by Dr. Timothy J. Maggs, © 1999
If a patient comes into your office one day and their child is suffering with a bilateral ear infection, would you feel confident in providing treatment? Would your patient believe that your treatment was both appropriate and thorough? What if a patient comes in one day and their child is suffering terribly with allergies, has just been to the specialist and is put on high dosages of medication----would you feel confident enough to encourage your care as the primary care for this child? More importantly, would the parent feel total confidence in you and recognize that your care should be primary? And now, the true acid test---would they refer their friends' children to you?
These questions certainly provide food for thought, but they also encourage us to think beyond our own limited beliefs and philosophies. Despite how conservative or liberal we may be as practitioners, does the parent of a sick child feel thoroughly confident when the adjustment is the only treatment provided? In this world of pills, cough syrups and elixirs, is there some psychological advantage for everyone involved to support and compliment the adjustment with "more"? Is it possible for chiropractic to move up the ladder of societal respect while holding on to strict traditional philosophies? I'm sure B.J. Palmer never anticipated the tremendous growth of modern medicine and the billion dollar advertising budget used by the pharmaceutical industry today.
Regardless of what the conservative chiropractors think, parents want to give something to their sick child at home. Chiropractors need to embrace this reality. While tomorrow's generation is suffering with the sneezes, sniffles, hyperactivity, asthma and allergies today, the rigid thinking chiropractor may lose patients due to the "either/or" syndrome. "Either we have our child adjusted by the chiropractor, or we take them to the medical doctor who will give them something they can take at home." We need to make parents realize the tremendous harmony and benefits of the chiropractic adjustment with nutritional support. This produces maximum wellness and health.
Of course, the emotions vary from patient to patient. But with the inclusion of nutritional support in an effort to reduce symptoms and restore health as an adjunct to the adjustment, nothing but good can occur. The doctor will be viewed as extremely thorough in the treatment. The child's health will be supported both physically as well as chemically. And most importantly, the parent is witnessing the power of innate at work, while also satisfying their need for some form of home treatment . This comforts one of the strongest parental emotions, that of doing everything possible for their suffering child, regardless of cost.Whether the doctor agrees or disagrees with nutritional support, all parents unanimously feel better adding nutritional supplementation to their sick child's treatment program and will endorse that doctor to their friends. The doctor who only adjusts a child, even if due to philosophical reasons, is fighting the billion dollar pharmaceutical marketing industry rather than using it as an ally.
Kids and Drugs
The New York State Health Department is leading an effort to cut down on unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics by targeting pediatricians who treat ear infections.
"The problem we see is it's over-diagnosed and it's treated excessively with inappropriate medications", said Dr. Richard Propp, medical consultant for the health department's Office of Medicaid Management. "Ear infections in children account for about a third of the visits to pediatricians and cost an estimated $5 billion annually", he said.
Statistics show that by age 7, 65 to 95 percent of all children have at least one ear infection."Yet, in treating many of these cases, antibiotics are unnecessary", Propp said. "The concern isn't only cost. Health experts worry that some infections may become resistant to antibiotics. Eight million prescriptions are written each year for this disease that shouldn't be written," Propp said.
While ear infections certainly are a common malady with kids, there are many other infectious and pathological conditions we also need to be concerned with. The flu, whooping cough, asthma, allergies, hyperactivity, hypoglycemia and digestive disorders are just a few. The only profession willing to treat this segment of the population to date has been the pediatricians. The primary treatment used are medications. This concept is the antithesis of chiropractic thinking. So why aren't we stepping up and assuming a leadership role? We need to burn our inhibitions and begin to answer the needs of our communities. If in fact we believe in what we do, we need to do it more and for all segments of the population. The truth is, there is no profession out there today better equipped to treat kids than chiropractic.
As a treating chiropractor, I know my inhibitions in the past probably had much to do with the whole psychological gap in the parent/child/doctor relationship. I lacked the confidence to assume the leadership role. I hadn't yet learned the phenomenon that parents may care more about their child than themselves. This protection mechanism and unconditionalism can only be understood by a parent. The criteria needed to treat an adult is far less strict than that needed to treat a child. The parent needs to feel their child is receiving everything possible and that the treatment is the absolute best available. If your treatment is less than that, you need to review your mission statement and upgrade your protocol.
Quality Health Needs Quality Nutrition
While more and more information is provided each and everyday on the importance of quality nutrition for kids, the reality is that the lifestyle of the 90's is almost prohibitive to good nutrition. From jammed schedules to child care centers to kids who won't eat, complete dietary requirements are not being met. The fast food industry attempts to appeal to the nutrition-conscious public with marketing, but doesn't necessarily stand up when the quality of the food is considered. Many of the fad foods marketed today are developed with just enough of the necessary ingredients or qualities to qualify them as "Fortified" or "All Natural", but the food is far from complete in providing our children with what they need for good health. All said and done, I pose two questions to all chiropractors practicing today;
1) Who is assuming responsibility for our future generations with regard to their nutritional health?
