Friday, November 27, 2009

Slow School Zone

Caution - Students Learning

Today we decided to visit the Pojoaque Valley Elementary School, where the play structures are awesome. Obviously they have been infused with state money, and possibly stimulus money, which hasn't filtered up to Los Alamost schools, most likely because we are too rich up here. The remarkable difference between the new Pojoaque schools and the Los Alamos schools is astonishing, to say the least. The Pojoaque ones are new, loaded with brand new playgrounds, and all the amenities. The Los Alamos ones are outdated, make-shift buildings, where band-aids are applied, but new construction is rare.  Considering my property tax bill just increased by approximately $1200 annually to supposedly remedy this, I can only hope that my friends' schoolchildren will have more than veneers and plastic surgery to "fix" the schools ails. But I digress...

It All Starts Here!

Schools have been around in this country for what,  375 years? Interestingly enough, the founders of America's first public school, the Boston Latin School, began the school with the ancient Greek belief that "the only good things are the goods of the soul." Additionally,  "from its beginning, Boston Latin School has taught its scholars dissent with responsibility and has persistently encouraged such dissent." What happened to these premises?  An institution designed to help children learn the goods of the soul, and encouraging responsible dissent?  Where did this train derail?  It seems that the majority of public schools today are, in fact, in existence for the sole reason of preventing dissent both within the schools and the confines of modern day life.  Forget about the goods of the soul. Schools have enough on their hands trying to maintain control of active, little bodies, and ensuring their kids are scoring high on standardized tests, there is no time to pursue Greek philosophy and to even discover what these goods of the soul might be. So, if soul goods and dissent are out...what is it that starts within the walls of education?

Success. When I was in 4th Grade at Pojoaque Elementary, we had a cheer that we performed all the time: S - U - C - C - E - S - S. That's the way you spell success, who's gonna win it? You can guess...Elks, Elks, the BEST!!!! I loved cheerleading when I was between the ages of 9 and 12. I attended cheerleading camps, and my friends and I pretended to be high school cheerleaders for hours a day. I did, in fact, wish to be a successful cheerleader--one who was pretty, kind, talented, and well, you know, cheery. When I was 9, that's what success meant to me. I wonder what it means to the little 4th graders at Pojoaque these days?

Excellence. Most people strive for excellence.  But what is excellence?  According to Webster's, excellence is the quality of being excellent, or superior. It is considered a virtue, which is said to be "a conformity to a standard of right; a morality." The virtuous definition makes more sense when it comes to what a school might hope to impart when emplacing a sign that implies that excellence starts at school.Come little children and conform.

Respect.  Respect comes from Latin respectus, literally, an act of looking back; from respicere to look back. As I'm moving backwards through these signs that children see every day during classes, it seems like looking back and reflecting before commencing with the future would be an effective use of respect.However, I don't think that's what the administrators are hoping to impart by ensuring that their children see this day after day after day.  Most likely the schools are hoping that their wards are engaging in acts of deference, holding their teachers, administrators, and peers in high regard.

Pride. Pride is the first thing the young ones at Pojoaque schools are subconsciously absorbing on upon entering school. Once again, I suspect that the school admins are, in their minds, thinking of pride in a positive manner, and not thinking of the word's synonym: conceit. A "reasonable or justifiable self-respect; the delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship" seem suited to what a school intends to pass along to its students. Pride in their schools, pride in their buildings, you know...that pre-patriotism stuff.
To be honest, I have no qualms with any of these ideas, or even the fact that Pojoaque schools feel compelled to hang these signs on the main walkway into the elementary school. Most people want their kid to feel pride in his work, to respect others, to have a sense a sense of excellence, and taste success.

I was more intrigued by the "Slow School Zone" sign. I suspect the sign intended to read "SLOW. School Zone" as in, slow down  you idiot drivers, there are children here who may dash in front of  your car. However, that's not how the sign read. Its juxtaposition to the "Caution Children Learning" sign is even more intriguing to me. Caution.  Children Learning. Caution?  What is there to be cautious about? The sign is placed in the bus drop-off loop, not at the entrance to the building, so I find it even more strange.

