Category Archives: Symptoms

Approach to allergies

Allergy management

Medical care– seek medical care for any of the below symptoms particularly if it is of acute and problematic nature. Allergy symptoms have many similarities to other medical conditions.Before attempting any self treatment or holistic methods below please discuss your or your children’s symptoms with your Physician for a consult and physical exam.Things are not always what they seem and a trained physician is the best place to start when diagnosing and managing allergies.

Description of allergies

General explanation for allergies is your body’s immune overreaction to things in the environment and your diet.

Common allergic symptoms include runny nose, sneezing watery itchy irritated eyes, nasal congestion,sinus problems, skin rashes, hives and itchy skin rashes. Severe reactions could include swelling in the throat, eyes, lips, coughing with trouble breathing.

( For any symptoms call your Medical doctor, and any doubt as to the severity of your or your child’s symptoms go to the emergency room or call 911)

An example of a mild allergic reaction is when you are sensitive to someone’s perfume and start to sneeze, develop a runny nose and itchy eyes.

The sources of these irritants are many and can be from food which can also cause stomach pain, gas,bloating and diarrhea; or allergens that range from pets to the environment which tends to cause runny nose, coughing, and respiratory issues. . Allergic and commonly called atopic symptoms range from merely a little sneezing to sensitive eczema skin and asthma with wheezing.Many allergies run in families .

Managing allergies:


  • Elimination of the sources of your allergy in the home, outdoors, diet , and personal care products
  • Medical treatment from over the counter to emergency medical care always consult your physician first
  • Foods, herbs, teas, that help with allergic symptoms
  • Supplements that may improve allergy symptoms
  • Lifestyle change- exercise, meditation , stress reduction can moderate some of the allergy triggers



Best method in managing allergic symptoms is to avoid the causes in the first place. Below are things to consider eliminating to lower your exposure to allergens that cause your allergic reactions.

Environmental and Household allergy management and control

Pets bring us unconditional love and joy but allergies to these pets can be problematic . Your friendly family pet can help enhance a child’s immune system by exposing them to healthy bacteria and at the same time help the whole family de-stress, but many people are allergic to dogs and more so cats,( there is really no such thing as a non allergic dog, only some dogs shed less.) All dogs potentially cause allergies in the house and particularly in the child’s room. Also something to consider even if you and your children are not allergic to your dog or cat is that your pet is the perfect vector for bringing all sorts of outdoor irritants and allergens into the house including pollen, ragweed, grass, dirt, mold etc.



Mattress- buy a hypoallergenic mattress ,place a plastic cover on mattress, no curtains,no frilly blankets. No carpet. No stuffed animals or toys in the room, keep them away from contact in glass or storage containers. Keep pets out of the babies room until you know the child is not allergic to this pet. Take your shoes off when you come into the house. Any clothing with lotions , plant residue or spray remove and leave in the washroom, by the front door or the bathroom.

Dust and mite collectors-  try to eliminate clutter, curtains,  carpet , stuffed toys, mattresses, and furniture that collects dust,

Cleaning products– detergents, carpet cleaners, floor products including bleach, ammonia, and anything with a scent  are all irritants.

Exterminator and bug spray – have non toxic brands. Stay out of the house for at least 3 hours after you spray for insects or the exterminator does. Keep your child out of the room where you spray for at least an hour when you do it yourself.

Indoor plants– pay attention to any indoor plants that may have mold,bugs, seed, flowers or pollen.

Air conditioning – use an electrostatic filter to lower the dust and allergens in the air, clean vents with non toxic chemicals. Have the whole unit checked for mold and germs in the motor, pipes and fans. Set up an ultraviolet light to keep the filter clean and free of mold.

Mold is a particularly problematic in humid climates such as South Florida. It can get in the air conditioning vents, walls, floorboards, and any closet, bathroom, or moist area inside the house or outside. Be vigilant to keep the house mold free it can be one of the most irritating and toxic sources of allergies and respiratory problems.


including your yard and the neighborhood –

Be aware of the allergy irritation potential of the flowers, plants, trees with pollen surrounding your house or apartment.

Insects are also a common source of allergic reaction ranging from simple itchy mosquito bites to severe redness swelling and respiratory issues with bee,wasp,and red ants. If you find you or your child has a severe reaction to one of these insects you should see an allergist and make sure you have diphenhydramine and an injectable with you whenever you are outdoors or in school.

Seasonal allergies particularly mold during rainy season,pollen during the windy season, and decaying leaves on the ground during fall are things to consider.

Chemicals sprayed on the grass in your yard, the neighborhood or the park travel back in the house on your shoes with allergens from outside are additionally something to be aware of.

Pools and lakes can be a source of problems- pool chlorine tends to bother many children. Lakes can have algae and other plants that are irritants.


Hygiene – is a new area of discussion. We of course want to be clean but not too clean. Appropriate hygiene is the catchphrase- try to avoid putting allergens on your body and face by touching your face and nose with contaminated hands from touching plants, dust ,and pollen by washing regularly after coming in from the outdoors or when you know you have a substance on your hands. This can initiate an allergic reaction without even realizing you have done it yourself.

But there is much discussion regarding being too sterile with wipes, hand sanitizer, constant washing and cleaning. This leads to eliminating good bacteria from the skin as well as causing children to be more susceptible to allergens from food and the environment since they were not exposed and allowed to develop a tolerance while they were young. They subsequently do not develop a proper proportional response to allergens and overreact to anything new causing worse reactions. So use wipes and hand washing when you know there is particularly dirty little hands or your child touched something obviously irritating. But it is not necessary to constantly clean them for any reason.

Personal and household supplies that you should consider eliminating or changing.

Beauty supplies-perfume,cologne, make up, shaving cream,deodorant, body lotions, soaps. Can all be irritants and should be evaluated for possible allergic reactions. Hair supplies- shampoo and conditioner, straighteners, creams, spray, gels can also cause allergies and rashes around the hairline and neck.

Additional Things you put on your skin, moisturizer, sunscreen, insect repellent are all known to be very irritating to the skin and respiratory system.

Cleaning goods including clothes detergent, household cleaners like floor cleansers, furniture polish, dust sprays .

Other possible sources for allergies in the house. Smoke , candles. Incense, fragrance .

Food elimination when trying to uncover allergies

Keep a food diary or log to try to see if their are any foods which might be responsible for allergic symptoms. Generally food allergies are manifested more internally such as stomach upset, gas, loose stools. But often they can also be part of a wider allergic profile such as congestion, coughing, eczema and atopic skin and rashes.

First monitor your most commonly ingested foods , diary is one of the most common. Then look carefully at the known allergic food group including berries, corn, nuts, tomatoes, citrus, and eggs. Then move on to evaluating you or your child’s diet for additional foods consumed and those you may need to eliminate. Next see if eliminating them makes an improvement in your symptoms.  It can take up to a week or longer to notice improvement but often the difference can be seen in a few day’s.

