natural mother magazine
The Benefits of Gardening with Children
Empower Your Daughter Through Conscious Storytelling Autism & Diet Issue 19, April 2016
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contents articles Why Do You Want Another Me? A is for Acetaminophen Attachment Parenting and Homeschooling The Benefits of Gardening with Children Autism and Diet A Classic Pregnancy Book Fully Updated Empower Your Daughter Through Consicous Storytelling An Inner Earth Day Rock Flower Garden Craft Maternal Autoimmune Disease and Autism The Vaccine Controversy
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extras Letter from the Publisher Getting Dirty Contributors Letter from the Editor Editorâ€™s Picks
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EDITOR IN CHIEF Ingrid Sorensen
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Candace Roper
Naomi Aldort Guggie Daly Kerry McDonald, M.Ed. Saidy Lauer Corneglio Linda Folden Palmer, DC Holly Scudero Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed Sandra Maurer Dana Vanderburg Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND Dr. Ayelet Connell-Giammatteo, PhD, PT
Ginger Horsburgh Earthside Birth Photography
Information contained herein is not intended to replace professional medical or legal counsel. This publication may contain affiliate links and/or paid content. NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 3 ÂŠ 2016 All rights reserved
letter from the publisher “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” - Ghandi
and talents to ensure that we bring you informative, educational, and natural-minded articles. Look what we are able to accoplish, together.
Close your eyes for a minute, and imagine a world where everyone is on the same team. Working toward a better planet, a healthier world, more compassionate relationships Our magazine is a collaboration of with our loved ones, and those we articles from incredible authors from have never met -- for those we unmany different areas of the United derstand, and those we long to. States, and a few from other countries as well. It’s a team effort. Can we work together to raise children to respect our planet? To tread Every month these amazing authors lightly and learn why it’s important to volunteer their time, knowledge do so? Can we teach through example the many ways to health? How we treat and help those with different abilities, illnesses, backgrounds, opinions, beliefs, incomes, and opportunities? The list goes on and on. April is Environmental Awareness Month, Autism Awareness Month, and the month in which we celebrate Earth Day. Important topics.
I truly believe that as mothers we are the leaders our children and neighbors need to show others the way. It all begins -- and ends --with compassion. Enjoy this issue, and thank you for being with us on this journey. Warmly,
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Jessika Jacob Publisher
motherlove.com Discover the bond between motherhood and mother earth with herbal care products for pregnancy, birth, baby, and breastfeeding, formulated to nurture both body and soul.
Organic and Pure | Safe and Effective | Sustaining and Giving
Getting Dirty After a flash of bitter cold and late snow, we are finally warming up here in the northeast and the air is starting to smell like Spring. Spring is truly a season for reconnecting with nature – our own and the planet’s. There is something about getting dirty that makes you feel so much more alive and present. Whether planting seeds for your vegetable garden or flower beds, or getting out to enjoy the warmth of the sun as you take a long walk or hike, the
smell of soil and Spring rain seem to define the season. The season also puts us more in touch with our bodies and putting our feet in the earth grounds us, literally and figuratively. Getting outdoors is good for us on so many levels. In addition to the exercise and fitness benefits, we can raise our vitamin D levels through moderate sun exposure, improve our distance vision, and even reduce stress and ADHD symptoms by spending more time in nature. In this digital age, having regular exposure to nature and the outdoors is essential for our children’s wellness – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Children who regularly spend time in nature are better at problem solving, have increased creativity, and enhanced self-discipline. Make April and Earth Day the start of an ongoing celebration of all that nature has to offer. Take a walk or hike, head out for a picnic, or just enjoy time in the sun outside in the year or park and reap the many benefits! Nancy Peplinsky
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Issue 19 Contributors
Naomi Aldort is the author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, published in 17 languages. Parents from around the globe seek Aldortâ€™s advice by Skype/phone, in person and by listening to her CDs and attending her workshops and family retreats. Her advice columns appear in progressive parenting magazines world-wide. NaomiAldort.com or AuthenticParent.com Guggie Daly, blogger at The Guggie Daily, applied her background in neuroscience to the parenting realm. She incorporates evidence-based concepts in epigenetics and nutrigenomics with the latest parenting research so that parents can develop integrated, holistic health in their own families. She is married to a passionate environmentalist and is a mother to four. Kerry McDonald, M.Ed, lives and learns together with her husband and four never-been-schooled children in Cambridge, Mass. She has a Masterâ€™s degree in Education Policy from Harvard and writes regularly about natural learning and schooling alternatives on her blog, Whole Family Learning.
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Saidy Lauer Corneglio is an herbalist, photographer and journalist living the expat life in the Netherlands with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about holistic healthcare, natural living, photojournalism and traveling around this beautiful world learning from the people and cultures she connects with.
Linda Folden Palmer, DC is the author of Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby,and Baby Poop. Palmer advocates for evidence-based healthcare options, and writes, consults, and lectures on natural mother and infant health. You can find an assortment of articles at her website BabyReference.com and on her Facebook pages Baby Matters and Baby Poop. Holly Scudero is a full-time at-home mama and wife. She has one child, but hopes to have more someday, and her passions include natural parenting, birth, reading, writing, vegetarian cooking, and being active. She blogs about whatever is on her mind at Leaves of Lavender.
Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed, is the founder of The Mother-Daughter Nest, a sacred womenâ€™s gathering space in Athens, Georgia. She is passionately invested in supporting mothers to raise confident, connected daughters. She is the author of the revolutionary book, The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle, published by Womancraft Publishing. NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 9
Sandra Maurer is a mama wellness coach, certified birth doula and registered yoga instructor specializing in Fertility and Prenatal Yoga with a BA in Art Therapy. Her passion is empowering women through all stages of mamahood, from preconception through postpartum, by guiding the whole woman. She blogs at Whole Beginnings.
Dana Vanderburg is a wife, mama, and owner of The Art Kit, where she blogs about all things crafty. Before obtaining her degree in digital media design, she studied interior design, home redesign, and home staging, all things she is still passionate about, along with natural living and family. You can find her blog at www.theartkitblog.com.
Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND earned her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine. She is the best-selling author of the book, Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth: The New Momâ€™s Guide to Navigating the Fourth Trimester, and is launching a new program aimed to support fertility and healthy pregnancies. Find her website at www.jolenebrighten.com Dr. Ayelet Connell-Giammatteo, PhD, PT earned her doctorate in neuropediatrics with a focus on alternative therapies for children with autism from Union Institute & University; and her degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Hartford. Ayelet was Dean of the Connecticut School of Integrative Manual Therapy in CT for several years and now owns a wellness center in Bloomfield, CT.
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letter from the editor Dear friends, It feels a bunch more like spring than it did last month, doesn’t it? I love the warmth, the tinge of green on the hillsides, and the buds and blossoms bursting out on the trees. This month we celebrate Earth Day. It’s the perfect month for this! It feels as though the earth is coming alive, rebirthing herself, and giving that first big breath that says, “I’m here! I’m alive!” Enjoy this month’s issue with articles on having an inner earth day of your own, painting rocks with your kiddos, and enriching your aware-
ness of autism, to name a few. I really enjoyed the article about storytelling and how it can bless the lives of our daughters. You’ll find it sweetly empowering. What we tell our girls is so critical, especially in these times where it seems the conversation about gender and roles and rights and potential is at such an important juncture. I am thankful to the women in my history and my husband’s history, and the women of history itself, who have contributed to the dialogue and example for my own daughters. There have been some beautiful stories that have shaped who my girls are. I am so thankful for their grandma who took the time to keep a rich personal journal, who recorded so many experiences, and whose stories are now ours to soak up and learn from. Here’s to legacy! Warmly,
Ingrid Sorensen Editor
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Why Do You Want Another Me? by Naomi Aldort
“Mom, why do you need another Yonatan,” asked my first born, looking at my growing belly. My heart sank. “No, I do not need another Yonatan,” I said, hugging him affectionately. Then I connected with his eyes and said, “There is no other Yonatan. You are the only ‘you’ there will ever be; I love you. I will always love you more and more.”
comprehend this concept any more than you would welcome another lover for your spouse.
It used to be easier in the extended family where there were numerous caregivers. In today’s nuclear family, however, children compete for the care of just one adult most of the day. A seven-year-old would happily welcome a new baby as a wonderYet, no matter how much we explain ful addition, but a toddler or a young and include a young child in wel- child who is still seeing himself as the coming his new sibling, he will not needy one is likely to experience an NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 13
inner turmoil. Your focus on another baby can be shocking and painful, evoking anything from joy to despair and aggression. It is not possible, and not our goal to eliminate the experience that comes with a new baby. Life is a wonderful ride and each new turn is a mountain to climb allowing us to see a grander view and an expanded horizon. Our goal is to facilitate the child’s emotional resilience so he can face this and other transitions with strength and joy. Indeed, you won’t always be able to provide everything your child needs, but you can always stay connected, loving and affirming of his feelings and his emotional experiences. He can climb the steep mountain if he can fully express himself along the path, knowing that your love is unshaken by his falls. Although not as common, some wee ones seem to flow mostly happily with the arrival of a sibling, specially if we understand how to prevent jealousy in the first place. How a child would react over time to a young sibling depends also on age, personality, parental presence and relationship, circumstances, the presence or absence of older siblings or relatives, the child’s interests and activities, friends, and more.
