Child Health and Caring for a Sick Child – Dr Lawrence Palevsky MD

Rethinking Childhood Illness: A New Approach to Keeping Children Healthy

Child Health and Caring for a Sick Child - Dr Lawrence Palevsky MD 1

Dr Lawrence B Palevsky

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In consideration of the philosophy of today’s conventional medical practice, and of the beliefs of our current dominant cultural norms, we are taught to view symptoms of acute illnesses in children as something bad and dangerous.

Parents are taught to believe that symptoms and childhood illnesses can and should be avoided, suppressed and stopped at all costs, with the use of over-the-counter medicines, antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, and vaccines. Parents are also made to fear the worst-case scenario each time their children get sick, or when they choose not to vaccinate their children.

It is important for all of us to begin learning about new scientific information that explains why children must experience their symptoms and illnesses as a necessary rite of passage, thus, allowing their immune and nervous systems to grow, mature, and develop appropriately. The expression of these symptoms may not always be caused by infections from bacteria and viruses. Instead, these symptoms and illnesses may develop as a sign that our children are healthy; that their bodies are strong, and working to bring to the surface, and cleanse, any accumulation of wastes that are deep inside them, having accumulated due to their exposure to varying stressors in their lives. In many instances, the process of bringing these wastes to the surface of the body is aided by the bacteria and viruses already living inside of them, and is a necessary step for them to become well.

Dr. Palevsky feels we are harming children with the constant use of over-the-counter medications, antibiotics, drugs and vaccines that treat and suppress common and necessary childhood symptoms and illnesses. He has come to understand that the use of this dominant treatment approach, that drives wastes deeper into our children’s bodies when we suppress symptoms, is directly contributing to the development of many of the chronic childhood illnesses we see in pediatrics today. After all, chronic symptoms develop as a result of a chronic accumulation of wastes and toxins, something we contribute to every time we don’t allow children to have their symptoms.

Dr. Palevsky understands that we can learn what contributes to the excess accumulation of wastes in our children. He recognizes that if we pull the plug on putting inflammatory/irritating materials into our children’s bodies, we would be more successful in avoiding the need for their bodies to develop symptoms in the first place. By pulling the plug on exposing our children to these inflammatory/irritating materials, we would also be reducing their stress, which would allow for their immune and nervous system’s natural ability to eliminate their wastes more easily and safely, without the need for symptoms.

Symptoms develop only to restore homeostasis in our bodies; when the load of materials coming into our children’s bodies is greater than their natural ability to eliminate the wastes that develop as a byproduct of their exposures to that load. By recognizing the factors that contribute to the development of these wastes, and by minimizing the input of information into children at the times they are acutely ill, their symptoms will resolve faster.

In a nutshell, Dr. Palevsky has come to realize our need to facilitate the resolution of our children’s symptoms without suppressing them, while taking another look at how valuable childhood illnesses can be to the growth and development of our children. Children need to be allowed to be sick, in order for them to get well. It’s up to the adults in children’s lives to provide a safe space (home, school, food, environment, emotions, spirit, schedules) for them to grow and develop when they are well so they don’t get sick. Dr. Palevsky recommends that parents make a mindful return to providing this same safe space for their children when they do get sick, so they can resolve their symptoms and heal properly.

General Guidance if Your Child is Sick:

“Do less, Stimulate less, Speak less, Eat less.”
“Drink more, Sleep more, Rest more, and Breathe more.”

1) Stop your daily routine and encourage your child, and your family members, to rest.

2) Provide a safe and comfortable environment for your child to process the illness.

3) Encourage plenty of fluids (water, tea, broth, soup, breast milk). If your child is on formula, you may need to either stop the formula completely, or feed fewer ounces through the illness.

4) Turn the volume down…. Reduce activity levels, noise, excitement, schedules, chores, and tasks to a minimum.

5) Turn the lights down. Maintain a calm, quiet, peaceful environment for your child’s nervous system to heal.

6) Stay indoors; play quiet games. Going outside can be too much of an energetic overload for your child’s body when sick, and may prolong and intensify the stress on his body.

7) Give your child a warm bath, several times per day if necessary, and stay with your child as much as possible. Lay low, and watch your child closely. Be mindful of cool or cold drafts when getting out of the bath.

8) Regarding supplements, it is best to stop most, if not all of the supplements that your child is taking. You will need to use your judgment in making this decision.

9) Do not force your child to eat. When children are sick, or not feeling well, their digestive systems slow down. Food is one of the last things children are interested in when they have a fever or don’t feel well. Just ensure fluid intake, and don’t push foods. Their bodies will tell you when they are ready to start eating again. And, most importantly, avoid sugar, including juices, flour and dairy products, and fried foods, when your child is sick, as these foods tend to increase stress, dehydration, and mucus production in the body, which will prolong, or worsen, the course of illness.

10) Observe your child for mental status changes (see Pediatric Checklist below).

11) Please remember that the resolution of illness can take some time. The more patience you have, the more closely you observe your child, and the more you efficiently remove the stressors in your child’s environments, the greater you will impact the length of recovery for your child’s illness. Use the Pediatric Checklist, and your intuition, to help you decide when more medical attention is needed.

12) You may need to cancel plans, stay home, and not participate in previously planned activities so your child can rest and heal at home in her own comfortable, safe environment. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to provide your child with a safe environment in which healing can occur.

13) Make the first day your child feels better a slow day. Stay home and rest for the first 24 hours that the symptoms of illness have finally abated. Try not to rush back into the daily routine of life.

