The information you’ll find here on colds and flus is a result of Safe Baby Healthy Child Health Expert Dr. Murray Clarke’s 25 years of successfully helping children live healthier lives. From his world-renowned clinic in Santa Monica, he has treated the entire range of children’s conditions from recurrent ear infections, colds, coughs, sinusitis and flus to allergies, eczema, asthma and digestive complaints. Dr. Clarke has become one of the most sought-after holistic pediatricians in California and is known for restoring health to infants and children with conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat including behavioral disorders, ADD, ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome.
The integrity of the immune system that is created in childhood
will establish the quality of your child’s health for the rest of their life.
This is the time of year when children are most susceptible to catching colds, coughs, flus, 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?
- Are there natural alternatives to the much-publicized flu vaccine?
- How can I use natural medicine and supplements to keep my child’s immune system working efficiently?
All too often an antibiotic is prescribed when most of 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 one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
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.
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 develop symptoms, i.e. 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 come 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, they should be able to recover quickly. Adding high quality herbal and nutritional support has been shown to be very beneficial.
Do You Need to Strengthen Your Child’s Immune System?
How can you find out the overall strength of your child’s immune system?
Think back and try to recall how many infections they have had since birth. Then consider the following:
- Do they get sick every time a bug is going around?
- 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 vitamins or nutritional supplements?
The answers to these questions will give you a sense of whether your child’s immune system is at full, moderate or low strength.
For example, if your child gets sick every time an illness is going around and it takes a lot of time, 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 to and comes in contact with the flu virus, but only those with a susceptible immune system will develop symptoms.
Maintenance for Prevention: How to Avoid Colds and Flus
The best way to prevent colds and flus is by ensuring that every day, your child has all the nutrients they need to grow and keep their immune system working well. Although the right nutritional and herbal support at the first sign of illness can help the body process toxins out more efficiently, nothing keeps the immune system stronger than consistent care. Maintaining a daily routine of supplementation with the right multivitamin and mineral plus those key nutrients that play a more direct role in immune health will go a long way towards warding off any illness.
The Daily Essential Supplements are:
- Multi Vitamin & Mineral
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Probiotics with Colostrum
By providing your child with these four supplements, you will be proactively supporting and strengthening their immune and natural defense systems.
Multi Vitamin & Mineral: There are 16 vitamins and primary minerals that the body cannot make but are required for the body and brain to function. They are so important that they have been termed “essential” by the National Academy of Sciences. These “essential” vitamins and primary minerals must be delivered in the right amount and in the right form everyday.
Why can’t your child get all these nutrients from food? There are a few reasons. Overall, today’s food is not as nutritious as it used to be. The decline in the quality of the earth’s soil, air and water has drastically lowered the nutritional quality of the foods we eat. At the same time, our children’s nutritional requirements have increased. The rise in pollution and the constant exposure to toxins create a greater need for more vitamins and minerals.
And, most parents are challenged by time and other constraints that don’t allow them to provide the kind of varied, nutrient-dense diet that ensures their child is getting these essential vitamins and minerals every day. Many children have food intolerances or allergies that limit sources of good nutrition.
It can also be challenging to restrict children from the altered, processed, chemical and sugar-laden products that are so pervasive and end up displacing the opportunity to eat real food.
Do your best to provide a diet that consists of organic fruits and vegetables, organic pastured poultry, organic grass-fed and finished meats and wild-caught fish (avoid farmed fish). Add to this a high-quality multi vitamin and mineral formulated for children, dose appropriately and you are on the way to 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.
Because Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, the body does not store it and eliminates what it does not use. To ensure that your child has plenty of vitamin C, it is beneficial to provide extra vitamin C in addition to what is found in the Multi Vitamin & 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.
Studies have confirmed colostrum is a potent protector against viral infections, namely the flu.
In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostatis, researchers compared the effects of a two-month oral colostrum supplementation program against receipt of the flu vaccine. They found that the group that received the flu vaccine had more than three times more episodes of the flu and suffered more than three times more days of illness than those who were not vaccinated and on the colostrum supplementation program.
Colostrum was found to be at least 3 times more effective than the flu vaccine at preventing the flu and reducing its severity.
Vitamin D3: In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their previous guidelines on Vitamin D and doubled the minimum amount required for infants, children and adolescents. Citing the difficulty in obtaining enough vitamin D from the primary natural source, the sun, and from limited natural dietary sources, the AAP suggested getting the new minimum requirement of Vitamin D from a supplement.
The AAP also noted that new data was indicating that Vitamin D may play a potential role in maintaining innate immunity. A major recent study has confirmed that it does.
Raw data from 25 clinical trials consisting of 11,000 participants from 14 different countries including the U.S., the UK, Australia and Canada was analyzed to determine if Vitamin D protects against respiratory infections such as colds and flus. As quoted in Science Daily, lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau from the Queen Mary University of London said:
This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections. Our analysis of pooled raw data from each of the 10,933 trial participants allowed us to address the thorny question of why vitamin D ‘worked’ in some trials, but not in others.
Professor Martineau went on to state:
[T]he protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses. Overall, the reduction in risk of acute respiratory infection induced by vitamin D was on a par with the protective effect of injectable ‘flu vaccine against ‘flu-like illnesses.
If your child has a history of recurrent infections and it takes a while for them to recover each time, then provide all of the above supplements on a daily basis. If your child’s immune system is strong and they only occasionally catch something, also provide all of the above supplements on a daily basis except your child can take break from the Multi Vitamin & Mineral on the weekends and Colostrum need only be given every other day through the winter cold and flu season.
At the First Sign of Symptoms
Often, the first signs of illness can be 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. 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 prevent the bug from gaining a foothold and help the immune system gain the upper hand.
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 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, 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.
Vitamin D3. Keep providing at the same dosage as the maintenance dose. (See below.)
Summary of Dosages
First Defense: Immediately begin to give 3-4 times daily until all symptoms are clear.
Vitamin C: Provide 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.
Vitamin D3: 400 IU daily for infants and children from birth – 4 years of age. 600 IU daily for children 4 years and older.
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.
Taking Care of 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.
The Highest Quality, Doctor-Formulated Supplements for Infants and Children
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in December 2015 and has been reviewed and updated for accuracy and completeness by Dr. Murray Clarke, D.Hom., L.Ac.
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About Safe Baby Healthy Child Health Expert: Dr. Murray Clarke, 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, the first complete line of nutritional supplements exclusively for children ages newborn through teen, 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.