Naturopathic Approaches to Fever

Fever phobia is fairly common among parents of young children, and even some adults when they become sick. We worry that something serious is going on. Most often, that’s not the case.

Fever occurs when our body’s internal thermostat (an organ in the brain called the hypothalamus) shifts our body’s normal set-point upward, indicating that something is out of balance. It can be brought on by a virus, bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, teething, pain and vaccinations just to name a few. Symptoms may include:

  • Chills and shivering
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Irritability

While these symptoms are uncomfortable, be comforted knowing that fever is a natural and beneficial response of the immune system. It plays a key role in helping the body fight off infections and can even help strengthen immunity. It typically resolves on its own.

You should know . . .

  • For infants, toddlers and young children, a slight fever generally will go away with attentive care and holistic therapy. However, for infants younger than two months, fever should be discussed with your family doctor.
  • If a child is unable to hold eye contact/seems unresponsive, has intense neck pain or uncontrolled vomiting, seek emergency medical care. Adults should seek emergency care if they become confused, experience abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, intense head or neck pain, or have a seizure.
  • Children between the ages of six months and five years might experience febrile seizures. The seizure is triggered by a rapid change of temperature. About one-third of children who have one febrile seizure will have another one, most commonly within a year. This is generally not harmful and unlikely to cause long-term damage. If a seizure occurs, loosen tight clothing and gently hold the child on the ground in a safe area to prevent injury.

Naturopathic, Gentle Ways to Manage Fever

Since most fevers resolve on their own, don’t be quick to reach for over-the-counter meds to lower it. Instead, consider the following simple therapies aimed at supporting the body’s innate ability to heal and restore balance.

  1. Fast the Fever. Never feed a fever. The body’s resources should not be diverted to digesting food while it’s fighting fever. Drink clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or suck on ice cubes.
  2. Keep a Journal. Record when the fever started, temperature, how you measured (oral, ear, rectal, etc.), and note any symptoms. Be sure to measure temperature consistently, not with different instruments each time (note differences in recording methods). Also, note if there was exposure to anyone who’s been ill. List all medications, vitamins and supplements taken. You’ll need this if you have to see the doctor or go to the ER.
  3. Use Hydrotherapy. This home remedy increases comfort while supporting the body’s ability to lower temperature. It involves the use of cold towels or sheets with a wool blanket over top and all wrapped around the body.

The bottom line is that a fever is the body’s attempt to restore balance. Your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor may have other suggestions and strategies for supporting the body through a fever so be sure and check in for more information!

References
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Make a Change for Better Health this New Year

Have you set an intention to make better choices around diet and exercise in the New Year? Kudos for recognizing a change needs to be made and committing to it! As you begin to adopt new, healthier behavior, remember that change is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes about six weeks for a new behavior to become ingrained in our lifestyle, whether it’s exercising, eating more veggies and less meat, or limiting those sodas you’ve come to love.

Success involves creating plans for moving forward, as well as for for managing those inevitable setbacks. Here are some simple strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Know Your Why. Write down why you want to adopt a particular health behavior or change a poor one. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest with yourself. Think deeper than just wanting to fit into smaller clothes – examine how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Connecting emotion to your “why” strengthens your motivation and willingness to stick to the goal: I’ll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I lose weight and fit into a smaller size.

Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Working toward a goal together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. You might start by telling the people closest to you what you are doing and why. Ask people for specific help: When you see me reach for a third cookie, please say something. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as you progress.

Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that’s a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks of time when you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. It may mean getting up 20 minutes earlier or getting off social media. Do it. Make actual appointments with yourself and keep them. Planning also means knowing your environment – at home, work and play – and being aware of triggers that could put you off course. Examples: bring your lunch instead of going out; take a walk before eating; reduce temptation by removing salty, fatty snacks from the house; shop for food mindfully, staying in the outside aisles of the store where the food is typically healthier. And be flexible: life happens and things will get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your health routine the following day or as soon as possible.

Set Reasonable Goals. If you need to get up earlier to exercise, don’t start with an hour – start with ten minutes. Every five days increase by five minutes until you’re awake early enough to do the kind of workout that you want. Starting with small, reasonable goals makes them more attainable and gives you a sense of achievement. And that’s important when you’re first making a behavior change. Every small success builds up to bigger achievements.

Celebrate! In your plan, note the markers at which you’ll celebrate success. Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or losing the first five pounds). Rewards need not be expensive; rather, make them meaningful for you – and not food based unless you’re going out to a great new vegan restaurant.

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Doing Good for Others is Good for Your Health

Lower stress, higher self-confidence, and enhanced social relationships – sounds like the health benefits of exercise, right? Surprise! Those benefits also come from volunteering. Whether you’re working at a food shelter, giving time as a literacy mentor, or helping out after a natural disaster, the many ways of doing good for others is also good for your health.