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Before delving into the issue of the jealous child and his aggression, it is important not to interpret every conflict as a need for some deep psychological intervention. Some tears and pulls and shoves are simply part of life among children. For example, I recall a child who was running around the house in circles, snatching a toy out of the baby’s hands, and returning it to him in the next round. He repeated this routine and the baby would scream for a second and then just watch his brother with anticipation. The mother smiled and asked her child, “Do you love making your brother scream?” The child noded “yes” with a spark in his eyes. The baby seemed engaged, playing his screaming role predictably. He didn’t seem bothered nor cried for help but looked entertained and focused on doing his scream on cue. If his brother stopped, he would have most likely crawled after him, wanting more. Why teach him victimhood when he is at peace? Sometimes the game is innocent but the baby needs help. We can stay peaceful and offer solutions or changes if needed without judging the child or teaching the baby to be a victim. We can join the game and add humor, suggest a kinder way, or add something new that changes the dynamics. However, often it is the baby that ruins the child’s art
or games and we forget to protect him which is the cause of his sense of loss, helplessness and the resulting aggression or depression. Children tend to do self-healing games like the one of snatching toys from the baby’s hand. You can add more healing power games as described in my book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves. The child has valid reason for her behavior. The helpless newborn is often non threatening to the child. As soon as the little one crawls, the real shock starts to settle in, “This is another person who gets in my way, gets mommy’s and daddy’s attention and wants things that I want.” Where is the life I used to have with “Mommy and Daddy and I?” or the life in which “I am the baby of the family?” The former happy existance the child is yearning to return to is out of reach: “I used to be held and cared for… and now I am looking at mommy caring for another baby.” She may be very excited and loving, speically if you manage to keep her life mostly unchanged. But she can also feel anxious, wondering if you needed to bring “another one like her” because she is not good enough anymore. Therefore, if your child starts anoyNATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 15
ing the baby with intent and repetition, realize that she is in pain and avoid moralizing or giving her the impression that the baby is more important than she is. She needs hugs not judgements. Telling her repeatedly not to hurt the baby only sinks her heart further, because she gets the message that the baby is the important loved treasure – not she. Instead, you can validate her feelings saying something like, “Do you sometimes wish to be with me, without the baby? I miss being with you by ourselves too.” And, obviously, make plans to spend one-on-one time with your child, when another adult can be with the baby, when the baby is asleep or self-occupied, or when you hire help. As parents we must act not as judges, but as protectors and providers. It is up to us to prevent the stress that causes the child’s aggression. Some parents worry that being kind towards the aggressive child is a “reward” of “bad behavior.” However, the child is not experiencing a reward, nor does he experience a bad behavior. He doesn’t have consious control over what drives his actions and is his aggression is a cry for help. It is doubting our love that causes the child’s stress and aggression. If we respond with anger, we will confirm her worst fear that we don’t love her and that she is failing to be worthy. In 16| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
her despair she is likely to be driven to more aggression. Or, if you manage to control her impulses, you will see good behavior, likely at a very high price. The submissive and pleasing child might shut down emotionally and disconnect from her true self, leading to serious mental problems over time. When, instead, we listen, and offer love and solutions that rebuild the child’s sense of worth and lovability, she will have no need to hurt her sibling. Healing and preventing jealousybased behaviors It is your job to prevent that which fules the stressesful behaviors. Listen to the child and spend one-on-one time with him daily. Let him know how much you cherish being with him. In addition, take advantage of any opportunities to nurture the connection, even while spending one minute helping him in the bathroom or wiping his face in the kitchen. You can towel dry him with a kiss and say, “I get to be with you now, without the baby, just you and me, so lovely.” One minute of authentic connection and affection can undo a lot of self-doubt. Often a child looks at you holding the baby, and his little heart sinks. In such tender moments you can tell him, “When I hold the baby, I love
you. It doesn’t matter what and who toward “big boy” activities. But we I hold. I always love you.” want to bring to light the joy of being older. He can go riding his tricycle in Make sure the child doesn’t have the park with daddy, build from clay, to “sacrifice” his needs for the baby play ball or drum. When you spend too often. When you must ask a child time with him, you can bring to his to stop something for the sake of the attention the advantages, “Aren’t baby, you can frame things with a we having fun riding scooters in the positive focus. For example: If you park; the baby cannot do that, but say, “Stop the noise so your brother you and I are having so much fun.” can nurse and fall asleep,” the child Or, “I love sitting and reading books percieves, “The baby is important. I with you.” Likewise, provide social am not.” Instead, you can say with play time with a friend, maybe an excitement, “Oh good, lets be quiet older child, go hiking or boating, now, the baby is falling asleep. Soon offer the child to take karate class, you and I can have time by our- tumbling, dance, swimming or muselves. I can’t wait. Would you like to sic… These engagements can help bring some books to read, so we are him enjoy being a child and be less ready for our time together?” inclined to fight for his position as a baby. Another way to give your child a sense that his life is still as important Likewise, giving a child responsibilis by protecting his autonomy. Put his itiges that help him feel useful and creations and toys out of the baby’s appreciated as the more mature reach. Don’t insist that he shares, and one can be great self-esteem boostavoid or minimize situations in which er. I am not talking about annoying he cannot get what he needs be- chores, but about bringing the diacause of the baby. “We cannot go pers, reminding you the time to go, because the baby is asleep,” can entertaining the baby, pushing the change to, “Yes we can go. Let’s shopping cart, calling daddy to tell get ready so when the baby wakes him what to buy for dinner, helping up, we are ready.” in the garden and other fun contributions. The problem that fuels the child competition with the baby is feeling that However, avoid the patronizing “You he is a baby too. He wants what the are a big boy/girl now.” These words baby gets. We don’t want to deny are loaded with expectations, preshim affection and care, nor push him sure and denial of the child’s likeNATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 17
ly desire to be like the baby. Keep things in balance and be sensitive and responsive to the child’s age and inner direction. If he is needy of more baby time, denying it is not helpful and would create more resistence and jealousy. Be gentle and responsive to the child’s point of view. When the child hurts the baby If you see your child being rough with the baby, avoid saying, “But you love the baby; touch her nicely...” because these words contradict his inner experience in that moment (even though we know that he loves her). This is not the time to express your love either; he won’t believe you, because it contradicts his likely sense of guilt. The young child who fantasizes hurting the baby believes himself to be “bad” and not worthy of your love, “If mom only knew my horrible thoughts... She cannot love me because I am bad.”
vanish with this kind of confidence. It doesn’t mean that you let him hurt the baby until then; you don’t. But you let him show you how he wishes to hurt the baby. Let him experience that nothing can take your love away, and his aggression will vanish. If your child refuses to use a doll to dramatize his feelings, offer him to draw or talk. If he seems shut down it may be that he does not trust you and is afraid to be judged and lose your love even more. In that case you will need to regain his trust slowly, sharing your own childhood fantasies about a sibling, making sure to stop giving him a sense that the baby is more important, and spending time with him, unconditionally loving. Healing your child’s jealousy is not a one time fix-all, but a ride to be adjusten as needed through the years. Your child always wants to do well, but cannot control himself (even if he covers up his feelings by pretending to laugh or not care). He has no control over the fantasies nor over his actions. As one of my children (then five) once said, “Mommy, can the homeopath give me a remedy so I won’t want to hurt the baby?”
The greatest relief for the child is to know that you know his worst fantasies. Give him a doll and say, “Show me what you wish to do to the baby.” When he realizes that while knowing his fantasies you still love him, then, and only then, he can live at peace with himself and feel worthy of your ©Copyright Naomi Aldort love. His need to hurt the baby will
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A is for Acetaminophen: Autism, Allergies, Asthma and Apoptosis by Guggie Daly
For decades, thanks to careful marketing strategies, parents had the idea that acetaminophen was safe and effective, even during pregnancy. When ibuprofen entered the U.S. market, it was required to undergo more research than acetaminophen due to better regulatory standards at the time. This situation was used to continue to control market share by implying to parents that ibuprofen was dangerous and acetaminophen was the classic, safe option.
clude scenes of a child feeling cranky and not going to sleep easily. The implication is clear: this product is safe and perfect for using every day. But science is showing such an implication to be science fiction.
Acetaminophen held a seat of honor as an OTC. Doctors tell pregnant women itâ€™s perfectly safe to use during pregnancy. They also encourage parents to give it to children before and after vaccination. Many parents reach for acetaminophen to control healthy fevers or to soothe small pains from teething and minor illnesses. The current commercials promoting it often in-
Since GSH is produced within the body through the methylation cycle and is used for hundreds of substances on a daily basis, the levels for each individual vary. This is also true because roughly half the population has genetic polymorphisms, such as MTHFR, that make their methylation cycle less efficient. Add to that an increasing burden in the modern world from many sourc-
The primary and acute danger of acetaminophen is the influence on the liver, and thus the entire immune system. For the body to metabolize acetaminophen, it must use a primary antioxidant called Glutathione (GSH). Glutathione is produced by the body through the methylation cyThat untested truth is now wavering as re- cle. It is stored in the liver and used to mesearch begins to mount against the num- tabolize and excrete a variety of substances, chemicals, and hormones. ber one parental OTC.
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es of environmental toxins and chemical exposures, and it’s clear that many people have a struggling liver with borderline or deficient levels of GSH. Within that context, just one, basic dosage of acetaminophen can wipe out the body’s current store of GSH. And in fact, this happens frequently every year, to such a degree that the FDA calls it a, “...severe public health problem.” Their report claims that acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, and that roughly 450 people died annually. Only 48% of the cases involved an actual overdose, meaning even when using the product correctly, it can still cause severe liver damage and potentially death.
Researchers also have continued controversy over the connection between asthma and acetaminophen usage. The initial medical literature showed a significant correlation. Additional analysis lessened, but did not disprove the correlation, instead underlying the significance of timing and comorbid risks such as frequent infections. The researchers speculated that increased usage prenatally might carry the greatest risk for damage.
