Oct 162017

Ear infections (otitis media) are one of the most common childhood ailments. Around 90% of all children will suffer from ear infections at some stage before they start school. Before you start asking for antibiotics, find out how you can prevent and treat ear infections naturally.

Ear infections can be a random occurrence or can be chronic for may children. Most ear infections stem from a bout of the common cold. Mucous from the upper respiratory tracts travels to the narrow Eustachian tubes creates the perfect environment for an infection to take hold.

For those with children that have chronic ear infections, then further investigation into why this is occurring is warranted. For these kids, we would look into diet, lifestyle and immune health. While sometimes it can be due to structural issues making the ears more prone to infection, it most often is due to immune systems inability to fight infection.

Ear infections have been on the rise in the past decade, in line with the rise of allergies and asthma. We have to question why this is occurring, and most likely it is due to environmental exposures, poor nutrition, depleted microbiome and stress.

So is it a problem that children are getting recurrent ear infections? Well, yes it is. Recurrent ear infections can lead to scarring on the eardrums, poor achievements in school due to a lack of hearing, and for those using antibiotics, altered gut microbiota and reduced immune health. In addition to this, the use of antibiotics in the first two years of life is linked to an increase in the incidences of asthma.

Antibiotics and Ear Infections.

Studies have confirmed that the use of antibiotics to treat ear infections is usually unnecessary and is contributing to the worldwide crisis of antibiotic resistance. Firstly, most ear infections are a viral infection, rendering antibiotics pointless. Doctors will often prescribe antibiotics in the hope of preventing a secondary bacterial infection. Antibiotics should never be used as preventative medicine. Most doctors agree that a standard ear infection will clear on its own over the course of several days.

However, if the infection stems from swimming in contaminated water, or there is discharge coming from the ear, please consult with our doctor as antibiotics may be warranted in these cases.

Preventing Ear Infections

Boost your child’s immune system

Building up your child’s immune system is the best way to prevent any type of infection from taking hold. The best way to do this is through a diet that is robust in nutrients and is void of foods that deplete the immune system.

Ensuring that your child eats a diet that has 4-6 serves of vegetable per day and 1-2 pieces of fruit will set them on the right path. A child’s serve is considered to be around ½ cup or 1 piece of fruit or vegetable. Include a piece of good quality protein at each meal, this can be animal or plant-based. Adding in high-quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, oily fish, grass-fed butter or avocado at least twice a day. Healthy carbohydrates should be included at every meal to support their high energy lifestyle. This includes oats, quinoa, rice, sweet potato, white potato, corn, spelt, millet to name a few.

In addition to what you include in your child’s diet, it is important to look at what you DON’T include. Avoiding processed foods, fizzy drinks, refined grain products such as white bread, cakes, muffins and pastries all support the immune system. The reason is that these foods contain virtually no nutrients. In fact, they will often rob the body of nutrients to metabolise them and they fill your child up so that they are less likely to eat a healthy meal. I understand that this can be very hard to do, especially with the pester-power of children. A great way to encourage a healthy diet is to have a ‘healthy home’. This means that all the food you have at home is healthy and high in nutrients. When the kids are out, or at birthday parties, then you can relax the rules a little and let them enjoy some of these foods. Complete avoidance of ‘treat-like’ foods can create an unhealthy relationship with food leading to secretive eating or binge eating.

If you feel that you can’t quite get enough of the right type of foods into your child diet, then consider supplementing them with these nutrients that have a proven benefit for children’s health.

  • Vitamin D (400-800UI of D3). Cod liver oil supplements can be a great source of vitamin D, plus you will get the added benefit of vitamin A and essential fatty acids.
  • Multi strain probiotic (around 8 different strains at 109strength)
  • Multivitamin with zinc.

 Treat a cold at the first sign

Ear infections often occur from catching a cold. AT the first sign of a sniffy nose remove WHEAT, DAIRY, SUGAR and JUICE from their diet. Sugar is known to suppress the immune system, reducing the bodies ability to fight the infection. Wheat and dairy products may contribute to mucus production in some children, enhancing the breeding ground for pathogens. Adding in some Elderberry syrup or Echinacea drops will help to boost the immune system. You can find these supplements at most health food stores, however, it is best to consult your naturopath or herbalist to ensure that the product you are using contains the therapeutically active parts of the plant.

Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke

This point doesn’t need too much explanation. Just as smoke exposure is dangerous to adults, it is even more so for children. As a parent or caregiver, it is your responsibility to avoid this exposure to your children.

Manage stress

You might be surprised just how stressed our children can get. Today they are living in a busy and hectic environment and are more likely to be away from the family home for longer periods of time. School-aged children can begin to feel the pressure from bullies and academic expectations. Taking the time help your child recognise when they are feeling stressed and giving them tools to manage this is setting them up with practical life long skills. Teaching them some breathing exercises, mediation and yoga/stretching techniques will be very supportive. Please don’t underestimate the effect that stress has on both our own health and our children’s health.


Breastfed babies are half as likely to develop ear infections compared to formula-fed babies. Exclusively breastfeeding until 6 months of age, and ideally, up the 12 months of age can dramatically reduce the chance of infection. It is also good to remember when feeding baby, to hold her at an upright 45-degree angle, rather than lying flat. This reduces the chance of milk getting into the back of the throat up into the immature Eustachian tubes. 

Treating Ear Infections

So the ear infection has set in…what to do now.

  • As mentioned above, stop wheat, dairy, sugar and juice.
  • Continue with the Echinacea and elderberry
  • Take 250mg vitamin C, 3-5 times per day
  • Mullein ear drops. This is a wonderful traditional remedy for ear infections. It will help to treat the infection and will soothe any associated discomfort. You can find this extract of the herb mullein in your local health food store.

Lastly, if your child does appear to have an ear infection, please take to your chosen health professional to get a correct diagnosis. Understand that you have the right to express to them that you are happy to take the ‘wait and watch’ approach before considering antibiotics. It is your child, and ultimately your choice as to how you manage their healthcare.

A note on chronic ear infections and glue ear…

These conditions need a thorough consultation with your naturopath to establish the root cause of the problem. With a little time and dedication, you can restore your child’s ear health.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/adorable-blur-child-close-up-573293/

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Sep 122017



I gets calls from several people when they develop fevers. Since homeopathy is individualized, the question always on the mind of the patient is “Which remedy to take in the fever?”. While the list is not exhaustive by any means, I have tried here to list the 6 most commonly used homeopathic remedies for fevers, and their key indications. You can use this infographic to self-treat minor fevers at home. As always, if it is something more complicated talk to your homeopath.

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Sep 052017

The rate of eczema is on the rise with it affecting up to 20% of children and 3% of adults. There are many discussions as to why eczema is on the rise, but let’s get down to how to treat the root cause of eczema.

The only way to truly heal eczema is to treat the underlying factors that contribute to its onset.

Skin and Immune Response

Eczema is not considered to be an autoimmune disease; however, it does share some similar traits. The immune/allergy response that is seen in eczema results in the inflammation that is seen on the skin. This is very predominant in infants that suffer from eczema, and these infants often go on to develop other allergic conditions such as asthma or sinusitis. (1)

Supporting a healthy immune system is essential to treating the root cause of eczema.

Test for food intolerances

Food intolerances are a very common trigger for eczema. (2) Many of the testing methods available are a little controversial as their accuracy is not agreed upon by from immunologists. The gold standard for food intolerance testing is the food elimination diet. Whilst this method is time-consuming and a little tedious, the results can be astounding, and well worth the effort. (3)

When we delve into the area of food intolerances, we have to question why do these occur. The reason is often due to intestinal permeability (4), other wise known as ‘leaky gut’. The lining of the digestive system is very selective on the size and type of molecule that it lets through its lining and into the blood stream. When this lining becomes compromised larger molecules pass through into the blood stream. This can result in further aggravation to the immune system and inflammation throughout the body.

What we are not sure about is, is the food intolerance causing the leaky gut, or is the leaky gut causing the food intolerance. Most likely they are both impacting each other, making it important to heal the gut and to manage the intolerance.