But, to go with it... Wouldn't it be nice if schools COULD slow down? If they would let kids be kids so they could have countless hours of play? Could let kids enjoy the success of using their imagination, feel the excellence of using their big muscles (as opposed to the heroic effort it takes to sit in a chair doing busywork), to respect gravity and the other forces of nature, and to have pride in their own creations - whether big or small? Schools should slow down, and become slow school zones. And there should be no caution in our children should be encouraged to learn in dangerous (at least to the status quo) ways, as in being allowed the freedom to follow their own interests, and to explore the world at their own pace.

The intent of schools is fundamentally good--they want to impart concepts into the minds of children so they grow into successful, people who strive for excellence, do so respectfully and with pride. But I disagree that it all starts in the hallways of our modern day schools. But, that is an essay for another day. In the meantime, my kids and I will continue to enjoy the playground while we play and explore in our own ways, and with our own "Po - w - e - r"  !!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Doula I am

I completed the ToLabor Doula Training this past weekend and walked away with a profoundly different understanding of who I am, how my own births were, and how every pregnancy and birth should be for all women. I entered the class not really even knowing what a Doula was, much less whether I truly wanted to be one. I actually went into the workshop with the intention of using the knowledge gained towards becoming a birth educator. I still plan on becoming a birth educator. However, since I didn't really understand the whole role a Doula plays in labor and birth, I had no preconceived notions of what a Doula is or is not. In my mind, I thought a Doula was just a woman present during birth. I've read the research that suggests that the simple presence of a woman at another woman's birth helps to create a positive birth outcome. I questioned whether I needed a Doula during my own births, but because I planned on homebirth with Midwives, I assumed I didn't need one.  How wrong I was!

A Doula (pronounced Doo-la) is a term from the Greek language meaning a "woman who serves." They support mothers and their families through the emotional and physical challenges and joys of childbearing. Doulas provide non-medical support and they are the only care providers whose responsibility is to support a laboring woman exclusively and continuously. Studies show that doctors are present only 5% of the time, and nurses only 20-25% of the time, however, labor assistants or birth Doulas provide constant care throughout a woman's entire birth experience.

The experienced, loving support of sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends has diminished as births have moved into the hospital, and under the medical practice of OB/GYNs. Most women do not share or participate in a birth until they experience their own. This is where Doulas come in. Doulas understand the complexities of birth, work to ease the fears and anxieties of the unknown, and can instill confidence and trust in a woman and her body. Doulas work with the mother and her partner by providing useful comfort techniques for the mother that incorporate the help of the partner. Doulas also help facilitate communication with the labor care team.

Randomized controlled trials demonstrate that the presence of a Doula is also associated with:
  • Reduced cesarean rates
  • Fewer forceps/vacuum deliveries
  • Less requests for epidurals
  • Shorter labor
  • Reduced use of Pitocin/Oxytocin
  • Lower rates of newborn complications
  • Increased success with breastfeeding
  • Reduction in postpartum depression
  • Increased maternal satisfaction
Doulas use a wide variety of pain-management techniques to help women feel more safe and comfortable, including:
  • Massage
  • Acupressure
  • Positioning for mother’s comfort and to relieve/avoid back labor
  • Shower/bath
  • Birth ball
  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Guided imagery/visualizations
  • Aromatherapy
What Doulas do not do:
  • Perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams.
  • Make decisions for the mother.
  • Speak on behalf of the mother to the medical staff or primary care providers regarding decision matters.
Before this remarkable workshop was complete, I realized that every woman should have the right to have a Doula, and that Doulas should be made available by all hospitals. Our maternity care system in the United States is a topic all its own, but one simple change to help support positive birth outcomes would be to have Doulas on call in all hospitals and birth centers.

My certification process has just begun, but I am looking forward to working through it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Hunter's Moon, and Other Random Thoughts

The Hunter's Moon on Monday seemed to dredge up all sorts of emotional turbulence within me, as well as others I interacted with. My day began with co-worker conflict, and ended in an endless stream of griping and bitching erupting from my brain and mouth. Finally, in sheer desperation for the stream of words flowing forth from my mouth to end, I shut up. I just quit.

