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Have you ever wondered whether there are alternatives to antibiotics or other medications for your kids? Parents often ask us what the options are, and when it’s best to opt for natural treatments.
When it comes to pharmaceutical medications and naturopathic treatments such as nutritional and herbal medicine, it doesn’t have to be a case of ‘either/or’. Both have their place in healthcare, especially when it comes to kids.
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about alternatives to antibiotics and other common medications for children.
Exploring Alternatives To Antibiotics And Other Medications
Why is it important to consider alternative treatment options? Because medications will always have a downside or side effect of some kind. This doesn’t mean that naturopathic medicine doesn’t have some side effects, but those are generally fewer in comparison.
Using naturopathic options can also reduce the need for medication use long-term. So they can help your kids to get on top of their symptoms as well as support their bodies naturally.
There is one big difference between medications and naturopathic options. Medications generally focus on relieving a symptom, whereas naturopathic medicine looks at addressing the underlying cause.
With that in mind, let’s look at why medication isn’t always the best option for your kids.
Pharmaceutical medications do something for our bodies
Most medications are designed to do something on behalf of our bodies. This might be changing a function, or stopping a normal function.
Antibiotics kill bacteria for the body. Paracetamol inhibits the production of prostaglandins to reduce pain, and alters temperature regulation to reduce fever. Steroid creams prevent skin cells from producing inflammatory compounds.
Medications are fast and usually effective for controlling symptoms. In some cases, such as Epi-Pens, they can be life-saving. They are also useful in emergencies, such as pain relief medications for a severe injury.
But they are doing something that is usually the body’s job to do. This can mean that the body does that job less effectively because it becomes reliant on the medication. It also means the body doesn’t get a chance to become better at that function.
On the other hand, nutritional and herbal options focus on supporting and enhancing the natural processes and functions of the body.
Medications come with side effects
Drugs work on changing chemicals and proteins within the body. These chemicals and proteins will always have more than one job, so changing them will have other effects.
Steroid medications reduce inflammation in the body. But the changes they cause also affect blood sugar levels and cause thinning of the bones. The contraceptive pill contains synthetic hormones that prevent ovulation. But those hormones can also cause headaches, low libido and may even increase cancer risk.
Reflux medication can have more long-term effects. It reduces stomach acid, which relieves symptoms. But stomach acid plays an important role in digestion, breaking down proteins. If there isn’t enough stomach acid, the proteins don’t break down properly. Bigger particles of protein enter the lower part of the gut, where they are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Undigested protein in the bloodstream will activate the immune system. Some experts theorise that this increases the risk of allergies and intolerances over time.
Stomach acid also acts as a line of defence against microbes. So low stomach acid can make you more vulnerable to germs and other nasties.
Antibiotics are known for their short-term side effects. But there are just as many long-term concerns to consider.
A lot of kids end up on the cycle of antibiotic use. They are given antibiotics for an initial infection. This depletes the good bacteria in the gut, which throws the balance of the gut out. It weakens their immune system and makes them more susceptible to infections that are treated with antibiotics.
But using natural alternatives to antibiotics such as zinc and probiotics can help to break this cycle.
Relief of symptoms often means we don’t look for the underlying cause
Often, when you use medicine to relieve symptoms, you don’t think about why those symptoms occurred. But there is a reason that symptoms arise. And if you don’t address that, it will continue and often get worse!
A common example of this is reflux in babies. They are given medication, and the symptoms go away. But there’s a reason that stomach acid is irritating them. This often comes back to foods triggering symptoms. To address the cause, we need to look at what Mum is eating.
Your child might be given a course of antibiotics every winter. But why are they prone to those severe infections in the first place? You want to look at increasing their nutrition and immunity.
You might use anti-histamines for allergies or hayfever. But why is the body producing that response in the first place? Because it’s reacting to a type of food or environmental factor. Unless you find out what that is, symptoms will continue whenever you miss a dose.
Ritalin is often prescribed for ADHD. It’s effective at easing symptoms, which is a massive relief for the whole family. But what factors are triggering these symptoms in the first place? How can we support them so that they are less prone to those symptoms?
If you do need to use medicine for your children, please do so! But make sure you still think about the underlying cause.
What are some alternatives to antibiotics and other medications?
It can depend on the medication. But here are some good options to consider.
Vitamin C and zinc
These are some of our favourites in the clinic. Vitamin C and zinc power our neutrophils – the immune cells that are part of the first line of defence. Unlike antibiotics, they encourage the immune system to fight the microbes off. As vitamin C and zinc are also essential for other body functions, they are more beneficial in the long run.
This is a fantastic immune-boosting herb. It increases a process called phagocytosis, which is where immune cells gulp germs and destroy them. Again, the focus is on supporting the immune system’s natural process.
However, it is quite strong, so we generally don’t recommend it for younger children. It’s best to seek professional advice when using andrographis in kids.
This a one of our go-to options for kids when it comes to immunity. It can help with low immunity and issues like allergies and atopic conditions. Medicinal mushrooms have properties that can activate immune cells. They also put those cells into surveillance mode, so they are ready to act when a germ is nearby.
The great thing about medicinal mushrooms is that they have a regulating effect. That means that if immune function is on the low side, they boost it up. But if the immune system is too sensitive and overreacting, mushrooms can help calm it down. This makes them a good alternative to consider when using medications such as anti-histamines or steroid creams.
Other essential nutrients
Depending on the symptoms you want to relieve, other nutrients may also be useful. Nutrients are involved in multiple processes in the body, so they can help with a variety of symptoms. You are putting the ingredient into the body that it needs to power the functions.
For example, magnesium is involved in over 300 processes in the human body. It supports energy because it plays a role in the cycle of energy production. But it also calms the immune system and relaxes the muscles. So it can be a great option for fatigue, but also anxiety, headaches and muscle tension.
A wholefood-based nutrient-dense diet
This is often overlooked. But don’t underestimate the power of food! Food is our #1 source of nutrients that power the body’s processes. By including plenty of nutrient-dense foods, you give your child’s body the best chance to take care of itself without medicine.
Keep your kids healthy this winter!
Get your Free copy of our Foods To Boost Immunity Cheat Sheet here.