit calcium absorption in the body. While many people easily excrete these from the body in the urine and stools, there are a few foods that contain very high levels which may overwhelm one’s ability for clearance. This is especially true for those with genetic predisposition for impaired clearance. Antibiotics, which damage the intestinal flora, also impair the body’s ability to process oxalates. While these foods are fine to enjoy periodically in smoothies and in the general diet, try not to make a habit of consuming these every day:

spinach

strawberries

beets and beet greens

rhubard

chocolate/cocoa

parsley

Beware the gluten-free diet: In addition to those with celiac disease, some people are intolerant to gluten and find that they feel much better and reduce objective signs of disease by going gluten-free. However, some of the whole grain alternatives to wheat products are grains and legumes that are very high in oxalates. Some of the highest levels can be found in:

amaranth

buckwheat

quinoa

lentils

nuts and beans (not including green beans)

Again, these are grains that are very nutritious to health, but should not be eaten in excess.

Vitamin C? I often meet patients who have read that it can be helpful to take large doses to support their immune system. As it turns out, according to a couple of studies, vitamin C might increase stone formation in men (curiously, not in women) when taking higher supplementary doses. This is probably because some individuals metabolize vitamin C into oxalates.

Finally, although not related to oxalates, beware of diets that try to extol the virtues of high amounts of animal meats. This extra load of protein can also lead to kidney stone formation, as well as robbing important minerals from the bones and increasing risk of osteoporosis. High animal meat diets also boost the relative risks for breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.

by Cora Rivard, N.D./Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC

Naturopathic Doctors Offer Effective Solutions for the U.S. Healthcare Crisis, and for Patients

2 Oct naturopathicimage

In 2013, The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution ( Res.221-113th ) that officially designated a week in October as “Naturopathic Medicine Week,” to “recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective and affordable health care.”

In honor of its 2nd year in recognition from Oct. 6-12th, 2014, members of the New Hampshire Association of Naturopathic Doctors will be hosting events throughout N.H. You are invited to attend an event to learn more about naturopathic medicine, show your support, and most importantly to enjoy yourself and meet some wonderful doctors! Please scroll to the bottom of this article to see a listing of events.

What’s a naturopathic doctor?

This is a question I am often asked in social settings. After almost 10 years in practice, I realize that my answer has become more concise over time…and that is not easy, because there is a lot to take into consideration. As licensed naturopathic doctors, we attend four years of post-graduate medical school at one of the four accredited institutions for naturopathic medicine in the country. We are taught the basic medical sciences, clinical skills, and rotations necessary in any conventional medical school curriculum to manage disease, pathology, and public health principles. However, we chose this particular healthcare track to also learn as much as possible about wellness, and ways to best to support that in our patients. This means many additional hours, squeezed in during the days, the evenings, weekends and any extra time we have to learn extensively about nutrition, counseling skills, motivation, teaching skills, healthy lifestyle directives, hands on techniques, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and more. From the professional athlete, to those battling end stage cancer, from newborns to those of advanced age, we know that each office visit is an opportunity to improve health and life satisfaction for our patients. We offer a unique and expanded “wellness tool set” that may also include the occasional use of medications and medical procedures, when deemed necessary and according to our training and scope of practice. This allows N.D.’s to routinely solve many problems not adequately addressed by a conventional medicine approach.

For example, if a patient comes in with a rash or hypertension, as N.H.-licensed doctors we understand when and how to refer to specialists or to prescribe conventional medications to control these symptoms if needed. We also understand that these medicines, while helpful in certain cases, can have dangerous side effects for some and often lose effectiveness after extended durations of use, which necessitates even more medications and interventions.

