MICHAEL Lawlor was a self-employed electrician when his baby daughter had a series of severe asthmatic-style attacks — but within a few years, her illness had brought about a radical career change for dad.
Harsh, racking coughs and breathing difficulties which turned her lips blue saw 12-month-old Isabel make regular hospital visits until she was three — she received nebulisers, steroid injections was diagnosed as an asthmatic and put on a series of inhalers and antibiotics.
Lawlor, who had been an electrician for some 20 years, began to investigate alternative treatments for his daughter’s condition. He not only discovered a solution to Isobel’s health problems, but embarked on a new career.
“When Isabel was three I felt she was stuck in a cycle so I started looking for courses in complementary medicine,” recalls the 45-year-old who lives with his family in Monkstown, Dublin.
In 2009 he started a four-year course in naturopathy and acupuncture at the College of Nuropathic Medicine at Griffith College, and later travelled to Vietnam to undergo post-graduate training in Hanoi.
In the course of his studies he found a homeopathic remedy which he thought might work for Isabel — and it did.
“Her cough stopped within 20 minutes. The remedy worked on a totally different level but it worked.”
After that, he says, whenever Isobel, now eight, had an attack, she was administered the remedy.
“It always worked,” he recalls.
As he learned more, he started to remove cow’s milk and ‘damp-forming’ foods such as bananas from his daughter’s diet.
“In our medicine we believe congestion in the lungs has its root in the digestive system.
“By treating the digestive system I was able to alleviate her lung symptoms,” says Lawlor, also dad to Noah, five, and Ellie May, four.
Isabel is now a healthy child.
“She does get the odd cold or flu, but the days of the endless cycle of coughing episodes and antibiotics are gone.”
Now a qualified naturopath and acupuncturist who runs the Monkstown Natural Health Clinic, Lawlor uses a combination of naturopathy and a Japanese form of acupuncture, Shonishin, to build a child’s constitution.
“Children come to us with respiratory problems, digestive problems for example colic, cramps and diarrhoea to behavioural problems and skin complaints,” he says.
He believes that with a little basic knowledge, parents can learn to deal with some minor childhood ailments themselves.
“We want a quick fix for everything, whereas with a little bit of education, knowledge and understanding we can assist or support the body’s natural innate healing system. By supporting the healing response of the body we can actually avoid some unnecessary trips to the GP.”
Naturopath and acupuncturist Michael Lawlor offers advice on common childhood ailments:
* When your child gets a cold or flu and experiences a rise in temperature don’t panic.
If a child is aged under three months, call the doctor, he advises, as very young children cannot regulate their own body temperature. “Always err on the side of caution.”
However, with older children, try putting them into a tepid or mildly-warm bath for about 20 minutes.
“They will begin to feel better almost immediately Give them plenty of bottled water and/or fresh juice, if they can take it.
“Put a cold wet facecloth on the forehead and cheeks. The warm bath allows the body to dissipate the heat.”
Complementary medicine believes there is a strong link between a compromised digestive system and the lungs, he says.
“If children have mucus in the nose or lungs, it may be caused by an intolerance to cow’s milk, so we would suggest that parents take children off cow’s milk for three weeks.
“If the symptoms go, then put them back on it for one day after the three weeks is up, and see what happens. If the mucus returns, that could signal an intolerance to dairy.”
He suggests replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk and reducing their consumption of bananas and wheat-based cereals.
Make a drink of honey, grated ginger root and freshly-squeezed lemon juice before bed. For babies under the age of one, use a vaporiser, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil, lavender oil or rosemary oil to the water while it is heating.
Try a weak fennel tea to settle the stomach. Adding a little grated ginger may also help.
GIve weak fennel tea or pour some water over fennel seed and strain and allow to cool, then put into baby’s bottle.
Between you thumb and forefinger, find a fleshy, tender area. Gently pinch this area with your other hand and massage for up to five minutes.
“This will alleviate the headache, as will a massage to the back of the neck rising to the skull,” he says.
Sprinkle some sea salt on a slice of apple and encourage your child to eat it. The sea salt helps to calm the inflammation.
“You could also mix a tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of raw honey direct from the comb into some warm water and get the child to sip,” he says.
Try a homeopathic remedy which contains chamomilla.
“Also try mixing one or two drops of clove oil into almond oil — test the mixture on your own gums first to ensure it is not too strong — and rub it on the child’s gums,” says Lawlor.