In general, people volunteer because they believe helping those who are having a harder time in life can actually make a difference. That alone makes those who volunteer feel good about themselves, about others, and about their community. But there’s much more to it; research shows that the “happiness effect” of volunteering enhances social, emotional, and physical aspects of health and that these benefits increase as we age.

Social Benefits

  • Strengthens community ties
  • Builds in-person social networks to create genuine friendships
  • Reduces feelings of loneliness
  • Enhances professional networks and job opportunities

Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens emotional stability for those with and without mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Contributes to a sense of purpose

Physical Benefits

  • Lowers stress and tension
  • Enhances brain function
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Promotes being physically active

People who volunteer tend to take better care of themselves; they typically have lower rates of heart disease, depression and anxiety. These health benefits don’t just apply to adults. They apply to kids and teens as well. As noted earlier, the benefits continue as we age and become even more pronounced for older adult volunteers.

So, find a cause (or two) that is meaningful for you, involve the whole family in volunteering, and celebrate all that it does for others and for you!

References
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Avoid a Cold with Home Remedies

When you first feel yourself becoming sick there are holistic remedies you can start to avoid becoming ill or to shorten the duration of illness.  These suggestions are especially helpful if you do them early on – as early as possible.  They will help you fend off flus, colds, or minor infections.  Call a doctor if your symptoms become severe or if you do not improve.  If you are interested in natural remedies, then you will want to seek out one of our San Diego Naturopathic Doctors. There are some steps you can take to boost your immunity.

Eat Very Lightly or Not at All – With most illnesses the appetite is diminished, this is a natural response of the body.  Energy is needed to fight off the “bug” and the body doesn’t have the energy to process food.  Give your digestive tract a rest! Simple home remedy.

Get Rest as Soon as Possible – Many people ignore the early warning signs of illness and keep on working until they “drop.”  You will take longer to heal if you allow the illness to get a foothold.  If you feel a sore throat, headache, congestion, etc., coming on, take it easy.  If possible, take a day off from work.  This may prevent you from having to take three days later on.

Drink Plenty of Fluids – This standard advice is good advice.  You can clear the toxins from a “bug” out of your system with large amounts of filtered water and herbal teas. Our favorite herbal tea in our holistic office is respitussive tea.

Take Immunity-Boosting Supplements and Homeopathics*

      Vitamin C is a great alternative medicine option for a decongestant.          Take 500 mg every 3-4 hours with a small amount of food.  Cut back on dosage if stools become loose. Great home remedy option.

      Vitamin A is another natural remedy but can cause dryness of your mucus membranes.    Take 10,000 IU daily with food. Your naturopathic doctor can give more specific advise for proper dosing for your wellness.  (Women who are pregnant should not take high doses of Vitamin A as it can have adverse affects on the fetus.)

      Zinc lozenges are my favorite way to get zinc in for repairing cells.           Take 5-30 mg spread throughout the day.  This home remedy can be continued for 1-2 weeks without depleting copper stores in the body.

      Oscillococcinum can be a general option but our naturopathic doctors can advise on more specific homeopathic treatments for you. Take 6 pellets of this homeopathic remedy every 6 hours at the first onset of flu or cold symptoms.  Take away from food.

Take Immunity-Enhancing Herbs* – These herbs can be taken as teas (3-5 cups/day), tinctures (30 drops 4 times a day), or in freeze-fried capsules (1-2 capsules 4 times a day). Our naturopathic medicine clinic can help you choose the herbal remedies that are appropriate for you and your illness.

      Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower)                                Hydrastis (Goldenseal)

      Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh)                                 Trifolium (Red Clover)

      Ligusticum (Osha)

*These are adult dosages.  Consult your physician regarding dosages for infants and children.

Give Yourself a Home Hydrotherapy Treatment (A Hot Foot Bath) – Soak feet in hot water while wrapped in a warm wool blanket.  Put a cold cloth on your head and relax while you sit in a comfortable position for 10-15 minutes.  Take care to avoid getting chilled after this home remedy.  Or another alternative medicine option is the…

Throat or Chest Compress – Warm the throat or chest with a warm washcloth or hot shower.  Dry the skin thoroughly and apply a thin cotton wrap (to throat) or a thin cotton T-shirt (to chest) that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out so that it is not dripping wet.  Cover this with a wool scarf (throat) or a wool sweater (chest).  Go to bed this way.  By morning the scarf or T-shirt will be dry.  This treatment increases circulation and increases white blood cell activity.

