Wednesday, August 28, 2013

6 Ways to Reduce Pesticide Exposure for Your Family

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been cutting down on pesticide usage in the United States and requiring additional testing to understand the effects of pesticides on humans since 1996. Americans use more than a billion pounds of pesticides each year to fight pests on farm crops as well as in our homes, schools, businesses, parks, and other public places.

Newer research is showing that small amounts of pesticides are accumulating over time to cause serious harms for our children's brain and body development. There are critical times of development in children when exposure to pesticides or other chemicals can permanently alter the way their body functions since their organs, immune system, and even their body's enzymatic and metabolic systems are still developing. The facts in the matter are that children have different feeding and play habits that increase their exposure levels and they have higher risk for long term damage due to exposure during their development. Children tend to play on the floor or in the grass where pesticides are more likely to have been sprayed and they also tend to put objects in their mouths which can also increase their exposure levels. As a parent, it is very important that we realize that pesticides, herbicides, and even chemicals in our cleaning products can cause serious harm to our children and we need to do as much as possible to decrease the amount of exposure for them.

A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, pesticide exposure has been estimated to have cost more than 16 million IQ points in children under 5. These pesticides have been encountered in food, air, dust, and soil at home and in school and are now being linked to decreased intelligence, learning problems, and even ADHD. Adverse effects of pesticide exposure range from mild symptoms of dizziness and nausea to more serious symptoms such as long-term neurological, reproductive, and developmental disorders.

So what can you do to decrease your family's exposure?

1.) Buy fresh (and organic as often as your budget allows) produce that is in season and grown in the US or Canada. Avoid purchasing produce or products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). These products contain crops whose genetic code has been altered so that they are less at risk for crop destruction from pesticides and herbicides used to treat pests. Recent studies have demonstrated that when these crops are consumed along with pesticides or herbicides the risk for tumors increases significantly. (This pesticide exposure is usually due to ground water contamination due to pesticide run off from crop spraying.) GREAT TIP: Check your super market produce label. 4 digits means its conventionally grown. If it starts with a 9, its organic. If it starts with an 8, its genetically modified. 

2.) Use high quality filtered water at home to decrease your family's exposure to pesticides, prescription medications, and toxins that are contained in your water supply. Reverse osmosis filters are one of the best but even cheaper filtered water pitchers can help to decrease your family's exposure to additional chemicals. (Check your city's water report to find out what else may be lurking in your water supply.)

3.) Bathe pets regularly to kill fleas so you can keep toxic treatments to a minimum.

4.) Use natural products, essential oils, and natural pest management at home and outside to keep pests to a minimum. (This includes dry cleaning or laundry products, sunscreen, bug spray, ant and spider killers, and even fertilizers.) Check out yesterday's post for a recipe for a great bug spray utilizing essential oils.

5.) Avoid using lawn and garden products that combine fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides as these can easily be transferred to clothing and children's toys and brought in the house.

6.) Make sure your child's school or daycare minimizes the need for spraying pesticides by practicing Integrated Pest Management. This practice incorporates sealing cracks, keeping trash secured from pests, and using traps or gels to avoid excessive pesticide exposure.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DIY Natural Bug and Mosquito Repellant for Family and Yard

That's right ladies and gentlemen. As a parent and a doctor, I am SICK of spraying my child and my home with chemicals that can cause permanent neurological, developmental, and reproductive harm to my family. I am sick of reading the research that is showing the dangers of traditional pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals that are used in everyday cleaning products. I am scared for my child and for other Peoria families based on the newest chemical additives that Peoria has begun to add into our water supply to counteract the current chemicals, pesticides, and even prescription drugs that are already lurking in our drinking glass.

Are you scared? If you aren't you SHOULD BE. As a parent, I am mandating that my household begin to use natural products for cleaning, de-pesting, and de-bugging our family home and our bodies. We've been switching gradually over the past 6 months but after looking over some new research on permanent childhood developmental issues that were caused by adverse reactions to household chemical products, I've made up my mind. I'm PISSED and I'm going ALL NATURAL!

Here's two great recipes for bug repellant that we are using to keep the gnats, flies, and mosquitos at bay in our new backyard and one to soothe mosquito bites for children that weren't covered completely and to repel them in the future. (By the way we moved into our new home last week and threw Camryn's party this weekend, introducing these debut recipes to our family members and friends as NATURAL options for bug repellant.)