My colleagues and I are trained to resolve these issues (and many others) primarily with natural medicine strategies. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This requires us to spend the time to get to know each patient, past medical history, health habits, genetic predisposition, nutrition, lifestyle and stressors- because all of these variables significantly impact the presenting symptoms, as well as the direction and course of treatment. This is what holistic medicine is about: recognizing that there are many aspects of one’s beliefs, habits, actions and lifestyle that can either support the body’s attempts to heal and maintain wellness, or be detrimental to it. We also know that it is a jungle out there when trying to find answers about using natural medicine safely and effectively, and as the most highly trained experts in this area, we are the best resources available in guiding our patients.

On a bigger healthcare issue, naturopathic doctors offer huge savings for an overtaxed healthcare system by greatly reducing need for more expensive drugs and procedures (estimated up to 73% savings!. At the same time, naturopathic medicine provides better outcomes in long-term health and wellness. (Click HERE for an extensive list of studies and citations regarding this, in pdf format:)

Conventional medicine is a gift to modern times in the U.S. It has designed strategies to throttle and prevent fatal infections, save lives from serious physical trauma, and vastly improve quality of life for those with disabilities. However, these highly advanced and costly interventions are insufficient to address the rising burden of chronic disease in our culture. It is time to open more discussions about how naturopathic doctors offer a unique set of skills and real solutions for the problems that plague our personal health and the state of our country’s health care system.

We are lucky to be in N.H., which is one of only 18 states that currently regulates naturopathic doctors. All participating doctors must graduate from an accredited naturopathic medical school, pass rigorous national board exams, and maintain sufficient continuing education to remain eligible for licensure. In the other states, even someone with no training may call themselves “a naturopath,” which is confusing and dangerous for the public. (You may use this link from our national professional association to find practicing doctors who are eligible for licensure by zip code, regardless of whether you are living in a state that requires licensing.)

Oh, and my answer when someone asks me, “What’s a naturopathic doctor?”

I am a doctor who helps patients identify and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of their optimal wellness, and a specialist in the safe and effective use of natural medicine to solve health problems.

Links:

For more information about education and licensure of N.D.’s, and for naturopathic medicine in the news:http://www.naturopathic.org/medicare

To visit N.H.’s state professional organization’s list of licensed N.D. providers: http://www.nhand.org/find.php

By Cora Rivard, N.D.

Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC in Derry, NH

phone: 603-736-7770 email: rivard@seasonsnatural.com website: http://seasonsnatural.com/Home.aspx

______________________________________________________________________________

PORTSMOUTH/SEACOAST:
Monday October 6th: 6-7pm
Open house at Vibrant Health Clinic with Dr. Andy Chevalier, ND
501 Islington St. Suite 2B, Portsmouth NH RSVP: (603)610-8882

Wednesday October 8th: 6pm
Informational talk with Dr. Angela Lambert, ND : “Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System”
Hampton Natural Foods 845, U.S. 1, Hampton, NH 03842

CONCORD:
Tuesday October 7th: 4:30-6:30pm
Open house at Concord Naturopathic Clinic with Dr. Jacqueline Rho, ND
46 Main St. Concord, NH 03301 Phone: (603) 228-0407

BEDFORD/MANCHESTER area:
Wednesday October 8th: 6-7:30pm
Open house at Just Naturals & Co. Meet & mingle with a few local naturopathic doctors.
176 S. River Road, Bedford, NH 03110 RSVP: (603)606-1345

NASHUA:
Monday, October 6th from 5:30-8:30pm with Dr. Margrit Miklus of Living Natural Inc.

22 Concord Street, Nashua, NH 03064. Phone:(603)594-0002

You are invited to join us for tea, light refreshments and great conversation in celebration of Naturopathic Medicine Week.

DERRY:

Tuesday, Oct. 7th through Thursday, Oct. 9th, 10am-11am, as available

Morning Tea Time with Dr. Cora Rivard at Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC

43B Birch Street,, Suite #3G Derry, NH 03038. Phone: (603)736-7770

Click this link to book a 15 minute complementary 1:1 consult, and to sip some fresh, fall herbal tea!