However, gems of wonder were to be found amidst all the rapids. My daughter discovered a fun and creative way to make letters from the mail...she started by making an A and then a W, and then a Y, which progressed into words like MAX, WAX, EAT, which then progressed into finding other object with which to make the letters such as pencils, our Halloween spoon witches, spoons, pens, the fly-swatter. It was a lot of fun to watch and encourage.

My brain has been literally swirling with thoughts regarding learning without school, parenting, relationships, life’s typical challenges, the weather, finances, conflicts at work, my career, worries about others, opinions about everything, and on and on and on.

Often it seems, life’s daily flow travels along easily and fluidly and my focus is on each present moment. And then there are those times when all the various things that make up this life are swarming around me like bees hunting for a new hive and it’s impossible to focus on any one thing as they are demanding my attention. Now seems to be one of those times.

Perhaps I just need a quiet spot to reflect upon things, and calm my busy mind...

On the plus side, however, I've had the opportunity to read some inspiring articles on learning lately, and feel aware and responsive to how we are approaching this new journey in our life. It's quotes like this, from John Holt, that really just hone it all in:

"It's not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It's a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life."
~John Holt

I've even taken the leap to really sharing my understanding of this approach with those who most need it, namely my Mother and my In-Laws, who are the most supportive bunch of folks I've encountered recently, and who really need to be on the same page as me since they are primary caregivers to my kids. By sharing Naomi Aldort's amazing, and pretty much mind-blowing CD set, Trusting Our Children, Trusting Ourselves, with my Mom, among others, I am hopeful that my kids will have even more support from their loving grandparents, who are also learning about this new idea for our family.  In a family of many PhDs, the concept of homeschooling, and especially without a curriculum and "schoolwork" is a novel concept.

"What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out."
~John Holt, Teach Your Own

Parenting is probably the most challenging (and possibly unanticipated) aspect to many peoples' lives, and being with our children all day and not relying on others to entertain them, "teach" them, take care of them, "endure" them, etc. has become an important aspect of learning without school, at least in my own eyes. I'm the kind of person that constantly seeks out and eats up as much information as I possibly can so that I can become the very best parent that I can possibly be. I believe that kids thrive in an environment without shame, humiliation, punishment, invoked consequences, rewards, time-outs, and all those other negative "traditional" discipline techniques. Changing myself has become a daily affair, and I work at it really hard. Respecting my kids for who they are is essential. I've included a little snippet of inspiration I found this week, as well: How to Raise a Respected Child, by Sandra Dodd.


Friday, October 9, 2009

It's Official - We Really are Unschoolers

And it's truly no surprise. Being Evergreen Alumni and having non-standard views on parenting, learning, and life, this path seems to have flowed seamlessly into our lives.

I've added a list of Unschooling sites down below for my own sake as well as for those who might be interested in what the whole idea of unschooling is.

In pulling my daughter out of school, I've already had many people ask me, "why would you take your kid out of school when the schools in Los Alamos are so good?"

To start with, we just happen to have a child who is not willing to be coerced into a situation she is uncomfortable with, and the situation she was most uncomfortable with was school. If she were like most other kids, we may never have found ourselves in this part of the world. But in many ways I can be thankful that she is different and that we can embark upon this journey of something radical and adventurous. And what an interesting journey it shall be...

Besides, are Los Alamos schools really so good? I went to Los Alamos schools 20+ years ago, and sure I had a good teacher or two. But I don't think I began any real passionate learning until I got to college. I mostly just cruised it, and did what I needed to do to get through the day to day.

LA Schools at this point seemed to have fallen under the spell of testing and more testing, homework and more homework.

I think John Holt said it best:

"What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out."
—John Holt, Teach Your Own

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Nettles

Summer has arrived.
We've had a most unusual June, here in Los Alamos, with much more rain than usual, and some very chilly days. June is generally the hottest, driest month, so all this moisture and cool temps have been quite a surprise. The plants and trees must be soaking up every ounce of the water. Nettles that were a mere few inches off the ground a couple weeks ago, are nearly towering over my head! The grasses too have completely taken off. My native grass front yard looks greener than it ever has, and all grasses must be flowering profusely as I've been more allergized in recent days than I can remember...back to those nettles!