If elimination and management particularly once you have consulted your physician or child a Pediatrician does not help then it may be time to  take your child to an allergist

[ Early introduction of common healthy allergic foods such as peanuts and fruits such as berries is now recommended to prevent development of these allergens in children  ]

Medical management :Always seek medical advice from your medical doctor and child’s Pediatrician before beginning any medication including over the counter meds. Even the smallest of signs of allergies can turn into big problems quickly so consult your physician for advice and a plan in the event of worsening of your symptoms.

Medications to have in your cabinet and with you when you travel if you have known allergy symptoms in the family

Benadryl or generic name diphenylhydramine, claritin, allegra, and more emergency treatment as prescribed by your physician for known serious allergies. epi-pen, and auviQ

Nasal- washes with sterile saline is often helpful in keeping your nasal passages open and clear of allergens. Cortisone sprays are now available over the counter but should be recommended by your physician prior to beginning any therapy

Non medical options to reduce allergic symptoms to try  

Foods to include  that have been known to help with allergies

Quercetin containing foods – quercetin is a  component of foods that it is known to be anti inflammatory and antioxidant particularly for the over response of our immune system to things that cause allergies

Foods high in quercetin include red apple skin, red onions, capers used in flavoring  ( try to find low salt), lovage leaves, berries including blueberries and elderberries , black plums,and red grapes.

Nettle Leaf is another anti inflammatory plant that has been commonly used to help with allergic symptoms.


Quercetin and nettle leaf supplements are also available – please check with your physician before starting as any antioxidant may interfere with other meditation


Green tea has catechins which helps reduce histamine ( the source of allergic reaction ) production by your body in response to allergens.

Ginger tea is a good  anti inflammatory and helps calm allergies

Rooibos tea helps reduce the histamine response as well

Peppermint tea is known to help with the congestion and allergy symptoms

Nettle, yerba mate, and lemon balm tea can all also help with allergic symptoms.

Spices and herbs

Cinnamon in general helps with it’s anti inflammatory and blood stabilizing properties. Cassia cinnamon in particular helps moderate allergic symptoms with about a teaspoon a day being the recommended amount.  Cassia cinnamon mixed with spanish needles makes a reasonable anti allergy mixture that has been researched to have benefits.

Turmeric once again helps with allergy symptoms with it’s anti inflammatory benefits

Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries to help with allergy symptoms such as congestion and runny nose.

Ginger itself is useful for allergy symptoms by lowering your reaction and helping with cough.

Black pepper also has been shown to be useful to help lower allergy and other atopic symptoms including skin issues.

Probiotics- help your intestinal flora keep your immune system functioning at peak and generally maintain the appropriate response to stimulants in food.

Stress reduction is immune building and allergy reducing

Exercise always helps calm your nerves which contribute to allergies. Blood flow enhances clearance of sinuses and thinning of the mucus

Meditation and mindfulness at the very least helps with the anxiety and frustration associated with chronic allergy sufferers. But in addition there much research regarding the nature of stress and its effect on your immune system even your overreaction to allergens in the environment and the development of allergies particularly eczema .

As with all recommendations please check with your physician before beginning any regimen .

Allergies present a particular dilemma for anyone trying to avoid medications and live healthy .

Allergic symptoms can be miserable and often worth using medications to be comfortable. But if you do your homework with the help of this guide  you can reduce your dependence on some medications and use them more wisely

Warren Krantz MD

The HealthfulMD

Author of “ Start Healthy, Stay Healthy”.

Diarrhea dilemma

Diarrhea the natural treatment

Ask any vegan  how they treat diarrhea and they will offer a difficult response. When your whole life is high fiber plant based diet treating diarrhea and stomach issues is always a dilemma .

Traditionally we have and continue to treat diarrhea as naturally as possible but with low fiber starchy foods and electrolytes. Pediatricians refrain from using any medications particularly those over the counter medications which treat the symptoms and not the condition. Diarrhea is one of the few maladies where we are more patient than not and for the most part let your body heal itself. The symptom of  diarrhea generally speaking is a natural tool to rid the body of toxins from pathogens such as viruses and even bacterial intestinal infections . We try to accomplish this while insuring that the child and adult do not become dehydrated or toxically ill from the infection .Our major emphasis is on fluid replacement with high electrolyte solutions and low sugar foods including a bland carbohydrate diet while eliminating foods that irritate the bowel.

Below is the basic natural approach:

                                         Medical supervision

Medical supervision to insure the diarrhea source is not infectious, doesn’t need a culture, you do not have parasites , or require any medical treatment – always consult your physician before beginning any self treatment of diarrhea.


Adequate hydration is the key to making sure you or your child do not get dehydrated and require iv fluids

Electrolyte solutions are our main source of hydration for diarrhea by containing the electrolytes you are losing in watery stool – pedialyte, coconut water, watered down and low sugar gatorade/powerade are the mainstays of re-hydration therapy and should replace other fluids.

                                          Elimination diet

Elimination of foods and drinks that increase intestinal movement . Eliminate fibrous fruits and  vegetables, oily fried foods, dairy ( including formula and milk but do not stop breast feeding), and spices should all be eliminated in the effort to control the diarrhea.


Healing Tea for diarrhea- in a cup of peppermint tea mix a teaspoon of ginger and turmeric to help settle bowel inflammation

                                            Binding foods

Foods for control of diarrhea and resting your intestinal system particularly carbs. Binding foods should be low in oil . Breads crackers, low in fiber and low in whole grains. Particularly saltines and cuban crackers, with minimal ingredients, including bagels, plain rice, plain pasta, ( all the low fiber foods not recommended on a regular diet). Applesauce, bananas, mashed carrots. Try adding tumeric or ginger to your bland food to reduce inflammation.

                                            Healthy healing

Healthy healing foods-pumpkin meat, coconut, carob powder, teaspoon of apple cider vinegar 2 -3 x a day.

Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast ( live yeast should not be used in crohn’s or patients with immune problems ). These have essential amino acids and protein, especially important for vegans who generally get their protein from high fiber sources like beans.

Probiotics for diarrhea symptoms: below are the most common bacteria reviewed to help restore bowel flora from diarrhea. No one recommended probiotic has everything. May use more than one. For instance start with culturelle, and can add florastar and another type listed below to come close to the full panel of helpful bacteria needed to replace the flora lost during bouts of diarrhea.

Certain bacteria you want for illness associated diarrhea include Lactobacillus GG, L. Acidophilus, bifid lactis, L. reuteri, and saccharomyces boulardii

Children- florastar for antibiotic associated problems, culturelle for general gastro problems,trunature, and natures way are all recommended . Can combine 2 of these once consulting with your physician. culturelle was not reviewed by consumerlab; one of my sources for

Adults- culturelle, nature’s way, align has one strain good for IBS, phillips, garden of life has many of the bacteria you would want.

