Yes, the most recent post is actually quite old, but instead of starting a new blog, we have decided to revive this old one and post it to the new website. So, stay tuned for more of Jessie’s musings, thoughts and tidbits right here! As a busy mom of 3, we don’t promise any scheduled posts, but will be sure to post regularly!

Why we need a tail

September 12, 2007

Last week we went to visit family in Alabama and the kids got to spend some time with their cousins. As Joel, my ever so practical 4 year old, observed his 4 year old cousin fall out of her chair during breakfast one day, he was determined he had the solution. “That’s why people need tails” he proudly pronounced, “so they won’t fall out of chairs.”

Walking the Walk

September 6, 2007

One of the questions I am asked the most at workshops and seminars is, “Do you really do all this?” “Do you treat your kids with herbs when they are sick?” and “Do you always use natural remedies?” At first, I have to admit, I thought it was an odd question. I am an herbalist. Of course I treat my kids with herbs. Then I realized, I suppose I look something like a dinosaur. Not too many people do what I do.

So, I’m going to give you a little peek into my own home during a time of illness. (Which happens to be right now.)  I will spare you all the lovely details of the particulars of my children’s tummy bug, and just give you the basic points of their day.

First, they stayed in bed ALL DAY. This is a biggie. The body needs rest to heal. I do splurge and let them watch movies, and we even skip school for the day. (It’s pretty difficult to master the spelling of “railway” when your head is pounding anyway.)

The next thing I do is support the immune system. This means no sugar at all. Sugar can lower the immune system by up to 40% for several hours. I also make sure the baby nurses frequently. (lots of helpful antibodies in there) Then we add some astragalus and echinacea to their diet.

Since their fevers were mild, I did nothing. Fevers are a part of the body’s natural defense system and work to effectively fight off whatever we are dealing with. I let it do it’s work.

Finally, I treated the symptoms that were bothersome. A little combination of fennel, crampbark, and ginger helped to soothe their spastic tummies. Now, traditionally, we don’t treat “symptoms” in natural medicine; we prefer to support the body’s systems in self healing. However, sometimes additional actions are warranted.

My results? All my babies (except for the literal baby) are sound asleep as their bodies are in the process of healing themselves with the aid of some herbal support they have had throughout the day.  Since this seems to be a short lived bug, I think things will look much better tomorrow.

The beautiful thing to remember is that these short simple illnesses are simply the body working as it was designed to. Of course we don’t want to be sick, but it is important to remember that this is the body’s way of protecting itself. A short, common illness from time to time can be seen as a sign that the body is functioning properly. Atleast, if you’re like me and like to look on the bright side :)

Great Logic

September 5, 2007

So today I was emailed an article about safety concerns of elective surgery. As a childbirth educator, I am certainly aware of the risks elective operations incur, and often far outweigh the benefits, so naturally I was interested.

According to Reuters, ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has issued a statement against a new cosmetic vaginal surgery called “vaginal rejuvenation” or “revirgination”. Basically, this surgical procedure is reported to do exactly what it sounds like.  The statement dealt with concerns over the marketing and acceptance the procedure has begun to see. It was called deceptive to give the impression that the procedure is accepted or routine. ACOG also said the procedure can cause complications such as infection, pain and scarring. Dr. Abbey Berenson, who helped write the guidelines is concerned about women falling for marketing hype and falsely feeling the need for the typically unnecessary surgical procedure.

“There are always risks associated with a surgical procedure,” Dr. Berenson said. “It’s important that women understand the potential risks of these procedures and that there is no scientific evidence regarding their benefits.”

I have to say I agree wholeheartedly. I just can’t help but to wonder though, why this is not an across the board conclusion to all elective surgery, for example the ever increasing cesarean rate, or the episiotomy, which is one of the most common surgical procedures that women experience. Not only do the mentioned procedures lack scientific evidence for their benefits, they have plenty pointing to the harm they do. I would love to see Dr. Berenson’s quote given to every birthing woman asking for elective surgical procedures :)

Burden of Proof

August 26, 2007

Today I was blessed enough to attend the annual CAPPA conference, which was located right here in Nashville. The speaker was renowned Dr. Jack Newman, the famous breastfeeding expert. He made a comment that got me thinking, not only about breastfeeding but about many things we do. He was talking about the formula = breastmilk hogwash and then asked “where’s the proof?” He turned the tables and asked it to be proven that formula is somehow equivalent to breastmilk. Then, asked why it is that we have to prove breastmilk is better.