Nettles can be useful for allergy relief and they boast significant amounts of chlorophyll, protein, ascorbic acid, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin K1, potassium and zinc. These nutrients are considered to promote healthy skin, bones and joints and encourage a healthy immune and respiratory system. Nettle leaf contains flavonoids such as quercitin, kaempferol, and rutin that help to maintain healthy levels of histamine in the body. Histamine release is associated with allergic reactions, where tissues become damaged and inflamed. Further, nettle leaf extract promotes the healthy modulation of prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and cytokines- which are components associated with normal immune function.

I am a sucker for stinging nettles. When I see a patch I get all giggley in my tummy and feel like jumping up and down and shouting for joy. Los Alamos Canyon is ripe with nettles right now, and during a run up the canyon yesterday I simply couldn't help myself and had to stop and commune with one of the large patches growing up alongside the stream bed. I plucked a lovely leaf, folded it upon itself and chewed it up as my friend Susan had taught me a decade and a half ago. The flavor was pure green, with hints of minerals and vitamins. My thumb and forefinger were numb for the rest of the run, and every time I felt the numbness my heart swelled with joy for this lovely soul-sister plant. Now, if I can just convince my daughters to come watch me harvest this bounty!

The natives of the Olympic Peninsula used nettles for medicine, charms, and rituals. In order to stay awake through the night, the Quileute would rub nettles over the body prior to heading out on seal hunts. The Makah would use nettles to purify their bodies and to toughen their skin before heading out on whale hunts. I've always found those uses intriguing. My husband once thrashed himself with Nettles prior to driving 18 hours straight, and said it worked quite well for staying awake through the night.

Nettles are also a delicious green that can be cooked like spinach. Sautee the fresh leaves with garlic and butter and dash of soy for a nutritious green...Bon Appetit!

Gunther, E. and J. Janish. Ethnobotany of Western Washington. 1973; 78.

Klingelhoefer S, et al. Antirheumatic effect of IDS 23, a stinging nettle leaf extract, on in vitro expression of T helper cytokines. J. Rheumatol. 1999; 26(12): 2517-2522.

Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze dried urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Medica. 1990;56:44-47.

Image copyright David Beaulieu

Friday, February 27, 2009

My dreams are often tied to phases of the moon and the new moon in particular often leaves my dreamland filled with an odd variety of graphic surprises.

This week, in particular, has been an odd week for sleep. Dreams have been vivid, full of color and texture and even flavor. It seems as if a bit of intuitive and uncanny senses have been awakened as soon as I slip into slumber.

My dreams last night, however, were disturbing. Slightly menacing, nearly terrifying, and graphic in an unpleasant way. I began riding as a passenger in a car, observing events as if watching them on TV. We pulled over, and sat facing a young black woman as if watching a drive-in movie. We watched as an outside group began discussing the merits of removing the faces, and it was understood that the face belonged to one who was already dead. A pair of large, metal, dangerous scissors began cutting the skin from the face of this beautiful woman--right up the middle from the chin towards the forehead. The blood seemed slow to start and their was no reaction at all from the woman until I screamed, "Wait! She's not dead! you can't cut the faces of people who aren't dead!" and the blood began to flow as the scissors seemed unable to cut further towards the scalp. The scene shifted, and I was back at Evergreen, a dream event that recurs several times a month.

Yesterday, while on a hike, I had a glimpse of thought regarding why I always dream that I return to Evergreen, and I am moving, trying to find a house, registering for classes, and always slightly lost. But today I can't remember what that reason was.

In any case, back to the dream. My partner and I entered a small, all glass building where people were doing Aikido. There were a few benches on the side, filled with observers, and the floor of the room had a mat with thick blankets on to serve as padding. The Sensei was manipulating people and throwing them on the floor. Several people I remember from my short tenure in Aikido moved to do their thing in the center of the floor. I held my daughters on my lap and we watched from the sides. As we stood to leave, the Sensei came over to me and placed his hands on my back. As he did so I felt all the tension in my shoulders and neck surge to the surface as if trying to escape. And then I relaxed and felt the healing power flow through his hands. I breathed deeply and felt as I do at the end of a Rolfing session. Although this Sensei was not my Rolfer, even though he really does practice Aikido.