Yogurt with pre and probiotics can be helpful such as Activa, but always be cautious with the dairy and not for vegans.

Medication for diarrhea should be very limited, and rarely for children. It can cause more problems than you started with. Natural food modified treatment is recommended more than any other condition . We do not use medicine in children it can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and blockage of the intestine. Check with your physician before using any meditation for diarrhea.     

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Sensitive skin- Eczema-Dermatitis-Psoriasis: a natural approach

Sensitive skin: Eczema -dermatitis-Psoriasis

Healthful natural rx inside and out

What is Atopic skin condition? – or eczema and psoriasis similar skin conditions on an allergic skin continuum .If you have it it means you are more sensitive to changes in weather, things you touch and eat. It is not an illness that we can give a medicine and it does not come back. Think of it like a life long condition. Like being allergic to cats. You have to keep constant maintenance of your skin and vigilance regarding irritants to control the severity. Being aware of your personal  irritants is the best approach to helping maintain healthy skin. Changing your lifestyle, your habits, what you eat, touch, and what touches you are the cornerstones of minimizing long term inflammatory flare ups and progressive eczema and psoriasis. Like anything else we discuss please check with your physician or Pediatrician before making any changes or starting treatments natural or otherwise. This post involves a more natural approach to Atopic skin. There are many useful and successful medical treatments that your physician and Dermatologist can prescribe for successful dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis care. These modalities including the standard skin maintenance with moisturizers and cortisone creams are very useful and I advocate their use for relief and treatment when the lifestyle I suggest below is less than adequate. . Sticking to a rigorous natural regimen is not practical or possible for everyone. Getting the best and timeliest medical care is more often than not the best choice when you or children are suffering with significant atopic skin.

Like any other condition it is important to find the source of the problems not just treating the symptoms.

These conditions can start at birth. We get a hint of things to come with babies that show signs of  sensitive skin. Namely rashes, bad infant acne. Dry skin. Etc.
With the help of one of my patient’s moms who suffers tremendously from psoriasis and keeps  her daughter as healthy as possible I have developed a go-to outline of natural eczema skin care.  All the below also apply to breastfeeding moms as well.

[Always seek medical advice for any severe reaction or before starting any new treatment whether it is labeled natural or not].

Main points of interest for skin care:

  • Eliminate and limit-anything you touch, eat, or wear could irritate your skin.
  • Foods- eat healthier-cleaner. Natural food changes and anti inflammatory diet are helpful
  • Cream- natural organic aloe products, and healthy oils. Moisturize consistently.
  • Gentle soap-  olive oil soap, oatmeal bar
  • Reduce stress-exercise, yoga, meditate.

Details on each point below. Scroll down to the end for more information on eczema conditions.

1.Eliminate and limit

  • Allergic foods and products and irritants. Review your diet and see what change or new food could be causing a recent skin flare up ( something you might have been eating more of lately)
  • Stay away from all creams and lotions with scents for you or your children ( remember  anything you touch can be an irritant if you don’t wash your hands and then go on to touch yourself or your children) Cleaning solutions, perfumes, soaps, foods, oils. etc. are all are potential irritants).
  • Clothes and sheets should be made of  plain untreated cotton.
  • Stay cool. Inside air conditioning if possible


2. Foods changes- improve your diet, include foods herbs and teas that heal

  • Eat healthier- generally processed, fried, sugar dairy, meat, all contribute to atopic skin .
  • Increase fiber to help keep your bowel and toxins flowing through and not absorbed
  • Make sure you and your children are hydrated. When the weather is hot and humid drink more.
  • Refine your anti inflammatory diet-increase organic colorful foods, greens, purples, oranges, yellows.
  • Increase healing, immune enhancing, anti inflammatory spices particularly the main ones turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon,chili peppers, and oregano.
  • Teas are helpful in calming inflammation -green and red teas, chamomile tea,
  • Start a probiotic or adjust the amount of maximize it’s immune support and bowel proctection
  • Oils to take for additional anti inflammatory and immune support- fish oil , flaxseed oil, black currant oil.
  • Vitamin D3- seems like everyone is deficient in vitamin d and may help with eczema.

3.Creams lotions skin soothing support

  • Use California baby aloe cream or other organic aloe products..
  • Calendula cream reduces inflammation of skin, as well as lavender,chamomile, and rosemary based creams.
  • Coconut oil or coconut butter on skin has been shown to help. Also linseed and primrose oil.
  • Bathe in Earth Mama Baby Angel (no fragrance), Other fragrance free bath agents generally made of natural ingredients like oatmeal.
  • Healing Tree natural first aid anti itch cream helps with the scratching.
  • Vitamin E can also have anti inflammatory and soothing effect.

4.Soaps detergents water

  • Use olive oil soap bar or oatmeal bar for bathing
  • Limit bathing and swimming when skin is irritated. Water tends to dry the skin out.
  • Only use gentle natural clothes detergent. Baby detergents, even soap free.

5.Reduce stress

   Well known that stress can exacerbate most illness including eczema and psoriasis

  • Meditate and become mindful of what sets you and your skin off. Big events and life changes as well as illness can be the instigator of a breakdown in immune defenses including skin changes
  • Exercise- always has a positive and mood lifting effect
  • Do something you love. Read, travel, cook, calm your internal and external flames with peaceful activities.
  • Yoga is built around exercising and mindfully paying attention to your body.


For more severe cases resistant to the above or medical treatments including steroids, the suggestions below may be helpful in improving your atopic skin condition and boosting your  immune system.

  1. Clean healthy  vegan diet – no oil, no salt, no sugar,( possibly gluten free) – Switch to a soil based vegan probiotic .
  2. Nutritional yeast to help immune protection
  3. Take lauricidin, an immune booster to support good response to illness and challenges to your system.
  4. Gluten free diet.
  5. Eliminate nuts and seeds
  6. Raw Shea butter lotion.

Main causes

Genetic- it’s difficult to get past your family tree. Generally speaking children and individuals with atopic profile , sensitive, allergic skin, have first degree relatives, parents, siblings,uncles , aunts, grandparents with similar symptoms

Atopic allergic – from the foods you eat to the perfume you wear many things can be irritants and elicit a skin reaction . Usually more sensitive to bug bites, and skin contact with scents and creams.

Seasonal weather- many people have dry itchy exacerbations or their eczema during cold season. In climates such as South Florida the dramatic change in temperature in the winter and the heat and humidity in the summer are the two more prevalent times for eczema patients seeking treatment.

Even babies react to change in temperature, over bundling, creams and lotions.

Man made diet- poor inflammatory eating habits especially dairy, processed

foods, eating specific-allergic foods.