When circling back to the hepatotoxicity (liver damage) of acetaminophen, science takes us down another dark rabbit hole: mitochondrial damage and Autism like symptoms. This study here, as an example, determined the toxicity of basic acetaminophen overdose, concluding Acute liver damage is dangerous and that it causes mitochondrial damage and scary enough. But, even subclinical or par- nuclear DNA fragmentation that results in tial damage has its own long term health necrotic cell death, or what is known as consequences. A hurting liver in a devel- apoptosis. oping child is going to impact health and wellness in multiple ways throughout life, What is the significance that acetaminsuch as by increasing the risk for vitamin ophen causes mitochondrial damage, K deficiency. And decreasing the body’s besides bringing up the valid concern of ability to metabolize other toxins and ex- damaging the body? It’s the connection crete them from the body. Breaking down between mitochondrial damage and auhormones is also a vital aspect of liver tism behaviors. In the journal of Molecular function, so the endocrine system will be- Psychiatry, researchers not only found a come dysfunctional over the years. It’s not connection between mitochondrial dyssurprising that medical studies have con- function and autism, but they then realized firmed the endocrine disruption such as in that only 19% of the cases had an underlythis study here, which showed an inhibition ing genetic condition related to the issue. of testosterone production. Meaning, the mitochondrial damage was secondary-caused by an external factor. But, no! As if that’s still not enough against Such as acetaminophen usage. acetaminophen, researchers found more. In a recent study, scientists evaluated the Finally, since acetaminophen depletes role of acetaminophen use during preg- GSH rapidly and thoroughly, it also hits the nancy and discovered that it was asso- immune system. It’s basic knowledge that ciated with increased ADHD behaviors in GSH is a vital aspect of the immune system. the offspring. As noted in this study here:
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“In fact, GSH is essential for some functions of the immune system, both innate and adaptive, including T-lymphocyte proliferation,38,39 phagocytic activity of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN),40 and dendritic cell functions,41 and is also important for the first step of adaptive immunity, consisting of the antigen presentation by antigen-presenting cells (APC). Indeed, cell-mediated immunity requires that protein antigens be first degraded in the endocytic vesicles of APCs (eg, macrophages, dendritic cells), so that the smaller peptides can be presented on the cell surface by the major histocompatibility complex to activate proliferation of antigen-specific T cells. One of the first steps in antigen degradation and processing is the reduction of disulfide bonds,42 which requires GSH.43 It should also be noted that although GSH inhibits the production of most inflammatory cytokines, it is required to maintain an adequate interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production by dendritic cells,44 which is essential for the host defense against intracellular pathogens such as mycobacteria.45”
it shows that clearly, this OTC drug requires careful research and a careful risk assessment before consenting to use. It is not a safe product for every day minor aches and complaints. It has distinct influence on the body that can cause a cascade from the original intervention, resulting in long term damage and the creation of additional conditions. It can alter development during pregnancy and is at least casually connected to a laundry list of health concerns.
Consider rounding up all the acetaminophen in your home and safely discarding it. Switch to natural methods of pain relief, and learn to distinguish a healthy fever from an abnormal fever so you know when to seek medical intervention. Educate yourself about febrile seizures; even the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke clearly lists in their fact sheet that using fever reducers has not been proven effective at preventing febrile seizures. They also note that it is the rapid rise in temperature, and not the temperature itself, which causes a febrile seizure. This means a child can seize at 99 or 106. You can read more Scientists have known that GSH is vital for here. immune health, and they’ve known that acetaminophen can easily deplete GSH. Finally, if you do come across a situation But despite this, doctors and nurses con- where pain management is necessary, tinue to give outdated advice to parents. consider researching dye-free ibuprofen And this directly dips into the vaccination provided you don’t have a history of kiddebate. In a study published in 2009, re- ney disease or allergies to the drug. It does searchers concluded that giving acet- not hit the liver metabolic pathways the aminophen for vaccinations, “results in same way as acetaminophen, and taken reduced immunogenicity and should not infrequently for pain reasons, it might be a be routinely recommended.” Yet, most safer option when lesser treatments fail. If parents continue to use acetaminophen acetaminophen still remains the only drug before or after routine vaccinations, and option and is medically necessary such as during mild childhood illnesses! during pregnancy, taking steps to support the liver and to replenish GSH are necesDespite the cultural acceptance of acet- sary to mitigate the damage and potential aminophen, the way the body metabolizes long term consequences.
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ATTACHMENT PARENTING & HOMESCHOOLING by Kerry McDonald, M.Ed.
nurtured, and stimulated, and properly guided, that the parents burn out, feeling like they are not enough for their pre-school or school-age child anymore. Perhaps they have a younger child at home whose intense baby needs leave them feeling incapable of properly educating their older child, or perhaps they just feel that their child needs more stimulation, more resources, or more But sometimes, it seems, families fo- guidance than they can provide. cused on Attachment Parenting have trouble making the leap into To these parents I say: your children homeschooling/unschooling. I see it need less not more. all the time: parents so focused on providing the â€œrightâ€? environment for As children grow, they need less their children, so focused on mak- structure, less guidance, less parening sure their children are constantly tal involvement. What they need Many families, mine included, stumbled into homeschooling/unschooling as a result of Attachment Parenting. Valuing the close family bonds and natural development that Attachment Parenting fosters from infancy to toddlerhood, these parents often seek a more natural, childled learning environment for their school-age children.
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more of is not a parent’s unrelenting energy and constant responsiveness, but more space, more time, more play, more freedom to discover their world on their own terms, to learn as they go. As Dr. Peter Gray writes in his excellent new book, Free To Learn: “In the name of education, we have increasingly deprived children of the time and freedom they need to educate themselves through their own means… We have created a world in which children must suppress their natural instincts to take charge of their own education and, instead, mindlessly follow paths to nowhere laid out for them by adults.” (p.19) As a mom who believes passionately in the power of Attachment Parenting to foster independence, and confidence, and sociability (see Dr. Sears’s graph on the long-term impact of AP on development), I think there is a natural progression toward independence as children reach pre-school age. At this point, all of the trust and connection and responsiveness we have shown our children in babyhood and toddlerhood--and continue to display as they grow-begins to naturally lead into more independent children who are self-directed, curious, and eager to learn from the world around them.
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Unfortunately, I think many parents, but especially AP ones, see this natural independence, this natural eagerness to learn, as a signal that they can’t provide enough of themselves anymore to educate their children. If instead these parents recognized this independence and eagerness as natural outcomes of a successful AP upbringing, they may be less hard on themselves, more forgiving, and more willing to allow their children the freedom to learn on their own, without adult coercion. As Dr. Sears says: “Attachment parenting may sound like one big givea-thon. Initially, there is a lot of giving. This is a fact of new parent life. Babies are takers, and parents are givers… Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and teenage years.” If as AP parents, we learn to let go, to trust our children and their natural will to learn, to trust ourselves to provide the time and space and freedom for this natural learning to occur without adult interference--to give less of ourselves not more--we can avoid the parenting burn-out and self-doubt that can lead AP parents to unnecessarily dismiss the homeschooling/unschooling option.
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The Benefits of GARDENING WITH CHILDREN by Saidy Lauer Corneglio
Springtime is synonymous with new life. The once-sleeping bees and butterflies begin buzzing again. Crocuses burst through the barely thawed ground while the air is still crisp and the days are just beginning to lengthen. The snow has melted and inevitably this signifies the beginning of gardening season. Adults have long enjoyed gardening as a solitary and meditative activity tending to the roses and radishes. However, the wide array of benefits to be reaped from gardening is also applicable to children of all ages. So much so, that exposing children to gardening from a very young age can alter the rest of their lives by keeping them happier and healthier overall.
Gardening with children provides wonderful opportunities for handson learning, inquiry, observation, and experimentation. Gardening also helps children understand and respect nature and our environment. When children participate in growing edible plants, they are more motivated to try the fruits of their labor. Not only will they be more likely to try new vegetables, but also they inevitably develop a deeper understanding of where their food comes from and the hard work it takes to cultivate a garden. The spring season is bursting with opportunities to spend time with your children in the great outdoors and in your own backyard. Itâ€™s not just fun NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 29
for the whole family, but it’s actually one of the best ways to improve your health and strengthen the bond you have with your kids. The benefits of gardening include, but are not limited to: building respect for the environment and a love of Mother Nature, a deeper knowledge of where food comes from, the development of fine and gross motor skills, improving mental health and relieving stress, immune system regulation, and enriching our relationship with our children.
the garden: sorting seeds, digging holes and playing with the soil. Maria Montessori, founder of Montessori schools, strongly believed that children should be in touch with the natural world, encouraging gardening and growing activities and playing outside in the sandbox or the dirt to facilitate the development of motor skills (http://www.montessori.org. uk/what_is_montessori/the_environment).
Planting seeds and growing skills
As many of us know, just being in nature is therapeutic. But when we are actively connecting with nature through gardening, those benefits increase significantly. Gardening is a meditative practice; it’s exercise; it’s enjoyable; it allows us to be nurturing and to connect with nature physically.
Can dirt make us happy?
From a very young age children begin developing hand-eye coordination and other fine motor skills. These skills are the foundation for writing, drawing, fastening buttons, and tying shoelaces. These basic skills will go on to serve your children during a life full of sports, dance, climbing trees, skipping stones and any other Recent research has discovered anphysical activity they enjoy. other reason that has perhaps been overlooked: the dirt itself. More speGardening incorporates many of the cifically, a strain of bacterium in soil, movements that will assist your chil- Mycobacterium vaccae, has been dren in developing these skills. Many found to trigger the release of seraof gardening’s subtle movements, tonin, which elevates mood and delike grabbing the soil or planting creases anxiety. And equally impresseeds requires hand-eye coordina- sive, this little bacterium has been tion and fine motor skills. Children will found to improve cognitive function develop these skills at an astounding and even has the potential to treat rate if you allow them to help you in cancer and other diseases.
