Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Is the War on Infections…or Against Antibiotics Themselves?

March 12th, 2013 · 69 Comments · Natural Health

Natural Health Month at Kitchen Stewardship

There’s little in the world I hate more than antibiotics. They scare me.

Although I understand they have a place and are very important in saving lives in certain situations, I feel like my experience and stories I hear about them have been only the negative:

  • causing thrush and harming the newborn nursing relationship
  • creating an environment that encourages another new infection
  • misuse and overuse fostering bacterial resistance (that post is written by a biologist and I’m so happy to have it on my site, as it is a succinct explanation of “superbugs” in non-scientific terms)
  • linked to autoimmune disease
  • permanently altering your personal gut flora
  • etc, etc, etc.

My Son’s History with Antibiotics

The tip of my “crunchy lady” iceberg poked through the sea of normalcy when I was pregnant with my first child, eight years ago.

At that time, I was an avid recycler, but that was more or less the extent of my “save the earth” efforts. I didn’t go to the doctor much, but that was mostly because it’s an inconvenience, and I wasn’t sick often.

During our Bradley birth classes, I learned about baking with whole wheat flour, butter being better than margarine (I know, I know, but everyone has to start somewhere! Being someone who has formerly used margarine gives me great sympathy for those who are still living in trans fatty ignorance, and I am a better kitchen steward because of it), and of course, natural methods for giving birth.

It was an eye-opening experience and one that resonated truth with me wholeheartedly.

One of my fears about my labor and delivery was the one-two combination of antibiotics and thrush, the sort of yeast infection that bounces from baby to mother via the breast and mouth. It’s awful to get rid of, as I learned from a friend who battled it for months.

It was clear to me that I’d much rather avoid it in the first place, which meant, hopefully, avoiding antibiotics in labor. I’m not a big fan of IVs, anyway.

A positive Strep B test meant otherwise.

Antibiotics During Delivery

ultrasound unborn child

Of my three children, only one has had antibiotics at all, although I’ve been Strep B positive for all three pregnancies.

My 13-hour labor with Paul, the oldest, included about seven hours in the hospital and one dose of IV antibiotics, which does pass through the umbilical cord to the baby. What a welcome gift into our society…

I did not get the second dose in before birth, which meant Paul was only “partially protected” from Strep B, which can cause death to infants who contract it while coming through the birth canal.

The percentage chance of the infant getting the disease is very small and the subset of that population who die is even smaller (less than 1% when all is said and done, I believe), but it is a serious risk nonetheless.

Thus, tiny 8-pound Paul’s introduction to the world included a shot of antibiotics within a few hours of being born.

I think back on those two doses of antibiotics quite frequently. The waters of regret are deep, but I try not to beat myself up. I simply didn’t know how much one can advocate for themselves within the medical system. The silver lining is that (a) I learned more before the siblings were born, and (b) I have a story to tell that I hope will help others, including the comparisons:

  • My oldest is the only Kimball child to have antibiotics at birth, and the only one whose system continued to be prone to bacterial infections, especially ear infections, that required (term used loosely) further antibiotics later in life.
  • I have never felt right about his digestion. Mother’s intuition says that if any of our kids has the genetic tendency toward the autoimmune disease my husband suffers from, it will be Paul who gets Crohn’s.
  • As a baby and toddler, he battled mild eczema.

Can all that be attributed to early exposure to antibiotics that wiped out his gut flora? Who knows.

The human body is a mightily complex system without much black and white cause and effect, but I can’t help it. I think it was a very bad thing that Paul had such a powerful drug so early in life. (He’s also the only Kimball kid who was vaccinated more or less on schedule as an infant, so that’s another massive medical difference between the three of them, not to be underestimated.)

EDIT: Please note that Strep B IS very serious and that infections move quickly in infants. If you don’t get antibiotics in labor but are Strep B positive, either because of timing (that’s my real excuse, no time for an IV by the time I got to the hospital for the younger two children’s births) or choice, you really MUST observe the child in the hospital for 48 hours, very, very closely.

The Ear Infections We Battle

I never experienced an ear infection as a kid.

Ironically, when Paul was just under a year and many of my friends’ babies of similar ages were coming down with ear infections, I went for a walk one day and came home with the most horrible ear ache I’d ever felt.

I thought it was a consequence of being too stubborn/stupid to wear something over my ears on a brisk early spring day. Talking with my mom that night, she said my grandma always relied on warm oil in the ear for an ear ache, but I can’t even remember if I tried it.

The next morning, I was at the doctor’s office getting a prescription for antibiotics for a raging ear infection, which I willingly took without a thought.

I also left the house without much thought, showing up at the doc’s in black dress pants and…slippers. I thought you might enjoy that “mommy moment” part of the story. I didn’t get out by myself much when Paul was that young…

Paul had his own first ear infection and antibiotics around 18 months, the beginning of a long story of fluid on the ear that wouldn’t go away, a staph infection in the diaper area, trouble hearing well, and recurrent ear infections. The other Kimball kids have had none of this.

You can read the details of our first attempt to fight an ear infection with natural remedies HERE, when Paul was four years old.

That was the first time (but not the last) that we threw away a bottle of antibiotics.

The Thrill of Victory?

The following fall, he had a double ear infection, walking pneumonia, and double pinkeye, all at the same time. I only vaguely remember that, mostly because I just read about it in this post. I think there must be some sort of trauma-blocking hormones going on there…

Just a few months later in the early spring, the poor kid had a sore throat, threw up once (my neighbor’s textbook indication that someone has strep throat), and after a day or two of feeling yucky, we took him to the doctor’s. They practically diagnosed him with strep before he walked in the door, and the pharmacist took one look at his rosy cheeks and knew he had strep too.

(Inexperienced mamas take note the signs of strep there: vomiting once, rosy cheeks (and red pinpricks on the chest, if I remember right), lethargy, sore throat or neck – but not always! Sometimes it feels fine…)

Feeling that familiar deep disgust for antibiotics, but also feeling pressure of an out-of-state trip the very next day, plus Googling and learning that strep really isn’t something to mess around with, at least with our general level of experience with natural remedies, we gave him the antibiotic regimen.

One day after finishing the 10-day cycle, he came down with a fever, which turned into…guess what? Another raging ear infection.

We filled the prescription for antibiotics for the second time in a month, this time for more super-strength flora-killers than the first round. I also stopped at the health foods store, located providentially just a few blocks from our pediatrician’s office, and bought oil of oregano for the first time.

In the battle of conventional medication vs. natural health, the essential oils won this round, resulting in two more bottles of antibiotics hitting the trash.

The thrill of victory felt good, but mostly we parents were just relieved that we didn’t do anything to harm our child. The responsibility is heavier when you don’t have a medical doctor carrying most of the weight for you. You can read the whole story of my (very) scary foray into home doctoring HERE.

(No comments on the waste of medicine, that’s not the point of the story, and I certainly didn’t want to waste resources…)

And the Agony of Defeat…

DSC08291

Believe it or not, you’re just getting to the story I’m writing this post about, which TriLight Health generously sponsored.

Paul’s last ear infection (that we went to the doctor’s for, ahem) hit him in the right ear at school the day he turned seven years old.

By that afternoon he was sobbing, the pain was so intense. I wanted to cry too, looking at the now rumpled, bright yellow star sticker emblazoned with “It’s my Birthday!” that his first grade teacher had put on his shirt that morning.

It was definitely time for some home doctoring.

Because I knew it was an extremely potent antibiotic, and it was clear we had a bad infection on our hands, I gave him oregano essential oil orally about 5-6 times over the course of a few days. He took one drop each time, mixed with either juice (awful) or in a bit of fermented cod liver oil (better, believe it or not, but still enough to make him cry especially if it touched his lip). Note: I think it’s too strong to give a “hot” oil like that internally, especially for a child, now that I’ve read more about it…You should always read advice from an expert before using even natural home remedies, because just because something is from the earth doesn’t mean you can’t misuse it.