How to Protect Children With Asthma From Enterovirus D68

24 Sep asthma

by Cora Rivard, N.D.

Many parents are concerned about the current outbreak of Enterovirus 68, particularly those who have children with asthma. While most who are infected suffer nothing worse than mild cold symptoms, a small percentage of children will experience more serious complications. However, there is much we can do as parents towards preventing these complications from happening. As a naturopathic doctor, I am writing this article to help parents use natural medicine strategies effectively to protect their children, with a conscious focus for those with asthma. While I use the following techniques to help guide my own patients, this information should NOT be taken as medical advice for the reader, and should not replace the advice of your trusted family doctor, pediatrician or asthma specialist, who knows your child’s history and needs best. This article focuses on prevention of infection from most respiratory viruses, including those such as Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68):

Prevention:
1. Make sure children with asthma are up to date with immunizations
. While there is no vaccine for this particular virus, there are vaccines for pertussis (DTaP and Tdap), influenza, and pneumococcal vaccines (PSV23), which can help protect a child with asthma from dangerous complications of these illnesses. An interesting note is that certain natural medicine techniques outlined below, particularly vitamin D and probiotics, have been shown in studies to significantly improve a child’s immune response and protection from vaccinations. If possible, it is desirable to get these vaccines during a time of year when colds and flu viruses are generally not as active, as children are more likely to get symptoms of a viral illness in the 2 weeks following an immunization. This also goes for the weeks following any pediatrician visits, because, let’s face it, doctor’s offices are a great place for viruses to mingle! If you need to make appointments to see your child’s doctor, try to get the first appointment slots in the morning, especially on a Monday, to reduce exposure. Fewer sick patients in the hours before your visit means fewer viable viruses on surfaces and fewer sneeze/cough droplets in the air.

2. Have a plan of action for preventing inflammation. Have a discussion with your child’s pediatrician, allergist or pulmonologist about the best way to prepare and dose medication should they become ill. It is important to prevent inflammation in the lungs that can occur with even common viral illnesses, this is key to preventing complications. In addition to rescue medications, I like to recommend botanical medicines that can be used at the first appearance of cold symptoms to soothe airway reactivity and inflammation. A couple examples are: bromelain (taken away from food) and tumeric. (It is recommended to use herbs only under the direction of a professional knowledgeable in their actions, safe use and dosage.) Giving extra vitamin C can also be a good support, 250mg or more per day depending on age.

3. Improved lung fitness. Keep kids active. Regular aerobic activity (to tolerance) during the school months helps kids to improve their tolerance to exercise-induced asthma as well as their tolerance to other triggers. Using game exercises such as blowing through a straw (examples: keeping a feather afloat, or paper ball races across the floor) can also help improve and protect lung function. Ask your pulmonologist for advice on specific exercises that are appropriate for your child’s condition and ability.

4. Vitamins D and A. AAP recommendations are for 400IU per day for children for vitamin D, but I think 600IU is a better recommendation for those 4 and older. The 600IU recommendation level for children aged 1-18 is supported by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which sets the U.S. government’s official nutrient guidelines. That’s about the equivalent of six glasses of fortified milk. To supplement,  I recommend that my patients use the D3/cholecalciferol form as it is the most easily absorbed. A multivitamin that contains direct vitamin A (not just beta carotene), is also a good choice for helping the mucus membranes to block viral infection. I like cod liver oil for kids; it is the one way to take supplementary vitamin D and A in a natural form. When choosing a cod liver oil, I am very picky due to concerns over heavy metal contaminants in fish. The only two brands I trust for reliable third party screening for contaminants in every batch, and for sourcing fish from the safest ocean areas, is Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals. (Carlson’s can be found in many health food stores, Nordic Naturals can be purchased online, eg. Amazon- Nordic Naturals Actic-D orange or strawberry flavor.) Use half the recommended dose for an adult for a child over the age of 2. Beware: cod liver oil does have a strong taste, and the fishy smell is difficult to remove from clothing in the case of a spill.

