Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

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My 10-year-old daugh­ter is just over an­other ear in­fec­tion and an­other round of an­tibi­otics. What can we do to pre­vent them from hap­pen­ing in the first place?

>> Ear in­fec­tions re­ally are mis­er­able, par­tic­u­larly if they are re­cur­rent. If you haven’t al­ready I would find a good lo­cal ENT spe­cial­ist to in­ves­ti­gate why your son seems to be more sus­cep­ti­ble to re­peat in­fec­tions.

Have a chat to your health prac­ti­tioner about the pos­si­bil­ity of an in­tol­er­ance or sen­si­tiv­ity to wheat and/or dairy prod­ucts, since these are of­ten un­der­ly­ing is­sues with re­cur­rent ear in­fec­tions and mid­dle ear is­sues.

In the mean­time, it is a good idea to off­set the an­tibi­otic med­i­ca­tion with some high-qual­ity pro­bi­otics.

Most peo­ple are aware that an­tibi­otics not only wipe out the bac­te­ria re­spon­si­ble for the in­fec­tion, and are cer­tainly nec­es­sary in some sit­u­a­tions, but they also wipe the ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria out as well. There are a num­ber of great pro­bi­otic brands avail­able to­day — Biokult or OMX would be my top picks if you can find them lo­cally, other good brands in­clude, Al­forex, Seven Seas, Bio­care, and Sol­gar to name but a few.

Keep­ing your son’s gut health in check will not only help to re­pop­u­late the ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria af­ter an­tibi­otic us­age, but it will also as­sist in fight­ing fu­ture in­fec­tions.

The herbal tinc­ture gold­enseal, Hy­drastis canaden­sis, is a fan­tas­tic standby to have for treat­ing in­fec­tion. It can be used both in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally to treat vi­ral and bac­te­rial in­fec­tions. It is bright yel­low, hence the name, so you might want to wear gloves or ap­ply very care­fully with a drop­per to avoid stain­ing.

The tinc­ture can be ap­plied di­rectly to the outer edge of the ear hole, and taken in­ter­nally as di­rected on the bot­tle.

Cran­iosacral ther­apy has had sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in both treat­ing and pre­vent­ing ear in­fec­tion where it is an on­go­ing prob­lem. To find a cran­iosacral prac­ti­tioner in your area, visit the Ir­ish As­so­ci­a­tion of Cran­iosacral Ther­a­pists on­line at

Here’s a tried-and-tested home rem­edy to have on hand at the slight­est hint of ear trou­ble: Sim­ply crush a clove of gar­lic in a ta­ble­spoon of olive oil and leave to stand for 12 hours (or overnight). Strain and use two to three drops of the gar­lic-in­fused oil on cot­ton wool and place gen­tly in the outer ear (don’t in­sert in the ear canal) so that the gar­lic oil is sit­ting di­rectly over the en­trance of the ear.

Change three times daily or as nec­es­sary.

How can I get rid of my baby’s cra­dle cap? I’ve tried us­ing al­mond oil but it comes back ev­ery time.

>> This is quite a com­mon is­sue in in­fants un­der 12 months and is also re­ferred to as se­b­or­rheic der­mati­tis. For­tu­nately, it gen­er­ally doesn’t cause any pain or prob­lems be­yond the ap­pear­ance (right at the very time when you want to show off your lit­tle one). Some ba­bies are cer­tainly more likely to be sus­cep­ti­ble to this con­di­tion than oth­ers, with a com­monly held be­lief that ba­bies with less hair are more likely to have it. In fact, there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that a lack of hair is linked di­rectly to cra­dle cap.

Avoid­ing the com­mon al­ler­gen foods for the first year is worth­while — for both you and baby. Dairy, gluten, and eggs are all com­mon cul­prits.

What sci­en­tists have found is that bi­otin, one of the B vi­ta­mins, lev­els are of­ten very low with in­fants who have cra­dle cap. As you may know, egg yolk is one of the best di­etary sources of bi­otin. Since eggs are best avoided for the first 12 months, you can add liver into your diet — also a good source of bi­otin — or take 10mg of bi­otin daily via sup­ple­men­ta­tion if you are still breastfeeding.

A de­fi­ciency in es­sen­tial fatty acids (EFAs) can also play a role in cra­dle cap. You can take them in via di­etary choices and also ap­ply then top­i­cally to the scalp.

Evening Prim­rose Oil (EPO), bor­age, and hempseed are all won­der­ful sources of EFAs for skin health.

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