Lastly, I was walking along a street in White Rock. It was night and I was upset, possibly scared. I kept seeing people getting run over by cars on the street. Most would get up, brush themselves off, and keep going. I saw a mother and her daughter get run over on the opposite side of the street. I ran to them, and was yelling at the driver to stop, which he did. I was helping the mother and daughter to lay down on the sidewalk, and took the young girl's hands in mine. Begging with her, pleading, I kept asking, "where does it hurt, are you hurt?" The mother was fine but wanted to sleep. The young girl was fine too. We sat back with our heads on the curb and saw a white van with a yellow hat flying in the air above us. A teenaged girl was sitting on a chair atop the van and was holding its reins and hollering at us. While it rightly is an amusing and funny sight, it was terrifying. The girl kept flipping the van in the air, doing hundreds of flips and circles. I watched it in absolute terror, certain it would fall on top of us. The girl seemed to know that we were mortified and kept hollering and laughing and flipping. Another flying vehicle began to float over us, and I was sure this one would do us in. And then I woke.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's About Time...

I was recently made aware of this Consumer Reports article on the state of US maternity care.

They even include a handy little quiz to test your knowledge of commonly cited facts and figures regarding standard maternity care.

Childbirth, and specifically natural childbirth, became a passion of mine during my first pregnancy. Having birthed both my babies naturally, the second one at home, has furthered my interest in knowing whether women of today have access to the information they need to make informed choices regarding childbirth.

Consumer Reports cites
this October 2008 report Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve, by Carol Sakala and Maureen P. Corry. This report has all kinds of information, and will hopefully be useful in the new Administration's healthcare reform.

As I stepped through the portal of 2009, many of my back-burner interests have surged to the forefront. My role in the natural birth community is one of them. Shall I become a licensed midwife? Should I become a childbirth educator? As time permits, should I pursue my degree in Chinese Medicine and focus on women's health and childbirth? Do I continue my herbalist studies and focus on women's and children's health? How about a massage certificate?

All these ideas have been swimming around fervently in my head for the last several weeks. I'll keep letting them swim for a while, but I imagine at some point some of them are simply going to drown, and I'll have to send the Coast Guard in to rescue those that remain.

I found some cool new links to post on my blog, and I've included them under Earth Grown.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Herbs for the Season -- Yerba Santa, Mullein, and other Bronchials

Winter is upon us, and blessing us with an abundance of snow.

Fortunately, nature has also provided a bounty of herbal options for those who find themselves under the weather, and caught with the unpleasant situation of a bronchial illness.

Coughing is a protective mechanism that helps to clear the lungs and throat of irritants and fluid. Coughing may be also a symptom of more serious upper respiratory conditions such as croup, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Continuous, spasmodic coughing is exhausting, and can cause difficulty sleeping at a time when rest is critical.

When the chest is full of congestion, and coughing is not helping to expel the phlegm, a decongestant herb may be useful. Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon spp. is used as a bronchial dilator and expectorant, and also is considered a mild decongestant (1). The smoke of Yerba Santa is an antispasmodic herb, which can be particularly useful when bronchial spasms are rudely persistent. While it might seem contrary to reason to smoke a substance during a respiratory illness, for this particular herb, a scant amount of the smoke can provide a welcome relief from coughing spasm.

Yerba Santa is one of those herbs that smells truly medicinal. It has that turpentine-type odor that seems to dredge up dormant memories of our great-great-great-grandmother's cough syrup--even if we never had to privilege of meeting her--it seems to me to be an instinctual body memory of some sort. Take a sniff and you'll know what I am talking about! While the odor is strong, the taste is somewhat sweet.

To prepare a Yerba Santa decoction, take a tablespoon of the dried, ground leaves and add to 1 cup boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, let it cool for 20 or so minutes, strain, and drink. Up to 1 ounce of the dried herb can be consumed safely throughout the day (1).

