natural remedies for ear infections

I just met this cute blonde mom named Mary Jane, who was telling my friend about her little boy’s chronic ear infection that multiple courses of antibiotics just can’t eliminate.   She was saying that her son’s “cold” just keeps going—six weeks now of constant, thick mucous.

I sometimes just can’t believe that no pediatrician will do ANYTHING for an ear infection besides nuke it with antibiotics.   Limiting your practice to systemic drugs that hurt more than help . . . well, I guess you’d be a pariah in the community of M.D.s if you did anything different.   Oh, and also insurance companies wouldn’t pay.   (Minor detail, how could I forget?)

And yet their own medical journals are clear that more than 80 percent of ear infections are viral.   Therefore, more than 4 times out of 5, antibiotics won’t do a bit of good.   But they don’t have a clue if it’s that 1 in 5, so they give you an antibiotic because . . . well, that’s all they know how to do.

(I’m not trying to be mean.   I used to ask pediatricians point-blank: “Do you have any way to help me besides an antibiotic prescription?” and the answer is simply, NO.)

And even if it was a bacterial infection that isn’t antibiotic-resistant, with just one dose, you’ve wiped out ALL the healthy flora in the entire gastrointestinal tract.   That’s what was standing between your little one and the NEXT infection.   So now the little guy is down for the count, just waiting for the next bug to come along when he has no resistance.

I administered my last course of antibiotics well over a decade ago.   Moving on to natural treatments that work WITH instead of AGAINST the body has been so liberating that I just want to tell perfect strangers about it!

#1: Eliminate dairy products and refined sugar/flour.   (That all by itself might be enough to say goodbye to infections forever.)

#2:   Use warmed garlic/mullein drops in the ear (in an olive oil base) that you can get at a health food store.

#3:   Colloidal silver: use as directed for a week or two.

#4: See if you can get that kid to drink LOTS of water!

#5: If you’re frustrated reading this because you’ve already done the antibiotics and are in Mary Jane’s position, all is not lost.   Give your child good, homemade kefir or yogurt (in my recipes) every day—no sugar added, please—and you can rebuild a healthy colony of good bacteria in about 30 days.

#6: If you do want to use medical treatment, I actually believe that the simple ear-tube surgery (no general anaesthesia, 15 min. procedure) is much less invasive and harmful than ONE round of antibiotics.   And it’s actually very effective for most children, although you should keep their heads out of the water, which is hard if your kids like to swim or take baths.

Phytates . . . part III

When making baked goods, get in the habit of putting the flour in the blender or bowl with the liquids (with a bit of a fermented dairy product like kefir), and just leaving it all day (or night) before completing the recipe.   You’ll also find that your baked goods are lighter, with a lovely texture, as you take this additional step that creates natural leavening.   You can often cut by half or even leave the baking powder out when you have presoaked flour with kefir/yogurt added.

This extra step of soaking grains or flour, while requiring you to think ahead, doesn’t add time to your preparation, since the dish is then ready, or nearly ready, when breakfast or dinner is served.

You don’t always have to make soaked-grain breads and grain products from scratch.   At your health food store, you can buy sprouted-grain tortillas, English muffins, and manna bread with several varieties like sunflower seed, carrot-raisin, and more.

Don’t be frustrated if you just learned about phytates for the first time and now wonder if whole grains are good for you!   If you’re stumped about whether eating whole grains (even unsoaked) is better than white flour, the answer is a definitive yes!

First of all, white flour robs your body of minerals, too, at a faster rate–and is virtually devoid of fiber and nutrition.   Second, remember that literally hundreds of studies document the link between whole grains and blood sugar control, among many other health benefits.   That one benefit alone–that fiber dramatically slows the release of sugars into your bloodstream–is critically important to your future.

Third, the phytate issue, while worth discussing here, is by no means settled science.   In fact, Reddy and Sathe published a book in 2001 called Food Phytates that surveys the growing body of research on phytates.   They claim that phytates are free-radical scavenging antioxidants that may reduce blood glucose as well as risk for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, and some forms of cancer.

So, the jury is still out on the precise role of phytates.   Whether or not they are friend or foe remains a hotly debated controversy, so perhaps the best strategy is to soak, sprout, or ferment wherever possible, and enjoy eating unsoaked grains sometimes, too

Phytates . . . part II

The phytate issue is fiercely contested in the nutrition world, with some believing that soaking grains is critical, and others believing it’s unnecessary.   I have studied compelling evidence on both sides, leading me to the following recommendations.

Regardless of whether phytates in whole grains lead to mineral deficiencies, soaking and slightly fermenting your grain clearly aids in digestion.   It costs nothing and doesn’t really add time to a recipe’s preparation, although you do a portion of the work in advance.

Most adults in the Western world need to be kind to their digestive systems.   That’s because before most of us get serious about treating our bodies right (which you’re doing if you’re reading this), we have abused our bodies with the modern lifestyle.   In particular, we’ve damaged our digestive systems.   Some of us have developed chronic digestive problems, and many of us have decades of damage to undo.    Part of a whole-grain habit, then, is to as often as possible soak your flour or grain for up to 24 hours, and add a bit of whey, kefir, or yogurt.   Even 8 hours of soaking is very helpful.   Many  12 Step recipes (in Ch. 9) call for soaking the flour or grain.  

The grain with the highest phytate content is oats, so if you like oatmeal, put the boiling water in the rolled oats right after eating breakfast, add a Tbsp. or two of yogurt or kefir, cover with a lid, and just reheat it for breakfast the next morning.   It can sit for 24 hours and will be just fine, so don’t worry.   If you like sourdough, you’ll probably like the slightly fermented taste.   If it’s too much for you, soak it only 8 hours and use a very small amount of yogurt.   This habit requires thinking ahead but is worth developing.    

Unlike oats and wheat, brown rice, millet, and buckwheat have low phytate content, so you can soak them just overnight, for shorter periods of time.   When I am serving brown rice for dinner, I put boiling water in it in the morning.   I cover it and leave it to steam all day in the oven preheated to 350 degrees (and then turned OFF).   The rice is perfectly cooked at dinnertime.   When making kasha (buckwheat cereal), I put the boiling water in the night before, letting it steam overnight.   All of this is in Step 9.    

Part III (the end of this topic) tomorrow.

flax seed uses

Flax seed uses are featured prominently in my recipe collections, especially the dehydrated/crunchy snacks and breakfasts–as well as the good fats and whole-grain  chapters of 12 Steps.   Here’s a recipe my family likes that also features another food you know to be antioxidant-rich, blueberries. And coconut oil increases the absorption of EFAs in the flax by as much as 100 percent.   Enjoy!

 

Blueberry Flax Muffins

These are lightly sweetened, but if you are transitioning from refined baking products, you may wish to add another ½ cup of Sucanat.   The muffins will rise more and be lighter and more digestible if you soak the grains overnight as described in the instructions.

3 cups warm water

4 cups whole-wheat flour (finely ground soft white wheat is best)

2 eggs

½ cup yogurt or kefir (or whey)

1 cup Sucanat

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 Tbsp. aluminum-free baking powder (reduce by half if you soak grains overnight)

1/2 cup flax seed, freshly ground

1 tsp. sea salt

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine water, flours, flax, and yogurt.   Let sit, covered, overnight or all day (optional step to eliminate phytates and increase digestibility of wheat proteins).   Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.   Gently fold in blueberries.   Bake in lined or greased muffin tins, 2/3 full, for 23-25 minutes at 400 degrees.   Makes about 3 dozen muffins.