By Joshua Phillip, ND
As a parent of two kids and a naturopathic physician, I am passionate about offering a compassionate and holistic healthcare option for kids and their families. The Naturopathic approach for children focuses on treatment and recommendations that support the body’s self-healing capacity, while also helping parents discover not-so-obvious underlying causes.
Allergies and food sensitivities, asthma, and eczema are conditions I very commonly see in practice. The triad of “atopic” conditions, which include asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), and environmental allergies (hay fever) is on the rise. The prevalence of these conditions has increased steadily over the past 30 years. It is currently estimated that 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults in developed countries are affected by the disorder. In many children it is just eczema, while others tend to develop the “atopic triad”, which includes hay fever and/or allergic asthma. The common prevailing approach of continued suppression of symptoms with steroids and other medications, while neglecting underlying causes, can increase the likelihood that more serious atopic conditions develop over time.
The Naturopathic Perspective on Allergies
So why does a kids’ immune system become hyper-reactive, creating inflammation, itching, sinusitis, and inflamed airways? Ultimately it may be a reaction to the environment, including pollen, mold or animals, the foods we are eating, a host of other potential triggers, as well as internal metabolic imbalances. But why? Heredity commonly plays a role, but many of the often ignored underlying causes can be supported and treated.
Research supports the idea that there is commonly a connection between irritation/inflammation/microflora imbalance of the digestive system and the development of atopic conditions. Often foods, or other stressors like multiple courses of antibiotics will create an inflamed and unhealthy gut, and over time this will contribute to an inflamed and hyper-reactive immune- system. An impressive growing body of research around the gut-microbiome– the microorganisms living in our bodies– proposes that the balance of bacteria and other micro-organisms in our gut has a big influence on the performance of our immune systems.
Naturopathic Medicine Supports Health and Well-being
In terms of solutions, it often makes sense for families to have food and/or environmental allergy/sensitivity testing done, as these results frequently provide parents with vital info that can have a big positive impact on their kid’s health. In many instances simple dietary changes can improve health dramatically for kids with these conditions. There are also effective options using herbal and nutraceutical formulas helpful for restoring gut health, thereby improving the balance/tolerance of the immune system, and in many cases resolving symptoms altogether.