** The word "nutrition" has developed a slightly different meaning to different people. To some, it means anything that is edible and filling. To others, it means food which meets FDA guidelines. And to the most pure, it must be truly natural, organic, wild-crafted or without adulteration.
2) Which profession today has the ability to impact the health of the "next generation" more than chiropractic?
Many chiropractors prefer to avoid any nutritional counseling or consideration when it comes to their practice and their patients. That choice seems acceptable when thinking in terms of philosophical beliefs or simplification of office protocol and responsibility, but falters when thinking in terms of overall wellness of the patient. If the criteria for treatment was dictated on "What is best for the patient?", nutrition must, then, be included. Remember, nutrition is not an elective in life. We must eat to sustain ourselves and the quality of what we eat dictates our health. Kids are not eating good enough. Period. They need our help.
In a recent study performed by the Trends Research Institute, The New Millenium Chiropractor: A Trend Forecast For The Chiropractic Profession, they report "While many people have the general sense that vitamins and supplements are beneficial, even crucial, for good health, consumers lack the necessary knowledge as to what, how much and when to take it. This picture is further clouded by special interest groups, a drug dependent medical establishment, marketers and Federal agencies who offer confusing and often conflicting information. When it comes to vitamins and herbal products, today's consumer is confronted by product chaos with no single trusted source for advice." They conclude their report with, "The vast untapped market of non-users is intimidated by the volume of vitamin, supplement, herbal and mineral choices and they don't know where to go for direction. The integration of Vitamin Counseling into the standard chiropractic treatment will also enhance and increase the therapeutic effectiveness of chiropractic."
This study is far more applicable to kids than to adults as nutrition is more critical when talking in terms of children. During these formative years, or up to the age of 15, what we eat has a tremendous impact on who we are and how healthy we will become. Chiropractors are the largest natural health care providers in our country today. We should step up and assume the responsibility for the necessary education and promotion of nutritional guidance and therapy. We need to become the leaders. This should become the number one adjunct to the adjustment. This is our opportunity to educate and influence the next generation. No one else is assuming this responsibility. Just as healthy exercise should be a part of every chiropractor's dialogue, so should healthy nutrition.
With the lack of pediatric care given by our profession over the first hundred years, we have exponentially increased our task at hand. We have waited until the patient has become medically educated via the traditional medical upbringing, and then when a person moves into their late teens and early 20's, we must employ our deprogramming techniques to encourage them to embrace chiropractic care into their lives. Why don't we influence them as kids and enjoy the fruits of our labor as they grow older. This would be far less stressful and much more time and cost efficient. Chiropractic has the opportunity to be the number one health care provider in this country in the next 25 years with the ethics, beliefs and protocol that B.J. handed down, yet we sit back and ignore this opportunity. The solution for success isn't a mystery, it's just a matter of effort.
Let's take this whole concept a step further. What are the leading causes of death in this country today? Obviously, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and liver disease. There is no argument, even from the staunchest medical doctor, that our nutrition plays a significant role in the status of our health with all of these conditions. From the amount of sugar we eat, the amount of fat we take in, the artificial ingredients we consume, the drugs we survive on, etc., it's no wonder the U.S. leads the world in degenerative disease. Our diets are a tremendously important influential factor in our future health picture. So, how important is it that we get kids eating right, or at least willing to utilize a more natural approach to health than the traditional medical approach. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zones for the good of the future of this country. We need to become the true leaders in the health care profession and not stop until chiropractic is the mainstream care provided to the kids of this country.
Where to Begin
When attempting to begin the effort to become more responsible to your community with regard to the health of the kids in your community, it's necessary to know where to begin. Obviously, as a busy practitioner, none of us can begin detailed nutritional counseling to their patients. My experience is that you can spend an extraordinary amount of time with a patient attempting to improve dietary habits, but the advertising and marketing industry for fast foods and artificial foods that you're competing against will always win out. People today want quick and easy and will compromise quality for convenience. This leaves us with nutritional supplementation as "the next best thing". We must recognize that there are several basic areas we need to address with the most common kid's problems today, and if these areas can be incorporated into our treatment regime without too much distraction from our daily routines, everyone wins.
The number one area of concern with kids has to do with immune systems. From adrenal insufficiency to psychological stresses to continual contacts with other infected children, all kids are subject to ongoing and continual infections. From sniffles to sneezes to flu-like symptoms, kids will suffer. Rather than using anti-biotics as the only method of treating a child, some daily program of herbal or vitamin usage to get and keep the immune system strong would certainly be the treatment of choice. Add to that some periodic chiropractic adjustments and you now have a child with the best physical and chemical potential for life. There are many authorities out there today who believe that cancer, heart disease and AIDS are all immune deficiency conditions. Regardless of which ones are and which ones aren't, all of us would do well to strengthen our immune systems on a continual basis. And to go through our juvenile and adolescent years with immune support is critical. In fact, it's mandatory.