Water makes most atopic skin conditions worse by drying it out. Limit the bathing , especially for babies to few times a week. For older children and adults quick shower with room temperature water not very warm .

Summers are a particularly bad time for sensitive skin with sunscreen, swimming , lots of showers, sweating , hot cars, intense sun,and insect repellent

What we touch and what touches us

Chemicals in our clothes, hands, lips, sheets, pillow cases. Even the car seat, couch. Your clothing material on your baby’s face. When you are cooking or eating and then touch your skin or that or your child’s .

Pay attention to all ingredients when applying to yourself or your child. Lotion detergent perfumes . sunscreen , etc.

[Wash all members of the family’s clothes in gentle detergent so whoever rubs up against you or holds the baby will not cause irritation

Always wash your hands before handling your children and baby and your face particularly if they have sensitive atopic skin Anything you or anyone who touches your children touch can be an irritant ( perfumes, cologne, insect repellent). What you touch touches them, when you are cooking – all the foods you touch can be an irritant.

Every towel cloth napkin wipe that you use has ingredients and previous irritants that could be the culprit

Try to stay cool as much a possible when the sensitive skin is acting up, moisturize vigilantly in am, after swimming, immediately after bathing.

Pay attention to the part of the body that is most affected- scalp, arms, shoulders, behind knees.

Think about something that might have been new or has ingredients that are not being tolerated, new shampoo, hot seat in the car.

The more natural the better. The less added chemicals and scents the better. Try to find products free and clear of anything but the essential ingredient .

For instance in sunscreen the two main ingredients in all natural products are titanium and zinc oxide which are considered safe and usually not a source of irritation for dermatitis sufferers

Eating  healthy makes a difference. If you look at eczema ( atopic dermatitis) as the inflammatory process, it is easier to understand how anything you do or eat that would disrupt your body’s health and cause more inflammation would make your eczema worse. As in my other posts, the approach here is to be organic, natural, healthy and limit your sources of inflammation to limit your inflammatory conditions of which eczema is a prime example of one.

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Getting to sleep


Simple and natural methods for getting to sleep.

Symptom: not being able to fall asleep or getting back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

This section is not considered part of sleep training for infants and toddlers – that is covered under behavioral issues.

[As with any guidance please consult your physician or child’s Pediatrician before beginning any treatments whether it be natural, holistic, homeopathic, or supplements.]

Natural treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer are divided into behavioral or habits, food and meals, exercise, stress reduction, natural remedies.

Basic sleep schedule – consistency of bedtime. Make a bedtime routine for any age. give yourself time to wind down. Warm bath.  Quiet time. No distractions . Peaceful fun and games.  Reading. And any brain activity that is distracting and calming but not over stimulating to the body or mind.

One of errors people make when they do not get enough sleep at night whether it be by choice staying up late or a sleepless night is to sleep in,  later. While it may seem like a good idea to help you catch up with your sleep, the overall effect is to change your natural circadian rhythm. This would have a negative overall impact on sleep and restfulness. If nothing else staying up late and sleeping in just reinforces the poor sleep pattern rather than your natural sleep cycle.

Rather than staying up late and waking up late, turn it around. Start waking up with the sunrise and stay awake until you create a new reasonable bedtime in order to get 7- 8 hours before the next day’s sunrise. This will tune your body and mind into daylight and reset your circadian rhythm. This process actually  keeps you healthy , your immune system functioning at it’s peak, your brain focused and you feel less stress.

Psychological and stress reduction .

Calming yoga and meditation including visualization, corpse pose, mindfulness meditation

Reading, writing, art, music- listening to classical music has been shown to calm your brain waves. Activities with a lot of repetition will have a calming effect on your brain( like knitting).

Food that help calm and elicit melatonin

Dark cherries, tart cherry juice.

Good hard fermented cheese  ( for those non vegan)

Foods with tryptophan- nuts(walnuts), bananas

Magnesium from nuts and seeds

B6 foods aide in melatonin production Pistachio nuts and garlic , banana are B6 rich

Potassium rich foods also help in muscle relaxation. Citrus,dates and figs,tomatoes.


Lettuce leaf – eat a bunch shredded in salad sandwich wheat multigrain seed rich bread.

Easiest and best choice-lettuce tea. Use  romaine ,  2 – 4 large leaves to 6-8 ounces of water steep in boiled water for 15-20 minutes . drink cup of that. For infants a teaspoon or 2

Herbs and essential oils:

lemon balm. Lavender oil, candles, incense, put oil on your pillow.

Saffron oil or in food. . Valerian calming for stress- coming in tea, supplements.

Can put a few drops on your pillow. Light a candle or use essential oils in your bath .


Lettuce tea- see above

Chamomile tea – decaf

Lavender tea

Passionfruit tea


Lemon balm with lemon grass

Exercise regularly – aerobic and especially anaerobic like weight lifting should be earlier in the day. . Yoga is a good winding down exercise as is a slow swim.


White noise

Noise machine, soft music, waves.

Rotating fan

Staying fit and healthy with good air circulation is very crucial to getting a good night’s sleep.

Please as with all information check with your physician to assure your poor sleep is not medically related.

Warren Krantz MD



Constipation  and You – a healthier approach

[ The following post is for informational purposes only. This is not meant as medical advice. Please consult your physician or your child’s Pediatrician before treating any constipation symptoms. ]

I had a Gastroenterology attending who once told me from the day we are born until the day we die we all are fixated on our bowel movements. When , how , how much, how hard, how often?

Of course constipation can be a medical problem which requires immediate attention by a physician. [Any changes in your bowel habits please contact a medical professional]

The vast number of people in western cultures who suffer from constipation or are actively treating it belies the fact that this is really for the most part a man made problem. A large percentage of bowel and intestinal problems are self inflicted. Most constipation is behavioral including diet, lifestyle, and poor potty skills. To a much less extent,  especially in the elderly or patients  with chronic illness it is medical or genetic. Even colon cancer is now considered to be caused in part by your diet. Meaning the more fiber, more plant based, the faster your bm comes through the less you are constipated,  the less associated disease you may develop.

[Please consult your physician before treating any type of constipation on your own].

Is it part of our society, culture, diet , or is it a normal genetic variant as part of the human condition?

I believe that starting at birth with breastfeeding and following through with a primarily healthy plant based diet, humans would not be nearly as constipated. Ask your local neighborhood “healthy vegan” if they have problems passing stools . They will very gladly offer advice. But more than likely they will mention the virtues of fiber from plants and how they do not have to think twice about constipation quite the opposite.

What is constipation?

Reduction in normal frequency of stool to what is normal for age and individual, often accompanied by pain on defecation, hard stools,  difficulty in evacuating a stool, blood around it. No matter where you start if it becomes difficult to have a bowel movement or accompanied with pain or bleeding this is constipation or could have a medical source and need to seek advice from your physician..

