What Are the Best Foods for Kids?

What are the best foods for kids?

No, they aren’t brain foods, super foods, or clean foods…

Best Foods for Kids

Follow the My Plate guidelines to make sure your kids are eating healthy foods.
Follow the My Plate guidelines to make sure your kids are eating healthy foods.

In general,  the best foods are healthy foods packed with the nutrients that your kids need, including foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, and good sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and iron, etc.

And they are foods that make it easy to avoid things your kids don’t need, like trans fats and too much extra salt, added sugar and calories.

That’s why many of the best foods include things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low fat milk. Eat enough of them and you won’t have to worry about giving your kids vitamins.

High Fiber Foods

Do your kids get enough fiber in their diet?

According to the latest recommendations, based on their age, the average child needs:

  • 1-3 years old – 19g fiber/day
  • 4-8 years old – 25g fiber/day
  • 9-13 years old (female) – 26g / (male) – 31g fiber/day
  • 14-18 years old (female) – 26g / (male) – 38g fiber/day
Some snack bars have up to 9g of fiber per serving!
Some snack bars have up to 9g of fiber per serving!

Is 19 or 21g of fiber a lot? What about 38g?

When you consider that a high fiber food has 5g per serving and one that is a good source of fiber only has 2.5g per serving, then it might be hard for some kids to reach recommended levels each day.

To help make sure that they do, look for:

  • high fiber foods – beans, broccoli, peas, lentils, pears, prunes, raspberries, shredded wheat cereal, spinach, whole wheat pasta, snack bars
  • foods that are good sources of fiber – air popped popcorn, nuts, apples (with the skin on), bananas, brown rice, carrots, celery, corn, figs, oatmeal, raisins, strawberries, whole wheat bread

And compare food labels, looking for foods with high amounts of fiber.

Iron-Rich Foods

Since many kid-friendly foods have plenty of iron, getting kids to eat iron-rich foods isn’t as big an issue as some parents imagine.

It can be a problem if your exclusively breastfed infant isn’t eating much baby food, your toddler or preschooler drinks too much milk and doesn’t eat much food, or when a kid on a specialized diet doesn’t eat meat or other iron-rich food (vegans and vegetarians).

Fortunately, there are plenty of iron-rich foods, even if your kids don’t eat red meat, including:

  • most types of beans
  • iron fortified bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, including those made with whole grains
  • collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens
  • broccoli, swiss chard, asparagus, parsley, watercress, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables
  • raisins, prunes, dates, apricots and some other dried fruits
  • tofu
  • egg yolks
  • blackstrap molassses
  • nuts

Seafood and poultry are also good sources of iron.

And while the iron in non-meat sources isn’t as easily absorbed by our bodies as the iron from meat, fish, and poultry, you can boost that absorption by pairing those iron rich foods with some vitamin C, such as drinking orange juice or eating citrus fruits.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Many kids don’t drink enough milk. That’s not necessarily a problem, as some kids actually drink too much milk, but it can be if they don’t make up for it with other foods to get calcium and vitamin D in their diets.

Some brands of American singles have more vitamin D than a glass of milk!
Some brands of American singles have more vitamin D than a glass of milk!

How much calcium do kids need?

  • 700 mg a day for kids who are 1 to 3 years old
  • 1,000 mg a day for kids who are 4 to 8 years old
  • 1,300 mg a day for kids who are 9 to 18 years old

And when you consider that 1/2 cup of broccoli only has 21mg of calcium, you are probably going to want to turn to milk, cheese and yogurt and calcium fortified orange juice, cereal and bread to make sure your kids are getting enough calcium.

Other foods that are good sources of calcium include tofu, sardines, and salmon.

Foods with Vitamin D

Like calcium, good sources of vitamin D can include milk, cheese, and yogurt, but only because many of these foods are fortified. That’s why ice cream, even though it is made with milk, isn’t usually a good source of vitamin D! Neither is raw milk.

Some non-dairy foods that do contain vitamin D include:

  • fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel (just don’t overdo it on the fish because of the risks from mercury)
  • beef liver and egg yolks
  • some mushrooms

And of course, many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including breakfast cereal and orange juice.

Are your kids getting at least 600 IU/d of vitamin D?

Protein-Rich Foods

Believe it or not, your child likely gets enough protein in their diet.

Kids should eat a variety of protein rich foods though, including lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.

