Children’s Health

Updated: Mar 29

We love seeing children in our clinic and offer comprehensive family and child  health support at Darou Wellness, through our complete practitioner team.

Naturopathic Medicine

Allergies

Allergies and intolerances in children are definitely on the rise, and in my practice I work with lots of sensitive children. Often a child who has severe allergies (environmental or food) also has food intolerances which are putting extra stress on the immune system. My approach is to identify additional immune stressors which we can control – food intolerance, mold exposure, gastrointestinal imbalances, and also to support the immune system with diet, herbs and other supplements. In most cases, the trend of immune imbalance can be stalled and even reversed so that instead of allergies progressing over time, your child’s immune system is getting stronger. As a parent of an ‘allergy-kid’ myself, this is an area I know well.

Asthma

Asthma is another condition on the spectrum of immune imbalance with allergies and eczema. Treatment is similar, in that we are looking for additional immune stressors (food intolerance, environmental allergens, gastrointestinal balance) in order to rebalance the immune system. In most cases, with adequate immune support, a child will outgrow their asthma in childhood. Naturopathic care is another way of supporting your child’s respiratory health in order to reverse immune imbalance.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention deficit disorders are very frequently diagnosed in school-age children. Naturopathic support can include: detailed nutritional guidelines, supplements to support brain focus, as well as testing for and treating possible underlying causal factors that affect brain and neurological function. In most cases, this condition is treatable without medications whose side-effects certainly affect the overall health of your child.

Digestive Disorders

Many children suffer from chronic constipation, diarrhea or stomach aches. The starting point is to look at nutrition to determine if there are any foods that are causing issues – food intolerances or foods that are hard to digest. Next we support the digestive flora balance, and finally repair the intestinal lining. In some cases, it is also helpful to look at the emotional side of stomach aches, as there is a clear link between digestive symptoms and stress.

Eczema

Eczema is a very common allergic skin condition that can start either in babies or in early childhood as a red and itchy rash. From a naturopathic perspective, the first thing to examine is the presence of food intolerances. In the high majority of cases (over 90% in my practice), eczema will clear easily with the removal of food intolerances from the diet. Some cases are a little more complicated in that there are more layers to treat – gastrointestinal health, stress and immune system balance. This is a highly treatable condition.

Frequent Colds and Illness

If your child is sick often, there are certainly Naturopathic supports that we can use to support the immune system. Frequent illness is a common complain when children start daycare / preschool / kindergarten. There are safe and effective treatments for children to support their immune systems, and in some cases to determine other causal factors that may be related to your child’s frequent illness (for example food intolerance or environmental allergens causing chronic immune stress).

Mood Disorders

Children can also suffer from anxiety and depression, and alongside counselling or other psychological support, there are safe and effective natural therapies that help. Also, as a Naturopathic doctor I also examine other factors that can effect mental/emotional health: for example food intolerance (gluten is a common culprit with mood), an imbalance in gastrointestinal flora, thyroid function, blood sugar metabolism, of body discomfort are other areas to be examined in order to get to the root of the problem.

Nutrition Consult

If you have questions about your child’s nutrition, and would like an in-depth assessment of their nutritional intake, this can definitely be examined. Common questions include: 1) How much protein do children need (especially when raised vegetarian); 2) How much calcium do children need for healthy bones (especially if they have a dairy intolerance or do not drink milk); 3) Does my child need more iron (if they don’t eat meat or have low energy and stamina). A detailed nutritional analysis can determine any areas that are lacking, and then provide solutions in how to fill them either through foods or nutritional supplements.

A healthy child requires a healthy diet as a way to not only set them up for optimal health, but also to set good habits in place that will last throughout life.

Recurrent Ear and Tonsil Infections

Many children are on too many antibiotics for recurrent upper respiratory infections. As a Naturopathic doctor, I am not against antibiotics when needed, but do like to minimize their use. A child who is sick with the same recurrent complaint usually has something that is stressing their immune system and making them more susceptible to illness – this is very often a food intolerance, but could be a mold allergy, a high-sugar diet, a reaction to cigarette smoke exposure or other immune stressors. Once this immune stressor has been identified, the treatment is quite simple and infections most often resolve.

Weight concerns

For a child who is underweight, a detailed nutritional analysis is performed, along with testing for absorption of nutrients, food intolerance, thyroid function or other factors that can affect the metabolism. As with all conditions, the first step is to look for any possible underlying health issues which may be affecting the ability to gain weight, not simply to increase caloric intake.

For a child who is overweight, a detailed nutritional plan is discussed. Three common underlying factors to examine include 1) diabetes history in the family (or gestational diabetes during the child’s pregnancy) – leading to oversensitivity to refined carbohydrates and sugar; 2) frequent antibiotic use which alter intestinal flora and increase appetite; and 3) food intolerances which cause strong food cravings which surpass the body’s natural appetite. Of course, sometimes it is simply a case of nutritional intake and food quality, but in many cases there are underlying factors to clear away first which allow the weight to rebalance with less effort.

ABOUT DR. MARIKA BERNI, ND

Being a naturopathic doctor is one of the most rewarding aspects on my life. There is no better feeling then when I help my patients get their health back on track. My 20 years of experience as a naturopath have been centered on general family healthcare with a clinical focus in women’s health, children’s health, weight loss and mental health.  Naturopathic medicine has given me the tools to both inspire and empower my adult and paediatric patients to make healthy lifestyle choices that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  I am very excited to be able to work with such a professional team of practitioners while focusing on what I am passionate about.

Complimentary Support Services

Osteopathy for Infants and Children

Osteopathy can address breastfeeding and digestive issues (gas, constipation, too much spitting up), sleep difficulties, general alignment and balance, recurrent ear infections, and more.

Book an appointment with Sandy Antunes, M.OMSc. here.

Read more from the blog!

  1. Maximizing your Child’s Performance

  2. Focus, Attention & Hyperactivity: Decreasing ADHD and ADHD like Symptoms

  3. Emotional Wellness Baby to Teen

  4. Adolescent Gut Health

  5. Osteopathic Care for Infants


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