Constipation by age:

Babies when breastfed can go 10 times a day or once a week . It’s the consistency that counts . Pushing for a long period of time and either not going , straining to go, or a hard stool can be constipation.

The “Potty training” age is it’s own category. Children in this stage commonly hold in their stool and have problems with self induced behavioral constipation.

Children should generally go once a day. Certainly a child with hard stools, any blood or pain, or difficulty evacuating a stool could have constipation and should be checked by their Pediatrician.

Adults- any change in bowel pattern, pain, prolonged time to go, hemorrhoids, blood, difficulty passing stool. [please consult your physician}

Foods to avoid that are responsible for a large percentage of constipation consist of low fiber, highly processed,with added chemicals. Mostly unnatural foods changed significantly from their natural state.

How much fiber do we need?

Women 21-24 gm day, men 31-38 gm a day. A child’s  general guideline is the age plus 5 gm for the total recommended grams of fiber for a day, but I believe more is probably healthier.  Once an individual is used to a whole healthy food diet they will be able to manage with more then the recommended amount of fiber.  For example a 7 year old should have a total of 12 grams of fiber a day based on this formula. Look below for some sample fiber amounts. In most cultures that are based on healthy plant based foods particularly bean based they consume much more fiber and have been shown to have better health statistics.

Dietary Culprits in constipation – foods to eliminate when you or your children are constipated

Any animal products, especially red meat and diary.

Sugary foods, fried food.

Carbs particularly processed  white carbs like pasta and white rice.

Processed low fiber breads, crackers, bagels, cakes, cupcakes, etc.

Applesauce, bananas, chopped carrots also are binding due to the breakdown in the pectin.


Best foods to treat and prevent constipation.

Whole foods are the best food source of natural fiber.

My super constipation busting smoothie

Smoothie for bowel health and treating constipation- start with a good healthy fruit base- either apple, orange, pineapple, etc. avocado for an excellent source of fat and to thicken it like a milk shake .Add vegetables to your liking the leafier the better. Spinach hides well. If the green color is not tolerable for your child go with purple, like prunes, acai, grapes, or for orange color- add oranges, sweet potatoes, squash ( but NOT pumpkin). Include figs for fiber and substance, and dates to sweeten it if needed.  Add ground flax seed or chia seed, nuts or nut butters which add  good protein, oil, and fiber . 

Juicing takes out a lot of the fiber and often defeats the purpose. So even though juice is often the go to treatment for constipation there is actually less fiber in juice than the whole fruit or smoothies.

Slowly make the change to a high fiber lifestyle. Increase the amount of healthy high fiber food gradually so you do not get cramping or bloating or pain.

Natural healthy treatment of constipation:

1.Natural fiber additives – senna. psyllium, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds or hearts. Can buy “greens” in a natural food store to add fiber

2. Vegetables all have fiber  especially the leafy green ones. Iceberg lettuce does not have enough fiber to make it worthwhile. It only has 0.5 gm fiber compared to romain which has 1.8 gm, and arugula 1.6 gm.Kale 2.6 gm fiber per chopped cup, broccoli, 3.8 gm fiber, spinach 4.3 gm cup cooked. Sweet potato has 4 gm of fiber.

3. Nuts and seeds particularly adding ground flaxseed 1.9 gm fiber per tablespoon or Chia seed 10 gm fiber per ounce can offer a good source of healthy fiber.

Almonds 1 oz -3.5gm fiber , walnuts 1 oz 1.9 gm fiber, sunflower seeds, 1 oz is 2.5 gm fiber.

4. Fruits are filled with fiber not just prunes which has 12 gm per cup of fiber.

Figs 1.5 gm for each fig, 15 gm per cup, dates 12 gm per cup, apples 4.5 gm per apple (not applesauce), blueberries 3.6 gm per cup , raisins 6 gm fiber per cup,  apricots 3.3 gm cup

5. Beans are excellent source of fiber, partially digested in your intestinal tract with both soluble and insoluble fiber. But start your bean introduction slowly. You know what they say? …One half cup of beans have 15 grams of fiber.

Red beans- kidney beans cooked has 19 gm fiber per cup, black beans 19 gms cup cooked, pinto beans 18 gm fiber cup cooked

6.Increase fluid – just water is good enough. Adults should have 8 glasses of water a day. Healthy smoothies are an excellent way to get fruits, vegetables, protein , and fiber. See above.

7.Teas – senna, peppermint , and basic green tea. The caffeine itself helps much like with your morning coffee

8. Probiotics help in those whose bowel flora has been altered by poor diet.

9. Exercise actually helps – so get moving . Like all parts of your body your intestinal system will move better if you move. There will be more blood flow to the gastrointestinal system in general, and the activity itself will cause your bowel to function better.

With any exercise make sure you hydrate well, before , during , and after.

General causes of constipation by age groups.


Breast fed babies are rarely if ever constipated .It is said that Breast milk is a laxative for babies stools but this reaction is for all intents and purposes normal or regular. Breast milk keeps the baby bowel functioning and flowing with the proper peristalsis and creating the proper bacteria flora so,a breastfed baby should not need probiotics , should not have constipation,  have better immunity , and less colic.

Formula fed babies ( particularly milk based) Are much more likely to have constipation and colic. The ingredients in formula change the bowel flora and function. It is common for breastfed babies to become constipated with transition stools when making the switch to formula or milk.

Toddler 1 – 3 year old

Not getting enough fluids, the typical western toddler diet of pasta, carbs, junk foods, low fiber ,and the age of potty training is almost guaranteed to  cause constipation. Much of the toddler diet contributes to having poor bowel habits.

Older child- poor bowel habits, not taking enough time to go to the bathroom, being too busy to go, holding it in, being painful, and the typical western diet. Biggest culprits are the most commonly eaten foods- all that cheese, pizza , milk, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, pasta, big plates of white carbs, cookies, breads, fried foods with breading .

Adult – stress, not eating enough, not getting enough fluids, not exercising, poor diet , and travel.

[Before self medicating with laxatives and pills please contact your physician or pediatrician.]

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Fever is your friend

Fever is your friend

The purpose of this post is to demystify fever in of itself and to offer a natural approach to supplement the advice and treatment you receive from your physician.

[This is not meant in any way as medical advice or diagnosis regarding fever or illness. This post is as an informational source only.  Before following any information presented here please consult with your physician or child’s Pediatrician. No part of this post is meant as a treatment for fever or the symptoms accompanying fever].

Each doctor varies slightly in their approach to fever management. Fever is only one symptom, like a warning sign in a constellation of symptoms involving a disease process whether it be a virus or bacterial infection.

As a medical doctor I recommend face to face examination of a patient with fever to be certain of what the fever represents. I keep in contact with my patient’s for any changes in both behavior and medical condition.