I was also putting oil of oregano mixed with a carrier oil on Paul’s feet regularly, about 4-5 times in these few days, and he was taking probiotic capsules opened up and mixed into his yogurt and applesauce a few times a day. It’s important that if you take any antibiotic oil (oregano, cinnamon, cloves, and more) internally – which is NOT recommended, by the way – that you also follow up with a probiotic, especially after you’ve finished.

To help with the pain, we used the age-old earache natural remedy of garlic oil, which I make by crushing a clove of garlic, heating it gently in olive oil, then pouring a bit in the ear for about 30 seconds while massaging around the ear. Sarah’s version with mullein is much fancier, and probably even more effective! The warm oil definitely gives some relief, enough that my son would ask for it after a while.

We also tried homeopathics like arnica for general pain relief and kept the microwave busy heating our “bed buddy” thingy, like a rice pack. I’ve decided that this is the one reason I’m keeping a microwave in our house, even if I get to relegate it to the basement someday instead of over the stove. The power of heat to relieve pain is intense.

Paul was pretty miserable all day Monday, the day he came home from school, and although I shuddered all the way through reading Erin’s guest post here on “What’s Really in Children’s Medications?” we ended up giving him Tylenol multiple times during the week.

We used it Monday night before bed, Tuesday when the second ear kicked in, and again Tuesday night, then for a middle of night waking…I remember at one point reading the liver damage warnings that kick in at five times in 24 hours. When I realized Paul had been given three doses in 24 hours, that was too close for comfort for me. I hated giving him that stuff, but I hoped it would help us avoid the greater evil of antibiotics.

On Garlic Ear Oil and Ruptured Ear Drums

garlic mullein ear oil for earaches in children

Our pediatrician says that the garlic oil can’t get through to the inner ear canal where the infection is, so the garlic won’t really do anything as far as healing properties. It’s just the action of the warm oil that soothes the pain temporarily. However, I’m beginning to wonder if she’s mistaken on that one – the skin is very absorbent, and a cut clove of garlic rubbed on the foot can be tasted in the mouth within 10-15 minutes.

If the healing properties of garlic and essential oils can travel through the skin in the foot and up to the mouth, why not through the thin film of eardrum there in the ear? I’m sticking with the garlic (always make sure you don’t get any actual garlic pieces inside the ear and never use on an ear that’s draining).

Speaking of draining, Paul’s right ear did drain, which signifies that the eardrum ruptured, sometime Monday night. A ruptured eardrum sounds like an awful thing, but it allows a release of pressure and a lot of relief from the pain. If the eardrum ruptures many times in one’s life, scar tissue will form that can cause difficulty hearing when elderly. I don’t think we’ve crossed the threshold, thankfully.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Unfortunately Tuesday morning did not bring the “new and improved” Paul we were hoping for, but rather symmetry: the left ear kicked in with an ear ache and infection.

We went to the doctor’s office to confirm what was going on, a bit earlier than I would have wanted in an ideal world for two reasons: Our doctor only works Tuesdays and Thursdays and we have a really good relationship, and because I was feeling uncertain about the drainage.

We came home with a prescription that I was hoping to never fill, and the left ear joined the right in rupturing. How lovely.

By Wednesday, the poor guy was petrified of mom saying, “Let’s take some oil of oregano!” and I decided it was madness. I promised I wouldn’t give him any more by mouth, and I’m glad I did – I’m really uncertain as to whether I’ll ever give a “hot” oil with antibacterial properties orally to anyone in our family. Rubbing on the feet and diffusing into the air are my preferred methods, the more I learn.

Quite honestly, I was shocked and disappointed that after two days of hitting it hard, every few hours and more, the oil of oregano wasn’t even making a dent in the infection. It seems like oregano is really built up as a powerful natural antibiotic, and I’ll admit that perhaps it just needed more time, but after three rough nights in a row, our patience was wearing thin, and oregano was given the boot.

What would be next in our arsenal, I wasn’t sure.

I knew if I Googled “natural remedies for ear infection” I’d get my own darn site, so I was stuck there!

By the afternoon that day (Wednesday), Paul was acting a bit better, and we hoped we had turned the corner. After all, both ears were infected and both had ruptured, so what more could come at us?

Wednesday night Paul was up again, in pain and with a fever. Who needs sleep, right? Not me. Winking smile

When we woke up Thursday morning, I was ready to call the doctor and ask about an antibiotic. I wasn’t happy, but my husband (who likes sleep even more than I do) said it was pretty clear we needed some help.

I first called at 8:15 a.m., and the office was not yet open, and by 8:35 when I would have called again, everything had changed. His fever had broken, he had a normal appetite, and he was acting like my normal kid again. I never called. He was 100% back to normal that day, including his own belated birthday celebration dinner with our family.

That day, although it seemed like the worst was over, I still wanted to build his immunities and continue to root out the remains of the infection. Since oregano oil was off the table, I turned to NR Glow from TriLight, both because it’s an immune booster and because I noticed “ear infections” on its product description, and also propolis, an all-purpose infection fighter with versatile antibacterial and antiviral properties, used either as oral drops or an external rub. It is very pleasant-tasting compared to the earthy flavor of most herbal tinctures (propolis is not herbs).

Thursday night, we were shocked when he woke up in pain. His fever was also back, about 100.3 or so under the arm. H woke up about five times during the night crying, but always fell back asleep in 5 minutes or less. I had the arsenal out, and he took NR Glow, propolis, drank water, and had the warm pack on his ear at various times during the night.

At 5:00 a.m. when he woke up yet again, we almost gave more Tylenol, but by the time my husband found the bottle and measuring cup, he was back asleep.

Giving Up, Giving In

Every time we thought the poor kid was getting better, he took a turn for the worse. A full five days into the fight against the infection, we had to wave the white flag and fill the prescription.

I hated that the natural life had failed me. I felt like I had worked so hard and used everything at my disposal and yet still lost, and to make matters worse, we had put Paul through the pain of taking oregano oil by mouth – an experience so awful he wrote one of his most passionate pieces of writing this year about it – and also made him live through five days of pain when we could have tackled it more directly after 24 hours.

Our own sleep for the week was just another casualty in the war, as was the fact that he had more doses of Tylenol than I care to count, all hoping we were trading down to a lesser evil compared to antibiotics.

Once we had the prescription filled, I wished we had just done it Tuesday first thing in the morning!

We truly ended up with the worst of both worlds: the consequences of wrecking Paul’s system with antibiotics and the extended time it takes to fight infection naturally.

I felt like throwing in the towel on the whole green thing and just buying a bottle of bleach!

My only victory of the darned ordeal was that I got “the pink stuff” without the pink, avoiding one lousy naughty ingredient for the week.

With a heavy heart and a scowl on my face, I gave Paul the first dose of antibiotics. Friday was just like Thursday – he felt great – and I’m telling you, when you hate antibiotics as much as I do, it feels particularly awful giving them to a well child.

I had actually emailed our doctor that morning but forgot to peek to see if there was an answer before I left to fill the prescription. I don’t know what God’s plan was for this situation, but either I wasn’t praying enough and was being punished or He had a greater goal in mind, because within half an hour after giving Paul that first fated spoonful, I read my email.

She said if the pain was gone, his body was fighting the infection and it wasn’t a lost cause. She was very optimistic about his improvement and pointed out that under-the-arm temps are inaccurate enough that he may not have even had a fever during the night. She thought I should roll with it…

I nearly cried.

I felt like I had just launched a nuclear bomb that would take a week to reach its destination and was impossible to stop, and then found out that I had accidentally aimed a school full of innocent children.

I know that once you start antibiotics, you can’t just stop. We had to finish the regimen, and I was half an hour too late to make the right decision after fighting against them all week.

The antibiotics won this round, and they really hit below the belt. I was defeated in every sense of the word.

The Story Isn’t Over Yet

Antibiotics truly are an evil nemesis.

Two weeks later, just a week after finishing the dosage, which was like eating fire while standing on a bed of nails for me with every spoonful, a new battle began.

Even though we gave Paul probiotics 2-3 times a day the whole time, during and after the antibiotics, he came down with a bad fever, threw up once, and was down and out for the count. (Sound familiar from earlier in the story?)