So, whilst removing trigger foods is essential, without repairing the gut lining more food intolerances are likely to develop due to the passive of food molecules into the blood stream. Immune responses and inflammation will continue to occur and health imbalances will progress.

Gut Skin Link

Naturopathic medicine is based around treating the body as a whole. Everything is linked together and when there is disharmony in one system, it will reflect in another. We see this clearly with the gut and skin axis. Maintaining a varied and dense microbiome will allow the body to better manage inflammation, oxidative stress, blood sugar levels and the levels of fatty acids in the skin.

Studies have shown that probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the incidence of eczema in infants. (5) We also see that certain strains of probiotics can reduce the severity in eczema patients.

As mentioned above, when our digestive system is compromised the occurrence of eczema may increase.

Increase Nutrients for optimal skin health

  • Vitamin A: rough dry skin is a sign of vitamin A deficiency and a characteristic of eczema. Vitamin A helps to promote cell turnover and control dermal growth factors. You can get adequate vitamin A from egg yolk, cod liver oil, liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale and spinach.
  • Zinc is essential for immune function, wound healing, protein synthesis and cell division. It also is protective against UVA light and is anti inflammatory. Zinc also helps to increase the level of vitamin A found in the blood. Zinc is readily available in many plants based foods such as nuts, and seeds, plus animal sources such as kidney, liver, shell fish, beef and lamb.
  • Vitamin C: this is a powerful antioxidant that is protective and healing for the skin. Vitamin C helps to maintain collagen levels, which provides the structural stability of the skin. Vitamin C is also essential for a healthy immune system and may help to down regulate unnecessary immune responses. Vitamin C is abundant in most fruits and vegetables. Just remember that it is a sensitive vitamin and can be destroyed with heat and exposure to the air.
  • Omega-3: we all know the wonderful anti inflammatory actions of omega-3 fatty acids. They have specifically been shown to reduce skin inflammation, redness, itching and scaling of the skin. (18) This is a crucial nutrient in any eczema treatment protocol. The best sources of omega-3 come from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, anchovies and shell fish. Plant based sources include nuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Plants sources are not as high or as easily absorbed as marine sources, so supplementation may be required to meet a therapeutic intake.
  • Biotin: is required to regulate fatty acid metabolism (omega-3). Fatty acids are protective against cellular damage, water loss and skin damage. Low intake of biotin is seen as a cause of dermatitis. Good sources of biotin include egg yolk (avoid too much raw egg white as this binds to biotin and prevents its absorption), leafy greens, salmon, whole grains and avocado. Biotin is also produced by our gut bacteria, so ensuring you have good gut bacteria is essential.
  • Silica plays a role in the building blocks of skin and promotes skin firmness and elasticity. Food sources include leeks, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb.
  • Vitamin E: this well-known skin healer is anti inflammatory and protective to the skin. It supports a healthy immune system and antioxidants in the body. Sources include olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, shell fish, spinach and soy.

In addition to these vitamins, there are many other nutrients that all contribute to skin health, this includes B vitamins, Vitamin D, vitamin K2 and selenium. A well-balanced diet that is 80% plant based (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, gluten free grains) with the remainder being well-sourced quality protein (grass fed meat and dairy, eggs, seafood) is the ideal eating plan.

Stress Management

Chronic stress plays a role in most imbalances in the body. It is a component that is often overlooked in the management of eczema and skin health. Stress is known to impair wound healing and low cortisol levels that may result from chronic stress is often seen in eczema patients. (6)

Slowing down, being mindful and taking time for self-care is vital for healing.


So in summary….

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes all of the essential skin nutrients
  • Support gut health with fermented foods, pro and prebiotics, and soluble fibre to feed your bacteria.
  • Test for potential food intolerances
  • Use clean, organic skin care products that hydrate the skin. Natural oils such as jojoba, shea and coconut are a great choice.
  • Practice stress management techniques

You are Unique

Do you want to get to the root cause of your eczema? Drop me a line and we can work on it together. Heal your skin from the inside, do it right, then you only have to do it once.

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