Naturopathic medicine is a holistic way of supporting the body’s natural healing ability from illness. If you have questions about naturopathic doctors or holistic medicine, we are happy to help you find your answers. Please reach out to us by calling (619) 772-1164 or emailing info@journeyofhealth.org

Prevent Your Next UTI Naturally

Urinary tract infections or UTIs can complicate or stall your life!  It is one of the most common infections women face.  Many women are trying home remedies or searching how to get rid of a UTI fast because of the damper it can put on your activity in life.  Other women are wondering how to get rid of a urinary tract infection without antibiotics, especially if they haven’t worked in the past or if it seem to be chronic and comes back repeatedly.

Alternative medicine does have some great tools for solving UTIs but taking a holistic medicine approach will help find the natural treatments that will cure a UTI and help you find the natural treatment options that will prevent them from being a repeat problem.  There are many triggers for a UTI but ultimately these triggers such as sex, tight pants or having to hold it should not cause you to succumb to a urinary tract infection.  When the bacteria in your belly and you urinary tract system are in balance, they can protect these triggers from causing a UTI.

Naturopathic Doctors can suggest dietary changes and herbs such as uva ursi that help immediately.  They will also take a holistic view of you and your body to help problem solve the cause and protect the infection from going into your kidneys.  Many patients would prefer treating their UTI without antibiotics and while there are safe and natural treatment options, you should avoid thinking a UTI can go away on its own.  Having a Naturopathic Doctor on your side means you can have safe alternatives immediately.

In our office, for the sake of prevention, our patients at risk for recurrent UTIs get a urine cup and requisition provided by our office that they can use to send urine to the lab immediately once they believe they have the start of an infection.  Any burning, inability to empty the bladder, pain or so forth means they can send their urine in immediately to be tested.  The low cost test yields results right away before starting any medications or supplements so we can see what’s really going on and culture it right away if needed as well.  This allows our holistic doctors to treat you faster with lab information as well.

If you suffer from urinary tract infections, reach out to us so we can help you find your natural answers right away. We specialize in this kind of thing so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

How Can I Protect My Gut?

When you have a digestive illness, it essentially means that your delicate intestinal lining (the mucosa) is damaged, making it impossible to extract nutrients and other substances crucial for your body’s biological processes. Patients often ask ‘how can I protect my gut while taking antibiotics’?  Antibiotics or any chronic digestive complaint are other ways the gut lining can get damaged.  It is important to have an adequate microbiome set up and the healthy lining to hold onto the good bacteria while going through antibiotics, stress or a digestive illness.  There are many nutrients that can help.

The amino acid L-Glutamine is one of these substances. A protein building block, L-Glutamine is stored in muscle where it’s vital to tissue growth and repair. It’s involved in the formation of other amino acids and glucose (sugar), as well as the body’s adaptive response to stress and the optimal functioning of the immune and digestive systems.  It also plays a role in helping irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.  Probiotics and avoiding food sensitivities can also help.

The mucosa requires maintenance to protect and repair itself from the effects of stress, toxins, and a poor diet. When the mucosa breaks down, inflammation results and this is associated with a variety of chronic health conditions. Further, when illness, chronic or severe stress, inflammation, or food sensitivity/allergies cause the gut to fail at effectively breaking down food to acquire nutrients, deficiency results. A lack of sufficient glutamine in the gut creates a cycle of wear and tear on the mucosa.

Clinical research shows that L-Glutamine supplements can break that cycle by helping repair damage and potentially help the lining regrow. This connection between glutamine and intestinal maintenance has led researchers to examine its role in Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity.

L-Glutamine supplements are available in both pill and powder form. Proper dose is crucial to its effectiveness. It’s not recommended for children under age 10 or for people with certain health conditions, including kidney or liver disease. Consult with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor to find out if L-Glutamine is right for you.  Come learn how to heal your gut!

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Naturopathic Solutions for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common endocrine (hormone) disorders, affects approximately 10 million women of all races and ethnic groups worldwide. It’s the leading cause of infertility in women and can present at any life stage – from puberty through post-menopause. Most women with PCOS will have cysts on the ovaries, but as many as 30% of women will not have cysts. Women with PCOS experience an array of symptoms, including:

  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • obesity
  • infertility
  • pelvic pain with or without periods
  • mood swings, depression or anxiety
  • thinning hair on the head
  • excessive body hair (hirsutism)
  • fatigue and sleep problems

Because of the wide range of PCOS symptoms, fewer than 50% of women are properly diagnosed. Too often women simply accept the discomfort and don’t inform their doctors until symptoms are at their worst. Even then, they are often misdiagnosed because so many of the symptoms can be attributed to other causes. Another reason for missed diagnosis is that PCOS has long been believed to be present only in obese women; we now know that it can affect women of any body weight including those who are normal or even underweight. Additionally, PCOS can present differently based on life stage, genetics, ethnicity, age and environmental and lifestyle factors such as self-care, exercise, and eating habits.