I expected us to be engaged in battle a full week, honestly, and was determined to give him zero sugar or white flour, ETC.

My husband said, “I hate it when you’re right.”

His symptoms – headache, nausea, ears started hurting, throat hurt to swallow saliva but not water – ticked down the list of strep symptoms from “Dr. Google” perfectly. His throat looked red and irritated with a flashlight to my untrained eye. His fever hit well over 100F, maybe 102. He was pretty miserable.

I dug in my heels and set my jaw for the long haul. There was NO WAY I was letting that child go back on antibiotics! I didn’t care if he did miss another full week of school, right at the end of the year.

I am very stubborn and was not going to feel like a Survivor getting voted out with an immunity idol again.

I had the knowledge, the supplies, and the determination – we were going to beat infection naturally this time!!

We looked up strep on http://everythingessential.me/, a site from doTERRA essential oils that I learned about when I wrote this doTERRA review a few months prior. I used one drop oregano and two drops melaleuca (tea tree oil) in a carrier oil on Paul’s throat, ears, and feet every 2-3 hours.

I added some garlic drops too, and we used TriLight Health’s Lympha rub drops in his throat right away and then again that night. For coughs, we call that little bottle our “magic drops” because they take away a sleep-stealing cough 98% of the time with one drop. The owner of TriLight says on the product page that he puts a drop or two on the back of his throat every time he feels a throat ailment coming on, and it usually nips it in the bud.

Paul took NR Glow, the herbal immunity booster, a few times during day as well and kept up on probiotics and liquids. We allowed him to eat whatever healthy food sounded good, which was often yogurt. (My parents were visiting, and the poor kid cried Sunday morning when he found out he couldn’t have the special cinnamon toast Grandma makes! I was firm, but felt awful about being the mean momma.)

After the incident two weeks before, I had updated the ear infection post with new recommendations I had gathered during the experience and from friends in the days following as I griped about the darn antibiotics, including a note that I was going to order Hyland’s homeopathic ear drops to be ready for next time. In an uncharacteristic move, I actually did it immediately instead of “putting it on my list,” and a good thing, too. We used them for Paul’s earache at bedtime and gave arnica for his headache. I was not messing around and felt like I was throwing everything at him!

Note: Donielle kindly explained that often, using homeopathics and essential oils together can nullify their effectiveness. Choose one or the other. (Lympha Rub is oils and herbs, so that should be fine with other EOs.)

He slept through the night and was better by mid-morning. Rather than a week, we escaped with only 24 hours engaged in battle against whatever infection had taken root.

Did we cure strep naturally? I have no idea, but we didn’t turn to any conventional (crappy) medicines, so I’m really happy about that. Every illness pushes me to be more well-versed in the art of natural medicine, and for that I’m grateful.

Maybe that was God’s design for the blasted unnecessary antibiotics for the ear infection – to make me grow in my home doctoring knowledge and make my determination steadfast.

Epilogue

Since that victory, we have added to our pile of unfilled prescription sheets and beaten pneumonia twice without antibiotics, plus ear infections in two children, including one more for Paul (most likely).

We’ve added a few remedies to our arsenal, including:

  • 1/2 tsp. of whiskey (with honey if needed) for an older child to help sleep through the pain, from the book How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor
  • TriLight Health’s Hear no Evil, which I really like having around (more than the homeopathic drops, although both are good) because it gives the child a choice: in the ear or rubbed around the ear. There’s a lot of conflicting information about whether anything should ever go into the ear, and you absolutely should not put anything in the ear if there’s a rupture, so I like that I can still use this remedy no matter what. It’s a combination of essential oils and powerful herbs like the mullein Sarah used in her homemade earache remedy.
  • We also had TriLight’s Scout Out back on hand, which is used for ear pain as well and has antibacterial properties. I give this at the first sign of a cold, fever, or sore throat nowadays.
  • I became more convinced that warm oil is a great technique and a warm pack of some sort is a necessity – this is when I decided that I’d keep a microwave in the house for only this reason!

Our 4-year-old beat what was likely her first ear infection without a doctor’s visit or any conventional medicine. We endured through one very long night for all of us with at least twenty wakings, plus a day on the couch, but with all the resources at our disposal, we managed to kick it and only miss one day of school.

Paul’s bout was also short, and we did end up giving him Tylenol, once, when he just couldn’t fall asleep because of the pain and we had already tried oil, heat, and a bit of whiskey. Personally I would have tried another half teaspoon of whiskey and honey first, but it was my husband’s turn to go up the stairs, and it was the last we saw of Paul until morning.

He fought the fever for a few days, but at least the ear ache, which crippled him into sobs again, dissipated within a few hours even though it did jump to the other ear at one point.

My final wisdom for you on ear infections is this:

  • Be prepared. The time to buy a few natural remedies is now, not when your child wakes up in the middle of the night with ear pain. I recommend:
  • Recognize it. If your child is waking up more than once an hour throughout the night, whether they complain of ear pain or not – if they don’t throw up by morning, they probably have an ear infection, especially if they’ve had any sort of cough or runny nose in the last week.
  • Hit it early. Don’t wonder if you should use something. As soon as your child wakes up or can’t sleep because of ear pain, hit it hard and fast!
  • Wait until morning to consider the doctor’s. There’s nothing a doc can do for immediate relief in the middle of the night anyway. (caveat: Unless there’s a serious reason and your gut says go! Don’t be over stubborn just to be stubborn and avoid modern medicine. There’s a place for everything.)
  • Know that any improvement means the body is still fighting. Don’t despair; natural means often take longer than quick-fix medicine, but they should have far fewer negative repercussions.
  • Give yourself some grace. If the only conventional medicine you give for an ear infection is children’s acetaminophen, you’re doing just great.
  • Pray. The Lord loves your child even more than you do, and you are also His beloved child. Ask Him for help in decision-making and trust that whatever happens, He is sovereign.

Don’t do as I do and throw a fit if you do end up with antibiotics. Just continue to trust, pray, and give probiotics to your child for at least a few months.

What has your experience – success or failure – been in fighting infections without antibiotics?

See all the natural health month posts HERE.

[interactive_links style='side_count']

———————————————

I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by TriLight Health. There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and Mountain Rose Herbs from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase, and the Miessence link is to my own “store.” See my full disclosure statement here.

Tags: ·········

69 Comments so far ↓

  • Kathleen K

    I’m so thankful our boys are past the age of ear infections! (Yes, you can get them at any age, but younger children are more susceptible) Our family too, is anti-antibiotics. BUT I’ve also figured out that when the infection starts to get ahead of the remedies, it is better to take the drugs. Last summer, our 11 y.o. had a cold that he couldn’t quite shake. About 2 weeks later, he chose to sit out of his martial arts class….and I KNEW something was wrong. We headed to urgent care that night, since we still don’t have a regular doctor. I was dismayed to find he had strep and pneumonia.We filled the Rx on the way home, and within 2 days he was feeling better. Yeah, we finished the course of treatment, but I’ll admit, we don’t always.

    On a different note….our oldest child had the most ear infections, starting at 6 WEEKS, of the three boys…and now that we’ve changed our diet to whole foods with lots of veggies and fruit, he is the healthiest one in the bunch. God designed the human body with an amazing power to heal!