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This research signifies that the bacterium could affect us by simply getting our hands dirty in the garden. “Gardeners inhale these bacteria while digging in the soil, but they also encounter M. vaccae in their vegetables or when soil enters a cut in their skin,” says Dorothy Matthews, a researcher at the Sage Colleges in Troy, NY. “From our study we can say that it is definitely good to be outdoors–it’s good to have contact with these organisms. It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety [in children] and improve the ability to learn new tasks.” If you’ve ever felt hesitant allowing your child to run amok in the mud, or get covered in dirt – let your worries subside. Improving mental health, relieving anxiety and keeping kids happy are just a few incentives to get your children out in the garden and actively engaged with nature. And if they eat a little dirt? Even better. Gardening improves our health It may seem counterintuitive in our over-sterilized modern society, but being exposed to direct sunlight, dirt, germs and allergens can actu-
ally make our immune systems stronger and more robust. Sun exposure increases the amount of Vitamin D in your body and in turn, fights off colds and the flu. When we get soil under our fingernails while gardening, this soil is rich in many kinds of good bacteria like M. vaccae. In addition to improving your mood, these beneficial bacteria can help alleviate symptoms of skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, and respiratory issues like allergies and asthma. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that children raised on traditional farms are 30% – 50% less likely than their peers to develop asthma. The children’s daily exposure to a high diversity of bacteria and fungi in the soil is directly responsible for the significantly reduced likelihood of asthma. This illustrates an even larger problem for urban dwellers in the first world: adults and children are living in a hyper-hygienic environment that is starving them of the bacterial and microbial inputs necessary to properly develop a fully functioning immune system. Children growing up without access to green spaces, backyards and gardens are living in an environment devoid of the beneficial bacterium they need to
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develop a robust immune system, and a life free from the autoimmune disorders and chronic illnesses that plague our communities today in staggering numbers. Human interaction with a myriad of microbes and bacterium is vital from the very first day of life. After a baby is born, its developing immune system requires microbial exposures for several crucial purposes. First, upon contact with a wide variety of organisms, baby’s immune system develops a memory of these microbes, allowing rapid recognition of dangerous organisms upon subsequent exposures. Second, when these microbes are introduced to the gut, they maintain a vital background level of activation of the innate immune system. Third, the system must develop a network of regulatory pathways and regulatory T cells in order to stop inappropriate immune attacks on self; harmless allergens; and gut contents. If this immune-regulation fails to stop these unnecessary immune attacks, the consequences are autoimmune diseases such as: multiple sclerosis, allergies, eczema, hay fever, asthma, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
and chronic illness is to let them play in the dirt and help us in the garden. And you don’t need a farm or even a backyard for your children to benefit. If you have a balcony or a sunny window – let your children sow a few seeds in small pots and watch with wonder as their plants sprout and grow. Buy some organic potting soil and a small child-size spade and simply let them dig in the soil and shovel it into the pots. Let them lick their soiled hands and enjoy the sensory experience. They’ll have fun and you’ll be happy knowing you’re boosting their immune system. Planning a Children’s Garden When planning a garden, you can involve your children of all ages every step of the way. Kids will love to help prepare the soil, select the plants, plant seeds, watch them grow and finally harvest the fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Always bear two things in mind: How much space is available for the garden and what is the age of the child? For toddlers and preschoolers, soil preparation may be the most fun part of gardening. My 17 month old One of the simplest and least expen- loves to dig with spades and spoons sive ways we can help protect our and this helps prepare the garden children from autoimmune disorders plot. Allow your child to till the soil,
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and add in some organic soil and Give children ownership of their garcompost to make the plot rich in nu- den, whether it’s a few pots on the trients. balcony or a section of your backyard garden that’s just for your child. If you live in an apartment, a sunny windowsill or balcony can provide From the age of 4 or 5, children can enough space for a child’s contain- understand plants’ differing needs er garden. It’s amazing what you as well as the insects that live with can grow in a few terra cotta pots them. Once they spend some time and containers. A wide variety of in their garden, they’ll easily learn herbs and vegetables can grow just about the natural environment and as well in containers as they can in will be able to tell beneficial insect your backyard, including: Beets, predators from bugs that eat their Carrots, Herbs, Peas, Potatoes, Rad- precious crops. Make sure you teach ishes, Green Onions, Broad Beans, your children about all the fantastic Cherry Tomatoes, and all sorts of sal- natural methods available to keep ad greens like Spinach, Arugula and crops vibrant and healthy, and keep Kale, and practically any herb or pests away without using toxic pesflower you can imagine. ticides or fertilizers. There is an abundance of advice online on how to Choose plants that are colorful, naturally keep critters off your crops. tactile and aromatic. Children love For further reading on natural pest sensory play and vibrant colors. control, read this article on Mother Herbs are excellent options because Earth News. they’re relatively easy to grow in large or small spaces; they’re won- After hours of planting, watering derfully aromatic and often flaunt and weeding this spring, you and beautiful leaves and petals. A few your child will have created priceless of my 3 year old’s favorite herbs are: memories all the while having fun, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, ca- learning together, increasing your lendula, basil and sage. Flowers are happiness and boosting your imanother wonderful option and sev- mune systems. Gardening with your eral can be even help keep pests at children is certainly something you bay, such as, marigolds, chrysanthe- can be proud of. mums, sunflowers and petunias.
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AUTISM & DIET Dietary Interventions for Behavioral Disorders by Linda Folden Palmer
There is no doubt that gastrointestinal pain can alter a child’s behavior in many ways. In addition to the direct emotional responses a child can display in reaction to discomfort, the brain—and hence behavior—can be affected chemically by food intolerance reactions. Regardless of the initial cause of food sensitivities, whether purely genetic, early antibiotic drug exposure, or from another source, chronic reactions over time can lead to autoimmune symptom complexes such as asthma or autism.
Gastrointestinal complaints are known to be very common among children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) as well as with ADHD. I demonstrated in last month’s article that such symptoms as diarrhea and constipation are not just behavioral results of the brain alterations attributed to ASDs. GI conditions are recognized to be part of the cause of autistic and ADHD behaviors in a large subset of these children. At times, they may
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even be part of a whole systemic autoimmune process that leads to Reactions to various food proteins such brain alterations. are often at the base of an ASD child’s gut troubles and behaviorEfforts to heal a child’s gut are worthy al responses. In turn, food reactions if they may reduce problematic be- may cause or be caused by poor flohaviors and increase a child’s social ra and damaged gut linings. Other and learning abilities. Many parents flora-nurturing and gut-healing steps have found just that. The condition are important components of an efis generally 3-pronged: poor gut flo- fort to improve a child’s behavioral ra, damaged intestinal linings, and symptoms, but as long as a child’s intolerance reactions to foods. Each system is being riled up by food recomponent needs to be addressed, actions, greater healing is unlikely. and improvement of each will lead to improvement of the others, hope- A preponderance of milk and gluten fully then leading to behavioral im- antibodies has been found in ASD provements. In addition, this gut children compared to those not on healing can lead to reduced risks for the spectrum, meaning that many other autoimmune disorders down more ASD children are reacting to the line, such as diabetes, arthritis, these foods than are typical chiland inflammatory bowel disease. dren. Although parents have found milk and gluten to be the most comDo Milk and Gluten Cause Autism? mon offenders, it’s quite common for Powerful correlations between ac- various other foods to be problemattive intestinal food reactions and ic for any given child. altered child behavior have been documented by many researchers Numerous studies and several study for decades and have been ob- reviews have been performed with served thousands of times over by diets free of milk and gluten in atfamilies of food sensitive children. tempt to reduce symptoms in auMany parents report that their ASD tistic children. Both of these foods children’s behavioral symptoms and have peculiar properties that can functioning improve through dietary be specifically linked to gut damage interventions and other gut healing and potential brain effects. Howevmeasures. The same is true for those er, when researchers look at ASD labeled with ADHD.
