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    The Hands are the Instrument of the Heart

    A beloved teacher of mine once taught me that the hands are the instrument of the heart. I think of that often as I teach Holistic Baby to parents and caregivers. It is really important to me to empower parents with the confidence that they are uniquely capable to provide effective health solutions to their own children. The twelve acupressure points that comprise Holistic Baby are easily located and stimulated, but I am still sometimes told by parents that they feel unqualified and unsure about applying these techniques. I have to remind them of the power that they hold is in their very own hands. There is no harm that can be done when you approach your child with love, care and positive intention. Even if you are not precisely on the right spot or you don’t get a full two minutes of massage time there is an intangible energy created when you touch your child with love that transcends perfect location or technique. So my simple advice is to lead with your heart and your hands and you will see that you are capable of great healing at home.

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    The Holistic Baby approach to eczema

    My son has eczema. It is not an uncommon condition in children. An internet search will score you millions of links to products, testimonials and pictures and let me tell you, when your child has eczema you spend a lot of time trying to cure it. I know I did!

    After much trial and error, frustration and tears (mine, not my son) I finally found a combination of remedies that cleared his skin and now I instruct parents to do the same via my work with the Holistic Baby Acupressure System. I can’t guarantee that it will work for everyone, but when you’ve explored every option under the sun and your child’s skin is still suffering what do you have to lose except the itch?

    And just to whet your appetite at the efficacy of this approach you can scroll down to the bottom of this article to see the before and after pictures of a six-month old baby whose mom recently followed my program. Within a week his skin was almost completely cleared!

    Here is my recommended program for eczema improvement:

    1) Probiotics

    This was the first recommendation that we were given by our son’s pediatrician when he developed eczema as a baby. While probiotics alone didn’t clear his skin their inclusion in any eczema protocol is essential.  In Chinese Medicine there is a very close relationship between the digestive system and skin health. This can be traced to the theory of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) which inform much of the practice of Chinese Medicine. The skin is related to the Lung channel which is a Metal element. The Metal element is nourished by the Earth element in the Five Element cycle.  Therefore when there is dysfunction in the Earth’s digestive energies it can manifest in the Metal element via the skin. From this perspective, it is impossible to effectively treat the root of eczema without addressing the digestive system.

    2) Acupressure

    A daily acupressure massage on the following points will strengthen the Earth and Lung energies whose imbalance result in eczema and it will also help to alleviate the itching. Massage each point in small circles on both sides of the body for 2 minutes using medium pressure. You can also use a metal tool (a coin, ring or spoon) to massage the points  just like a pediatric acupuncturist.  Use the following links to find the point locations:

    Stomach 36


    Spleen 10


    Large Intestine 11


    3) Neem oil

    Neem oil is from India and is extraordinary in its ability to relieve the itching associated with eczema.  Neem oil is very well researched and has been found to have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal , anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.  It is best used mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and applied to all the eczema patches. I’ve used it on bug bites and can attest to how quickly it quells the itch!

    4) Diet

    There is a great deal of dispute about the role that food and environmental allergies play in the development of eczema. Some doctors advise that children with eczema avoid the most commonly allergic foods: milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, fish and wheat, while other authorities in the field say that there is no relationship between the skin and the digestive system. This lack of agreement leads many parents to take on the role of amateur health detective with their children to determine their own individual triggers and develop their own unique system of managing this stubborn skin condition. I suggest that nursing mothers eliminate all of the suspected foods and keep a skin journal as they reintroduce each food back into their diet. It is also vitally important to ensure that the child is getting sufficient fluids and fat in their diet.  The skin needs to be hydrated and moisturized from the inside out.

    5) Vitamin D supplementation both internally and externally

    This was the missing link when I was treating my son for eczema. The evidence was always there, but I ignored the fact that his eczema  cleared up in the summer only to return in full force at the end of winter/early spring. He was exhibiting signs of Vitamin D deficiency! When I began an aggressive treatment regime of Vitamin D supplementation his eczema cleared up completely in just a few weeks. It was miraculous! When I spoke to his pediatrician about why he had never recommended this inexpensive and easy to administer remedy he said that it was news to him and that he would suggest it to patients in the future.

