Natural health: Reflux, scabies and homocysteine

Q. My 18-month-old daughter has just been diagnosed with reflux. She often has a great deal of pain in her gut and becomes very irritable. 

The doctor has given us Ranitidine and Domperidone to try. I am not happy with her being on medications at her age. Is there anything natural that can help her?

A. There are a number of symptoms associated with reflux in toddlers, including poor sleeping and eating habits, persistent hiccupping or coughing, stomach ache and nasal congestion. Understandably, this can impact how they interact socially as it often causes children to feel stressed, clingy, and irritable.

With reflux, the lower oesophageal sphincter (a valve at the top of the stomach) doesn’t close properly and the contents travel back up the oesophagus. 

This sphincter is controlled by the vagus nerve, which sits close to the cervical vertebrae. 

If your daughter’s vertebrae is even slightly out of place it may press on this nerve, causing incomplete closure of the oesophageal sphincter.

I would suggest you investigate chiropractic or osteopathy to gently work on the alignment of the vertebrae; choosing a practitioner who is experienced in treating young children.

Q. Our son has scabies, and we are all at our wits’ end. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A. Scabies are very contagious, so the first thing is to work on eliminating all possible sources of re-infestation. 

In most cases this simply involves regular washing of all towels, bedding, and clothing in a hot water cycle (add 6-10 drops of tea tree essential oil to the final rinse) followed by a hot tumble dry during the first week or two of treatment. 

In severe infestations you will also need to have your upholstery and carpets steam cleaned.

Tea tree essential oil and Neem oil are the two best products for your family to use to help eliminate these tiny mites. 

You can make a highly effective preparation by adding pure Tea-tree essential oil to Neem oil or lotion (use 20 drops of tea-tree for every 50ml Neem). 

Rub this preparation directly all over the skin twice daily for two weeks – not just on affected areas. You can also use a Neem shampoo as a body wash.

Scabies are caused by the wingless insect Sarcoptes scabiei, the Scabies mite. 

Only just visible to the naked eye, the female parasite burrows into the skin, laying one-to-three eggs daily for about five weeks, then the eggs hatch and the cycle continues.

The itching zigzag blistered rash characteristic of scabies is actually an allergic reaction to the mite itself, its eggs, and its faeces. 

Scabies mites are more active at night, which no doubt means you will all be suffering from sleep deprivation to add to your woes.

Q. I understand that I can purchase a self-test for homocysteine levels and was wondering if you could please point me in the right direction?

A. You can indeed purchase a do-it-yourself homocysteine test kit, costing €109 from YorkTest ( www.yorktest.ie ; 01-2022 701). This includes free return post to the laboratory and comprehensive testing and analysis results.

While most people typically link heart attacks with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, homocysteine is actually a better indicator of heart health. 

An amino acid produced in the body during the breakdown of methionine, homocysteine damages the artery lining by restricting diameter and elasticity of the vessels. 

Fortunately it can be as easy as making a few key dietary changes to increase your body’s efficiency in breaking down such toxic substances.

Increasing your intake of essential fatty acids, and getting five servings a day of fresh fruit and vegetables will have a positive effect. However, if your homocysteine levels are high (seven and below is considered healthy; 15 and above is considered extremely high risk), you may also benefit from vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid all of which can significantly lower raised homocysteine levels.

Note: If your results are raised, then you will need to consult your GP before taking any specific course of action.


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