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children avoiding these two food ingredients, consistent improvements are not being measured. These studies are then paraded as “proof” that autism is never related to diet. These studies do make it clear that random exclusion of milk and gluten— and only milk and gluten—is not an across-the-board autism cure. Diets need to be tailored to each child’s specific food reactions. Improvements are not going to be exhibited from any food eliminations if a child is still reacting to some other foods or additives. Some children are not reacting to milk or gluten and have entirely different foods offending them. Likely, a portion of ASD children are not reacting to any foods. Although the random milk and gluten avoidance analyses come up short, other studies and reviews do reveal that a considerable subset of ASD children suffer from GI conditions related to food reactions. When high quality elimination diets are performed to discover exactly what foods a child reacts to, significant results are measured with strict avoidance of these foods. The behavioral links are so strong in many ADHD children that it’s quite possible
that without their consumption of offending foods they have no ADHD. Foods and the Brain Intestinal food reactions lead to intestinal inflammation or more serious intestinal membrane degradation (villous atrophy). This kind of damage allows proteins to leak across the intestinal membranes, leading to inflammatory immune reactions in the blood. Researchers have discovered various manners by which such inflammation in the body can lead to slight interruptions of the blood-brain barrier. An impaired blood-brain barrier may allow various inflammatory factors to pass directly into the brain, altering function and behavior. Other researchers describe routes by which inflammatory factors can have influence over brain pathways without directly crossing the blood-brain barrier. In addition to these mechanisms, scientists have mapped out direct brain responses to stress. They have found that stress, which can result from the pain of a food reaction, can cause the activation of brain mast cells and the release of histamines directly inside the brain. Various kinds of hormone releases are also documented to occur in some food sensitivity reactions. These too
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are seen to have direct effects in the cases, the opportunity may exist for brain. improved behavioral symptoms with avoidance of potentially offending Via any of these routes, food reac- foods, possibly reducing or eliminattions can lead directly to behav- ing the question of medication and ior-modifying brain responses. Af- creating a healthier child. fected children can display easily triggered moods, hyperactivity, re- Blood Testing duced attention, withdrawal, tantrum-throwing, and even bouts of Immediate-type food reactions that laughing or euphoria. Besides these occur within minutes of exposure fit short-term reactions that occur hours into the strict definition of food alor days after an offending food ex- lergies. These are typically measurposure, chronic reactions and gut able through blood tests for IgE antiflora interruptions can lead to more bodies, or through skin scratch tests. prolonged autoimmune processes Food reactions among ASD children such as those which often lead to an are typically delayed and not IgE autism diagnosis. antibody related. Intestinal delayed reactions, often referred to as intolDeciding to Explore Dietary Connec- erance reactions or food sensitivity tions reactions, start some 2 to 72 hours after exposure to the food and possiInterestingly, many medical stud- bly last for a few days. IgG antibody ies of dietary links summarize that if blood tests are intended to diagmedication treatments for a child’s nose delayed-type food reactions autism or ADHD symptoms fail, elimi- but their sensitivity and accuracy nation dieting is worth a try. Wouldn’t are not great. Additionally, standard it make more sense to try it the other celiac disease tests for that specific way around? It seems more reason- kind of gluten intolerance are also able to determine how much, if any, often negative in children on the progress can be made by exploring spectrum who are clearly reacting whether a child exhibits actual intes- to gluten. Any negative test results tinal, behavioral, or other reactions mean nothing. It’s entirely possible to milk or gluten, other foods, or to that the child is reacting to foods food colorings or additives. In these that do not show up in any standard
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blood or skin tests.
from her diet as well.
Although today’s mainstream blood tests are only weakly helpful in determining the presence of food reactions and which foods are being reacted to, extensive blood and biopsy tests in research laboratories are able to document the various bodily reactions. Some of the immune system components found to be involved include T cells, mast cells, several interleukins and other inflammatory cytokines, as well as IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies and platelet-activating factors.
Typically, food reactions are thought of as occurring in response to food proteins, but reactions to various chemicals in foods are common as well. The most common food chemical sensitivities are to added sulfite preservatives, benzoates, various food colorings, and to high levels of salicylates or histamines found naturally in certain foods. These are found to present statistically significant results in many studies and reviews, more so with ADHD but also in some autism studies.
Finding the Offending Foods
The use of probiotic supplements, cartilage factors (such as in bone stock), omega-3 fatty acids, and other gut-healing supplements can greatly help to support the process. This diet is maintained while the child’s gut hopefully heals. During this time, parents are watching for any GI symptoms to go away and observing any changes in the child’s behavior. The child is then “challenged” with each of the eliminated foods over time, one at a time, and watched for the return of symptoms. In a mildly affected child, one may find a much more comfortable child within several days after removal of potential allergens from the diet. In
Elimination dieting is the key to discovering what foods are affecting a child, and what effects they have. The goal is to eliminate any potentially offending foods so that the child’s digestive system recovers from inflammation and damage, and hopefully behavioral improvements begin to occur. For a condition as complicated as autism, it’s best to perform a highly extensive elimination diet from the start, whereby only a handful of nutritionally complimentary, very low allergen foods are fed. If a child is breastfeeding, the mother needs to remove the foods
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the case of a child with moderate to severe symptoms, extensive tissue damage and flora imbalance can preclude observable symptom improvements for weeks.
Only strict avoidance of problematic foods will maintain a healthy gut and behavior improvements. After a long period of gut healing, some children It’s Not Lactose are able to regain tolerance to some foods. It’s common, however, for reThere is a highly common miscon- actions to re-develop over time. Any ception that even many doctors re-introduction process needs to be still get wrong. Do not confuse milk carried out gingerly. protein allergy or intolerance with lactose intolerance. Lactose intol- If extensive and precise food elimierance does not involve any kind of nations do not bring about improveimmune system factors and the only ments in your child, and blood IgE symptoms revolve around gas and and IgG tests give no clues, be sure diarrhea. Lactose intolerance tends you’ve also examined other expoto develop with age and is simply an sures your child encounters, such insufficiency of the enzyme needed as fragrances, animals, body care to digest this milk sugar. Any rash- products, and cleaning products es, itching, breathing difficulties, or in the home. In chemically sensitive constipation in response to milk con- children, such agents can intensisumption are reactions to proteins. fy food reactions. Finally, you may Both milk protein reactions and lac- resolve that the source of child’s tose intolerance can cause abdom- symptoms is not a product of deterinal pain, diarrhea, and gas, but minable food or other environmenmost children who develop symp- tal exposure. Depending upon the toms from milk ingredients are ac- severity of symptoms, you may wish tually reacting to milk proteins, not to return to your integrative care to lactose. Intestinal damage, such practitioner for other kinds of testing, as that which occurs in sensitivity re- including in-depth stool tests. Other actions to milk proteins, can result in gut healing efforts may still bring on temporary reductions in available some positive results over time. lactase enzyme. Once some healing occurs, good lactose digestion References and further information can be found in the author’s book: Baby Poop http://www.amazon.com/Bashould return. by-Poop-Pediatrician-Constipation-Allergies/dp/0975317024
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A Classic Pregnancy Book Fully Updated by Holly Scudero
Expecting women and their families have been relying on the books of Penny Simkin for decades. Now, the classic Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, which Simkin co-authored with Janet Whalley and other medical professionals, has been fully revised for a new generation of expecting parents.
want to more-or-less read the book straight through, those who are looking for specific information can easily locate it through the table of contents or the detailed index at the end. Most readers will love the overall layout of the book, which recognizes that most women have healthy, normal pregnancies and donâ€™t want to be overwhelmed with information about everything that can go wrong. Possible complications, both during pregnancy and labor, are covered, but are put in separate chapters both to reduce stress and to make those topics even easier to find for the women who need it.
This 500 plus page book truly is one of the most complete childbirth guides available. Most expecting mothers want plenty of information to help them have a healthy pregnancy and to help them have the kind of birth they want, and Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn defiLike any good pregnancy book, nitely delivers. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the NewEverything is extremely well-orga- born covers all the essentials. The nized, and while many readers will authors encourage readers to think
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early on about some of the important choices a pregnant woman must make, such as where to give birth and what kind of caregiver to work with during pregnancy, as well as picking a doctor for your baby after birth. Another chapter is devoted to typical changes and concerns; donâ€™t expect a detailed week-byweek guide, but there is a well-rounded breakdown of how a womanâ€™s body changes and how the baby grows during each trimester. Other chapters focus on the importance of having a healthy pregnancy, including thorough self-care, prenatal (medical) care, avoiding toxic substances, regular exercise, and eating a well-rounded diet. The book talks about getting ready for birth, including a detailed section about writing birth plans (and how reading a good book like this will provide you with all of the information necessary to write a completely personalized one!), and has an intensive chapter devoted to the reality of labor. There are three chapters that focus on labor pain, which is an important topic for many mamas. The perception of pain, comfort techniques (relaxation, movement, breathing, positions), and medical relief are all covered in depth, including plenty of pictures and charts. There is an entire chapter that focuses on cesare44| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
an sections, which is something that all women should know about just in case. Some of the chapters near the end discuss various aspects of adjusting to parenthood, including the postpartum period and feeding and caring for baby. Thereâ€™s even a chapter about being pregnant with a subsequent child, which makes this book that much more welcoming to people who are already parents. One thing to love about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is that it takes the time to talk directly to dads and partners off and on throughout different chapters. These sections will really help bring partners and anyone else who will be closely involved during the birth into the process, answering questions and opening discussions between everyone. In addition, this book does a fantastic job of being inclusive of everyone, including all kinds of nontraditional families. Single moms, blended families, same-sex couples, and transgender men will all find open acceptance in these pages, since motherhood casts a wide net. Another fantastic thing about this book is that it covers topics that other books either mention only vaguely or shy away from completely. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn welcomes home birth mamas as well as hospital or birth center mamas.
It brings up important facts about doulas. It provides a little more detail on some medical complications, such as Rh sensitivity and future pregnancies, that other books don’t even mention. It acknowledges that vaginal breech birth is (or should be) an option in some circumstances. It doesn’t endorse the practice, but acknowledges that unattended birth happens sometimes, and provides a checklist to walk parents through.
for natural-minded, “crunchy” mamas, though. While the information within will certainly appeal to anyone desiring a natural birth, the book goes to great lengths to have the right information for every expecting parent. This book will help you make decisions about your pregnancy, about your birth, and about your baby. Information is key for a satisfying birth experience, and this book is packed with it. Hospital or home, unmedicated or epidural, midwife or OB, this book is for YOU.
Don’t assume that this book is only
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Empower Your Daughter through Conscious Storytelling by Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” - Sue Monk Kidd
our stories, we would not learn from our mistakes, would never dream to emulate past heroes and heroines, and would never see anything but the here and now. We have to know where we’ve been to know where we can go. Being ignorant of our past would leave us hopeless for our future. Storytelling is a powerful vehicle that persuades the listener in a way that our evolutionary history has primed our brains to receive.
