July 18, 2008

Family Health Guide

By Tweed, Vera

The health off your family is constantly being challenged by an unhealthy environment and nutrient-depleted, processed foods. Optimum nutrition can be the moat that keeps disease-promoting invaders out of your castle, and a few basic supplements can be particulary beneficial for the whole family, including your four- legged friends. Remedies for Common flilments

While the basic nutrients (see sidebar on p. 41) can prevent many common ailments, we don't live in a perfect world. Changing seasons, outdoor activities, travel, minor accidents or, for children, the health challenges of growing up, are all part and parcel of life, and they affect our well-being. Natural remedies can alleviate some of the discomforts life's mishaps bring.

Seasonal Challenges

Ailments: Colds and Flu

Remedies: Taking probiotics and vitamin C regularly can reduce the chances of getting a cold or flu. l;or treatment, echinacea, astragalus, thyme, elderberry, and celery seed are among the herbs that can bring relief from both conditions, and zinc gluconate lozenges or zinc nasal gel can shorten the length and intensity of symptoms. Homeopathic remedies include Oscillococcinum for flu.

Ailment: Hay Fever

Remedies: Quercetin, a fiavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, reduces the release of histamine, a substance our bodies generate in response to allergens. As a natural antihistamine, it has been found to be more effective when combined with bromelain, a digestive enzyme found in pineapple. Butterbur, an herb, has been shown to reduce hay fever symptoms as well as a common prescription amihistamine (cetirizine) but with fewer side effects.

Ailment: Travel Sickness

Remedies: Ginger is the traditional natural remedy for motion sickness, and peppermint, in tablets or tea, can also help. Homeopathic remedies are designed to address very specific symptoms and different modes of transportation, as well as jet lag, and should be selected according to individual needs.

Ailment: Injuries

Remedies: Arnica is often the first natural treatment of choice for any type of injury. Taken internally as a homeopathic remedy, it works almost instantly to improve well-being, and it speeds healing of sprains, strains, bruises, and burns. It helps to reduce inflammation, swelling, bruising, and to relieve shock or grief as a result of trauma. Arnica provides additional relief when also used topically on injured areas, in creams, gels, or lotions, although it isn't applied to open wounds. Calendula is used topically, in ointments or teas, to help wounds or burns heal.

For nerve pain, which can manifest as sharp, stinging pains accompanying an injury, Hypericum, taken internally, is an effective homeopathic remedy. There are many other herbal and homeopathic options for specific symptoms.

Skin Situations

Ailment: Athlete's Foot

Remedies: Used topically, tea tree oil has been shown to reduce symptoms of athlete's foot. It's available in foot creams, lotions, and powders. Garlic, which has antifungal properties, may also relieve the condition, and can be applied to feet in oil form.

Ailments: Insect Bites and Stings

Remedies: Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, can provide relief from insect bites and stings when applied topically, and turmeric may improve its effect. Other herbs that may help, also used topically, include arnica, lemon balm, and stinging nettle.

Growing Pains

Ailment: Colic

Remedies: Tor infant colic, acidophilus, one of the good bacteria in probiotics, can be taken by mothers who breast feed and by infants. Herbal teas made with chamomile, vervain, fennel, or lemon balm can be given to infants.

Ailment: Ear Infections

Remedies: Many ear infections clear without treatment, but if accompanied by fever or severe pain, seek medical treatment. Homeopathic ear drops or those containing herbs can provide relief for minor ear pain. For swimmer's ear, the same remedies can help, and wearing ear plugs when swimming will speed up healing.

Aliment: Head Lice

Remedies: Most common among children, head lice can be eliminated with antilice herbal shampoos, conditioners, and lotions that contain different herbal or tree extracts. Ingredients that have been tested and found effective among children include citronella; quassia; a combination of pawpaw, thyme oil, and tea tree oil; and a combination of anise, ylang-ylang, and coconut. Also, blow dry the child's hair and comb it out, as the heat loosens the knits for easier removal.

Pet Problems

Ailment: Fleas (external)

Remedies: Natural cat and dog collars, shampoos, and topical sprays repel fleas and other insects with ingredients such as citronella oil, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil. They work by making the pet's skin repugnant to pests, without toxins or irritants.

Ailment: Fleas (internal)

Remedies: Supplements with a combination of brewer's yeast and garlic do double duty. They support good health and can act as a repellent for fleas and insects that don't like the odor that a pet's skin emanates (which humans don't seem to smell) after taking garlic and yeast.

Ailment: Skin Conditions

Remedies: For insect bites, rashes, cuts, and abrasions, look for natural soothing ointments with ingredients such as calendula, vitamin E, tea tree oil, aloe, comfrey, and myrrh.


1 Muttivitamins and Minerals

To stay healthy, getting the best quality multivitamin you can afford is a good investment. For adults, many multivitamin and mineral supplements target men or women at specific stages of life. Depending on your budget and needs, you can opt for separate his and hers multivitamin formulas. Or, you could choose one generic formula, and add on for each person; for example, add saw palmetto for his prostate health and black cohosh for her hormonal support. Children, pregnant women, and pets need formulations designed specifically for them.

In all cases, look for formulas with a variety of antioxidants, as each of these works a little differently. Antioxidants include mixed carotenoids, vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, and a variety of food concentrates, such as green tea and blueberry. A combination provides maximum protection against free radical damage. The biggest difference between multiples is the mineral forms: Choose multiples that have minerals in acidic forms, such as citrate, malate, or amino acid chelates.

2 Fish oil

All family members benefit from fish oil, since it supports virtually every aspect of well-being, including a healthy heart, brain, hair, and optimum skin quality in people and pets of all ages. Fish oil reduces inflammation that underlies joint problems, allergies, and premature aging. It also helps to stabilize mood, reduce depression, decrease aggressive behavior in people and pets, relieve PMS symptoms, alleviate attention deficit disorder (ADD) and eating disorders, heal burns, and support healthy weight loss. Fish oil doesn't fit into a multivitamin pill; you need to take it separately. For kids, there are flavored forms, and for adults, capsules are convenient. For pets, there are capsules and liquid versions, which can be added to food.

3 Probiotics

As "friendly" bacteria, probiotics promote health in numerous ways and are safe and effective for people of all ages, including infants and pets. Probiotics improve resistance to respiratory infections; lower the risk of seasonal, food, and other allergies, including lactose intolerance; help to prevent or treat allergy- related skin conditions; help to prevent and treat diarrhea, including common forms of diarrhea in children; prevent and reduce vaginal, urinary tract, and bladder infections; and support healthy digestion. Liquid probiotics can be used topically as a lotion for diaper rash.

In addition to providing healthy bacteria, which are destroyed by antibiotics, probiotics reduce bad bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are found in yogurt with live cultures and in supplements, in capsules and liquids.

Copyright Active Interest Media Jul 2008

(c) 2008 Better Nutrition. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.