Any fever above 102 F should be brought to the attention of your physician. Babies under 2 months any fever above 100.5F

”Fever is our friend”–without fever we wouldn’t have an important warning about an illness whether it be viral or bacterial. We would not be able to mount an immune response for this infection . Fever helps your body fight the infection particularly a virus. It helps send your fighting cells to the site of infection. Fever also builds your immune response to the particular infection so next time you are exposed to that illness it can fight it more effectively.

[Febrile seizures :High temperatures are not responsible for febrile seizures rather the cause is an unusually rapid rise in temperature from normal level to febrile. In fact most febrile seizures stop on their own and are not harmful . ( you should  seek medical care if your child has a possible febrile seizure). Febrile seizures occur from 6 months to 6 years.]

Fever symptoms- chills, aches and pains, sweating are all coordinated symptoms , not themselves harmful but are part of a response to fight the invading infection.

Fever is a sign of illness and as such any treatment should be in coordination with your physician or your child’s pediatrician

Since the middle ages we have feared fever as some mysterious evil force and sign of a terrible deadly disease.

Often the treatments born out of this fever fear were worse than the disease itself.

Some of the things we have done include the below but WE DO NOT USE THESE ANY MORE

Alcohol baths- is toxic to children by being absorbed through the skin

Aspirin – in children causes Reyes’s syndrome- injuring the liver and brain.        

Bloodletting – don’t have to discuss this one

Ice baths- not what someone needs when we are trying to be comfortable

General approach to fever after you have consulted with your physician .

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen both are useful medications to control fever and use for comfort from the symptoms of fever- including headache, chills aches, and pains. Ibuprofen is more beneficial for these symptoms that accompany fever but does have more gastrointestinal side effects.

Let your body fight the infection with fever as long as your or your child is comfortable.

Do what is reasonable when necessary with respect to any medication to get adequate sleep.

It is OK to stay with fever if you or your child is getting enough fluids, breathing comfortably, and resting comfortably. If you or your child is sleeping and have no other signs of distress  there is no major rush to wake up and give something to knock the fever down. Now you and the child  are awake and miserable.

Make sure you get more liquids, when your body has fever you require more fluid.

Only exert yourself to the point that you feel comfortable. No intense exercise or sports. It’s fine if you feel up to it to go outdoors in good weather, move around and get mobile. Fresh air is good.

If a fever does not immediately respond to fever reducers does not mean it is a worse infection or virus than a fever that drops quickly and goes back up.

Fever in general is stabilizing to the body. Higher fevers do not harm you more if your body is fighting a virus.

Treat the person or child not the fever.

Go for comfort, you do not have to follow the fever every minute.

Fever itself is just a sign that you have an illness – not the illness itself.

Make sure you are aware of the important signs and symptoms of worsening illness besides just fever-respiratory distress { any difficulty breathing}. Sore throat, not taking fluids, pain ( chest, joints), cough. These are some of the additional signs of illness that may give your physician a better idea of what this fever may represent.

Natural methods for fever control

Drink lots of fluids

Room temperature bath or wipe down with water

Wet socks, and many cultures add citrus fruit or spice balm to help a fever.


The usual healing teas are very useful here. Hibiscus , ginger and echinacea

Goji tea works very well for fever, add ginger to it

The fever tea : specifically combine these leaves or oil


peppermint tea or oil. Caution excessive  peppermint oil can be toxic.

lemon balm


Spices and herbs

Cayenne pepper- many people I know sprinkle cayenne pepper on a slice of pineapple and eat it that way for illness or fever. It helps to enhance the effect of the fever and the body’s ability to fight the infection .

Turmeric , garlic, and oregano – on food, soups. tea

Super power chicken and vegan vegetable soup- add many of the above ingredients, see post on fighting a cold.
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Cold fight

Fighting colds – a cold is a cold

[ As with any post here or online advice the content is for informational purposes only and not medical advice . Before trying anything written here please consult with your physician or your child’s Pediatrician]

“ Take my magic potion”  “ cold cure”  every day and you will better in 2 weeks.

Granny Clampett

There are no magic potions, lotions, herbs, unapproved tinctures, or anything that will cure a cold or short cut your body’s immune fight with a cold virus. There is no pill to make the cold go away immediately. Only the basics of your body’s natural defenses fighting an illness ; with fever, congestion, and coughing. Your system learns to recognize the cold virus and builds an immune reaction to defeat the cold this time and in the future.

My main medical focus is to help your body physiologically mount a strong response to the illness by  supporting and boosting  your own immune system . Secondly to make you comfortable to be able to fight the virus,by helping you sleep and rest. And finally by keeping the inflammatory response, that is responsible for your misery, to a minimum, while maximally fighting the virus.

Standard medical natural-physiological advice

For babies and those of us that still act like babies:

Nose suctioning: Do not use the blue suction bulb given to you at the delivery.It goes too far into the nasal canal.  Use a nasal aspirator which doesn’t go all the way in the nose but uses a vacuum to gently suction out loose secretions.Start with two drops of sterile saline drops or spray. [ can buy these at most pharmacies] Tilt your child’s head back to put the drops then gently suction the mucus four or five times a day.There’s a new Suction apparatus which has two tubes to go in separately into a container that doesn’t directly apply suction to the nose

Stop frequently when you feed your baby so they can catch their breath and not end up choking

Steam: Hold the child ( over 6 months) in the bathroom ( not in the shower)  and turn on the shower to reasonably hot  only for a few minutes to breathe in the steam.

Humidifier with eucalyptus oil ( five to ten drops) a couple times a day. You can also put some eucalyptus oil on the floor of the bathroom shower. 

NOTHING directly on the body. You should not put any eucalyptus oil or menthol  directly on a baby. You can put it on a cloth near the baby or somewhere on the bed so they get the benefit without irritating the skin or absorbing it.

We do not use any decongestants or medication for a baby.

Consult your Pediatrician before trying any remedy.

Elevate the head at night by putting something underneath the mattress NEVER using a pillow for the baby. You usually end up holding the baby or driving in the car seat or use the stroller to keep the head elevated.

On the feet with socks included here for guidance only: Only over a year. ( not medical and not wholly recommended by Pediatricians please check first)- Many people place Eastern spices and herbs , or very small amount menthol or eucalyptus oil on the soles of the feet then cover with socks.(be careful of allergic reactions) . Studies have actually shown that this does help drain some of the mucous by dilating blood vessels away from the sinuses . This has temporary relief but tradition is hard to sway. What is most interesting is that almost every culture from every part of the world uses this method for aiding cold symptoms. When something spans a wide range of global behavior there generally is some validity to its use. Caution with anything you put directly on a child’s skin.

NO over the counter cold MEDICATION FOR BABIES and very little recommended for any child under 4. Please consult with your physician before treating any cold with any meditation .