    How to use: Depending upon your child’s age give them the upper limit of Vitamin D allowed for their age group as directed on the bottle’s label. The wonderful thing about Vitamin D drops is that they are usually tasteless and easy to give. You can add them into food or squirt directly into the mouth. For best absorption they should be taken with food that contains fat. Also mix the Vitamin D drops into the cream or oil that you use on your child’s skin and apply it directly to all of their eczema patches. Allowing for the Vitamin D to be absorbed both internally and externally really is the key to clearing the skin.

    6) Be patient, yet consistent

    This protocol should be followed for at least six weeks to realize its full effect. Now see how it helped one sweet little boy! Thanks to his mom for allowing me to share these pictures.

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    Is My Kid Normal?

    “Is my kid normal?”

    This is a common concern for parents whether they readily admit it or not. Is my child good enough? Is he smart enough? Is he on par with his peers? What do others think of him? What do other parents think of me? There is so much blame, shame and judgment that is dispensed both internally and externally by parents that it sometimes makes the raising of children a dangerous minefield of insecurity and preoccupation with others’ expectations. We all want to fit in and also have our children fit in. The problem is though, how do we define what is normal?

    I spoke to a mom’s group recently, sharing with them the value of Chinese Medical pediatrics. Along with educating them in the use of acupressure protocols for a litany of common pediatric complaints such as teething pain, constipation, cough and eye infections, I also introduced them to the idea of Five Element typing. In Chinese Medicine all phenomena in the universe are classified according to the elemental energies of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. This system is used to assist in the understanding of the interaction, promotion and regulation of the bodily energies,  and can also be a tool to decipher a person’s constitutional tendencies in regards to both their physical health and their temperament. The Five Element system is something that I often employ in my work with children to better understand their personalities and how it influences their behavior, motivations and health challenges. It allows me to interact with and treat them in a way that honors their uniqueness and to also educate their parents in how to improve their relationship with their children. I’ve worked with Wood Children, Fire Children, Earth Children, Metal Children and Water Children and they are all beautiful in their own individual and different ways.

    So at the end of this talk that I had given, after most of the group had gone home, and I was packing up my things a new mom approached me. She was anxious and in need of advice about her young son, not yet two years old. She wanted to know if she was being overly permissive with her exploratory toddler and whether she needed to tell him no more often. As if to prove her point he ran out of the room and into the hallway to pursue a playmate that was leaving. After safely retrieving her son she confessed her fear that she was failing her son by not better controlling his behavior. It was evident from the boy’s energy that he was a Fire type,  a high-energy child with a great need for stimulation and activity, but who also had little recognition of boundaries or danger. This mom was tired from her continued responsibility of keeping him safe and alive. She was also feeling judged by family members who thought that her son should be sitting in quiet attention at his weekly music class rather than running around with exuberant expression. Her unspoken fear was whether her son was normal.

    Imagine her relief when I told her that her son was a perfectly normal Fire Child. Fire Children do not sit. Fire Children run. Fire Children explore with abandon. Fire Children have no fear. They are the performers and class clowns of the world. They are happy children who laugh loud, but can also have equally explosive reactions when their explorations are thwarted by their caregivers. Their natural expression can be quite challenging to a parent who wants them to “be seen and not heard.”  Fire Children demand to be seen and to have their presence validated at every turn. They are high needs children. They are not bad kids. They are the perfect expression of Fire.

    I counseled this mom to be understanding of her son’s Fire nature and to allow for its normal expression. I explained that at the age of two that it was not realistic to expect him to sit at a music class and maybe not at the age of three or four either. I told her that his energies might be best assisted by the allowance of his moving around during activities. Fire children can often focus best while in motion. I also told her that Fire Children need to be taught about appropriate boundaries in a manner different than children of other elemental types. The physical nature of Fire Children require that parents act out their expectations with both voice and body. A Fire Child needs to have all their senses stimulated to be brought into a state of attention. Yelling at a Fire Child to “stop that!” will not work. They need to be touched, spoken to  and have the appropriate behavior modeled for them. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Yes, it is, but it is what these little Fire Children require. For them life is a rehearsal and their parents are like their directors who give them creative license, but with the proper blocking.