5. Zinc: Finding children’s multivitamins that contain enough zinc is challenging. Ideal children’s supplements should contain at least 3-5mg daily, take daily with a meal throughout the cold and flu seasons. Zinc levels are often low in those who have an over-reactive/allergy-prone immune system. This over-reactivity blazes through the body’s zinc stores, which then increases general allergic reactivity, which makes children more prone to becoming infected by viral illnesses- a nasty cycle.

6. Avoid excess sugar: especially when a lot of viruses are circulating. A sugary dessert or snack can interrupt your child’s body’s ability to mount a defense to an infection for hours after a single sweet treat!

7. Sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial. Stick to your child’s routine and be especially careful about participating in activities that will upset this routine during cold and flu seasons. Poor sleep is one of the biggest risks for getting sick, even if you do everything else right.

8. Combining natural medicines: Probiotics, especially those containing lactobacillus cultures, help protect children with asthma in 2 ways. First, taking probiotics helps to direct the activity of the immune system away from an allergic response, and towards a more viral defense response. Second, it has been shown in studies to protect children and adults from respiratory infections, as well as a host of gastrointestinal infections. These organisms have a syngergistic protection effect when taken with elderberry, a botanical anti-viral. (see #10 for a great elderberry tea recipe.)

9. Wash hands often. Washing with soapy, warm water is always better than hand sanitizers. I recommend that patients use coconut oil as a hand cream/oil in the winter months as it is a fantastic antibacterial, limiting growth even against C. difficile and staph infections. I don’t know how it does against viruses…but worth a shot. Tip: because coconut oil hardens in winter-time room temperatures, try this: liquify a small block of virgin coconut oil in a pan over low heat. Pour into a bowl and whip it with a mixer until light and fluffy. Spoon into a couple of small jars and use throughout the winter. (I also like to add in a little vitamin E oil and vanilla extract before mixing.) Voila! You now have an awesome-smelling, all-natural antimicrobial hand and body cream. Use daily after washing hands or showering.

10. Honey. Kids who take a teaspoon of (real) honey daily enjoy a reduction in incidence and duration of upper respiratory infections. (don’t ever give to children under 1). It also works as a great cough suppressant, and helps to loosen mucus. Tip: add honey to the following recipe for an immune boosting winter Red Tea (with hibiscus and elderberry). Thanks to Maria Noel Groves, clinical herbalist and owner of Wintergreen Botanicals, LLC in Allenstown, NH, for the recipe. And, “A Market” in Manchester has bulk hibiscus and elderberry available for purchase- I called ahead to confirm!

Red Tea
This tart, fruity tea soothes sore throats and helps fend off viral infections.

  • 2 teaspoons hibiscus
  • 1 heaping tsp elderberry
  • 16 ounces boiling water

Steep for five minutes, strain, sweeten with honey and cool.

Another elderberry favorite I have is Sambucus Immune syrup by Nature’s Way: I give my own child one teaspoon daily at the first sign of infection, or whenever we know we’ve been exposed to someone who is sick. Taking it with food makes it easy on the stomach, and it tastes quite good.

11. Children with asthma should avoid swimming in indoor pools while sick, or during high seasons for upper respiratory infections. The chlorine may cause irritation of the lungs. There is also a byproduct formed when chlorine and chemicals in body sweat and urine combine that is especially irritating to the airways of children. Frequent exposure to indoor swimming pools actually increases risk of asthma in children, and worsens symptoms in those who already have it.

