22 Oct Antibiotics & Our Kids – Helping or Harming?
If you thought we were a family of perfect health all the time, all our lives, I hate to burst your bubble. Truth is, we are humans, living in a very un-primal world. Especially in the first 25 years of our lives, Brad and I had our share of junk food, processed food, late nights, alcohol, tap water, illness, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs.
With our daughter Kaiya, however, we feel we’ve had a chance to get it right from the beginning. We get such proud parent feelings from having a child who at 4 years old loves organic meat and veggies, gets to bed early and sleeps well, drinks nothing but water (and primal shakes!), is a nature lover, keeps a happiness journal, and has hardly ever been sick.
So we were in for a big lesson recently, when Kaiya got a staff infection that required antibiotics. The only time she had ever been to the doctor was when she was 1 year old and had conjunctivitis in her eye, which healed with time, and eye drops of my breast milk.
Our good health, and faith in the body healing itself are the main reasons for our lack of doctor visits. Yes, we also have an aversion to drugs and doctors that love prescribing them, but understand that medical drugs have a purpose too.
Antibiotics are a problem when overused, and sadly, antibiotic overuse is rampant, with doctors prescribing them for everything, including viral infections which heal on their own with time and care.
At 4 years old, this was Kaiya’s second time to a doctor. Some nasty looking yellow crusts had slowly been growing on the corners of her mouth over the week, and though it wasn’t bothering her or making her sick, it got so bad-looking that a friend suggested we go to the doctor. As soon as the doctor looked at Kaiya, she knew that the golden crusts were a staff infection called Impetigo, which is highly contagious and treated easily with antibiotics. Two minutes later, we had a prescription in our hand and were off to the chemist (pharmacist, for my fellow Americans). It all happened so fast that I didn’t even think to ask any more questions.
What’s in the pink drink?
It wasn’t until the chemist put the bottle of bubblegum-pink liquid on the counter that I started to back pedal.
“Why is it pink?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. All the kids ones are pink,” the chemist answered.
Hmm. “Well, what’s in it? How does it get pink and liquid? What else is in it besides the antibiotic?” I pressed.
“Why? Does your daughter have any allergies? It’s liquid because we add distilled water to the powder,” the chemist replied.
“No allergies,” I said. “We just like to know what we are ingesting.”
“Hmm, I don’t know what’s in the powder,” the chemist said. “I guess I could try to print off a copy of the drug fact sheet for you.”
The chemist’s puzzled reaction made it clear to me that no one had ever asked these questions before. She and her colleagues seemed to think I was a bit strange, but they graciously printed me off some information.
Ibilex (powder for oral suspension)
– Cephalexin (monohydrate): this is the drug, which has a long list of rare side effects
– Sucrose: this is sugar
– Imitation guarana flavour: artificial flavouring
– Powder for reconstitution: what powder?
– Gluten-free: so is cocaine…
Despite the weird ingredient list that didn’t seem complete anyway, I shrugged and got on with the dosages. The smell of the pink medicine took me back to my childhood, and Kaiya found it so delicious, she couldn’t wait for medicine time every day. Her mouth crusts cleared up after several days, and the contagious infection forced us to stay home together all week, which gave us lots of much-needed nurturing time together.
Antibiotics kill the bad…and the good
However, I still didn’t like the fact that Kaiya was taking antibiotics, knowing that the good bacteria in her digestive system were facing a mass genocide. I had been learning from my research that it only takes a couple rounds of antibiotics to initiate leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability) from the dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria), and was feeling a bit guilty for not looking into other options to clear the infection.
We gave Kaiya plenty of InLiven Probiotics, homemade kefir, and kombucha from our farmer’s market. She learned that the medicine kills the bad bugs, but also the good bugs, so we have to get some more good bugs in our tummy with these probiotics and fermented foods.
Are there alternatives to antibiotics?
As I was telling my mummy mentor friend about this, she told me that she, too, had a staff infection. And the infection cleared up completely with herbs from her homeopath! So I could have given herbs to Kaiya instead of antibiotics! No proud mummy feelings now. 🙁
I realised that though I know a lot about health, I don’t know a lot about sickness.
I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to do anything but follow the doctor’s orders to medicate, even though there are alternatives that carry much less risk to the whole body.
What I can do now, however, is learn from my experience. Now, I will be prepared with some knowledge and resources that give us options when Kaiya is sick or has an infection. I will visit the homeopath while we are healthy, so I will know what to do if we are sick.
My friend suggested that with something like an infection, it’s a good idea to visit the doctor first to find out what it is, then visit the homeopath to get some herbs for it. Because doctors know sickness. That is what they are trained for: knowing all about different types of illness, how to identify the illness, and how to treat it with medication. We are very grateful for modern medicine and doctors that can get us out of pain, injury and illness when the body can’t heal itself, or drugs are the only way.
However, when our immune system is simply a bit low, we have a viral infection, or our injuries are minor, we first go back to our Primal 6 and help the body heal itself. And with some illnesses and bacterial infections, homeopathics and natural remedies can be marvelous healers, without killing off our gut flora and encouraging further disease. Here’s an example of avoiding antibiotics from Whole New Mom, who treated her child’s ear infection, fever and pain without using antibiotics.
Just as with health, sickness is about balance and intuition. Gather knowledge, have resources, know your options. Our children’s health depends on it.
Have you ever found a way to avoid giving your kids antibiotics when they were sick?
Antibiotics & Our Kids – Helping or Harming? – October 2013