Storytelling is one of our oldest teaching tools and healing arts. Most historians and psychologists believe storytelling is one of the many elements that define and bind our humanity: humans are perhaps the only animals that create and tell stories. In fact, history itself is nothing but a series of stories that, when told cor- Stories are ubiquitous and our daughrectly, can teach us lessons, offer us ters encounter stories every day, ofinsights, and entertain us. Without ten without the awareness that they
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are an audience. One salient example of this unconscious storytelling is advertising. Companies hire marketing teams with psychology expertise and spend billions every year crafting stories to influence us to buy their products or think we need their services. These persuasive commercials can feel like an assault because most often the storyline they are promulgating is that we are lacking: we aren’t good enough, smart enough, rich enough, thin enough, etc. Our supposed deficits continue ad nauseam. Storytelling is powerful, and advertisers know this. Thankfully, as mothers, we can use the power of story to uplift our daughters. Our girls are listening and we have a unique access to their developing selves through conscious storytelling. Conscious storytelling is the intentional use of story to educate, empower, comfort, and guide. Through conscious storytelling, we have the powerful opportunity to reach our daughters in a way they are open to receiving. So, what stories do our daughters need most as they travel the path from little girls to young women?
Our daughters need empowering female narratives, both from our own lives and lineage, and from other remarkable women in history. Over time, these stories create a feathered nest where a girl knows she belongs, and from which she can fly, knowing it is a safe place for her to always return. Stories of the women from which she comes As a young girl, I felt a magnetic pull whenever my mother and her sister friends gathered in conversation. I could not keep my eyes off of them! When their conversation would shift to a hushed tone or after a sidelong glance in my direction, my whole little girl being would perk up and tune in like a radio antenna, straining to catch any morsel of the story. I was subconsciously taking notes – learning from women what it meant to be a woman. Now, as a mother, I see this same hunger in my daughter. She yearns to be near me, to be privy to the stories being told between Aunt Lindsay and Mom in the front seat of the minivan, just beyond earshot. Like a detective keenly searching for clues, our daughters are solving the mystery of womanhood itself. A 2010 study from Emory University’s
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Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life found a link between family knowledge and emotional well-being in children. In this study, the researchers used a twenty-question family knowledge scale alongside multiple standardized measures of family functioning, identity development, and well-being. They concluded that when children know more about their familyâ€™s history, they enjoy a stronger sense of control over their lives, higher self-esteem, and a belief that their families functioned successfully. There is power in knowing the stories from whence we come. Recognizing and honoring
the dignity, strength and accomplishments of the women in our own families leads to higher self-esteem in our daughters. Hearing stories about their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers helps our daughters to better understand their lives, the challenges they faced and ultimately better understand themselves. When stories like these are passed down from one generation to the next, we keep the present in touch with the past, reaffirm values, and pass on wisdom. It may be helpful to spend some time contemplating, or even researching
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if necessary, your matrilineal heritage and make a list of the stories you want your daughter to know and why. Excavate stories of strength, courage, compassion, and wisdom, and offer them to your daughter. What about adopted and blended families? There are many types of family situations, including adoption and blended families. The stories of family history we share with our daughters need not be genetic in origin; all children in a family have equal ownership of the family history because family is based on mutual love, connection, and sacrifice – not chromosomes. Stories of real-life heroines In a spiritual sense, we are all related and interconnected and any act of wisdom, courage, compassion or grace by one woman belongs to all women. Knowing the stories of history’s real-life heroic women offers your daughter comfort and inspiration as she faces inevitable challenges and hardships in her own life. Unfortunately, chances are your daughter will spend a disproportionate amount of time in school studying the men who shaped their country (and the world at large). Although some respectable attempts have been made to
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correct this imbalance in the U.S., since the introduction of Title 9, which prohibited “sex discrimination against students and employees of educational institutions” in the 1970s, textbooks and classroom lessons today still fall short of a complete and equally represented history. Dr. Myra Pollack Sadker pioneered much of the research documenting gender bias in American schools. In her book, Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls, Sadker shares that a history text for sixth graders, published in 1992, only mentioned eleven female names! Sadker and colleagues conducted a research experiment in which people were asked to list famous women from history, the only limitation being that they could not name entertainers or president’s wives. How do you think people did? How would your daughter do? Too often, the lists only contained a few names or none at all. Dr. Alan Ravitz, a prominent child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, explains that, “as kids individualize themselves from their parents, which is a natural part of development and growing up, they try to establish psychological and emotional independence. No matter the culture, they need somebody to look to, aside
from their parents, for guidance and a model for becoming an adult.” Considering the lack of women’s history and real-life role models offered in our school curriculums, to whom are our daughters turning to meet their developmental (and universal) need for role models? Culture icons and the influence of advertising are not sufficient substitutes. Young girls wearing Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus t-shirts, engrossed in the latest YouTube videos, need role models with a more lasting and positive impact. Sure, we did it as children too – Alyssa Milano and Lisa Bonet graced many of our childhood bedroom walls – but what exactly did these teen idols offer us and what are they offering our daughters? Celebrity worship and an obsession with teen idols can result in lost self-esteem in children, and this loss of self-esteem can lead to poor family relationships, poor body image, and even eating disorders. Dr. Lin Fang, assistant professor in the faculty of social work at the University of Toronto cautions parents of adolescent girls against the common, but not actually harmless, idolization of pop stars: “Research shows that girls who strongly idolize celebrities tend to buy into other aspects of commercial culture and may become over-
ly materialistic. The pressure coming from celebrities with perfect bodies may lead to an unrealistic body image and possibly nurture eating disorders, which can consume a child’s life.” With awareness and intention, we can leverage this innate desire for role models and provide healthy examples for our daughters to emulate. This is the thinking behind the mother-daughter empowerment circles I share in my book, The Heroines Club. By reading and participating in the Heroines Club with your daughter, you will provide her an abundance of strong women with whom she can choose to identify. When introduced in the fun, communal nature of the Heroines Club, women such as Joan of Arc and Ruby Bridges can truly meet girls’ developmental needs for role models. Our daughters need to know our stories – both those from our own lives and lineage, as well as those from women’s history – and these are our stories to tell. Through conscious storytelling, we can place an anchor so deep in our daughters’ hearts, that someday if they drift… they can only drift so far. Our daughters need us and we are the ones we have been waiting for.
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EARTH DAY by Sandra Maurer
“…The earth is our origin and destination. The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.” - John O’ Donohue from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace
We realize with deep sadness that many parts of our earth are being mistreated, and we know we aren’t totally innocent. And in the completion of the circle that always happens in nature, the mistreated parts of the earth, in turn, cause us inevitable harm. We use pesticides that end up destroying the bee population - a key component in our ability to grow crops. We introduce our animals to harmful medications that in turn cause us to develop illness and challenges with fertility and reproduction.
Earth day is right around the corner, our great, culturally condoned time to remember to take care of the earth. But, if you are reading this magazine, chances are that’s already a high priority for you. We, as “natural mothers” are concerned with guiding our families towards deeper awareness, compassion and Perhaps we can realize, as mothers, intentional action in, of, and for the that how we treat the earth is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. earth all around us. NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 53
As Americans, we have demanded more and more productivity out of the earth with little regard for longterm consequences. We see this reflected in the alarming news that life expectancy is decreasing due to our high levels of stress, liver disease, suicide, and drug addiction. We have tried to measure the value of nature with charts and numbers, neglecting to respect the wild beauty of it. We can see this mirrored in the way we treat mothers in birth: relying on machines instead of asking mothers, charting instead of observing, interfering instead of waiting. My husband said once that watching a mother getting ready to go into labor was like watching the weather--there are observable changes if one pays attention, that give clues to what’s coming. The care of our inner world has been neglected just as much as our care of the outer world has. It’s equally as important, as we strive to use glass containers, eat organic, and drive less that we also care for our inner worlds. These two things need to happen simultaneously. Craig Chalquist (Ecotherapy) says “To drill, blast, pollute, exploit, pulverize, waste, and ruin the land, the sea, the sky, and our fellow creatures cannot be understood in purely economic terms 54| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
as though the dollar made us do it. No. These are not acts of necessity, but of hatred: a deep ecocidal hatred we do not discuss in public. By contrast, it is easy to identify those who love the world. The love gleams in how they appreciate it, how they strive to respect and protect it, the awe they feel for it. People who love the world nurture their relationship with it--because it is a relationship, requiring care and patience and affectionate understanding. They like their animals alive, their trees still standing, their air and water clean, not just to suit human health, but because the Earth is worthy of appreciation and gratitude.” One of my favorite parts of working with mothers before they conceive is watching them develop this deeper level of gratitude and care for their inner worlds. There is a dawning of awareness as they cultivate the inner garden, physically and emotionally, in order to grow and sustain life. When I work with mamas during pregnancy, you can see how labor truly begins from the moment of conception--everything shifts. They slowly begin to find this season a catalyst for deep inner change. For some this comes easy--they’ve been longing for a reason to create better
self-care and they take to the role of self-nurturer which turns to baby nurturer with ease. They eat well, sleep well, prioritize mindful practices and feel no guilt about letting others care for them or their other children. For others of us it is a beautiful struggle, learning to find a joy that bubbles beneath discomfort, or heartache or loss of a particular dream; learning to find enlightenment through the pain before the first surge of contractions begin.