HealthfulMD:See below for the natural treatments of a cold.

Breastfeeding: If mom has the cold -wear a surgical mask, wash your hands and continue breast feeding.

Breast milk – for babies under a year breast milk is by far the best source of immune supporting antibodies to fight a cold. .  

The following is for over 6-8 months of age and teas should be decaffeinated for children


HIbiscus tea with ginger and add echinacea tea to it for the first two to 3 days , 3 -4 cups a day, continue the same tea without the echinacea after that.Can add a teaspoon of organic honey particularly Manuka honey but only if your child is over a year. I also add turmeric particularly at the first sign of a cold.

Green tea ( matcha) with ginger, honey-only over a year of  age, and echinacea as above. Add ginseng if elevated blood pressure is not an issue.

Goji berry tea- as above one of my favorites

Chamomile tea- has anti inflammatory properties and settles the stomach . Add any of the same ingredients from above.

Rose hip tea-is high in vitamin C


My superpowered immune building grandma’s chicken and unchicken vegan soup

Take grandma’s base of chicken soup or vegetable soup base

Make sure to add lots of green leafy vegetables as tolerated

Add sweet potatoes


mushrooms, any will do, but shitakke preferred

lots of garlic

turmeric- kids will not notice the yellow color here

red pepper chili or cayenne , or a milder version for your child’s taste.



red onions

nutritional yeast

Spices – same health spices but  I double the amount of turmeric I add to food and tea. I also increase the cayenne pepper and chili pepper to the point I can tolerate when I feel like I am getting sick or already congested. Make a big emphasis to add all these ingredients to the level you can tolerate without giving you indigestion: turmeric,  garlic, oregano / oil, cayenne pepper or chili pepper  , cinnamon, thyme. Add to vegetables, soups , and sauces.

Healing smoothies and juices – similar ingredients to above

Preferred to blend in the fruits in a smoothie to get the pulp rather than juice.

Could also start with high vitamin C anti-inflammatory juices : fresh squeezed orange, tomato, pineapple, or dark juices blueberry, or pomegranate .

Or start with a blended fruit as above or healthy plant milk like almond, hemp, soy.

Add high vitamin C fruits papaya, strawberries,  citrus fruits- pineapple, oranges, lemon,

Sweet fruits to make it taste good especially for children, apples for quercetin with red skin, peaches, pears, bananas.

Dark fruits for maximize vitamin C and anti inflammatory fighting – blueberries, blackberries, black cherries, pomegranate, acai, goji berries

Vegetables as tolerated and rich in  vitamin C and antioxidants- bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and kale.


Foods and other extras to help your immune system fight a cold

Supplements such as vitamin c, are not as effective as the real food source for the vitamins and herbs.

Zinc in natural sources are healthier: Following are good zinc food sources .

Dark chocolate( greater than 70%), garlic ,sesame seeds, wheat germ, lentils, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds. Zinc lozenges also have some benefit if you or your child can not eat enough of the foods that contain it.

Foods with high vitamin C also have natural healing anti inflammatory properties with the  understanding that most of the symptoms of the cold are our body’s inflammatory response to the cold virus . Eat more of these  vitamin C rich foods ( also review my vitamin C post.

Fruits – Papaya, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, blackberries,  pineapple, etc.

Greens greens greens- as usual your dark green inflammation fighting vegetables are at their best when you need them for colds. Kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, Swiss chard, collard greens, and any dark green vegetable you like and Jerusalem artichokes are also known to help immunity fight a cold. Do not forget the bell pepper which has a high vitamin C rating. 

Mushrooms of any type – need to be cooked- have immune supporting properties

Nutritional yeast– also helps support your immune system

Manuka honey purported to help stop a cold but is expensive, and has a milder glycemic index ( has to be authentic) rise. ( honey is only safe over a year of age)

Echinacea -I use tea instead of the drops. But there are enough supporters of the drops to try them if you prefer but for a short time only.

Fish oil is considered to be helpful as well if it is not contraindicated for any other health reasons.

Probiotics are known to help your immune system particularly when you are ill. Not generally necessary for children and adults who maintain a healthy diet of natural plant foods.

Rest – get as much rest as possible . The only time I recommend any medication is to help you sleep from a cold and then generally only a antihistamine.Contact your physician for their guidance regarding cold meditcation to help you sleep.

Get mobile – don’t over do it but exercise thins and mobilizes the congestion. If you exercise regularly lower the intensity of the workout.Contact your physician before any exercise particularly during an illness . If there is fever or lethargy , difficulty breathing refrain from any exertion and contact your doctor.

Relax– as in all things ,stress has a negative impact on your psyche and your immune system. As I tell adolescents don’t get angry and stressed that you are sick it only makes it worse. You are sick now what. Accept it and do what you have to fight it. Meditate, walk, take quiet time with the above teas. Take an extra long hot shower with eucalyptus oil and lavender. Take a break from your  work, study, hustle and bustle, and anger. Put your body in the best position to focus on the job it has to do fighting the cold.

Homeopathic remedies have been reported to have anecdotal benefit but not consistently research proven . The following besides echinacea are widely used and  generally not harmful if you follow the directions

Immunoberry supplement

Astragalus and Elderberry

Oscilllococcinum has been proven with substantial research to not be of value besides acting as a placebo

Limit foods that have a negative impact on cold fighting

Sweets- sugar tends to feed a virus.

Fatty foods, cause inflammation and don’t allow your body or immunity to do its best in fighting a virus.


Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Author of “Start healthy, stay healthy”

Cough – Natural defense and a natural treatment


Cough-a natural defense a natural treatment

When we cough it serves a purpose. For the most part we have been programmed to fear the cough for the worse possibility , pneumonia, bronchitis,  asthma. But the vast majority of coughing is a result of a mild cold or allergies. Nowadays  doctors and patients just want something to quell the cough automatically when it starts regardless of the etiology. However, like most of the things we’ve been discussing the over reaction and quick treatment of coughing is much worse than the actual disease associated with the cough. When you reflexively treat to suppress the cough you are not letting the body do its job of protecting the lungs by bringing up phlegm and keeping the bronchioles open. Suppressing it can lead to the mucous dripping down to the lungs and settling where it shouldn’t including bacteria that we naturally carry in our upper respiratory system.  If you’re asthmatic not being allowed to cough in order to  keep your bronchioles open can lead to an asthma attack . So the misinformation of what we think we know about a symptom and the fear of unknown can lead to more problems than the natural course of the disease itself. ( not to mention the side effects of the medication ) Treat a cough only at the direction of your physician. Treating coughs with cough suppressants, mucus thinners, and expectorants are more often than not the cause of complications and delay the healing rather than a cure. It is common for a cough to seem worse at the very end of a cold or virus as the mucous and congestion starts to drain . Especially when you lay down at night and wake up after a night of mucous dripping down the back of your throat. Any cough should be observed closely and a cough accompanied by fever breathing distress, prolonged,  painful , or any additional symptoms always needs to be brought to the attention of  your physician. There are numerous over the counter products to help suppress the cough but we know they are only to help sleep not treat the condition and we do not recommend cough suppressants for children under 4. Everyone is now turning to natural organic homeopathic cough syrups, since they think this is less harmful and natural means safer. But once again like all the natural products they are not reviewed,licensed by the FDA, or researched. There is no substantive evidence that any of the natural , homeopathic, or naturopathic products have any benefit, and certainly there is always the  possibility of them causing harm.   If you or your child have a chronic condition such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies, or sinus infections then you should automatically notify your physician and not self medicate with cough syrup. For everybody else there are options that are both natural non harmful and beneficial for the typical non infectious cold cough, when used after consulting with your physician.

