About this time of year at IMI, we start to see more incidents of colds, coughs, flu and other illnesses that become increasingly common over the winter months. Living in Hong Kong, the combined factors of pollution, a dense population, stressful living, rapid weather changes and the overuse of medications, can leave our children susceptible to illness.
Antibiotics are a common prescription and although effective at killing off some bacteria, they are of no use against viruses.
However, did you know that antibiotics also compromise our immunity as they wipe out the good flora in the intestines, which form an integral part of our immune system? While your child may seem to get better with each course of antibiotics, his or her immune system actually becomes weaker, making it more likely that they will pick up the next bug at school or in the playground, and then you find yourself in the vicious cycle of reaching for more antibiotics to overcome the next infection. Research has shown that infections recur two to three times more often after antibiotic treatments.
Antibiotic resistance is increasingly becoming a concern with the over-use of these treatments. Margaret Chan, Director-General of The World Health Organization, warned in 2015 of a global health crisis from antibiotic resistance from which we could be facing the "end of modern medicine as we know it."
Natural Medicine to Boost Immunity
In natural medicine, most illnesses can effectively be treated with herbal medicine, homeopathy and good quality nutritional supplements, without compromising our body’s immunity and causing antibiotic resistance.
Natural medicine is often associated with treating chronic conditions, but if used correctly it can also offer powerful and effective treatments for acute illnesses. At IMI, as well as individual diagnosis of your child’s presenting symptoms, we also consider their history, including root causes to support your child’s system to overcome the acute illness and prevent it re-occurring. Some of these root causes may include food intolerances for example, which can lead to weakened immunity. As well as identifying such causes, boosting their natural immunity is also supported by the use of potent medicinal herbs, clinical grade supplements – including vitamin D, fish oils and many more.
As well as supplementation, therapies such as Osteopathy can be incredibly effective for supporting recovery and healing. Even if your child has a simple cold or cough, gentle techniques can help to support their lymphatic and respiratory system alleviating symptoms and speeding their recovery. Homeopathy is also another excellent modality to treat acute conditions, to which children respond exceptionally well.
Individual Treatments Work Best
To rebuild your child’s immunity, specific natural treatments prescribed by a professional that treats each patient’s unique symptoms (and their constitution and history), is far better than over-the-counter preparations which are often less effective and can often be a waste of money. The frequency, dosage and quality of the remedies are all important when treating acute illnesses. Dr. Benita Perch shares a real example of how this approach to support the child’s whole system, as in the case of eight (8) year old Jake, offers lasting results.
“Jake’s mom brought him to see me after he came down with yet another chest infection and she did not want him to endure another course of antibiotics. Jake had a chronic bronchial infection and low immunity. She also felt that his mood and behavior was affected from being sick so often.
I prescribed a homeopathic remedy specific for Jake’s condition, as well as probiotics, fish oil, zinc, and gastro-intestinal (GI) repair formula to rebuild his immunity and heal the intestinal lining. To treat the acute infection, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine, a supplement made from amino acid cysteine), a strong herbal tincture and vitamin C were prescribed. On the dietary front I recommended removing dairy from his diet.
Three weeks later Jake’s health had improved with no sign of the chest infection. He was better physically, emotionally and much more active again. I continued to see Jake over the next few months and his immunity and emotional health continued to improve. If he did pick up a cold it was treated quickly with natural medications. His mom says he is doing great and had not been sick for months; he is even back to being able to have dairy occasionally.”
Prevention of illnesses
Building long-term immunity
A strong immune system is vital to help children defend against common infections and diseases,and to support them through the key stages of growth and development. Having a balanced diet is very important to build long-term immunity. However with deteriorating soil quality, imported foods and the added environmental stressors of living in a city like Hong Kong it is very difficult to achieve adequate nutrients from the diet alone. Good quality supplements are fast becoming a necessity to build a strong immune system. Dr. Benita Perch and some of IMI’s Naturopaths share some of their favourites:
A good multivitamin that supports overall physical development, mental health and boosts immunity, is essential for children. Optimal Multivitamin Powder provides extra amounts of important antioxidant vitamins C and E, plus high potency, active B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. This sugar free quality nutritional supplement has also passed our children's taste test.
• Vitamin D
Research has shown that children with vitamin D deficiency have twice as many colds each year than those with adequate levels. Although sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D, deficiencies remain rampant in Hong Kong and other Asian countries, so supplementation is recommended. Medlab Nanocelle D3 strengthens immunity whilst reducing symptoms related to lung allergies and infections. It supports healthy growth and development in infancy and childhood, especially for normal bone growth and muscle strength.
• Zinc and Vitamin C
Zinc is an essential mineral that can stimulate the immune system whilst Vitamin C enhances immunity. A good quality Zinc (citrate) is recommenced because it is easily absorbed by the body. Medlab Manuka-C is a blend of vitamin C, zinc and manuka honey for symptomatic relief of upper respiratory tract infection and provides extra immune support.
Healthy gut flora improves immunity, reduces infection and decreases allergies. Medlab Biotic Jnr has selected probiotic strains that have demonstrated safety and efficacy to help maintain healthy digestive function, better growth rates, and immunity that may assist in managing allergies (including eczema) in infants.
• Omega 3 Fish Oils
Fish oils containing DHA and EPA help defend against infections and diseases. For quality and purity we recommend Vital Nutrients’ Ultra Pure Fish Oil.
• Respiratory system support
For those times when your child has succumbed to a cough or cold, IVY Calm Cough Syrup can provide soothing support for lung and bronchial health and has antispasmodic properties.
As mentioned, if you are unsure which of these your child would most benefit from, it is best to book a consultation with a professional naturopathic physician who can offer individualized guidance and advice.
Call 2523 7121 (Central) or 2537 1087 (Discovery Bay)