As parents, and consumers, we're never ready for the onslaught of illnesses that occur after classes start late August or early September. That said, you cannot wait until then to protect your health and that of your family. Generally, six to eight weeks after classes begin illnesses manifest; strep throat, colds, influenza, sinus infections, ear aches, and yes, head lice.
The following PROACTIVE natural health measures are simple yet effective:
- Probiotics, essential for intestinal health and our gut is where most of our immune system is based. Probiotics help compensate for fast-food, dehydration, and general stress—for maximum effectiveness rotate brands/potencies. It's recommended under age 12 begin with at least two billion daily, adults with 60 billion organisms daily.rotating up to about 100 billion;
- Daily adequate bowel elimination is vital. Increase natural fiber from raw vegetables and fruits—make green smoothies with fruit and a whey protein for immune-enhancement and increased energy/stamina. If sensitive to dairy, use a protein powder from organic brown rice or pea with milk alternatives (almond, hemp, coconut or flax milk) and add seeds like Camelina, flax, chia, etc. for added fiber/nutritional value.
- AVOID sugar—It suppresses immunity—8 Tbs. (Equal to two cans of soda), reduces ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent!—effects begin 20—30 minutes AFTER ingestion and lasts to eight hours. Use natural sweeteners like Stevia, LoHan and Xylitol.
- Hydrate—Consume half your weight in ounces of water daily, (example: 50 lbs. = 25 oz.)—more when physically active or hot weather. Carry your own BPA-free water bottle—avoid dangerous plastic chemicals. Did you know? When you sip from a "fat" straw, your body craves more and you consume twice as much with half the effort?
- Hand sanitation—I don't advocate using anti-bacterial soaps or wipes, they have the same adverse effect long-term as antimicrobials—creating drug resistance, dry skin, macro (large) pores, and making us more susceptible to infection. I prefer a fragrance-free alcohol or any other natural antibacterial like a professional Silver Hydrosol (not typical colloidal silver). The best prevention is frequent hand-washing. Silver Hydrosol also available as a nasal spray for protection when exposed to viruses any place, especially in crowded places and while flying.
- If your child/student (or you for that matter) appears "off" check his/her urine pH, first pee of the morning once you're up, not during the night. When you're acidic, it usually indicates you're "fighting" a virus or infection. You can quickly alkalize, short-term, with 1 tsp. baking soda in whatever food or liquid you can "hide" it if you don't like the taste and/or sweeten with a natural sweetener like Stevia or one made predominately from Lo Han. The first urine of the morning should be between 6.5—7.2. Keep in mind that bacteria and viruses cannot thrive and multiply in an alkaline environment.
I know the following is not a pleasant subject but one, which needs to be considered and appropriate precautions taken. The reality: most students are infected at one time or another with head lice, even in college. Now there's a rise in more adults also being infected.
The following are natural, non-toxic remedies to eradicate head lice: These remedies are NOT in order of effectiveness, simply options...
- At first sign of infestation, use specifically designed lice combs (teeth are very close together to eject lice). When comb is used slowly through the hair, it brings lice with it—it's easier to comb when hair is oily (try coconut or argon oil), don't try combing through un-greased freshly washed hair.
- Head lice are one of the most contagious infestations—traveling easily person to person. Once infected, keep bed sheets, pillow covers, towels and washcloths clean using white distilled vinegar for final rinse—use very hot water, as hot as items can tolerate without damage.
- Mix equal parts of mineral oil (like baby oil) and white distilled vinegar. Apply on head and cover with a shower cap for one hour. Afterwards, use lice comb, rinse with ordinary organic shampoo (preferably one containing tea tree oil) intentionally scrubbing the scalp. This cleans lice from your hair and scalp.
- Add 15—20 drops of tea tree oil into organic shampoo bottle (6—8 oz.) and use accordingly. Rinse with pure lemon juice and water. Once infested, these treatments need to be followed periodically for 2—3 weeks to prevent re-infestation. Crucial is removing all nits (eggs) from the hair to avoid new hatchlings. Daily inspections of hair, especially roots, is recommended.
Information Is Power
NEVER share combs or brushes—it reduces chances of spreading critters. For students, find out what precautions the school is taking once head lice are identified—such as head checks, not hanging coats together, and/or cleaning rugs or any upholstered items often. Ask the school/teacher what proactive education they provide, if any. If they don't offer proactive education, suggest they do at orientation or the beginning of the school year for students, teachers and parents. Don't be embarrassed to discuss this issue with anyone, it's a common occurrence and the better information about proactive steps to take if the need arises, the more power we have to avoid these infestations that are so life-altering, even if only for the short-term!
A second-grade teacher client of mine had a terrible time with lice in her classrooms each year and the students just didn't take her recommendations seriously to avoid contamination. She called for a meeting with the parents and got permission to show a PowerPoint with large photos of lice in all stages and the consequences of those infected. Her methodology worked—students didn't share combs again after seeing them, and the consequences, in enlarged forms. The lice issue was resolved that year, and now she shows this presentation at the beginning of each school year and other teachers have begun doing the same.
Places YOU Need to Consider…
Infection has become easier from places we don't usually consider. For instance, an infected person sits in an airplane, bus, train or any public seating (especially when upholstered) resting their head on the headrest; the next person sitting there can easily become infected. Make sure you investigate if your head suddenly begins to itch; the quicker you identify lice, the better chance of stopping multiplication.
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