    Then from my experience as a pediatric acupuncturist, I gave her some concrete acupressure protocols to help to better balance the Fire energies of her son, by tempering them and allowing them to dissipate when things (like his temper) got out of hand.  She left clearly relieved that her son was normal and that she didn’t need to change his nature, but rather support it with both understanding and love.

    It is exchanges like this that reinforce my deep and abiding respect for the wisdom of Chinese Medicine. It is through the recognition of our differences and the realization that we all express our individual natures in a way that flows from the current of our inner being that permit us to love and accept everyone as their own unique selves. We are all Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water types and we are all normal. We are all ok.

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    Why Children Are Like Leaves

    Have you ever seen a tree in the winter completely bare of all its leaves except for one stubborn hold-out who waves its redness defiantly in the wind? A leaf won’t fall off a tree until it is ready. There has to be that perfect combination of the external force of the wind and the internal condition of the leaf stem for it to let go. Until those mysterious critical masses are met, it holds on. It isn’t defective or delayed. It is just operating at its own unique pace. And then when everything is right it will fall, just like all of its brother and sister leaves, and move on to the next phase of its existence.

    Children are like leaves too. They don’t do things on our schedule. Their developmental milestones are somewhat of a mystery. Why does one child walk at ten months and another at fifteen months? Why does one baby never crawl, but then one day stands up and takes their first step? Why has my six year old son lost six of his baby teeth while his friend who is two months older not lost any at all? Is my son healthier or stronger than his friend? No, they are just on different internal schedules.

    It is very hard to not be inpatient when you have a baby, especially your first baby. You are anxious that everything be normal and on time. Please allow for me to save you some undue worry and frustration.  All of the developmental milestones like turning over, crawling, walking, the first tooth, weaning, sleeping through the night, potty training, etc. will come when your child is ready. There are ranges of normal. Don’t panic if your child is on the outer edge of that arc. Don’t compare him or her to your best friend’s baby or the other babies at the park. There are no prizes awarded for being the first to do anything. In the end, they all end up walking, talking and potty trained.

    I worried about all of those things and now in retrospect, I see that it was a waste of my maternal effort. I did all the right things and cared for my son in the way that I felt was best and still I couldn’t coax him to do things any sooner than he was ready.  I still keep this in mind today as I teach him to read. When I get frustrated at what seems to be his inability to distinguish short “i” sounds from short “e” sounds I remind myself that eventually, it will click. I just can’t force it. Just like that last leaf on the tree, it will all come in time, but at his time, not mine.

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    I Heart Chinese Medicine

    “Mommy, if you really love somebody do your eyes turn into red hearts?”

    That was the question my six year old son asked me recently, obviously spawned from watching something on youtube (his media of choice these days).

    “Well, not literally,” I told him, “but your heart does get big when you love someone or something a lot”.

    Something that I really love and that almost turns my eyes into hearts is Chinese Medicine. Add to that how much I love my son and I probably have some pretty large, cartoonish hearts protruding from my head most of the time!

    With the Holistic Baby Acupressure System I have combined these two great loves into one mission: to educate parents on how to treat their own children with simple acupressure techniques to improve sleep and enhance wellness.

    As a busy working mother, I have deliberately made it simple because I know that when a parent is juggling work and family life there is no time for health remedies that are complicated and time consuming. You just need health tools that work, that you can do anywhere, anytime and with no major appliances necessary. Holistic Baby fits that bill on all counts.

    With this blog I intend to add to what I’ve already offered in the instructional manual and the DVD and throw in bits of wisdom from the other realms of Chinese Medicine such as herbal remedies and dietary suggestions.

    It is my hope that you too will come to heart Chinese Medicine!

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