Anyone who has cared for a sick baby or older child knows just how distressing it can be for both the child and the parent. A child waking in the middle of the night with a high fever or sudden episodes of vomiting and diarrhea can make even the calmest of parents experience a feeling of helplessness and panic.
Many parents and caregivers find themselves repeatedly seeking treatment by conventional medicine and over-using prescription antibiotics which, in the long term, can have adverse effects on a child’s health and can also result in creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cannot be killed or controlled by antibiotics; these bacteria are able to survive, and even multiply, in the presence of antibiotics. Minimizing the unnecessary use of antibiotics is more important than ever. Parents need to know that there are other options available.
Homeopathy has been very successful in the treatment of pediatric ailments that arise from growing pains including teething and colic, as wel as the common cold and influenza.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses plant, animal, and mineral products in very small doses to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal. Rather than suppressing symptoms, homeopathic remedies act deeply and curatively to stimulate the body’s own defences. Homeopathy treats the individual as a whole with a focus on not only the physical state of a child, but their mental and emotional state as well. Homeopathic treatment is gentle, non-invasive and has been shown to improve health on all levels.
Homeopathic remedies come in different forms – pills, tablets, powders or granules. It’s important to note that the age of the child will determine the type of remedy. For example, for babies and children up to age three, six pellets can be placed in previously boiled and cooled water to dissolve. Using a dropper, the remedy can be administered safely to a small child. For children three years and older, pellets can be used and the child should be instructed to allow the pellets to dissolve under the tongue, avoiding food and water for 30 minutes before and after the administration of the remedy.
Teething usually occurs anytime between four months and seven months of age. Sometimes baby teeth can come in as early as three months, while some children may only get teeth at one year of age. The appearance of baby teeth usually happens in this order: the bottom two middle teeth and then the two top middle teeth. The last teeth to appear are the second molars, and these are usually in by three years of age.
Many parents have noticed that other symptoms and behavioural changes occur around the same time that a tooth may be cutting through the gums. A baby may experience any number of these symptoms at any given time, and some babies don’t experience any discomfort at all. Below are some of the symptoms a baby may experience:
• Sleep problems
• Drooling (which can lead to facial rash)
• Gum swelling, sensitivity
• Irritability or fussiness
• Biting behaviour
• Refusal of food
Not every baby will respond to pain or teething in the same way. Some babies don’t display any discomfort, diarrhea, or fever associated with teething, while other babies have presented all these symptoms at the same time that they were actively teething. If fever and diarrhea persist, contact your healthcare provider for further investigation.
Some of the more common remedies that have had great results for teething symptoms include:
Chamomilla – is one of the most effective and commonly used remedies for teething symptoms. Chamo-milla would be indicated for infants with inflamed gums, drooling, and a desire to keep the fingers in the mouth. Commonly, one cheek is hot and red while the other is pale. The emotional picture of the infant would include a tendency toward hyper-irritability, and the child may scream and hit, or demand things but reject them as soon as they are given. During sleep, they toss and turn and may cry aloud. The only relief for the infant comes when they are carried or rocked.
Calcarea Carbonica – The physical and mental picture that calls for this remedy is that of a child with delayed development, and one who may not actually teeth until after 12 months of age. These babies’ phyical characteristics include a chubbiness, large bellies, and ‘chalky’ skin. These children have an intolerance to milk and may chronically regurgitate after nursing. They desire structure, can appear inflexible and obstinate, and have a need to finish what they have started.
Calcarea Phosphorica – This remedy is indicated for children who may be thin and tall. They will experience growing pains in the bones, and may suffer from arthritis. They can appear fretful or peevish and dentition may be delayed, or debilitating to the child. Easily chilled and very sensitive to cold, these babies and young children often have difficulty assimilating their nutrition properly. Ironically, they may have a ravenous appetite but will experience problems with digestion which can lead to stomach pain.
Another pediatric ailment that afflicts some babies is colic. Colic is a bit of a mystery in terms of its cause, but it is most typically characterized by a constant screaming baby who may be difficult to soothe. The term ‘colicky’ refers to a healthy baby that cries for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for more than three consecutive weeks. Colic begins at around the age of two weeks and generally goes away when the child is somewhere between three and four months old. Symptoms include:
• Tummy trouble – perhaps a problem with cow milk protein or the lactose in some baby formulas
• Reflux – heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the windpipe; Gas
• A growing digestive system with muscles that spasm
• Hormones that cause stomach aches or a fussy mood
• Oversensitivity to over-stimulation by light, noise, etc.