*A note about fish oil: while fish oil can be helpful for some patients, I generally don’t recommend taking it without good reason during the fall and winter months. Fish body oil has different properties than cod liver oil; it has inflammation-modulating properties that can be helpful at times, but it can also increase the rate of infection from respiratory viruses. Those inflammatory pathways actually help protect from the initial stages of infection. Cod liver oil does not have this effect, and is instead protective.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Q&A about Enterovirus D68

Recipes For Immune Teas and Winter Health by Maria Noel Groves/Wintergreen Botanicals, from Tea Magazine Jan./Feb. 2013

Micronutrient Chart for Children ages 4-13, Linus Pauling Institute: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/lifestages/children/

Article from the American Academy of Pediatrics website: Many Children have Suboptimal Vitamin D Levels

American College of Allergy, Asthma,and Immunology: Time in Chlorinated Pool Ups Teens’ Asthma Risk

WebMD News: Chlorine in Pools May Cause Breathing Problems

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Did you find this article useful? Would you like to see more like it?  If so, please support my work by leaving your feedback and comments below, sharing this article with others, and most importantly, discussing these topics with your friends, your family, your coworkers and your doctors. I know that it is a jungle out there when looking for valid information about natural medicine topics. I have a passion for writing, and I hope to help as many people as possible to better care for themselves and their families with the information presented in these articles.

Healthy, Nut-Free Snacks for School and for Improved Focus

29 Aug

kidsnacksstarbucks

Greetings! It has been some time since my last post, and I hope this one contains some timely information you can put to use today, for the benefit of your children (and for you, too!). The new school year has begun, and many of you might have children with nut allergies, or like me- have children who share classrooms with other children who do.

Below is an updated re-post of one of my prior articles. I just unearthed this to review some ideas on snack prep for my daughter, and thought you might also find it useful:

Original full article: Healthy, Nut-Free Snacks for School and for Improved Focus

FYI- these are also some great examples to support kids specifically for better focus and mood while at school. As always, feel free to pass on this information to others you care about. Feedback is always welcome, I love to read comments from other parents about my articles!

Cora Rivard, N.D.

Re-Post: Avoiding Constipation While on the Road

16 Jun

cause-of-constipation-400x400

I wrote this article a couple years ago and it continues to circulate as a popular post. With hot weather arriving, and summer travel plans coming up, or maybe you have long work commutes, this includes timely tips to help you avoid and ease an uncomfortable and common problem.  Nobody likes to talk about it, but please pass it on- you’ll help someone you know have a better vacation!

https://themommyilluminati.wordpress.com/tag/natural-relief-of-constipation

Happy Trails,

Cora Rivard, N.D.

 

Kid’s Sunscreens: How to Choose and What to Avoid

29 May Don't use sunblocks with hormones in them!

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Chemical ingredients are often present in sunscreens which are potentially carcinogenic, have hormone-like actions, or are generally irritating to sensitive skin because of perfumes and colorings and other additives. This warrants a little diligence in choosing a product to use, especially for use on your children.

EWG (Environmental Working Group) rates cosmetics and other products for safety, and can be a good starting point for researching a topical product. Anything you put on your skin, you are also absorbing directly into your body’s tissues and circulation. Chemicals with hormonal activity can absorb far more efficiently through the skin even in tiny doses, compared to swallowing a substance. This is because the liver neutralizes and helps to clear out excessive or toxic substances when something is ingested orally. This system of protection is largely bypassed when a product is administered directly onto the skin surface.

Now, when you smooth a chemical substance over your child’s skin- they have a greater surface ratio, more sensitive skin, and are generally more vulnerable to the harmful effects of hormone disrupting substances than you are. So, if you are using something frequently on delicate skin surface, it is worth your while to research it a little further. One ingredient in particular to avoid is oxybenzone- a synthetic estrogen, which is present in more than half of all sunscreen products.

The following article has some further helpful advice in selecting a product for kids::
http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2012/07/pick-best-sunscreen-kids
My pediatrician taught me to avoid SPF’s over 30 or 50, because they are very drying to the skin. Also, sunscreen should be applied liberally- don’t be afraid to glop it on. Reapply regularly, especially after being in the water, this goes even for water resistant formulas.