I agree: Why, when it is natural, it is the way God made food for our babies. Just as the body nourished the baby for the past nine months, it continues to produce all that baby needs, and the baby naturally begins to eat exactly the way mom’s body works. Why should we have the burden of proof?

Then I got to thinking even further. Why do we have to prove that eating artificial foods make us sick or contribute to cancer. Why do we fund expensive studies showing that whole foods are better than the artificial foods we consume from birth on up? Why do we tend to do that?

I don’t really have an answer or any deep theological thoughts on how we tend to feel a need to improve on what God created for us. I do continually wonder why we feel we can improve on what the Creator created for His creation to consume. As if we feel like we know better.

But, I do feel much better with Dr. Newman’s response. Where’s the proof? The burden of proof does not lie on the natural course of creation, it lies on those attempting to alter it. That’s my story anyway :)

Lavender and Tea Tree Oils

August 17, 2007

This post has been a long time coming, but I wanted to be sure of my facts. Back in February, a study was published linking lavender oil and tea tree oil to gynecomastia, a rare condition that leads to breast growth in young males. The results were based on 3 young boys that all used some lavender and tea tree oil body products. Of course, I got plenty of emails with questions and the word quickly spread that lavender and tea tree oils were bad and to avoid their use. Those of you that emailed me know I really gave no response. I like to wait these things out, see what the real story is and find all the facts before I form my own opinion.

In June, the New England Journal of Medicine published 4 letters criticizing the study. It has also been attacked by many respected professionals. I still don’t have a full answer, but at this point, it does not look like there is a clear cut answer, at least as far as lavender is concerned.

The study basically followed 3 boys. When they discontinued the use of the products, their condition cleared up. The study then conducted some in vitro research and determined the oils have estrogen like effects and antiandrogen effects, concluding that, “until epidemiologic studies are performed to determine the prevalence of gynecomastia associated with exposure to lavender oil and tea tree oil, we suggest that the medical community should be aware of the possibility of endocrine disruption and should caution patients about repeated exposure to any products containing such oils.”

Scary huh?

However, a few concerns on the validity of the study have been raised:

First, the study did not determine whether or not the alleged products contained adequate amounts of the oils to play such a role. The products used ranged from healing balms to shampoo, a wash off product with a minimal absorption rate. To wonder whether or not any of the oils were strong enough to play a role, especially in the cases of wash off products is certainly valid.

Second, no research was conducted to evaluate any other potential ingredients. We already know certain ingredients such as parabens have potential to be chemical hormone disrupters. Good science would have evaluated all the ingredients before choosing one or two to fault.
The third problem is that only one of the three products contained any tea tree oil. Only one.

Finally, and here is the real kicker: it is not even clear that real essential oils were used in the products in question. Many manufacturers use fragrance oils instead of essential oils because they are much cheaper. Am I the only one that thinks that should have been a main priority?

So, does this mean lavender and tea tree oils are totally safe? Not at all. While the study may be little more than anecdotal evidence, it still makes for an interesting case and one that could use some more research. Should a study that many experts do not even believe should have been published be getting so much attention? umm… probably not

Even more reasons…

August 7, 2007

Despite the numerous reasons we have to eat organically, I still get numerous questions regarding the importance of organic foods. So, from time to time, I like to point out recent research into the area.

This time, the research is actually about harm from farming with pesticides and pregnant women.

Epidemiologists have long sensed a link between pesticide exposure and autism. A recent study (July 2007) funded by the Center for Disease Control in California shows a high probability that this link does, in fact, exist. Consider this: The moms living near treated fields gave birth to babies 6 (yes, SIX) times more likely to be on the Autism Spectrum than moms living miles away. The common insecticides used were dicofol and endosulfan, both known endocrine disruptors, and there was increased risk the closer the moms were to the treated fields. In March, other studies showed a link between occupational exposure to other pesticides and gestational diabetes.

I can’t help but to notice that the first study was conducted in California. I wonder about the potential implications for those of us in more heavily farmed areas such as TN.

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