Lavendar Vanilla Bug Spray
seemed to work well on gnats and flys but not so much on mosquitos

10 drops of Lavendar essential oil (purchased at Naturally Yours for under $5)
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil (purchased at Naturally Yours for under $10)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 16oz spray bottle (filled the rest of the way with water)

Lemon Eucalyptus and Citronella Bug Spray
worked great on children, pets, and around the deck and yard

10 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil (purchased at Naturally Yours for under $5)
10 drops of Citronella essential oil (purchased at Naturally Yours for under $5)
1 16oz spray bottle (filled the rest of the way with water)

Soothing Bath Water 
Add the following to bath water to soothe sores/cuts and help to repel bugs for future outdoor exposure:
5 drops of Lavender or Peppermint essential oil
5 drops of Tea Tree Oil

Another great tip is to cut out floral or sweet smelling shampoo/conditioner or body wash for the whole family to cut down on attracting bugs. I switched to an all natural tea tree oil shampoo/conditioner and tea tree oil liquid castile soap purchased from Naturally Yours for my daughter and myself to help repel those little blood suckers too!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Get Rid of Your Child's Ear Infection Without Antibiotics

Is your child pulling on their ears or complaining of ear pain, running a fever, or irritable? Then you are one of 10 million parents whose children are affected by ear infections every year. Middle ear infections also known as otitis media account for more than 35% of all pediatric visits, as a result parents want answers and solutions to cutting down the length of ear infections and the cost of treatment. As a Peoria chiropractor, I am very concerned for every child that comes into my office complaining of chronic ear infections because this can put children at risk of permanent hearing damage as well as speech and developmental difficulties.

Young children are more at risk for developing ear infections because their eustachian tube (where the ear drains) is still developing and is oriented horizontally which doesn't facilitate drainage like in the adult ear where it angles downward to allow fluid to drain more easily. By the age of 2, this tube is usually oriented in a better position to reduce the risk of ear infection however some children may have spinal misalignments in the upper neck that contribute to a buildup of fluid in the ear and cause chronic ear infections.

Ear infections can result from either a bacterial or viral infection due tofluid that has built up in the ear.  For many children, these ear infections can become a chronic problem that requires multiple antibiotic treatments and possibly even a recommendation for serious surgery to place tubes in the ear to facilitate drainage. In fact, frequent ear infections are the second most common reason for surgery in children under 2.

What are my child's treatment options?

Traditional medical treatment focuses on antibiotics which may only be effective if the infection is caused by a bacterial. Repeated dosage of antibiotics have shown to be less effective than the child's own immune system and may actually create antibiotic resistant bacteria that can cause more serious health conditions.

Another option is a myringotomy or tympanostomy surgery, which consists of  placing a small opening in the eardrum for a tube to be inserted. This tube helps to relieve pressure in the ear and vents fresh air to prevent further infection, but in most cases the tube is pushed out after a couple of months. 20-30% of these surgeries will need to be repeated and in some cases will need to be followed with a more serious surgery to remove the adenoids, called an adenoidectomy.

More parents than ever are now considering chiropractic care as an option for their children because it is a safe, non invasive option that focuses on realigning the spinal bones in the neck to allow for better ear drainage and allows for the child's immune system to fight off the infection. The nerves in the upper neck direct drainage from the ear and also encourage the child's immune system to build up resistance that can prevent future ear infections. Chiropractic care for children suffering from ear infections focuses primarily on gentle chiropractic adjustments to the upper neck and entails approximately 6-8 treatments for the average child. Other factors that may effect length or frequency of treatment include the severity of the infection, how long it has been going on, and if they have previously taken antibiotics. At AlignLife, I perform a thorough examination of the child and ask about other factors that may be contributing to your child's condition such as diet or exposure to second hand smoke. In many cases, parents are surprised how quickly their child improves and embrace the effectiveness of chiropractic care in maintaining a wellness lifestyle for the whole family.


Dr. Joan Fallon, a New York chiropractor, has published research showing that after receiving chiropractic care, nearly 80% of children were free of ear infections for at least 6 months following their initial visit.

A 1996 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, found a 93% rate of improvement for children that underwent chiropractic care for their ear pain/infection. This study also found that children that had not previously undergone antibiotic treatment required fewer treatments to relieve their symptoms.

For more information about chiropractic care for children suffering from ear infections, please feel free to give my office a call 309-689-6200 to setup a free ear infection consultation during the month of August.