  • Laura

    Interesting post. As a relative ‘newby’ to the crunchy world, it’s hard when we think back about all the ‘bad’ things we did to our kids without knowing it. With my first 2 deliveries, I also tested group b strep positive and was given antibiotics. And, both of my boys were immunized fully until age 2 and 4. However, they’ve never, ever been on antibiotics until once last summer when the 2 year old developed a staph infection (which I believe came from grandpa who also had staph and was battling with conventional medicine). We did finally give in and used antibiotics after fighting with natural remedies for a few months with no sucess. During and after the regimin of antibiotics, we upped our dosage of pre and probiotics and it seems to have been effective :)
    So, does antibiotics during labor/delievery have later affects? I’m sure it does a bit, but I”m not convinced that it has devestating affects on the childs’ health for years to come.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Laura, Without doing any specific research on antibiotics during delivery, I can only imagine that wiping out a newborn’s fragile digestive flora would utterly change one’s balance for years. Reading this article really taught me a lot about the devastating and long-term effects of antibiotics – for anyone: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/12/28/whats-the-antidote-after-you-swallow-a-hand-grenade/

    But I love the comment above about the body’s ability to heal! :) Katie

    Laura Reply:

    Thanks Katie, I’m looking forward to reading the article. Hopefully I didn’t come across the wrong way- I’m about as anti-antibiotics as they come! And, I’ve been blessed with extremely healthy children, even when our eating wasn’t as good as it is now. Thanks for the great blog!

    jfred Reply:

    With both of my kiddos, I had the antibiotics during labor, and both were immunized, dd to age 4, ds thru age 3. dd’s first sick visit to the doc was at 22 months, and then she went again around age 4. I treated her ear infections at home–she had a few as a young’un. But I believe her ear canal is the same as her father’s–and he had/has many in that one ear. DS has been to the doc with one sick visit ever, and he is 6.5 yrs. I think he was 5 when he went. So my experience has been that the antibiotics and the immunizations didn’t cause my kiddos to be more sick. (I WAS selective in immunizations–and now we no longer immunize–but they got most of the biggies already.)

    For strep and other bacterial throat infections (white pus pockets on back of throat)–colloidal silver at 500ppm or higher, taken 5x’s a day, under the tongue for 30 sec then swallowed, for several days–it will clear them up! Probiotics are necessary. (I usually take the silver for a couple days AFTER I feel better–otherwise, the infection will come back. with ME, I generally have to take it for 7-8 days. My kids are usually done with it in 3-4 days.)

    Darryl Lynn Reply:

    The first problem is vaccinations itself. I live in Canada, and they want to give infants at least 13 vaccinations before the age of 2. The problem is that infants organs aren’t fully developed and capable of removing these toxins until the age of 2. Now were talking Mercury, Thimerosal, Formaldehyde, Aluminum. All very very toxic to any infants growing developing brain. We have been using Liquid Colloidal Silver for any and all infections. Its safe to take with other medications and has zero side effects. Hold it under your tongue for 30 seconds and swallow. Silver has been used for hundreds of years safely and alot of times for effectively then antibiotics.

  • NancyLee

    Katie, do you think it’s possible that your continued guilt over past decisions can be contributing to your son’s problems? It isn’t the end of the world when we make bad decisions based on our unconscious conditioning. It doesn’t mean we are doomed to life time of problems – it just shows us the power of suggestion. We can get better – The Great Physician can take care of all our past mistakes. There’s a way of “looking” at our conditioning that is the path to our redemption. It doesn’t have anything to do with eating right – it has everything to do with seeing the truth of our own frustration and anger buried deep within. As deeper levels come up to consciousness and we see our mistakes without resentment we are healing.
    And then we can eat right without any effort at all.
    Cheers!!!!

  • Sonja

    Thank you for this very informative & detailed post! I was so excited to help my kids get over the flu this winter without taking them to the doctor. We used garlic, lemon, elderberry syrup, raw honey, vitamin d, and Hyland’s Night time cold & cough. We also used a vaporizer with eucalyptus & lavender oils to help them sleep at night. We did use ibuprofen & acetaminophen when their fevers went over 103° a couple times. I have since had success with peppermint oil rubbed on their chests & feet to lower fevers. Much better then previous years when they have ended up on antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, and nebulizer treatments. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

  • Mary

    There was a report on the Today show from the association of Pediatricians (don’t remember their exact association name) that they are recommending NO antibiotics as the first response to an ear infection. Recommendations include Tylenol for the pain and to let the body fight the infection.
    Decades ago parents did not take their child to the doctor for earaches. They did things (including blowing warm cigarette smoke into the ear or using warmed oil drops) to alleviate the pain. Tylenol did not exist, so aspirin was the only oral OTC for pain. I assume that aspirin was a last resort for many parents (and now that aspirin + children has some bad side effects, definitely not a good choice).

  • Mindy

    So I Judy wrote a super long post (on my phone!!) and got an error message and a disappeared post!! UGH! So the short version…have you ever tried chiropractic for ear infections?! Works wonders on the few my little has had!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mindy,
    I should definitely look into getting a regular family chiropractor. I hear good things about that route often but just have never done it…

    Thanks for the nudge! :) Katie

  • Sarah

    Thought of you when I saw this the other day: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/misuse-antibiotics-create-deadly-new-generation-superbugs?page=2

    You don’t necessarily have to finish a course of anti-biotics! And it was nice to hear Dr. Oz confirming some of the more natural lines of thought (I will admit, I used to think home medicine was more voodoo, but as I became a parent and looked into it more, I like what I see).

  • Kate E.

    I swear by the Hear No Evil drops. Its cleared up 4 ear aches in my kiddos now (2 for each child). We didn’t have health insurance for 18 months and my knowledge about natural health/supplements/medicine increased exponentially. While it was a bit nerve wracking not to have insurance, it was a great impetus to learn! We do have insurance now and I’ve found a GREAT doctor who is very open to natural options and talks all the time about building the immune system through healthy food and choices. I’m so thankful for her.

  • Sarah

    Oh my goodness – so much to digest here! Thank you for writing up this whole story. It’s really interesting to follow your progress from illness to illness.

    I’m glad to hear you say oil of oregano should not be taken orally. I tried it myself once and just couldn’t bear to do it again (and I can take some pretty yucky stuff). It’s nice to know there’s an easier alternative using a carrier oil and applying externally.

  • Rachel

    Katie, thanks for the post! I too am very leary of antibiotics due to a history of allergic reactions and my two children have so far only had penicillin via my IV during birth. However, I have been limited in using most remedies (natural and otc) because my 3yr old son has complex partial seizures and has to be on an anticonvulsant that could interact. (We do not take this lightly, but as he has been hospitalized twice because he has not come out of the seizures on his own, we prayerfully decided this was the right course at this time. He is otherwise a perfectly normal healthy child.) We have been cleared by the neurologist for acetaminophen and ibuprofen only, along with vitamins and “food” remedies, but nothing that is purely herbal, like echinacea. I am curious what you use as a rub for the feet and what the rubs do? I have never heard of that before and thought perhaps that is something we could try, since his limits have more to do with ingestion of things affecting the rate of absorption of his medication. If you have any references for that, I would greatly appreciate it!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Rachel,
    Wow, that sounds scary…

    On the feet, many people use essential oils that way, in a carrier of olive or coconut oil. So I’ll put oil of oregano on, or a blend by doTERRA called “On Guard” which is clove, cinnamon, and a few others – most EO brands have a blend like this, Thieves, etc, that is supposed to be antibacterial. I’ve done peppermint and eucalyptus on the chest and feet for coughs, and I think peppermint is for headaches, too. Here’s one resource: http://everythingessential.me/ but I imagine there are probably a ton of them once you know you’re looking for essential oil remedies. They would be mostly food based, I think? Hope that helps!! :) Katie

    Kathy Reply:

    Please give credit to Young Living when mentioning Theives essential oil blend. Thx!

  • Theresa

    Babies are born without gut flora so how can antibiotics wipe out what isn’t there?

    The chances of contracting neonatal GBS if antibiotics aren’t administered is 1 in 200. That really isn’t that rare considering how devastating the disease can be.

    Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Reply:

    New research shows babies ARE actually born with gut flora, and are quickly colonized by their environment. If they’re getting antibiotics in the first few hours, then it is strongly affecting the baby’s ability to get properly colonized. Studies show they never really recover from this. I researched it very extensively and the birth situation and first few days are more critical than almost anything else.

    The chances of GBS are going to vary widely depending on a number of factors. Long labors, water broken for a long time increase the risk. Shorter labors and water breaking when pushing or shortly before strongly decreases the risk. This is something that moms should look at on an individual basis. I choose not to even get tested because my water breaks only as I start pushing and the babies are out in less than 5 minutes.

    It’s just not as simple as you make it sound, unfortunately.

