Parents need help. In prior generations, parents were paralyzed perhaps by not having enough information. All they had was Dr. Spock! Today it seems that parents may be paralyzed, thanks to the internet, by too much information. Who do you believe? And where do you turn for solid, logical, grounded in common sense medical and nutritional advice? Ideally parents get this from their pediatrician. But at times, they need a different perspective, a complementary voice in the discussion.
When a parent walks into my office for themselves or with their child, I offer them an integrative approach. I engage with them in Western terms and use Chinese medicine to treat. And I strongly encourage them to speak with their pediatrician about the work we are doing together. It is about building you a health care team that can provide you with the best possible care for you and your child.
Here is a testimonial from one of my parents:
Jordan has changed my daughter’s life!
By the age of five, her tonsils and adenoids had been removed and her sinuses were lasered to make more “space” for her to breathe. Despite these radical treatments she was still getting sinus infections that antibiotics were unable to cure. She was coughing through the night, always a mouth breather, and often home sick.
Within 2 weeks of her first visit to Jordan, the coughing was gone and she was using her nose to breathe- day and night! Hooray! She is now wheat and dairy-free. Of course that is its own challenge, but much less of one than dealing with a sick child.
At Thanksgiving, our family has a tradition of going around the table so everyone has a chance to say what they are thankful for. This year my daughter said, “I’m thankful that I don’t eat wheat and dairy so I don’t have to miss any more playdates and birthday parties.”
I’m thankful for Jordan’s presence in our lives!
Manhattan Beach, CA
Most of what afflicts children on a daily basis is related to immune function and digestion: colds and the flu, ear aches, belly aches, allergies, asthma and eczema, etc. And since both Western and Chinese medicine agree that the strength of the immune system stems from the health of the digestive system, we can confidently say that the root of immune health starts with good digestion. We are certainly born with some pre-disposing factors that can influence our health, but it is diet and lifestyle that acts as the trigger in most cases.
Starting as infants, our ability to grow and be healthy starts with our ability to digest breast milk and then solid food. It is in our bellies that we extract nutrients from food to boost our energy, to build our blood and to strengthen our immune system. At anytime, if we overfeed, overeat, or make poor food choices, our health will suffer and our ability to fight off infections will be compromised.
Healthy digestion = Strong Immunity
Poor Digestion = Weak Immunity
Our Little Friends and What Makes Them Unique
What sets treating kids apart from treating adults is that kids’ bodies and internal processes are not fully formed. With an immature digestive system, kids are quicker to get indigestion, are more susceptible to immune compromise, and do not extract nutrients as efficiently which leads to easy fatigue and emotionality. And as they have had less time to build cooling reserves of Yin, or resources, they are more prone to conditions of heat, ie. inflammatory conditions and infections. On the plus side, though, because kids are so young they have less accumulation in the way of their treatment and as a result require far less to yield results. They tend to respond much more quickly to even the most modest amounts of treatment. And this is the huge upside to working with kids. Less is actually more!!
Methods of Treatment
No matter who I am helping, I approach their treatment
in a conservative manner. None of us need more stimulation
and more distraction. When my patients ask me what they
should do to feel better, I often respond, "Do
Step 1: Food is the first medicine
The first step in all treatment is to identify and remove the offending agent. Sometimes that is all that is necessary. I had one of my patients take her 2-year-old off all dairy and within 2 weeks, his eczema cleared up by 80%! And that was before giving him any herbs or other treatment!
The second step is to look at food choices. Food is often the first to harm just as it is the first to help. So the next time your child catches a cold, trace back 1-2 days and see if he had loose bowel movements or a belly ache. Chances are that just before that he was given some poor food choices like too much sugar, dairy, or even a new solid food. What can often help is doing a Food-Mood Journal: write down what your child eats, when he eats it and how he feels through the course of the day for at least a week in order to bring awareness around the links between food and health. There is no more powerful tool I use with patients when they have little awareness around how their food affects their health.
Here are some broad dietary guidelines for you to follow with your kids:
- ZERO dairy: loads of bacteria/viruses in one teaspoon; scientifically proven to be linked to numerous diseases; mucus producing
- Minimize ALL sugars: sugar is food for ALL bugs
- Eat cooked food at warm temperatures: cold foods injure digestion. Raw veggies are hard to digest
- Drink plenty of water, never iced
- Grains and complex carbs: Congee, or rice porridge, easy to digest and prepare in various medicinal ways; 6:1 water to rice, cook for several hours or in a crock pot
- Beans, veggies, fruit (no more than 2 pieces per day)
- No fruit juice: all the sugar (equal to can of Coke) and none of the fiber that the fruit offers
- Small amounts of animal protein
- Decrease fats and oil: hard to digest
Decrease fermented products with yeast or that mold easily: bread, cheese, vinegar.
a. Easy mold fruits: peaches, berries, melons, grape skin
b. Hard to mold fruits: apples
Step 2: The Gift of Touch
I teach the parents of my pediatric patients to do gentle acupressure on their children. I show them a simple protocol of 5 points that can strengthen immune function. And I show them effective points for acute care from fevers, to stomach aches and chest congestion.
Teach a parent to fish, I always say!
Step 3: Acupuncture
Acupuncture can offer immediate relief for acute and chronic conditions and can be well-tolerated by children. Though in general, I prefer to use herbs alone on children, I will use acupuncture in specific situations depending on the condition and comfort level of the child. Treatments are brief and pain-free.
We can also test foods that you think may be problematic for your child.
My goal in working with parents is to help you simplify
and focus on the most important changes in your kid's
diet so that you may see immediate results and they
may quickly feel better. Nothing pleases me more than
to see children be exuberant and unencumbered by health
imbalances. They are resilient and magical little beings
that when given the chance can exude boundless and healthy
vitality. And I'd like to help.