So which one to choose? According to EWG’s list- some of the very worst picks include the sunscreens made by Aveeno, Banana Boat, CVS brands, Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic, and surprisingly- even Alba Botanica. In contrast, some of the best rated include commonly found products by Badger, All Terrain, Ecco Bella, and The Honest Company.

And, summertime is ripe for exposure to poison ivy and poison oat or sumac. The best thing you can do is to stock a great big bottle of Tecnu Skin cleanser. You can find it in most drug stores. If you or your child has been exposed to poison ivy, or even when the rash starts to come out- use this stuff and it should stop it in its tracks. It removes the offending oils from within the skin. You can also use it on pets, and to wash clothes. Highly recommended!

For natural mosquito repellent, products that contain lemon eucalyptus are the best, Repel makes a great one. And they smell pretty good! It does require frequent reapplication- it will work great for about an hour or so, and then you will need another coat.

Have a great summer!
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When Ticks Attack: You’ve Been Bitten, Now What?

6 May tick on neck

tick on neck

By Cora Rivard, N.D.

Tick bites are already happening at increased rates, especially in the northeast and all along the east coast, and it is predicted that a large number of adults and children will be affected this year. But there is a lot that you can do to prevent them, as well as to significantly decrease your risk of contracting a tick-transmitted infection. (You can also check out my other article in this series, “Plants vs Ticks: Lyme-free Landscaping” to learn about landscaping strategies to repel and prevent ticks from migrating into your yard.)

My personal story: I used to use tweezers to remove them from us and our pets…until four years ago when I had a deer tick attached to the back of my arm. It was attached less than 24hrs, not visibly engorged. It wasn’t my most efficient removal, and it got squeezed and slightly messy as I took it out. It wasn’t considered a “high risk” bite due to the less than 24 hr attachment rule, so my doctor decided it was not worth treating. I did elect to do a 2 dose “prophylactic” doxycycline treatment within 48 hrs of the bite (only a single dose is recommended, but I really wanted to be careful.) However, it appears that evidence is scant for effectiveness unless used on the same day of the tick removal, and after that, it could even be harmful.  In mice, prophylactic treatment has been shown to reduce appearance of the rash, but was not shown to decrease infection. Having the prophylaxis was a big mistake for me, even with the double dose. Long story short: within a couple months I developed a mean case of Lyme, affecting the joints of the bitten arm first and then the rest of me. I consulted with an infectious disease specialist in Boston who helped me understand that early treatment of certain types of acute infection with antibiotics can actually interrupt your body’s natural development of immunity to the organism.  If the treatment is inadequate or incomplete- this leads simultaneously to a more resistant bug and a decrease in your effective immune defense to that bug. In my case, taking the prophylaxis instead of a full treatment likely made my disease that much harder to treat later.  It took consulting with Lyme specialists,  a whole lot of antibiotics over a couple of years, and a lot of stress and side effects to kick the infection. And thankfully, I was finally (hopefully) able to kick it with the guidance I received. But I don’t want you and your loved ones to ever have to go through any of this. So here’s what to do:

Let’s start with a quick review to help prevent tick bites:
1. Wear lght colored pants tucked into socks when in the woods and when doing yardwork.
2. Tick repellent sprays, herbal or chemical, to shoes, pants and legs prior to walks in the woods. For children, I recommend parents use safer, non-DEET repellants whenever possible. Formulations with essential oils like lemongrass, cedar, rosemary can be great to repel ticks (but should be re-applied often):Botani Organics Tick Guard Repellant Spray — 4 fl oz

(by the way- for mosquitoes, the best natural product I have used is lemon eucalyptus: Repel 94109 Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent, 4-Ounce Pump Spray. But I don’t know how well it works to repel ticks.)

3.  As soon as you come indoors from an outing in the woods, remove your clothes and toss them in the dryer for 5-10 minutes, then wash if desired. Ticks don’t drown in the washing machine, and the hot water of the wash will kill them, but a spin through the dry heat of the dryer will.