  • Beth @ Turn2theSimple

    So timely! Just had to fight an ear infection with my son this past weekend…Hylands ear ache drops to the rescue…amazing how he fell asleep within minutes of putting the drops in his ears. I need to get some lymph drops from Trilight for coughs though…the Hylands cough syrup hasn’t worked for us…and for some reason the vegetable glycerin base makes my kids nuts…just like HFCS!

  • Kimberly

    Thanks for the post, Katie. We can’t have too many tools in our belt! My son ALWAYS gets an ear infection when he’s sick, and we just avoided one. I gave him 1 tsp of colloidal silver every morning for about 4 or 5 days. I gave him 2 tsp of homemade elderberry syrup every few hours. I also made him a “concoction” every morning and night. Tbsp raw honey, 1/4 tsp vit c, tsp acv, 3 drops lemon oil, and a tsp of whiskey (nighttime only). Then I used warm olive oil with 3 drops tea tree and 2 drops lavender, soak up with cotton ball and put in ear. Massaged the rest into his jaw and neck. Homemade vapor rub on feet and chest for coughing and congestion.

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    We’ve never used antibiotics for any of our (now 4!) kids. I didn’t even get tested for GBS in my 2nd, 3rd, or 4th pregnancies. And in each my water broke as I started pushing and baby arrived less than 5 minutes later, so we were at such low risk (and all my babies are fine). I did a ton of research this past week, just before my fourth baby was born, and the exposures they have at birth and in the first week are the most critical to developing healthy gut flora, more than any form of feeding, probiotic supplements, etc. And if your baby is healthy otherwise I think this should be a major priority, and it is for me. My fourth (Nathan) was born at home, in the water, into his father’s hands, and has barely been touched by anyone outside the family. He won’t go anywhere and we won’t really have visitors until he’s at least a week old (besides grandparents).

    Anyway. We treated an ear infection in my then 4-year-old about a year ago using chiropractic and some herbal supplements. We only had one rough night and then it was getting better. It hit on a Thurs. night, saw chiro Fri. morning and follow-up Mon. evening — he said it wasn’t quite gone but she was sleeping and eating fine so we continued to hit it with the herbs for a few more days. None of our boys have ever had an issue.

    What I’ve learned is that every family responds differently to different herbs. The “best” herb for one family isn’t going to be the best for another. I’ve learned about the remedies and treatments that really work best for us although I can’t say they would be best for others. Still I like knowing what does work for us! It’s taken time but I now feel pretty confident. I think you might still have to find what is truly “best” for you guys and that’s probably the issue you had with the oregano oil (not ‘right’ for you) but once you have it things usually go pretty smoothly. At least in my experience.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kate,
    Well, congrats on baby Nathan! You are impressive that you just keep on going right after baby! ;)

    I never thought of that, either, that some oils just aren’t a good fit for people. Hmmmm… That’s the tough part about natural health, that you really have to experiment and keep your brain on top of things. Sometimes I run out of brain power and just want a recipe to follow… ;)

    Here’s to forming good gut flora for baby Nathan!! :) Katie

    Beth Reply:

    I tested GBS positive with both of my children. My midwife said GBS is usually connected to a yeast problem, so I tried to go on an anti-yeast diet and both kids were born at home with no abx. My son still has multiple food allergies and terrible eczema. I kind of chalk it up to his body being made out of all the free pizza and Ramen I ate in law school . . . my (younger) daughter was made out of better stuff and has the softest skin in the world and no allergies!

    I say I tried an anti-yeast diet because we have been fighting thrush/candida for 9 months here and I have learned what a true anti-yeast regimen really looks like! Assuming I have finally beat the yeast I am really curious to see if I have GBS in any future pregnancies.

    I did look at the risks and felt comfortable not taking the abx, but the big thing that pushed me away from it is that GBS is increasingly antibiotic resistant. Some doctors predict that all of it will be in 25 years because so many women are treated unnecessarily. I just could not stomach the idea of contributing to babies being born with an deadly and totally un-treatable illness in 30 years because I was needlessly treated now.

  • Martha

    According to Healing Childhood Ear Infections, “Prior to the antibiotic era, roughly 80% of all ear infections resolved spontaneously.”

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Martha,
    Wow! I do wonder what happened to the other 20%…

    Most docs will agree/admit that the majority of childhood ear infections clear up on their own in 2-3 days as well…
    :) Katie

  • Beth

    Feeling identical about antibiotics, I was weary about the prospect of ear infections too. I was surrounded by families cycling through ear infections and all that came with it. All medicine bugs me in general though…whether produced in a lab or homeopathic. Praise God for the willingness to ask others. I happen to ask my chiropractor while being adjusted after having 1st baby. He taught me how to drain and clear ears as a routine. I must say, all 4 of my kids have never had a bacterial ear infection (some red ears during viruses, but no need to treat). Not sure if it was my routine of draining their ears after every bath, shower or swimming event. But you have to wonder? Antibiotics = bad stuff, homeopathic = ok, better, but physical treatment = best! Here is the book he let me borrow and read, such a blessing: Healing Childhood Ear Infections: Prevention, Home Care, and Alternative Treatment [Paperback]
    Michael A. Schmidt Ph.D

    lisa Reply:

    Just out of curiousity what do you do to drain and clear ears for routine purposes? We see a chiro on a regular basis…love him, but would like to learn more.
    Thanks!
    Lisa

    Beth Reply:

    Hi Lisa, It is a combination of massage and acupressure. If you go to amazon to check out the book mentioned, the actual images and diagrams are posted on the “Look Inside!” My chiropractor showed me how to do it…but it is by no means complicated (just too complicated to explain in words for me). Here is a link to the “Look Inside” on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Childhood-Ear-Infections-Alternative/dp/155643216X
    Also, my chiropractor taught me to “cup their ears,” which may sound bad or painful, but my kids looked forward to it (basically I created a vacuum…I did it facing them and from behind because I never really knew which was better). Remember, I did this when they did NOT have an ear infection, as a prevention. The book’s diagrams are very helpful in understanding how the ear drains, so please refer to them.

  • jani

    Oh poor baby! And Mom and Dad!

    I’ve suffered from horrible ear infections ALL my life.. I believe partly in thanks to my preemie birth to loving, over caring physician mother with the home office in the basement, filled with all the latest miracle drug samples from the perky pharma salespersons who frequently took the whole family out for dinner. HRUMPH!. I was a VERY sickly child- spent much of the first years of my life in hospital much to the utter dispair of 2 very worried medical parents. Back then I think I was on some kind of oral suspension antibiotic once or twice a month. Opps! A SNIFFLE! Get the pink stuff! A sick first child tends to make ANY parent overreactive. My mother was no doubt the QUEEN, and I was sick with infection, cold, flu, pox, digestive ills- you name it- more days a year then not.

    Suffice it to say, I have a whack of autoimmune diseases now and have tubes in my ADULT ears almost constantly plus have 40% of normal hearing.

    IME, the garlic oil DOES work- in fact better and more instant for me then even the “real medicine” drops. Another thing- do not ever put cotton or q-tips in the ear and when bathing get no shampoo in there. DRY out the ears with a hairdryer and when in an infection wave it around the ear once you put that tepid garlic oil in. Its a trick for swimmers ear, but works for me too. I’m a grown up with massive pain tolerance and I get screaming pain- this works in under 5 minutes. A neck roll helps to keep the head tipped back too.. most pillows don’t allow ears to drain especially on kids with little necks. Just grap a towel and if he needs it get a special THIN kids pillow for your boy. I don’t know if you have it where you live, but I also like the Boiron labs homeopathic ear ache tabs. Around here, available in the healthfood store.

    Probiotics every meal for the past 5 years and ZERO processed sugars (little sweet foods at all) and raw top quality coconut oil have helped my food allergy ridden digestion ails, and I believe firmly in the gut health connection. Less and less colds, flus, ear infections, foot fungus, no yeast issues etc.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jani,
    What a story! Thank you for sharing, and great hope! :) Katie

  • Cathy

    I, too, have that gut feeling that the two doses of IV antibiotics during my labor were not good for either my son or for me. I tested negative with my 2nd child, but was birthing at home and the midwives showed me enough research showing that the risk was lower when not doing the internal cervix checks that I wouldn’t have done antibiotics anyway. My daughter has always been healthier than my son, and has yet to take antibiotics (she’s almost 5).