General Guidance for Fever:

Do all of the above and:

1) Fever is an important part of how children’s bodies remove wastes and toxins. The immune chemicals that produce the symptoms of fever are always present and active in our bodies, on a day-to-day basis, even when we don’t have an elevated body temperature. They serve us by getting rid of the wastes and toxins we accumulate from our daily activities so that we don’t require an elevation in our body temperature to burn them out. The immune chemicals that cause fever don’t just magically appear in our bodies when we develop a fever. They circulate in our bodies all the time to help us stay well by keeping our body temperature stable, and by maintaining homeostasis in our cells, tissues and organs. Fever develops when these immune chemicals become up-regulated and amplified in our bodies, when the amount of wastes and toxins increases in our systems to a greater extent than what our bodies are capable of removing on a day-to-day basis through the normal processes of elimination: stooling, urinating, breathing, sweating, resting and sleeping.

2) The accumulation of wastes in our bodies occurs due to 1) poor food choices and overfeeding through food and nervous system stimulation, 2) increased stress from chaotic schedules and home environments, 3) poor sleep patterns, 4) lack of down time and proper rest, 5) difficulties at new schools, or at school in general, 6) emotional upsets and unsafe environments, 7) environmental air, food, water, skin and nervous system toxic exposures, 8) frequent use of over-the-counter and pharmaceutical medicines, and vaccines, 9) pushing ahead with our lives and not listening to the messages our bodies are giving us, and 10) living a life that’s opposite to the cycles of nature (e.g., animals hibernate in the winter, and humans in the northern hemisphere keep a schedule as if it’s still summer time). The keeping of a diet and lifestyle in opposition to the laws of nature is a drastic set up for waste and toxin build-up in our bodies, leading to an increase in the chemicals that produce fever, and resultant symptoms of flu, cough, illness, depression, stomach upset, etc. Therefore, fever is something our bodies use to help us get well. Fever forces us to stop what we’re doing and pay attention to what our bodies need most in order to become more optimally well.

3) Focus your attention on treating your child who has an elevated temperature, and try not to focus primarily on the number on the thermometer. Stay with your child. See the Pediatric Checklist below.

4) Give your child a warm bath, several times per day if necessary, to help her sweat. Sweating will help cool your child’s body, and make your child feel better. You can use epsom salts, baking soda, or even hydrogen peroxide in the bath, to support your child in feeling more comfortable during the fever. Be mindful of cool drafts after coming out of a warm bath that can compromise your child’s health. You can also use lavender flowers, yarrow flowers, or elder flowers in the bath to promote healing and relaxation.

5) Fever does not cause brain damage, and is not automatically going to lead to a seizure in your child.

6) To help your child feel better with the symptoms of fever, use one drop of lavender or German chamomile essential oil rubbed undiluted on the tops of both ears, and in the space between the largest vertebrae in the base of their neck and the vertebrae below it. It is also therapeutic to massage the oil down the spine, and place a drop or two on the center of the pads of both big toes. You can do this several times per day on these acupuncture points to help their bodies cope better with the chemistry of the fever.

7) Use the wet sock treatment after the warm bath: put a pair of wet, cool, cotton socks on your child’s feet, followed by a pair of dry, wool socks, and put your child to bed. Dr. Palevsky thanks his naturopathic physician colleagues for this smart therapeutic intervention. Many parents report how much it helps to improve their children’s symptoms of fever and upper respiratory issues.

8) Make sure your child drinks as much fluids as possible, and check that the urine is clear to slightly yellow in color. Dehydration in children with fever will make your child feel worse and compromise her ability to heal.

9) Refer to the list of resources below for other remedies to help support your child through the fever.

10) Continue to observe your child for mental status changes (see Pediatric Checklist below).

11) Dr. Palevsky does not recommend the use of over-the-counter medicine for fever reduction. He does not believe these medicines are safe for human consumption, and there is growing literature to support his position (see below: Resources). He also understands that most often the fever becomes prolonged in children when these medicines are used. In other words, the fever doesn’t last as many days, and goes away quicker, when parents try to refrain from using these medicines.

12) Fever helps the body eliminate wastes. Stopping the fever with these medicines stops children’s bodies from eliminating the wastes. But, the body is “smarter” than that, and will continue to rage on with the fever until it is allowed to burn out the wastes… or not. If the wastes aren’t eliminated promptly, they hang around and cause more irritation to our children on a chronic basis. Often, children will have a subsequent acute illness accompanied by fever, soon after their initial febrile illness, when the fever is suppressed with over-the-counter medicines.

13) Most over-the-counter medicines use up important immune chemicals in children’s bodies (e.g., glutathione) that are needed to deal with the removal of the wastes that caused them to have the fever in the first place. Less glutathione in the body leads to less elimination of wastes and, therefore, more accumulation of wastes in the cells, tissues, and organs of the body. This state of health leads to the need for, and the development of, further episodes of acute illnesses. The body cannot function in an optimal way if these wastes are allowed to accumulate in the body, thus, the reason for further episodes of acute illnesses. With continued use of over-the-counter medicines to suppress the fevers, children will further deplete their glutathione stores, which could eventually increase the potential for them to develop the onset of chronic illnesses.

14) Some over-the-counter medicines also inhibit the production of other immune chemicals (e.g., prostaglandins) that children’s bodies need to help them eliminate their wastes. As a by-product of this inhibition, children will produce other irritating chemicals (e.g., thromboxanes and leukotrienes) that have longer lasting inflammatory properties on their health, leading to illnesses that are often worse than what they were originally dealing with when the fever developed in the first place.



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