Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cold and Flu Season

If your family was anything like mine growing up, you probably drank Gatorade, Sprite, or 7-Up when you were sick, right? I can understand the mentality behind these drinks. When someone is sick, they need carbohydrates and salt to help their bodies fight the illness, and they need to stay hydrated. My biggest problem with Gatorade lies in the fact that there are artificial flavors and colors added. It seems wrong to give a sick person a drink that has added chemicals. Natural flavors are so good on their own. Sprite and 7-Up are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, and while their original versions don't have artificial flavors, some of their fancier varieties do include them. As with many things these days, you can usually find a healthier alternative, thanks to more awareness and more desire by consumers for natural products. I like using Recharge as an alternative to Gatorade when my kids are sick and need extra fluids. It comes in several different flavors and tastes really good.

You may be aware of recent changes in regulations for over-the-counter cold and cough medications for small children. They have been banned from store shelves as new findings have revealed they can cause harm to kids. So what can a parent do when their child is miserable? It's still safe to give them Children's Motrin or Children's Tylenol, following the dosage charts on the bottles. I try to give medication to my children only when it's absolutely necessary. If they have a low-grade or common fever, but are acting relatively normal - playing and talking, I won't medicate them. If they have a common fever or high fever and are moaning and groaning and aching all over, I will give them medicine. I love how Dr. Sears says to "treat the child, not the sickness." Each child will respond differently to fever and illness. Fever in itself isn't the enemy. Fever is one of the ways the body fights off sickness. I love Dr. Sears' discussion of fever and his fever terminology chart. It has been very helpful to me when my kids are sick.

Dr. Sears recommends a natural cold and cough medicine called Sinupret for Kids. We haven't tried this yet, but it's something I would like to get if my kids ever get really bad coughs.

My mother-in-law shared a recipe with me for homemade cough medicine that she got from a pediatrician back in the 80's. (There are tons of other similar homemade cough medicine recipes on-line if you do a Google search.)

Homemade Cough Medicine

Mix together equal parts lemon juice, honey, and whiskey.

Dosage - Give 1 tsp. every 4 hours as needed.

(Note: Do not give honey to children under 18 months of age.)

Our naturopathic doctor gave us a great recipe to help support the immune system while sick.

Immune Soup

Organic chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 inches ginger root, sliced thinly

Boil for 30 minutes (you can add water if you want to increase the volume), strain if desired, and drink broth. (Kids usually won't eat the chunks, but my husband and I like eating the veggies along with the broth.)

This is a great soup to have on the stovetop when someone in your home is sick. They can sip it all day long.