“Strategies to increase the variety of protein foods include incorporating seafood as the protein foods choice in meals twice per week in place of meat, poultry, or eggs, and using legumes or nuts and seeds in mixed dishes instead of some meat or poultry. For example, choosing a salmon steak, a tuna sandwich, bean chili, or almonds on a main-dish salad could all increase protein variety.”

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

For most kids, it is the variety of protein that’s the problem, not the overall amounts, as most of their protein likely comes from red meat and dairy products.

What to Know About the Best Foods for Kids

Are you worried that your kids are too picky? Are they overweight, with portion sizes that are too big?

Learn to make healthy food choices and help avoid kid-friendly junk foods, but still make sure your growing kids are getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need.

A registered dietician can be especially helpful in planning a healthy eating plan for your kids if you are still having trouble.

More on the Best Foods for Kids

What Is the Evidence for CBD Oil?

Are you wondering if your kids should be taking CBD oil?

That’s probably not a question you would be thinking of asking just a few years ago, but now that CBD products are everywhere, with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, and claims that it can treat everything from seizures and anxiety to cancer, you might be thinking you need to jump on this new fad.

What Is CBD Oil?

Many folks are likely skeptical when they hear about all of the benefits of CBD oil.

This is the stuff that is extracted from marijuana plants, right?

How is it even legal to sell CBD oil or gummies infused with CBD?

To understand that, you have to understand that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is the part of the marijuana plant that doesn’t get you high. That comes from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

And many of the products you see with CBD oil that is sold over-the-counter aren’t even derived from marijuana, but instead come from hemp plants.

Labeling something as hemp doesn’t necessarily make it legal though. Regulators in Ohio, for example, recently announced that CBD oil derived from hemp is illegal and that the only legal CBD oil will be dispensed in state-licensed dispensaries.

What Is the Evidence for CBD Oil?

There is definitely evidence that CBD oil can have beneficial effects in some medical conditions.

Except for treating some types of resistant seizures, there is no good evidence that CBD oil has all of these other benefits.
Except for treating some types of resistant seizures, there is no good evidence that CBD oil has all of these other benefits.

In fact, the FDA recently approved Epidiolex oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral solution of oil-based CBD that is extracted from marijuana plants.

What other medical conditions?

While it is not approved to treat any other medical conditions, cannabidiol is being studied to treat people with ADHD, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Tourette syndrome, and substance use disorders.

Should You Try CBD Oil?

What does that mean right now if you have a child with anxiety or another disorder and you are interested in CBD oil?

Although it might be tempting to buy and try the CBD oil that you can find at your local health food store, remember that they aren’t the same thing as Epidiolex, the prescription version of CBD. When you buy an over-the-counter CBD product, you have no idea what dosage of CBD you are really getting.

Anyway, until further testing is done, you have no idea what dose to give your child with anxiety or any other disorder besides seizures anyway.

And like other drugs, CBD oil can have side effects.

So unless you can get in a clinical trial, you should likely wait and continue your current therapies.

But since Epidiolex is approved to treat certain seizures, can’t your doctor simply prescribe it off-label to treat other conditions, like anxiety, if they wanted to? While that does often happen for other medications, it is very unlikely to happen for Epidiolex, even after the rescheduling process is completed and it is no longer a Schedule I substance and can be prescribed in states where it is illegal to prescribe medical marijuana.

It is estimated that Epidiolex will cost over $30,000 a year.

More on the Evidence for CBD Oil

Which Vitamins Should My Kids Take?

All kids need vitamins.

So which vitamins or supplements should you give them?

“The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that healthy children receiving a normal, well-balanced diet do not need vitamin supplementation over and above the recommended dietary allowances, which includes 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin D a day in infants less than 1 year of age and 600 units/day for children over 1 year of age.”

AAP on Where We Stand: Vitamins

It depends. Most kids don’t actually need to take any extra vitamins.

Which Vitamins Should My Kids Take?

Follow the My Plate guidelines to make sure your kids are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Follow the My Plate guidelines to make sure your kids are getting enough vitamins and minerals.

Wait, if all kids need vitamins, then why don’t you need to give them extra vitamins?

That’s easy. Most kids should get enough vitamins from the foods they eat.

Are your kids missing out on something? Then that would be a clue on which vitamins and minerals they would need to take.

Does your child have a chronic medical condition?

Are they on a special or restrictive diet?