4. Nightly tick checks. Ticks are not polite- they will crawl up until they hit a crease, fold, or simply can’t climb up anymore. Always check the nether regions, back, neck, under breasts, armpits, legs, belly button, and go through the hair and scalp carefully. Another important spot to always check (especially in children) is within the curves and folds of the ears. Do this every single evening whenever snow is not covering the ground, even if you or your children have not been outside, ticks can still migrate indoors on pets.

If you find one attached:
**Use a tick remover. I have tested out many styles, but my favorite by far is the notched spoon, such as by, “Ticked Off.” It can safely remove ticks of any size, even nymphs and larval sizes, with head and mouth intact every time. Get one now. I  keep 3 of them, so that I always can have one on hand. One stays packed in a travel bag- it goes everywhere with us. When using it, always use your other hand to provide traction- pulling the skin tight around the area of the tick, as you gently press in and slowly “scoop” out the tick with the notch.

Never try to burn, squeeze, or otherwise irritate the tick by putting anything on it, like essential oils or vaseline. This can cause the tick to disgorge its stomach contents into the wound, along with infectious organisms.

If you are concerned about infection, save the tick and have it tested. Pack the live tick in a piece of moistened paper towel and place inside a ziploc bag. You can send it to a lab for testing, follow this Univ. of RI link for a list of available testing facilities in the Northeast. They can screen for Lyme and other common tickborne infections (Lyme is still the most common disease present in tested ticks- the others tend to be more common as coinfections to borrelia), identify the type of tick, as well as the level of engorgement and assumed attachment time, and report back to you within a few days. This information can be very helpful for you and your doctor to decide whether treatment is necessary in the absence of signs and symptoms. I’ve used the one at the University of CT several times for my family members, and often recommend it to patients. But any of them should be helpful.

After removal, treat the site of the tick bite with hydrogen peroxide or essential oil. I like using oregano oil as a heavy duty topical antimicrobial for spot treatment, it kills a lot of infectious things.

Call your doctor with concerns, they might suggest preventve treatment depending on the circumstances of the tick bite, even without symptoms. “Preventive” treatment should mean full treatment time-I often recommend to patients to complete 4 weeks of antibiotic treatment in early disease. This is longer than the guidelines set forth by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and other infections may include any of the following: spreading rash, fever, head aches, stomach aches, flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and joint aches and pains. However, it is also possible to have no signs or symptoms for weeks or months during the initial infection. It is common for the skin surrounding tick bites to get a little red and even scabby- this is because your immune system becomes activated with the mechanical irritation of the bite, and also may react strongly to the proteins in the tick’s saliva. This is not the same as an erythema migrans- the typical Lyme rash. Show your doctor immediately if you have any kind of rash or reaction, they can help to distinguish the two.

Testing for Lyme disease in humans: generally, you must wait at least a month to get tested, as it takes a while for antibodies to mount diagnostic levels. Therefore if it is likely that you might have contracted a tick transmitted illness, either by symptoms, history of deer tick bite, or by an unusual rash (since many people who contract Lyme disease never discovered an attached tick)- your doctor may opt to go ahead and treat you.

If you do go through treatment, remember to talk to your doctor about taking probiotics (take at a separate time from antibiotics) throughout your treatment period and for at least 2-3 months beyond. Antibiotics will help to kill tick-borne diseases, but they will also wreak havoc on your intestinal ecology. Probiotics can help to protect you from getting a serious intestinal infection while your defenses are down during and post treatment.

About the Author: Dr. Rivard is a licensed naturopathic doctor and owner of Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC in Derry, NH. She consults with both adult and pediatric patients regarding nutrition, natural treatments and effective alternatives to medications for a wide range of common health concerns.  Any informational content should not be taken as medical advice, or to replace the advice of your doctor in any way.

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