Like most youngsters, Chase is always bringing illnesses home from kindy and childcare. He suffers asthma, eczema, allergies, headaches, and has had a large enlarged lymph node, plus several smaller ones, in his neck for the past few months. Our family doctor has ruled out anything serous, but as a worried mum, I decided to try some natural alternatives to give his health a boost.
The treatment: Lymphatic Massage A light skin massage to stimulate the lymphatic and immune systems. According to the British Lymphology Society, lymphatic drainage massage can be effectively carried out by parents and carers once instructions have been given.
Where: Rainesforest (CRCT) Massage Therapy and Day Spa, Indooroopilly, Qld (Ph: 07 3878 9786, orhttp://www.rainesforestmassage.com/
What happened: This is a day spa, so I thought Chase’s boyish shrieks of excitement at the surrounding rainforest and birds would get us kicked out! The staff quickly bribed Chase’s silence with jellybeans. He took to our therapist Heather Raines immediately. I sat beside him as he lay down on a massage table and Heather gently massaged around his neck, underarms, chest, and head. She also showed me what to do, so I could continue the treatments at home. Heather said Chase had a blockage in his lymphatic system, which was hampering his ability to fight illnesses, and causing the enlarged lymph nodes. Daily massage, once or twice daily, should help.
After: Chase looks forward to his massages. After a week, the lump on his neck has shrunk for the first time in eight months, though it’s not gone completely.
Cost: Varies according to the child, problem and length of massage, but expect to pay around $50 for the initial treatment and consultation. Private health rebates apply.
More details: Ask at your nearest spa or natural health clinic.
What: Laser acupuncture Instead of needles, this Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy uses lasers to stimulate acupuncture meridians in the body and the immune system. Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital found 70 per cent of children and 59 per cent of their parents experienced a significant improvement of their symptoms during a recent acupuncture trial, and recommended paediatricians consider it as a treatment for children.
Where: Shen Therapies, Jamboree Heights, Qld (Ph: 07 3279 5697, www.shentherapies.com).
What happened: The lasers are like black pens with tiny red lights shining out of them. Chase was fascinated, and happily asked therapist Andrew Orr dozens of questions throughout the 30-minute treatment. Andrew explained that Chase’s immune system was struggling, and his liver wasn’t functioning well. In Chinese medicine, most kids’ illnesses can be traced back to their digestive system, so he worked on that too. He sent us home with some tiny herbal pills which he said would help.
Cost: Usually $35 for laser acupuncture (private health rebates apply), plus $10 for the herbal pills.
After: Chase keeps asking when he can go back to see Dr Andrew. His lump has shrunk a little more, and he’s sleeping and eating much better. Unfortunately, I can’t get him to swallow the herbs, though an older child shouldn’t have any problems.
To find a practitioner near you: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association,www.acupuncture.org.au, 1300 725 334.
What: Naturopathy According to a survey of parents at Bendigo Hospital’s paediatric ward reported in the Australian Family Physician, naturopaths are the most frequently consulted alternative medicine practitioners by Australian parents. 46 per cent of parents in the study chose to ask naturopaths about their children’s health because they felt conventional medicine was not effective or natural enough.
Where: By phone with Blackmores naturopath Julie-Anne Atkinson (Ph 1800 803 760 or www.blackmores.com.au)
What happened: Most naturopaths I queried said an initial consultation would take about 90 minutes, and I knew that would be pushing it with Chase, who can barely sit still for five! So I decided to try this phone service, which took about 30 minutes. Julie-Anne took a full history of Chase’s health, lifestyle and diet, then suggested changes we could make to improve his health – like limiting wheat, avoiding sweets and soft drink, giving him garlic, and serving difficult-to-swallow pills with a spoonful of yoghurt. She also suggested giving him liquid Echinacea each day to boost his immune system.
After: Chase has taken to the changes in his diet well, but he can taste the Echinacea in his drinks and it’s a struggle to get him to take it. He loves the vitamins she suggested though, and his overall health has improved.
Cost: Free, though you have to register first online at www.blackmores.com.au
Skin Therapy XMA Many natural creams claim to ease eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, but XMA Skin Therapy is actually used by staff at the Royal Brisbane Hospital to help skin conditions like these, plus burns, bruising and abrasions. It contains no toxic or carcinogenic ingredients, and there’s a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Mum’s verdict: The cream smells divine, and works almost as well as the steroid cream prescribed by Chase’s doctor – which means we can give his delicate skin a break from the medication. If the eczema is bad, it stings a little at first.
Details: Cost $32.95 per bottle, but there are discounts for bulk buys. Ph 1800 203566 or go to www.xma.com.au
Herron Vita-minis for kids:
A multivitamin in yummy flavours. Great for picky eaters and active children who may not get all the calcium, vitamins, and minerals they need. We tested the Vitamin C Plus variety.
Mum’s verdict: Chase loves the taste, and they’re affordable too.
Details: Cost $4.40 for 50 tablets. Available supermarkets and pharmacies or phone 1300 659 646 or www.vita-minis.com.au
Healtheries Kidscare Echinacea and Vitamin C: Formulated to stimulate the immune system, ward off colds and flu, and boost recovery time from illness.
Mum’s verdict: They come in cute animal shapes, but Chase doesn’t like the taste as much as the others.
Details: Cost $7.49 for 60 tablets. Available supermarkets and pharmacies or phone 1300 360077 or go to www.healtheries.com.au
Blackmores Cold Defence For Kids:
A star-shaped supplement to keep immune systems healthy, particularly against cold and flu bugs.
Mum’s verdict: These are so popular I have to hide the bottle, as Chase views them as treats.
Details: Cost $12.35 for 60 tablets. Available health food stores and pharmacies or phone 1 800 803 760 orwww.blackmores.com.au