• A moody baby
• A still-developing nervous system
If you are concerned, be sure to have your child examined to rule out any life-threatening conditions.
A few of the more common remedies for Colic in infants include:
Pulsatilla – is a common remedy for colic. Infants and children for whom Pulsatilla is prescribed are generally very affectionate and desire attention and sympathy, even to the point of demanding excessive attention all the time. Older children have a yielding and gentle personality; they experience colic as pain in abdomen (colicky gripes) especially after eating fatty foods, fruit, or ice cream. Obstructed flatulence with distention of the abdomen, which gets worse after eating, can also occur.
Lycopodium – An infant requiring Lycopodium will be doubled over from ingesting cold food or drinks, the infant feels better after passing gas and/or may experience obstructed flatulence. There will be a rumbling and gurgling in the addomen before eating.
Colocynthesis – This is another great remedy for infants who are experiencing colic, with or without diarrhea. Indications for this remedy are expressed when the infant feels better when doubled up or in a fetal position. The infant may also experience an amelioration of symptoms with increased pressure to the abdomen and with heat application. The infant is restless and irritable from the colic pain. Violent colic pains often occur after an angry bout.
Colds and Influenza
With the change of seasons, we begin to see an increase in colds and influenza. Symptoms of a cold or ‘flu are a result of the body’s defence mechanism (immune response). The majority of colds and ‘flu will resolve within four to ten days, with or without treatment. Children are prone to more colds merely because their immune system is not fully developed. There is no “cure” for the ‘flu, but there are some very important measures one can take to help minimize exposure to the virus.
• Keep your distance from people who may have the ‘flu; this virus is spread through droplets in the air when a person coughs or sneezes.
• Encourage children to wash their hands frequently for 30 seconds to reduce their risk of spreading a cold or ‘flu.
• Avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose and mouth; these openings allow bacteria and viruses to enter the body.
• It’s integral to maintain a healthy lifestyle: follow a good diet, drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and minimize stress levels.
What are the major differences between a cold and flu? Firstly, the ‘flu usually accompanies a high fever, often over 38C, and can last anywhere from three to four days. On the other hand, fever is rare with colds. Aches and pains can be quite severe, with accompanying weakness and fatigue lasting up to two or three weeks with influenza; but these symptoms would be very mild with a cold. With a ‘flu, a cough can become quite severe, accompainied by chest discomfort, but a cold will present with a hacking cough and mild chest discomfort. Nausea, with or without vomitting, is usually seen with a ‘flu and is rare with a cold.
Common Homeopathic Remedies for Colds
Aconite – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms (this remedy should be given in the early stages of a cold, as soon as it is realized the patient is coming down with a cold): chilliness, thirst, headache, congestion; stuffed nose which alternates sides, tingling and burning; no discharge; complaints ameliorate with open air.
Gelsemium – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms: The person experiences a ‘fullness’ in the head; sneezing; lack of thirst; colds that are brought on by warm weather; watery eyes; the person experiences epidemic colds.
Nux-Vomica – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms (this remedy should be given as soon as dryness and tickling of the nose begins): The first stage of a cold is brought on by exposure to damp cold weather; scraping sensation in the throat, which worsens with cold air inhalation; nose is dry and stuffed up, with slight discharge; the person feels worse in a warm room.
Common Remedies for Flu
Eupatorium Perfoliatum – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms: soreness and aching of the whole body down to the bones; restless but feels worse when resting; cough with sore throat and chest; coughing causes pain in head and chest (person may hold their chest while coughing); drinking causes vomiting.
Belladonna – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms: sudden onset of high fever; severe throbbing headache; hot skin, sweat on clothing covered parts of the body; face appears flushed, along with dryness of mouth and throat; patient may feel sleepy but cannot sleep; spasmodic cough.
Rhus Tox – is indicated when the child presents with the following symptoms: complains of feeling unwell upon exposure to dampness; severe aching in bones; cough with a tickle behind upper part of sternum; redness and swelling of the throat; restlessness which is worse at night; he person may experience stupor and delirium.
Remedies described in this article are for information only. It is always important to seek the advice of a professional Homeopath prior to taking any remedies. If the child’s condition worsens, seek immediate help by taking him/her to the nearest hospital. written by Elisabeth Christopoulos