Our struggle is the same with the earth--letâ€™s remember this month that care for our outer world begins and ends also with the care of our inner world, both physically and spiritually/emotionally. We cannot love the earth and simultaneously hate our bodies, they are made of the same material. Meditation connecting our inner and outer worlds Begin by sitting still and following
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your breath. Bring your awareness now to the As your breath begins to deepen breath in your chest that permeates and slow, feel the muscles of your and floods your body. Feel a sense scalp, face, and jaw relax. of gratitude for this internal wind that allows for your life, every moment is Feel the softness of your shoulders God-breathed. loosening, your chest relaxing and your belly and hips releasing any ten- Bring your awareness now to your sion. Allow this feeling to flow down- skin, spreading over your entire body. ward through your toes. Feel how it stretches and curves and adjusts so easily to every activity you Feel whatever part of your body do, and feel a sense of gratitude for is connected to the earth and find it. thereâ€™s a sensation of being grounded and rooted. Bring your awareness now to the few feet of space around you, feeling In your mindâ€™s eye, go deep with- gratitude for it. in your body, to the very marrow of your bones, all of your bones. Feel a And now to the room you are in, exsense of gratitude for the marrow of panding your gratitude. your bones. And now to the building you are in, Bring your awareness now to the expanding your gratitude to meet bones themselves and the ligaments this new space. and joints that connect them. Feel a sense of gratitude for their strength And now your awareness grows to and flexibility. the town you are in, allowing your gratitude to fill this space. Bring your awareness now to the blood and fluids running throughout And now to the country that conyour body and around your muscles. tains your town. Expand. Feel a sense of gratitude for the life giving, water-like blood that sustains And now to the earth. you, being pumped by your heart.
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And now to the universe, the stars, the moon, the sun. Expanding gratitude. Pause for a deep slow breath. And then bring your awareness back to the earth, containing your beloved. And then back to your country. Your awareness comes back to your town…..your building...the room. Feel the sense of connection from the universe to your body as you bring your awareness even more inward to your skin, your breath, your blood and your bones. Feel the wind that is also your breath. The ocean that is also your rivers of blood. The moon that is also your womb. The dust that is also your skin. The earth that is also within you. And feel gratitude. Return to your breath, and bring your awareness back to the present as you open your eyes. “You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.” - Psalm 139:15
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ROCK FLOWER GARDEN CRAFT by Dana Vanderburg
Supplies Needed: Smooth rocks Acrylic paint Paint brush Water Optional Supplies: Mod Podge or other sealer Soap Sponge or old toothbrush This Earth Day, why not make your own flower garden out of rocks? The kids will love choosing their rocks and painting them and youâ€™ll love the low maintenance aspect of their flower garden.
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Begin by choosing smooth rocks. Next, wash and dry them well to be sure the paint adheres well. A sponge or old toothbrush with some soapy water, along with some help from your child, will have the rocks clean and ready for painting in no time! Once your rocks have been cleaned and dried, select your paint colors. You can paint the entire rock a color before painting your flower or you can paint your flower directly on the rock. We found the paint dried fairly quickly between coats, so if you do decide to paint a solid color on the rock before adding a flower, your child wonâ€™t have to wait long between steps. You could also encourage your child to paint a few rocks
with other items they might want in their flower garden, such as ladybugs, grass, or decorative items. Once your child has finished their masterpieces, allow the paint to dry and add a coat or two of sealer to ensure their rock paintings last for years to come. Once the sealer has dried completely, your child can have fun arranging their flower garden. You could even paint different flower names on multiple rocks and paint the coordinating flowers on separate rocks to make a fun and educational flower matching game. Simply ask your child to match the flower with its name, helping them sound out the words if need be.
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Maternal Autoimmune Disease and Autism by Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND
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For so long in modern medicine, there has been a bit of a separation between the health of the mother and the health of the baby. Sure, we know that mom needs to stay away from drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and raw fish, plus meet certain nutritional requirements. But what about chronic underlying conditions?
consideration for other underlying conditions. Diet and lifestyle factors are not normally addressed in the conventional medical model and medications are given to control symptoms instead of supporting the body and treating the root cause of the disease. What we’re fairly certain of now, however, is that autoimmune disease can be controlled, and in some cases reversed, by treating underlying inflammation and treating underlying infections. This is important, not only for the health of the person struggling with autoimmunity, but for the health of future generations.
Until recently, we weren’t sure of the repercussions of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and others on the development and long-term health of the fetus. As a Hashimoto’s expert and women’s health advocate, I’m so excited to see some of the research that’s surfacing on maternal autoimmunity--specifically The Autoimmune-Autism thyroid autoimmunity--and its effects Connection on our children. Several studies now have identified Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune con- correlations between mothers with dition that primarily affects the thy- autoimmune disease and an inroid gland. Without intervention, the creased incidence of autism in their result is the immune destruction of offspring. Besides Hashimoto’s, other the thyroid, often with a need for conditions such as type 1 diabetes, medication. Our thyroid is respon- inflammatory bowel disease, and sible for the secretion of hormones celiac disease have all been corthat influence metabolism, growth related with an increased risk of auand development, and body tem- tism. perature. To put it bluntly, you need your thyroid to live and optimal thy- One study looked at mothers who roid function is needed for optimum tested positive for anti-TPO antibodhealth. ies (the primary antibodies found in Hashimoto’s) during pregnancy and Historically, thyroid disease has been saw increased odds of autism by treated in a vacuum, with little to no nearly 80%.(1) NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 61
ASD. (3) A review regarding autoimmunity and thyroid disease concluded that autoimmunity developed during pregnancy and existing thyroid disease were both associated with autism risk in baby.
Immune Modification: It’s also shown that the compromised immune system of the mother can alter the immune system of the child at a genetic level, a process that has been shown to be involved in the occurWhile the development of autism is rence of ASD. multifactorial and there is not one known cause, researchers conclud- Much more research and undered that mom’s autoimmune disease standing is needed to fully grasp the is likely an independent risk fac- role of mom’s autoimmunity during tor in the development of autism in pregnancy and the long-term efher child, with an estimated 30% in- fects on fetal development. And alcreased risk. (2) though reading this may be daunting, especially if you currently have What Role Does Autoimmunity Play an autoimmune disease, there are in Autism Development? many steps you can take to bring your immune system back into balThere are two main theories as to just ance prior to conception. how maternal autoimmunity influences the development of autism in Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoher baby. to’s can make conception difficult, increase the risk of miscarriage and Fetal Brain Development: One theo- other complications during pregry is that mothers with autoimmune nancy, and has been correlated diseases create more autoantibod- with higher incidents of postpartum ies and inflammatory cytokines than complications like depression. (4) mothers with without autoimmunity. Some of these antibodies may at- 5 Preconception Care Tips For Autotack certain proteins in fetal brain tis- immune Patients sue, in addition to causing inflammation in the developing brain. In fact, 1.Find a Partner in Healthcare: these antibodies were detected in Find a qualified practitioner to deter10-12% of mothers who had children mine appropriate testing. You should with ASD, and were completely ab- have a complete thyroid panel prior sent in mothers with children without 62| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
to conception, as well as testing to tem regulation. Aim for 1,000-3,000 determine your gut health and any total omega-3s daily and always be possible nutrient deficiencies. sure to purchase supplements from a company that uses third party test2. Check Vitamin D Levels: ing and screens for heavy metals. Low vitamin D has been associated with chronic disease and has a 5. Reduce stress to reduce inflamlarge role to play in balancing your mation. Stress causes inflammation immune system. Knowing your levels and chronic, systemic inflammation can help your provider determine is ultimately at the root of disease. the appropriate level of supplemen- Make the time for deep breathing or tation. I recommend a minimum of slate 10 minutes per day for medita50 nmol/L to patients to help main- tion, which has been shown to sigtain overall health. For most people, nificantly reduce stress, anxiety, and 30 nmol/L is too low and may have depression. a negative impact on your immune health. Autoimmune diseases not only affect the health of the mother, but may 3. Fix Your Gut: affect the health of her children. The The gut houses a majority of the im- good news is, we can help mothers mune system and is often ground with autoimmunity heal. zero when it comes to healing autoimmunity. Identifying food allergies It is my mission to help women heal and sensitivities and treating possi- through the empowerment of eduble underlying gut conditions such as cation. Mothers are the seed and the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth soil for their babies, so the more we (SIBO), yeast overgrowth, parasites, nourish that foundation, the stronger and/or intestinal permeability is the our babies will be, generations and first line of defense against autoim- generations into the future. munity. 4. Eat Your Omegas: Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in cold water fish and high quality fish oil supplements reduce inflammation, improve brain health, and are beneficial in immune sys-
Citations: 1.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0278584614002012 2.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0278584614002012 3.http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/ S0006-3223(08)00580-5/abstract 4 . http : / / w w w. n c bi . n l m . n i h . gov / pm c / ar t i c l e s / PMC3472679/
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The Vaccine Controversy & Natural Ways to Support the Body by Ayelet Connell-Giammatteo, PhD, PT, IMT,C
The vaccine controversy has been a source of heated debate amongst the natural and traditional medical and parenting communities for many years. Many don’t understand what a vaccine is or how it works, let alone the potential issues that may arise from vaccinating. The history of vaccines has been well documented by many researchers. The most notable scientists in vac-
cine history are Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. The term “vaccination” was coined by Edward Jenner in 1796. The ﬁrst vaccine came from the cowpox virus and was used to combat smallpox in humans. The well-known Louis Pasteur continued Jenner’s research to develop current day vaccines such as anthrax and rabies. Pasteur later published the name “vaccine”, giving homage to Jenner’s discov-
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eries. Following these researchers, Maurice Hilleman developed many of our current day vaccines, including measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, meningitis and more. There are many different types of vaccines today. Though historically, vaccines have played a signiﬁcant role in reducing infectious disorders such as small pox, it is today’s usage of vaccines in civilized communities throughout the US and Europe that is the focus of this heated debate. The Issues: Vaccines and Heavy Metals—The Rise in Autism Merriam-Webster dictionary deﬁnes a vaccine as “a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artiﬁcially increase immunity to a particular disease.” This means that a vaccine is composed of living or dead pathogens that are aimed at increasing a person’s immune response. Typically, in addition to the pathogen, vaccines include heavy metals that are used as preservatives such as the well-known “thimerosal” (organic mercury), aluminum, and more. For the past two decades, the potential negative effects of these heavy metals have been fueling the
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vaccine debate. The issues that arise from vaccinating are multiple. Many families avoid vaccinating their children out of religious belief. Some do not vaccinate because of apparent medical issues with their children. Depending on the medical practitioner, avoiding vaccinating your child when they have health issues is often not even considered. The most notable issue with vaccines today is the questionable correlation with the rise in autism spectrum disorder. A 2011 study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry found 2.64% of children or 1 in 38 children have autism. These numbers have skyrocketed in recent years. Many people attribute this rise in autism to vaccines. Recently in the news, there have been some concerns voiced about the validity of the famous Danish study, “Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data,” published in Pediatrics in 2003. This study found that there was no link between thimerosal and autism. The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). One of the primary researchers involved in this study,
Paul Thorson, who was in charge of managing the monies for the study, was recently charged with fraud related to the funding of the project. He has been cited for academic misconduct by Aarhus University in Denmark where the study took place and is being charged by the US Department of Justice with embezzling a $1 million grant for autism from the CDC. Thorson has been involved with multiple studies defending thimerosal as a preservative in multiple vaccines. This Danish study is the primary study cited when discussing the correlation between vaccines and autism. The Potential Effects of Vaccinating
vaccinations and the other not? In this country, it is common for children to visit their family doctor and receive multiple injections with levels of heavy metal way above recommended limits. But even with just one vaccine, is the heavy metal level too much for a childâ€™s body? What if the child had some kind of illness? What if that illness affected their immune system? What if this illness was not apparent and easily missed by the family doctor? Would that child be more affected by the vaccine then another healthier child? Would there be a greater possibility for the onset of autism? There are so many questions today regarding the issue of whether to vaccinate your child. A helpful resource in sorting out all of these questions is the National Vaccine Information Center at www. nvic.org. In addition to reviewing all the current-day issues with vaccinations, the website also offers information on state-by-state regulations.