    My daughter has had two earaches, and both cleared up in a quite dramatic way after two doses of Hyland’s Earache Tablets. I could tell from her symptoms (mad screaming unless held) that she needed homeopathic chamomile, which is in that earache remedy. If the remedy you need happens to be in the mix, it will work. But if another remedy is in order, you won’t see results. Fortunately the remedies they have in the mix are commonly indicated for kids.

    I had never thought about herbs being the same way–working for some kids but not others, as posted in a previous comment. That definitely makes sense, though, since we are all different!

  • Carrie

    I share your skepticism about antibiotics, but I think I have a somewhat lower bar for using them – I honestly think strep is something that merits it, for example, but haven’t done it for an ear infection yet on three kids.

    My biggest concern was with your comments on Strep B – my youngest ended up coming down with strep B (I got only one of the two required drug doses) and it was a really awful experience for all concerned. We ended up in the hospital with ten days of IV antibiotics, and since she was little and nursing, I was stuck there, too. If you don’t like antibiotics, try being in a totally germ-filled environment and away from your other kids while getting them piped in! But by the time we caught the infection (very early), it was already into her spinal fluid, and while rarely causes death, meningitis definitely can cause brain damage. I hate the IV on principle, really hate the potential for thrush, and don’t like non-therapeutic antibiotics, but I have to say we’re doing them before our next delivery. :/

    If you do decide to go without the drugs after testing positive, please, please really observe your baby for *any* signs of fever and distress, especially for the first 48 hours, and take them very seriously, as infection moves much quicker in infants than older kids or adults.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Carrie,
    Oofska, that is truly scary. It’s good for me to hear the real stories of the “less than 1%” stuff. I do know to watch very carefully, but thank you for the reminder. I’m going to put an extra note in the post just in case…

    I’d be up in the air on strep in the future, to be honest. A “wait and see” scenario depending on the kid and the severity.

    I owe you an email, btw! :) Katie

  • Andrea

    Do you have more info on why oregano oil shouldn’t be taken internally? We take it in capsule form and it’s worked great for our family, but I’d love to research it more if there is controversy regarding it’s safety.
    We’ve recently had a terrible experience with antibiotics (it required going on GAPS to heal my daughter’s damaged gut).
    I think part of the reason we turn to antibiotics is a lack of preparedness during an urgent illness. It’s helpful to hear what works for others so we can stock up on natural remedies BEFORE we’re in crisis mode. I appreciate you sharing your story!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Andrea,
    Some say do it, some say don’t, but I’m wary because there is a risk taking ANY essential oil internally. It’s going to wipe out the system much like a prescription antibiotic, so I guess I’d rather be safe than sorry. I haven’t done a lot of research, but that’s why I shouldn’t be putting stuff in my mouth willy nilly! Not a lot of help…but that will give you direction for your own research.
    :) Katie

    Martha Reply:

    Can you direct me to any research on essential oils killing good bacteria? I have heard that they only kill bad bacteria, but have never seen any research to prove either side.

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Martha,
    I’m really sorry, I can’t – I sometimes collect info in my head, so I’m not even sure if this was from talking with others or what. http://wholenewmom.com/ has an excellent EO series.
    :) Katie

    Martha Reply:

    Thank you for replying, Katie. I’ve read some of her series and I’ll go look into it more thoroughly to see what she has to say about it. :)

  • Lynn via Facebook

    thank you for sharing your journey. you are inspiring! i wish i knew where to start.

  • Lisa

    Great read! I’m always on the hunt for great homeopathic/herbal products so thanks for sharing. We try out BEST to keep antibiotics out of our house too.
    One thing you may want to consider is chiropractic care. We LOVE ours and get adjusted (if needed) once a week. At the first sign of any cold/fever, etc… we get adjusted. Esp w/my 4yr old and 2yr old. IT keeps the “juices” moving and helps w/drainage for those ears. We have thrown out many scripts for antibiotics in favor of adjustments with no problems at all.

  • Helen

    We’ve made it a practice in our home to treat ear infections naturally first, primairly with garlic oil, before heading to the doctor. It usually clears up on it’s own within 3-4 days. We also purchased and otoscope from Amazon just to be able to keep eye on what’s going on inside the eye ourselves. Our was only $20 and even included pics of what a healthy ear and infected ear look like. It has saved us several trips to the doctor’s office to confirm an ear infection.

  • Melanie

    Thanks so much for sharing, Katie. I really empathize with those difficult parenting decisions and the agony of watching our kids suffer.

    And I agree about the GRACE that we need to get over the regret. I also believe in praying in faith for “things that are not as if they are” (Romans 4:17), as opposed to the negative power of suggestion or self-fulfilled prophecies.

    In regards to more resources for your natural arsenal, a friend turned me on to a book called “No More Antibiotics” where Dr. Mary Ann Block gives detailed instructions with pictures on how to give a full body lymphatic massage to our kids. You can also search for lymphatic massage on you tube to find some similar videos.

    This has been very helpful for us and was confirmed when I got my first ear infection in my last pregnancy, performed the massage on myself and felt my ear drain. This has happened multiple times since. Pretty cool.

    And don’t get me started about how dry brushing helps with the lymphatic system…

  • Vikki K

    I tested positive for Strep B with our eldest, and had one dose of antibiotics while in labour but refused further antibiotics for him after birth, so the hospital insisted on putting him in special care for the next day. He has had one dose of antibiotics at about 3 years of age for Strep Throat, but thankfully has never had it again, and never suffered from ear infection, even though the other babies in his playgroup had them constantly. I thought this was connected with his non-vax status. My second pregnancy I was careful not to be tested for Strep B, the birth was not attended by antibiotics, but had Pitocin and an epidural to contend with instead. In any case, he has never had antibiotics, and indeed only went to the doctor once for a bad cold, for which no drugs were offered. I’m surprised no-one has mentioned colloidal silver which I have always given the boys for colds/fevers, and found very helpful (but again, you still need probiotics in conjunction with it).

  • Sarah

    Katie, Thank you for sharing your wins and losses and let us learn together as we go. I wanted to share that last week I had a sinus infection and used oregano oil internally against it with success. I read a bunch of conflicting info online about what it can and can’t do, but I knew I had a sinus infection, whether bacterial or viral I’m not sure, but I don’t have a dr that is willing to consider natural treatments, so I avoid going in whenever possible. Anyway, I felt miserable for 3 days, whole left side of my face hurt, my ear, and tmj. One the 3rd day, I decided to try the oregano oil. I took about half a dropper, under my tongue, washed down quickly with warm tea; two times that day. (Wash it down quickly and you can avoid most of the burning, but I can’t imagine getting a kid to take any. I also brush my teeth with it so I’m used to a little pain. :) ) Anyway, the next morning the pain was mostly gone. I took 3 more “doses” of oregano oil and the infection was completely gone. So, maybe it was a coincidence; I’ll never really know, but I would do it again. I also worried about wiping out my gut flora, but since I only took it for parts of 3 days, not 5-10 for prescriptions, at least I can get back to normal faster.

  • Kathy

    Great post! We are in the process of battling strep throat naturally right now–my 9 yr old. She too took many doses of antibiotics as a baby for ear infections. She struggled with eczema and asthma as well. She’s the reason we started on the path to natural health!

    She started with fever Friday night (102.5) and very sore throat, blushed cheeks. I knew it was strep, but by Sat morning her fever had broken. I began treating with garlic pills, eleuthero (type of ginseng to boost her immune system) and licorice root. She was fine on Sat. Sun morning she woke with an ear infection. I almost broke and went to the urgent care, but it was too early. So, I treated with garlic oil in the ears and more garlic pills, etc. Also a hot pack on her ear. By lunch time the ear infection pain was over. Monday morning she again awoke with a sore throat, so off to the Dr. We have an wonderful pediatrician who stays informed on the latest research. She told me that strep no longer needs to be treated with antibiotics every time! Because my daughter seemed to be fighting it off (no fever and she was playing despite her sore throat) she thought it was a good idea to continue with our natural remedies!