Another lung herb is Mullein, Verbascum thapsus. People with a predilection for being outside all summer long, might fondly refer to Mullein as Toilet Paper Weed, as it offers itself up for emergency use. It is also called velvet plant, blanket leaf, and Gordolobo in NM. Mullein is a sedative to the lungs and also helps to relax bronchial spasms. Mullein leaf smoke is also considered antispasmodic and have been used for centuries in smoking mixtures for asthma and bronchial infections (1).

To prepare Mullein tea, take a tablespoon of the dried chopped leaves and add to 1 or 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat, add honey or maple syrup, cool to a drinkable temperature, and drink slowly (1).

A third herb that is useful for lung conditions is Elecampane, Inula helenium
. Elecampane is indicated when a cough has lingered much too long, thus turning chronic. It is specifically used for bronchitis and asthma. Elecampane is an expectorant and due to its warming, carminative properties it also helps to decrease mucous in the body (2).

A strong decoction of Elecampane is made by using 1 oz of the dried root to a pint of water. Bring to a boil, and let steep for 20 minutes. 1 to 3 cups of this tea can be drunk throughout the day (2).

A fourth effective lung herb is Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara. Coltsfoot is an expectorant, is anti-inflammatory, demulcent--which is soothing to the throat and stomach, and helps to reduce spasmodic coughing. Coltsfoot should not be consumed by pregnant women, or by children under the age of 6, as it contains very small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA). Both the leaves and flowers contain PA, which are known to be associated with venoocclusive liver disease with excessive or prolonged use. Coltsfoot should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation, and should not be given to children under 6 years old. Most herbalists consider short-term use of coltsfoot for acute URI quite safe in older children and adults (3).

Coltsfoot tea is prepared by using one ounce of dried leaves and flowers to a pint of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. This can be drunk 1 to 2 times a day for 2-3 days if necessary.

Finally, Lobelia, Lobelia inflata, also called Indian tobacco, is another very effective herb for spasmodic coughing caused by bronchitis and other upper-respiratory infections. Lobelia is and expectorant and an antispasmodic (2). Because it is an emetic, and is commonly employed to induce vomiting for other types of illnesses, it is best to use the lowest dosage necessary to help relieve coughing spasms. The leaves and flowers of Lobelia are commonly employed in smoking mixtures to relieve bronchial spasms, and is particularly suited to certain asthmatic individuals (1).

Bronchial herbs are generally quite specific in their actions, and are used for short periods of time, until relief is felt. The herbs listed above can be combined with other herbs to create formulas specific for the illness at hand. I've found these particular herbs to be very effective in reducing coughing spasms, and for bringing relief during an upper respiratory infection.

I've observed that when a sickness progresses to the chronic stage, that is, when an illness has worsened or continues to linger for more than two weeks, people are often inclined to head to the doctor seeking antibiotics with the hopes that the antibiotics will kill off whatever has been infecting them, and to prevent (as the doctors love to say) the illness from going "deeper".

However, this idea that antibiotics are going to cure the chronic cough has not been proven effective, and in fact it may do more harm than good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the consumption of 235 million doses of antibiotics in 2001. It is estimated that 20-50 percent of these were unnecessarily prescribed for viral infections (4). Antimicrobial drug use rates have been highest for children (5) with inappropriate prescription of antibiotics accounting for at least 40 % of antibiotic prescriptions (6).

The main rationale for antibiotic prescription, despite the known lack of efficacy, lies in the premise of preventing complications (i.e. pneumonia) from secondary bacterial infection (7). Data suggests that this practice is ineffective, and analysis of five randomized clinical trials concludes there is no substantial evidence of a protective effect against secondary infection (8).

Moreover, this practice has caused conflict amongst medical experts. It is primarily due to excessive antibiotic overuse that some pneumococci are resistant to all oral antibiotics. Recent antibiotic use is now considered a risk factor for developing invasive illness with pneumococci and there is increased risk of clinical treatment failure when treating certain pediatric diseases (8, 9, 10, & 5).