Today, there is a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence supporting the correlation between autism and vaccines. As a health practitioner, I treat many children with autism spectrum disorder. Often, I hear from parents that they can remember when their childâ€™s symptoms and changes The Immune System started, correlating it directly with their child receiving one or multiple The immune system is a complex vaccines. system of the body that has many components, including the lymphatConsider two children of similar histo- ic system which supports drainage ries and similar body make-up. Why of waste from the body, the liver would one develop autism following which is in charge of detoxiďŹ cation
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or breaking down of toxins, the bowel and bladder for optimal elimination and excretion of toxins from the body, and even the skin as a route of elimination. The immune system’s greatest task is twofold: to break down toxins and excrete them. If toxins build up, this can have damaging effects on the whole body, including contributing to general inﬂammation, an increased load on the heart, neurological impairment, and so much more. In children and adults, this can manifest as a myriad of issues such as fatigue, learning deﬁcits and decreased mental clarity, behavioral issues, chronic pain, and more. It is helpful to imagine the immune system as our foundation. Without a healthy immune system, our bodies go into slow motion and begin to store toxins. This type of toxicity could even lead to depression and anxiety. Vaccines target the immune system with the overall goal of increasing immunity. However, in a child or adult who has a challenged immune system, the vaccine process could be derailed signiﬁcantly. Consider the previously mentioned child who has undetectable immune deﬁciency. That child visits their family doctor for a routine exam and during
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the visit receives multiple vaccines, commonly exceeding the allotted amount. This child would be affected strongly by the elevated heavy metal and pathogen load. This toxicity could contribute to a change in health for that child which could manifest as any number of issues, including learning, behavior, socialization, and more. It could contribute to autism or another neurologic impairment. Though the issue of vaccinating or not vaccinating your child is a comprehensive decision-making process that ultimately is made by the parents, hopefully after careful and extensive thought, there is a lot that a parent can do to support their child’s immune health by making dietary and lifestyle changes as well as implementing other alter-native health modalities to promote immune competence. AUGMENTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES Anti-Inﬂammatory Diet and Gluten Elimination There are many ways to augment the immune system through dietary and lifestyle changes. One such ap-
proach is to implement an anti-inﬂammatory diet for the family. By decreasing general inﬂammation as well as decreasing the allergen load in the body, the person’s immune system becomes stronger. The foremost strategy in anti-inﬂammatory eating is a gluten elimination diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oat. Gluten is pro-inﬂammatory. This means that when a person ingests or is exposed to gluten, the level of inﬂammation in the body is increased. This is the case for ALL persons. Gluten free cooking and gluten free products are widely available today. One of my favorite gluten free cooking books is “Gluten Free Baking Classics” by Annalise Roberts. Her follow up book, “The Gluten Free Good Health Cookbook” is a great resource for gluten free living as well. Other Elimination Diets A second strategy to decrease inﬂammation in the body through diet is to consider performing systematic elimination diets of other well-known allergens. Some of these allergens include: soy, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy (casein), eggs, and shell ﬁsh. Often, people suffer from various food sensitivities. An elimination diet can help
to hone in on the particular allergies that are contributing to a variety of body issues. An elimination diet is best performed when adopted for a minimum of three months and performed 100%. As for gluten, it is presenting as toxic to all persons and a gluten elimination diet is best continued long term. When performing an elimination diet, look for a decrease in signs and symptoms beyond just digestion. Food sensitivities can contribute to all kinds of body issues, including headaches, joint pain, learning deﬁcits, behavioral problems, and so much more. Reﬁned Sugar Another step to augmenting a person’s immunity through dietary changes is by reducing reﬁned processed sugar. Reﬁned sugar is the major culprit behind so many of today’s illnesses, including the enormous rise in childhood and adult obesity in this country. Some of these reﬁned sugars, such as aspartame, have been found to be carcinogenic. Processed sugar is neurotoxic as well. This means that it contributes to degeneration of the nervous system which ultimately can lead to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and more.
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Toxic Foods In addition to reducing intake of allergenic and ‘unhealthy’ foods, it is also beneﬁcial to consider decreasing ‘toxic’ foods in our diet. For example, foods that are overly processed and have preservatives can cause inﬂammation in our gut as well as other problems. Often, we have limited knowledge about how our food is processed. The food may be presented as natural or organic but still have toxic consequences. For example, consider almonds. In 2007, the Almond Board at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that almonds could potentially carry harmful bacteria and ruled that all almonds would have to be pasteurized. Even today, there are no raw almonds available because of this USDA edict. When ingesting almonds today, because of the processing involved, they are more inﬂammatory and more persons are sensitive to them. Other toxic foods include foods with synthetic chemical based additives and preservatives. The easiest way to avoid these toxins is to limit processed packaged foods. For the typical child, this is difﬁcult to avoid altogether. But minimizing the amount and limiting purchase of packaged foods to those
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that do not have reﬁned sugar and preservatives is ideal. Household Chemical Exposure Minimizing exposure to toxic foods is a great start to reducing inﬂammation and augmenting immunity in the body. Another common source of toxicity is what we use to clean our home and wash our clothes. Household cleaners and detergents can be full of toxic chemicals. Everyday exposure to these chemicals can contribute to immune deﬁciency and general inﬂammation. The major role of the liver which is the primary organ for detoxiﬁcation is to break down toxins so that they can be easily excreted from the body. The liver considers these toxic chemicals as xenobiotics and does not have a successful way of breaking them down. If the body does not have the ability to excrete a toxin, it will store it. The longer the exposure to these chemicals, the more there is storage of toxins. This storage of toxins can lead to illness. There are many alternatives today to chemically-based household cleaners.
Eating Organic Buying produce that is organic or natural and free of pesticides and growth hormones is an important step in leading a toxin-free life. It is true that organic foods are more expensive. Hopefully, one day, this will change. One option is to search for a local ‘CSA’ or community supported agriculture co-op farm that sells memberships. These farms will provide you with great natural produce through the warm months of the year and often they provide a winter share as well. CSA memberships are typically inexpensive options. Another great option is local farmer markets and farm stands. Farmer markets and farm stands can be a lot of fun for children and they provide you with the opportunity to buy straight from the farmer. When considering other types of natural foods, there are many ‘regular’ supermarkets that sell natural meats without growth hormones or other synthetic additives. Taking Precautions Making dietary and lifestyle changes to augment immunity is an essential step to improving overall health. The recommendations listed previously are beneﬁcial whether choosing to
vaccinate or not. If the choice is to vaccinate, there are several precautions that help to mitigate potential side effects: 1. Whenever possible, only vaccinate with one vaccine at a time. 2. If possible, spread vaccines apart by six months or more. This way, you can be sure that your child has not had any delayed reactions. 3. Never vaccinate on a day when your child is presenting with any signs of sickness such as a cough, fever, or vomiting. 4. Request separate vaccines when available rather than combined such as the MMR. 5. Take steps to change diet and lifestyle to ultimately augment immunity prior to vaccinating. Making the choice to lead a healthy life for you and your family is vital for prevention of all illnesses. There is so much that can be done in childhood and early adult-hood to promote a long and healthy life. Considering these fundamental steps will help you and your family to achieve this optimal level of health.
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