    We returned home and added colloidal silver to our arsenal due to the positive strep test. That was two days ago. The doctor suggested I quarantine her until she’d been sick for 5 days to prevent spreading strep to other kids. So, today’s the day she can play with her friends again. We go back in two weeks for a follow-up to see if the strep is gone.

    I should add that the doctor felt allergies contributed to her illness, so we’ve been using flonase (sp?), but continuing the licorice root in the hopes of getting off that as soon as possible. I never gave Tylenol or Motrin as I feel they extend the misery and don’t help at all!

    Many blessings to you. I hope my post can add something to the discussion of natural remedies for infections.

  • AmyJ

    When pregnant with child #1, I was GBS+ and did the antibiotics. With child #2, I was again GBS+, but did a lot of research and opted to use a Hibiclens regimen during labor. This is based on a regimen used by midwives in many countries in Europe, with better neonatal and maternal statistics than the U.S.

    Second, chiropractic care is what really turned the tide for my eldest and recurring ear infections. Until then, we were always reacting to the ear infections, not preventing them. Proper alignment allows proper drainage. I highly recommend finding a chiropractor that does cranio-sacral work. We are going on 2 years without ear infections now.

  • lisa

    One question…you mentioned you cured pneumonia naturally, was that with the remedies you mentioned or something different? Please share. Thanks!
    Lisa

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lisa,
    It’s on my post list for this month! :) Katie

    Lisa Reply:

    Great! Looking forward to it! :-)

  • Andrea

    Oh Katie, what a battle! Your article and the comments strengthen my already strong convictions against antibiotics.
    I was excited to help my children overcome croup naturally about a month ago! (At least I think it was croup…didn’t go to the doc but self diagnosed.) From what I read, there’s not much docs can do other than steroids to open up the airway, which may be necessary for babies. I used an arsenal of homeopathics and Umcka cough syrup. This time around I also supplemented with Vitamin D drops by Carlson. When my youngest son wasn’t showing great improvement, I finally started giving him the homeopathics every 15 minutes as recommended, and his sx finally cleared up that day!
    I agree that some things will work and others just don’t. It’s ok, because at least they aren’t doing any harm in the process.
    And as I read all of the comments, I realize there are so many ways to boost the immune system–it is really quite encouraging when you think how many tools we have at our disposal–it’s just a matter of knowing where to start and what to have on hand!

  • Wendy

    This post is coming at an interesting time for me. I’m almost 36 weeks and found out last week that I am (again) GBS positive. I had the antibiotics with my first two but had really hoped to avoid it this time. I’m taking mega-doses of probiotics, grapefruit seed extract, various immune support supplements, vitamin C and using garlic and am going to re-test next week. (I have hibiclens on hand as well and will most likely be using that in labor regardless of the outcome of the test.)

    Interestingly, though I had antibiotics with my boys (7 &8) neither of them have ever had an ear ache or infection and they very rarely get sick. Since their birth, they have never had any exposure to antibiotics and my 7 year old has never even been to a “real” doctor. I’ve always attributed this to the fact that they are Vax-free but I’m wondering if it has more to do with them never having had antibiotics. Thanks for the informative and thought provoking post.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Wendy,
    Isn’t it amazing how much we learn as moms as the years go by? With the probiotics and the GSE/garlic, remember that they’re going to counter each other, so at the very least, don’t take in the same sitting. Might even be better to take the antibacterial ones for a day or two and then switch to heavy probiotics?

    Good luck and may God bless your birth!
    :) Katie

  • Cory

    My husband’s very susceptible to illnesses of the cold/flu variety. Bugs I don’t even get knock him out for the better part of a week. So when he came home early when the last one was coming on, I headed right out for the natural food store to get supplies. After talking to the very knowledgeable supplement specialists there, and consulting their big book of herbal cures, I came home with occillococcinum, elderberry syrup, and kudzu (because he always gets really achy in his joints). He beat that bug in three days.

  • chrispy

    we are antibiotic free, and most OTC medicine free. having a petroleum allergy does that to you. my son won’t even let me give him Tylenol. thank God. I have found kid’s relief has a fever and pain drops. it is our last and final defense for fevers or pain. it works and I normally have a hot puddle of toddler passed out on my chest within 30 min of a dose.

    we use chiropractic care for ear infections. actually our chiropractor caught my son’s dairy allergy before I or his naturopathic pediatrician did. So for our family I choose chiropractic care plus herbal medicine.

    my personal allergies plus a conventional Dr warning me that if I got another drug with petroleum in it that I might not just end up in the ER, but dead, made me choose natural. My search for how to cook without dairy, my comfort food, brought me to a traditional foods lifestyle and I’ve pulled a few allergy friend’s into this world with me.

    loving this month’s theme.

  • Elisabeth

    When we get ear infections we see a chiropractor and I cook an onion in the oven for an hour and then put the juice into the ear (once slightly cooled). I’ve found it far more effective than garlic oil for ear problems.
    :) Thanks for all the information!

  • Kelly @ The Nourishing Home

    Love this post and the whole series you’re doing this month! Too much to write in a comment, but I really wish I had know all this so many years ago. I praise God we got through it, and finally when my second came along, the Lord brought some people into my life that opened our eyes to the real food lifestyle and natural living. Suffice it to say, once we completely overhauled our diets and discovered through a naturopath’s and kinesiologist’s help some food sensitives my boys have, we finally moved past the chronic ear/sinus issues. Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing this information. There is definitely a need for antibiotics, but sadly they are way too often overprescribed and are used in place of really getting to the root cause, which is so important when you’re dealing with chronic/recurrent infections. Blessings and appreciation for you, Kelly

  • 'Becca

    About recurring strep: Consider tonsillectomy, especially if Paul begins coming down with strep every time he’s under any stress and at times when nobody you know has had strep. It is possible for tonsils to harbor strep and keep reinfecting the body. I suffered through 3-8 bouts of strep per year from age 7 to 19 before I finally had my tonsils out. Since then I have not had strep at all and have had other illnesses less often. Tonsils do serve a function, blocking germs from getting to the lungs and sinuses, so when I do get a cold I have to jump on the raw garlic, steam, vitamins, and zinc to get rid of it before it spreads into my lungs or sinuses, but overall I’m a lot healthier now.

    My son is on antibiotics right now for a urinary tract infection. (Yes, they’re rare in boys, but they can happen when immunity is down; his started while he had flu, his first illness of more than 1 day in his entire 8 years.) Once he had blood and white cells in the urine and a distinctive odor (like raw shrimp), I knew from my own experiences that this UTI needed antibiotics. Cranberry concentrate, lots of water, and Vitamin C can work wonders in the early stages, but eventually it gets too advanced, and the two times I kept trying to cure myself I just wound up with a kidney infection and weeks of pain and fever. It is hard to drink lots of water and endure acidic foods/pills when you’re already sick with something else and don’t feel like putting stuff into your stomach and it’s vulnerable to irritation. He’s feeling better now (still 5 days of medicine to go) and I feel we made the right choice.

  • Mom22girls

    I am so sad that you knew the excruciating pain he was in and made him wait until both of his eardrums ruptured before giving him an antibiotic. Sometimes we have to get past our problems and biases and do what is the best thing for our child at that time. I read this article hoping for positive, promising natural remedies but only now feel sorry for a child that is made to stay sick longer because his “mommy says so”. :(

  • Tracy

    I have an ear infection now and was thinking maybe you had some answers. Honestly, from reading this story, it doesn’t sound like anything you did really helped him. It seems like about the same symptoms and duration that an infection takes without treatment at all. The body is amazing, and can often heal itself with enough time. But I’m not sure any of your treatments contributed to or sped up the healing? And really ruptured eardrums aren’t good. Mine ruptured only two or three times as a child, and I have noticeable hearing loss in that ear. Not trying to be rude, just concerned for you and your children.

  • Sarah

    Thanks for the post!