Natural physiological methods are the best in a alleviating symptoms and helping the body fight the underlying source of the cough. It is always better to enhance the body’s own defense mechanisms to help fight an infection than go against it. My motto is to help the body fight the source of infection in any way you can naturally and physiologically  but only treat the symptoms when necessary in order to help a patient be comfortable enough to sleep ( since we do need sound sleep to maximize our immune system and heal ourselves).

Cough – Home treatment

General congestion and cough advice

Steam, saline washes in the nose, eucalyptus oil in a humidifier or steam shower , eucalyptus oil on the pillow or clothes. Not directly on a child.

Lots of dark fruits and vegetables ( see my fighting cold section)

Superpowered chicken and non-chicken soup. With immune enhancing foods.

Move- don’t just lie there if you are able, mobilize the mucous, walk, expand your lungs and thin the mucous by exercise-approved by your doctor.

Good teas with anti-inflammatory properties to help fight the cold and drain your sinus.

Turmeric tea

Hibiscus tea with ginger

Green tea with honey and ginger

Peppermint tea

Natural ingredients which have been found to help a cough.

( If you buy a product you should look for these natural ingredients for effectiveness)

Honey- tablespoon, raw, organic ( not for any child under 1 year of age). Manuka works the best.

Teaspoon of GInger

Peppermint oil. Steam and breathe in the oil..

Apple cider vinegar mixed to make it tolerable has many vascular and health healing effects


Pineapple with its bromelian ingredient ( supplements not for children) helps mobilize immune system and mucous.


Natural home cough treatments ( may adjust some ingredients for children due to taste)


Homemade cough syrup

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 tablespoon ground ginger

I tablespoon honey ( raw , only children over a year)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water


Thyme tea specifically for cough

2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves to one cup boiled water, steep for 10 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons organic raw honey ( over one year of age )   

Lemon wedge.

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

[ All contents here are for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. For any symptoms including cough please contact your physician first ]
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Boosting the immune system to fight colds and illness.

How do we build up our children’s immune system during cold and flu season

       One of the most common questions I get each year particularly with young children entering school is “How do we keep my child from getting sick all the time and build up their immune system?”. Generally my answer is “every child gets sick almost constantly at a rate of about every other week when starting school” . You have to catch the germs in order to build up an immunity and be able to fight it next time. But it does not stop the parents frustration and their constant quest for that magic remedy to build up their immune system so they do not get sick or at least fight the viruses better. There is no shortage of supplement companies, snake oil salesman, and wannabe physicians promoting their short cut to immune stardom. Basically my advice is old fashioned grandma like advice which always included fresh air, go to the ocean ( living in South Florida is easy), exercise, eat your vegetables, chicken soup, don’t eat so much candy, and get plenty of sleep. Well, things have not changed that much with all our searches, supplements, and advances in medical science. I believe premier nutrition and healthy lifestyle is your best means to a good immune system and ability to stave off disease and fight the common childhood ailments. Junk foods, fried foods, processed sweets and snacks at the very least do not help your immune system and conservatively speaking cause more inflammation and irritation when you need to be fighting viruses. 

     Eating well is the cornerstone of good health and immunity. This is easier said than done for children. For those patients and families familiar with my feeding guidelines you have a head start. But eating well is none the less the best way to begin to build a strong immune system. Prevention starts with good food including – lots of greens , sweet potatoes,  fruits , apples with red skin, red onions, and purple and red fruits for example.  Lots of fiber.  Making sure your are hydrated with lots of water.

Organic food itself is the best way to get the vitamins and phytonutrients to boost immunity and keep it at peak in cold and flu season in order to be ready for the influx of germs.
    Dark fruits have the best and most bio-available vitamin c, and phytonutrients. ( vitamin        supplements do not)

Eat them– eating the fruits is the best source of these immune building nutrients –                    blueberries, pomegranate,  cherries, raspberries,  dark grapes, etc.

Juice them– dark juice as a second choice if they won’t eat the fruit. Blueberry juice , pomegranate , dark grape,  or tomato juice.

Blend them and hide them- Super power HealthfulMD immune smoothie – base of almond, hemp, or soy milk; walnuts, avocado , super greens ( if they don’t like green vegetables- you can buy in health food stores ), spinach hides the best, and also kale. Blueberries, strawberries , bananas, peach , pineapple, or cocoa powder for sweetener. Flax seeds  for fiber and  omega 3, mushroom, ginger , cinnamon help boost the immunity.

Super power soup before or during illness. Vegetable soup or chicken soup base : add mushrooms , garlic , turmeric as tolerated, oregano in good amount, greens if liked by child – kale,  spinach, broccoli,  broccoli sprouts, sweet potatoes,  spices as tolerated -chili peppers,  cumin, and ginger.

Probiotics may help. If you or your child is a healthy eater particularly vegetarian style or for a healthy vegan probiotics may not be necessary or beneficial . The type of probiotics depends on the system you want to enhance . Gastrointestinal symptoms would be one type  and  upper respiratory ( colds) would be another form to use . Types of probiotics include lactobacillus acidophillis, and bifid bacterium. Look for recommendations in future blog posts.  Ask your physician for safety of any supplement and probiotics and their recommendations.

Sleep is essential to maintaining health- children 8-9 hours  
Manage stress – lavender,  chamomile. Exercise, yoga, meditate.

Tea– as calming and immune boosting
    Hibiscus – mix with ginger.
    Other red rooibos teas are sweet and may be more palatable for children.
    Green tea – honey , lemon and add ginger and cinnamon
    Chamomile tea has both calming and immune enhancement
Nutritional yeast – tablespoon a day increase immunity

Supplements: not medically researched or approved but have anecdotal improvement in immunity.

Immunoberry supplement

Eldeberry. Astralagus, Grape seed extract,  Oil of oregano all are purported to have immune enhancing properties to fight and ward off colds.