Secondly, parents know congestion is all too common today. It shouldn't be ignored, but the standard medicinal treatment never addresses the real cause of the problem. Some form of anti-congestive support is important when beginning a pediatric practice. There are excellent products available today which act both preventatively as well as therapeutically. Another condition, hyperactivity, is brought on by both genetic and nutritional influences and has spawned a market which has made millions and millions of dollars for drug companies. These poor kids, if left on medication alone, are mere subjects of profit. Their nervous systems are hyper-stimulated to start, and the palliative drug abuse they must live on to survive only adds fuel to a raging fire. When will the public begin to realize this atrocity?
Chiropractic care with nutritional support will provide significantly better quality care for this child, with no negative effects. Certainly, there are many other childhood conditions and illnesses that could be discussed here, but regardless of those not mentioned, most childhood conditions would be better treated if the treatment consisted first of chiropractic adjustments with nutritional support. Only after this effort proves unsuccessful should allopathic care be considered. This must become our core belief if we truly desire a leadership role.
Nutritional Supplementation For Kids
There are specific vitamins and herbs which directly promote better health for kids. It is important to have a basic understanding of the function of each and a confidence in the company manufacturing the products you're using.
Gingko Biloba: pharmaceutical studies show that Gingko can dramatically enhance the entire metabolism of the brain by improving cerebral circulation and by increasing cerebral oxygen flow and ATP production. It also stimulates peripheral circulation.
Gotu Kola: of Asian origin, this herb is used as a rejuvenating tonic for the brain. It is known as an adaptogenic tonic and acts as a restorative and relaxant for the nervous system. It also improves blood flow by strengthening arteries and veins.
Periwinkle: increases oxygen flow to the brain.
Elcampane Root: frequently employed in chronic pulmonary infections and weakness of digestive organs. It helps to bring up mucous from the respiratory system and is good for persistent coughs.
Coltsfoot: acts as an expectorant and anti-mucous agent. It is soothing to the respiratory system and has principally been used for sore throat, asthma and for coughs. The herb also contains appreciable levels of the health promoting mineral zinc.
Hyssop: has an anti-spasmodic action due to its volatile oil. It is also a relaxing expectorant.
Peppermint: has been used extensively for hundreds of years for a wide range of digestive difficulties. It is an anti-spasmodic, antiseptic and is stimulating to the digestive tract. It helps to eliminate gas, colic, stomach cramps or spasms, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Peppermint is also widely used with influenza, fever, colds, headaches and easing of nerves.
Fennel: historically used for relieving intestinal gas and colic. Gentle enough for infants. It has anti-spasmodic and calming properties.
Ginger: stimulates the salivary glands. It increases the secretion of gastric juices, aids in dispelling gases, relieves nausea, pains and cramps of stomach and bowels. Additionally, it is a warming aid for cold extremities and a traditional cold remedy. It is excellent for motion sickness too.
Valerian Root: acts as a sedative and anti-spasmodic. It has been shown to reduce nervous tension and anxiety. It also calms and relieves muscular tension while promoting restfulness and sleep.
Hops: has a sedating effect, producing improved sleep and removing restlessness. A relaxant for the central nervous system.
Passionflower: excellent herb for quieting the mind.
Mullein: acts as an anti-spasmodic, controls irritation, primarily in the upper respiratory tract. It has been shown to be beneficial with many different types of coughs and colds characterized by a mucous discharge as well as in asthma and bronchial irritations. Mullein has also been known to act as a mild diuretic.
Goldenseal: stimulates the respiratory and circulatory systems, increasing tone and power. It also assists the mucous membranes in the nose and throat and aids in decreasing gastric irritability.
Echinacea: stimulates the immune system and increase T cell count. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antiseptic and is effective against a range of viruses and bacteria. It is also traditionally used as a blood purifier.
Myrrh Gum: anti-fungal and anti-microbial effecting particularly the gums, sinuses and respiratory system disorders and gastritis. It is excellent support for the body's natural defense system.
We must accept the challenge that lies ahead. We need to escape our comfort zones and begin to proudly facilitate the implementation of chiropractic into all walks of life. We need to continue learning to provide better care and to become better teachers. The success chiropractic feels today is a direct reflection of the passion and commitment by those who came before us. Rather than reclining in our comforts, we need to push to the next level. We need to get into the schools and civic groups professing who we are and what we do. The time is now for the future of our profession. All of us agree that chiropractic is far more beneficial for the good of mankind than medicine. The key is, we must package our message so it appeals to the masses. With this approach and a continued passion for helping people, chiropractic has nowhere to go but upward.
Tim Maggs, D.C., who has been practicing Chiropractic for 20 years, is also President of Team Stick, Inc., which manufactures and distributes Hakuna MatataT Vitamins and Herbal Products for Kids. Dr. Maggs is a monthly columnist for many running magazines throughout the country. He is also the proud father of 3 boys, John, Connor and Timmy, Jr.
- Herbs For Children; A Manual For Parents by Sunny Pendleton Mavor, Herbalist
- The New Millenium Chiropractor: A Trend Forecast For The Chiropractic Profession by The Trends Research Institute
- Herbs of Choice by Varro Tyler, Ph.D.
- The Holistic Pediatrician by Dr. Kathi J. Kemper