    I haven’t ever read anything about natural antibiotics killing good bacteria as well…I’ve read that it only wipes out the bad. It would be great to get to the bottom of that one!

    Also, I was surprised that only one person mentioned cow dairy in the comments! Our natural battle began with my daughter’s first (of two I think) ear infection when she was about 4. I had started reading up on natural alternatives, so I never filled the prescription the doctor gave us, but instead took her to a Naturopath and a chiropractor right away. The Naturopath’s first suggestion was to take her off of cow dairy, gluten, processed sugar right away since they are such common intolerances among children (for ear infections, digestive problems, behavioural problems, etc…even ADHD). We also put her on a few homeopathics…cleared her ears right up. We later got her tested for food intolerances, and sure enough, cow dairy is terrible for her…same with wheat (and most gluten-containing grains as well, but not as bad as wheat and cow dairy…goat dairy is FINE, which makes sense since it’s a lot closer to human milk. Check out the famous China study on cow dairy!).
    When my son later had his first (and only) ear infection, we fought it natural and it went away easily, but we decided to put him on the same diet restrictions as our daughter (no cow dairy or gluten, and we try to avoid a lot of sugar, ketchup, maple syrup, among some other foods that showed up as harmful to her). He has never had a problem since in 2 years. We cheat at b-day parties and special events, etc, since I don’t want them to view health as a negative, sad, restrictive thing (we can afford that since they don’t have any actual allergies, thank God!). I definitely notice a reduction in her hearing again and stuffiness though after we do cheat a few times, and I have to make sure we take it easy after that!

    Probiotics should be taken ALL the time. Unfortunately, antibiotics are in our drinking water, streams, rivers…the meat, dairy and produce we consume every time we eat out, and even our groceries if we don’t buy all certified organic…even that has some contamination. Anyway…

    Cow dairy has been linked to fluid in the ears in so many studies. The fluid is caused by your body’s immune reaction to things that aren’t good for you. Since the tubes in kids’ ears are often more horizontal until they get older and gets more vertical, they tend to not drain as easily. So this often causes ear infections when they consume a lot of things that aren’t good for them. If they have a cold, are in an unhealthy environment (like next to a field that gets sprayed, in a new tightly sealed house with off-gassing, allergens, etc, etc), or an emotional/mentally stressful environment, their little bodies and immune systems can get overloaded quickly, leading to ear infections or other problems.

    Conventional medicine further weakens and overloads the immune system with ridiculous amounts of toxins (antibiotics, vaccinations, mercury in dental fillings, etc), and often ultimately lead to auto-immune diseases and worse. Even Pasteur (credited with the invention of pasteurization of milk, ironically) on his death bed admitted that ‘the pathogen is nothing; the terrain is everything’. Our fight isn’t against pathogens and bacteria, which are in our bodies all the time, but our fight is for our body’s overall health…making sure it has no deficiencies and is not overloaded with toxins. Check your nutritional and hormonal levels and detox regularly. Include things like fresh, raw organic cilantro, parsley, aloe vera, (great at detox), juicing, dark leafy greens, flax seed oil, etc, in your diet regularly. Our bodies are much wiser at fighting the pathogens than we or conventional medicine are. Focus on the terrain.

    If you eat yogurt or other dairy, don’t do it during an ear infection or cold! Especially the pasteurized, dead yogurt you buy in grocery stores. Make / ferment it yourself at home, and use raw, certified organic goat milk instead. Also, make sure you know the farmer and the farm, and know it’s kept clean…you’ll avoid pathogens and contaminations a lot better this way than buying pasteurized yogurt in the grocery store, believe it or not, but that’s a whole other topic!

    Very interesting topic…thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Nicole'

    Hi! I need your help! Our 10 month old son has ear infections right now , is on antibiotics and eating very small amounts of plain Choboni Greek yogurt.

    I am super overwhelmed that we gave him antibiotics and don’t want to use them, but I don’t know what else to use…

    Why can’t we quit using the antibiotics and use Tea Tree Oil? If we are stuck, what should I do in the mean time?

    Thank you, Nicole’

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Hey Nicole,
    I’m so sorry your little guy is feeling sick! Hard on the whole family, for sure.

    You gotta go with what your doctor tells you once you start the antibiotics, but I know it stinks. It isn’t the end of the world! Just keep up on some good probiotics – maybe even buy some capsules to beef it up even more. In case there’s a next time, have this post bookmarked: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/01/18/kids-ear-infections-a-home-remedy/

    I hope he’s feeling better soon and that you can let yourself off the hook – we all just do the best we can!!
    Hugs! Katie

  • Kelly A.

    Thank you for this post. I know it was written some time back. My 22 month old daughter is now on her 2nd round of antibiotics, and when I took her in to the doctor’s office a couple of days ago after it came back, he said it was pretty bad, and gave her the antibiotic shot. Now she is on a stronger antibiotic. My husband and I did a bit of research the day before starting the 2nd round, and found out that it is quite helpful to give probiotics while taking antibiotics, but florastor is best because it is yeast based and will not be killed by the antibiotic. I’m worried that it will come back again after this round and I won’t know what to do. I just read your post, and will cut out all dairy. I make homemade yogurt, is that a dairy to cut out too, or keep that?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kelly,
    Dairy is one of those things that some people say is the worst evil for infections and/or congestion, but others say no big deal. ??? Remember that I’m not a doctor or medical professional. Personally, we keep eating yogurt, but for no reason other than we’d be too sad without it. :)

    Hope your little one gets all the way better- keep up the probiotics for months after, too. :) katie

  • Yvette

    I just wanted to say, whatever the impact of antibiotics in labor had on your son, give yourself a break. He sounds pretty healthy overall, and it’s clear you work hard to do your very best for your kids. Not to get too personal, but my 20 yr old has a mental disorder, which was misdiagnosed, and she spent 5 years on one anti-psychotic after another, which didn’t work because she didn’t need them. I will never know what caused the worst of the issues over those teen years – her illness, or the wrong meds. And it was truly terrible, especially to cope with as a 24/7 single parent. I’d change it all if I could, but I’ve recognized I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had. And she’s doing well, over all, at this point. Just something to maybe put things in a bit of perspective. As parents, we do our best. We screw up. But out kids survive, and turn into adults, and, best of all, know we love them. :)

  • Marie

    Hi! I have the ear infection sons- two out of five down with it right now. The thing that has helped us the most is peroxide. When they first come to me saying their ear hurts I drop a few drops of peroxide in their ear and leave it there no longer than five minutes. They can dump it out when they like. They like the bubbling as it kind of “scratches” it for them. Usually that will kick the infection immediately. Often I follow up with a drop or two of colloidal silver in their infected ear. Stuff some cotton in and they’re good to go. My 15 yr old is hurting right now and his ear has had bloody drainage for about 24 hrs now. It is worrying me so I came looking for advice. Some good ideas here especially for topical treatment since I don’t want to put much in his ear. I have been putting a cotton ball dipped in olive/garlic oil right in the entrance as I didn’t want to drop the oil in there. Thought it might help…
    I agree you shouldn’t beat yourself up about antibiotics. I know we do, but my children have practically never seen a dr for anything. Two of them contracted Lyme in the last several years and I did do a round of Amoxicyllin for each of them and hoped that would do more good than evil. Children still get sick so you never know what makes what happen.
    Also my 15 yr old’s ear was draining before I even knew he had an earache. People seem to think a ruptured eardrum is awful but it really does heal naturally. Some children just seem more susceptible to ear problems. There is no quick fix.
    One man I know says if he goes to the dr he’ll get better in a week. If he stays home he’ll be well in seven days. :)

  • Kelly

    Well, my child (and many others) would have been dead a long time ago if it wasn’t for antibiotics, so the “omg, antibiotics are like so scary, omg” routine that the nuts pull doesn’t do much for me.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kelly,
    I appreciate your perspective – and modern medicine is amazing when it’s necessary – but I am very cautious about the OVERuse and misuse of antibiotics. That’s all…I’ll embrace them when they’ll save lives 100%! :) Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

PTE350
Squooshi reusable food pouches