Causes of PCOS

Obesity and insulin resistance are health issues that are linked to PCOS and both affect hormonal function in the body. Insulin resistance relates to problems with regulating insulin, a hormone that allows the body to properly use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. When the body isn’t as responsive to insulin as it needs to be, too much of it circulates in the blood and can cause a hormone imbalance.

Natural Solutions

Dr. Samuel Thatcher, an early pioneer in PCOS research and treatment, was among the first clinicians to advocate for a holistic approach to PCOS treatment. With the goal of enhancing a woman’s quality of life, holistic health practitioners perform a thorough lifestyle assessment, blood tests, and dietary analysis. They then educate and guide women in using natural approaches to manage and heal from PCOS, such as:

  • Lifestyle Improvements. A whole foods diet, exercise, stress management, and proper rest are essential to PCOS treatment. These approaches can create a positive shift in blood sugar level, mood, and body weight. Approaches will differ based on a woman’s stage of life and complexity of symptoms.
  • Supplement Support. Some of the herbs and nutrition supplements that may be used for PCOS aim to balance blood sugar level as well as hormones. These can include Nettle Root, Green Tea, Flax Seeds, Saw Palmetto, Licorice Root, Chaste Tree Extract, Trace Minerals, Vitamin D3, and Chromium.

If you think you have PCOS, speak with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor about the approaches best suited to your symptoms and needs.

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Support for Menstrual Difficulties with Chaste Tree Extract

Back in the Middle Ages, Chaste Tree Extract (Vitex agnus castus, aka Vitex or Chasteberry) was used by monks to decrease sexual desire (hence its name!). Today we know that this powerful herb – a medicinally potent brown berry about the size of a peppercorn – doesn’t impact sexual desire. But it does help manage reproductive disorders. Vitex is used for menstrual difficulties including PMS and PCOS, breast pain management, and infertility. It may also benefit women going through menopause.

Vitex does not supply hormones to the body; rather, it acts on the glands that control hormone production, namely the pituitary and hypothalamus. Ultimately, it helps balance the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, while slightly elevating progesterone level.

Chaste Tree is available as a liquid extract, in capsule and tablet form, and as an essential oil. It is considered safe for most people. However, women on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should seek medical consultation before taking this herb. Also, it should not be used by persons taking antipsychotic drugs or medications for Parkinson’s disease. Contact your La Mesa naturopathic doctor for information and to assess the appropriate use for your health concerns.

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The Antioxidant Power of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

The wonderful thing about Green Tea is how the leaves retain their biologically active nutrients from the time of harvesting to the moment you brew and then sip this liquid elixir. Green Tea contains plant nutrients (polyphenols), such as catechins and flavonoids, which function as antioxidants, helping the body to clear out free radicals, molecules that cause oxidative damage to cells. This damage creates inflammation and can lead to disease.

One of the potent compounds in Green Tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). Studies conducted on the health-protective benefits of EGCG show that people who frequently drink Green Tea have lower rates of illness, including many types of cancer. While additional research is needed to understand the mechanisms that contribute to the medicinal properties of Green Tea, EGCG supplements have been used in clinical trials to help treat certain cancers, inflammatory diseases, and diabetes.

There are many ways to enjoy Green Tea. The best varieties of tea will be loose leaf, organically harvested from GMO-free crops. To maintain the potency of the antioxidants in your tea, do not add milk, which alters the tea’s health-boosting properties. Be sure to follow the steeping directions. Steeping longer than directed can make the tea bitter. As a general rule, if you prefer a stronger tea, add more tea for the same steeping time. To sweeten, add locally sourced honey or a splash of fresh squeezed lemon, orange, or even watermelon juice. Contact your La Mesa naturopathic doctor for more information about the benefits of green tea.

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Restoring Rhythm with Panax Ginseng

Ginseng is a herbal medicine used widely throughout the world to moderate the effects of stress and support or enhance circulation, immunity, cognitive performance, and antioxidant activity. In fact, Ginseng is traditionally used in Asian countries to maintain homeostasis of the body and to enhance vital energy, or Chi. The herb has received significant research attention in Europe and the U.S, where the effects of stress play a role in quality of life and in many chronic diseases.

Recent research shows that Ginseng has anti-fatigue properties that support the health of cells by reducing oxidative stress (antioxidant activity) and help strengthen the immune system. Taken together, these properties can explain Ginseng’s use as remedy to help with recovery from fatigue and physical and mental stress.

There are several varieties of Ginseng but it is Panax Ginseng (Asian) and Panax quinquefolius (American variety) that has received the most attention. Panax is a Greek term meaning “all heal.” Another related root is Siberian Ginseng, which has different effects and benefits for the body. It’s always best to obtain a Ginseng supplement from your naturopathic doctor.  This will ensure that you are using the proper variety and dose for your particular health concerns.

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