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), antibiotics are extremely cold in nature. If a viral illness is presenting with symptoms that TCM considers to be cold in nature (i.e., with chills, achiness, low-grade fever, and intolerance of cold) antibiotics tend to drive the illness deeper into the body, and generally cause the body to take longer to recover. If an illness is presenting symptoms of heat (i.e., high fever, headache,, irritability) the antibiotics may cause symptomatic relief temporarily, as they work to reduce the heat. However, when an illness is viral in nature, the antibiotics are really only affecting the symptomatic response to an illness, and not truly working on the sickness at all.

In my opinion, it's better to save the antibiotics for those times they are truly needed so as to prevent our bodies and bacterium from developing resistance to these medicines. They truly do serve a purpose, but generally NOT for a viral illness.

As this winter progresses, may we all be strong and well, and may we be appreciative of the amazing capacity of our immunity. Herbs can be very useful allies to keep us well and whole, and to be used for specific purposes, as needed.

(1) Michael Moore, 2003. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, Revised and Expanded Edition. Museum of New Mexico Press.
(2) Michael Tierra, 1998. The Way of Herbs. Washington Square Press, Published by Pocket Books.
(3) Aviva Romm, 2004. Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) in Children: The Emerging Need for Botanical Strategies. Journal of the American Herbalists Guild, Spring/Summer 2004.
(4) MacKay D 2003, Can CAM therapies help reduce antibiotic resistance? Alternative Medicine Review. 8(1):28-42
(5) Dowell S, Marcy M, Phillips W, Gerber M, Scwartz B 1998, Principles of judicious use of antimicrobial agents for pediatric upper respiratory tract infections Pediatrics. 101(1):163-165
(6) Besser E 2003, Antimicrobial prescribing in the United States: good news, bad news Annals Of Internal Medicine. 138(7):605-06
(7) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1998a, Careful antibiotic use: pharyngitis in children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
(8) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1998b, Careful antibiotic use: resistance and antibiotic use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta GA
(9) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1998c, Careful antibiotic use: rhinitis versus sinusitis in children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
(10) Rosenstein N, Phillips W, Gerber M, Marcy S, Schwartz B, and Dowell S 1998, The common cold- principles of judicious use of antimicrobial agents Pediatrics. 101(1):181-184

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year--New Ideas--New Creations

I've recently been inspired through unexpected means.
Inspired to write fiction--once the passion of my creative soul.
Inspired to remove all negative thoughts and speech from my day to day life.
Inspired to dwell in all that has to do with true love.
Inspired to help those around me.
Inspired to pursue those callings that have continued their subdued siren songs in the background of my life even during times when the mundanities of life have clouded my hearing.

I feel an upswelling of creative fire growing from deep within and simultaneously I have a very logical desire to pursue my next career in the healing arts.

The close of 2008 and the door into 2009 has been starkly real for me. I do not recall any other New Year that has felt so...well, New.

Is it the Change that our President elect, Mr. Obama, predicted?

Is it the events leading up to my profound need to change my life and my thoughts that have caused the strength of this feeling?

Is it simply the ever-continual change that is a part of life?

I feel as if I'm on the brink of an amazing new way of being. The threshold is more than a doorway to the unknown, it is to all I've ever known, and all that I've understood, but have never been able to translate into language. Suddenly all that I've been pushing aside is staring at me head-on.

What have I ignored that I now must face?

As I have witnessed my normally focused self perform such senseless and scattered acts in the last several weeks...from losing my cell phone and ski poles to crashing my car, it became apparent that my choices in thought, speech, and attention were losing clarity. Even while I was encircling myself in an inspiration and absolute deliciousness of love inspired by books I was reading, it was evident that a self-imposed negativity that was so profound in other aspects of my life were contributing to this lack of focus.

And then, it seemed, I suddenly woke up. I came through the fog and had these profound and magnanimous feelings of change. Once I changed my thinking, it immediately felt like the train of my life regained its tracks...and I'm pushed to follow through.

I'll be very interested to see where this year will go.

I'm wishing each and every one of my friends, family, and acquaintances a prosperous New Year, full of Joy, Good Fortune, and Blessings. I am grateful for living a life that is so blessed with amazing people, amazing family, so much love, and such quintessential beauty. I am blessed.

Let's Get Some, Get Some, Get Some...Go Again!