Even if they are a little picky or don’t eat as much as you like, do they eat some foods from each food group, leading to a balanced diet by the end of the week?

In general, to see what your child might need, focus on your child’s intake of:

  • iron – can be low (anemia) in preterm babies, when infants are exclusively breastfeeding and not eating foods with iron, toddlers and preschoolers who are drinking excessive amounts of cow’s milk and not eating foods with iron, other kids who don’t eat many foods with iron, and teen girls who have heavy periods
  • vitamin D – can be low when infants are exclusively breastfeeding and don’t take a daily vitamin D supplement and older children who don’t eat or drink enough foods with vitamin D, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and orange juice
  • calcium – can be low when children don’t eat or drink enough foods with calcium, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and orange juice
  • fluoride – can be deficient when children mainly drink bottled water, soda, and juices, but since too much fluoride can lead to tooth staining, it is best to get fluoride from drinking fluoridated water – offer it daily once your child is about six months old
  • vitamin B12 and folate – can become classically low in vegans (who don’t take a supplement) and kids who drink goat milk that’s not fortified with vitamin B12 and folate
  • vitamin C – rarely low, which would cause scurvy, as most fruits and fruit juices are high in vitamin C

What other things do parents think about supplementing?

  • protein – while many parents worry that their kids aren’t getting enough protein in their diets, protein is rarely the thing that they are missing out on, as only about 20 percent of our calories need to come from protein.
  • calories – if your child is a picky eater, you might think that they aren’t getting enough calories and might think of supplementing them with a shake or two to boost their calories, but keep in mind that these typically end up replacing meals, leading kids to eat even less food and teach them to just drink their calories
  • vitamin K – typically only a problem for breastfeeding newborns who didn’t get a vitamin K shot, as vitamin K is found in many foods
  • vitamin A – since milk and many other foods are fortified with vitamin A, this is rarely a vitamin that we worry about being low. Supplements are also a concern, because too much vitamin A can be toxic.
  • potassium – few people worry about their potassium intake, but maybe they should. Most of us don’t eat enough foods with potassium.
  • magnesium – since magnesium is so easily absorbed, this is rarely a mineral that we get concerned about being low.
  • vitamin E – most kids get enough vitamin E in their diet, so a supplement probably isn’t necessary unless your child has a malabsorption problem or abetalipoproteinemia
  • iodine – most kids get enough iodine thanks to salt iodization, but extra iodine is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers
  • zinc – many foods contain zinc, so zinc deficiency is rare
  • fiber – giving kids extra fiber can be a good idea if your kids don’t eat enough high fiber foods, especially if they are having stomach issues
  • probiotics – although taking probiotics is one of the latest fads, there is little evidence that probiotics are helpful for much of anything in healthy kids
  • fish oil – another fad, there is likely no benefit to giving your kids omega 3 fatty acids

So which vitamins and supplements do your kids need?

Best Vitamins and Supplements for Kids

Once you figure out which vitamins and minerals your kids need, you have to figure out the best way to make sure they get them, understanding that the answer isn’t always going to be a gummy vitamin.

You also will likely need a different supplement if you are actually treating a deficiency vs if you are just trying to prevent your child from developing a deficiency in the first place.

So the best supplement(s) might be:

  • a multivitamin with iron – keeping in mine that gummy vitamins typically don’t contain iron, so if your main concern is that your child isn’t getting enough iron, then you should give your child an iron vitamin or a multivitamin with iron. Also low in calcium. Either liquid (infants), chewable, or tablets.
  • a multivitamin without iron – keeping in mine that in addition to not containing iron, these types of multivitamins also often don’t contain very much calcium. Often available as liquid (infants), gummies, chewables, and tablets.
  • a vitamin D supplement – was your child’s vitamin D level low or do you just think that he doesn’t get enough vitamin D in his diet? These are typically available as liquid, gummies, chewables, and tablets.
  • a calcium supplement – These are typically available as gummies, chewables, and tablets.
  • a vitamin D supplement combined with calcium – These are typically available as gummies, chewables, and tablets.
  • an iron supplement – if  your child’s iron was low, then they will likely need an iron supplement, like Feosol, Niferex, or Fer-In-Sol. Either liquid or tablets.
  • a fluoride supplement – do you live in an area where the water isn’t fluoridated? Do you use a reverse osmosis system that filters out fluoride? Usually available as a prescription only. Or you can buy ‘baby water’ with added fluoride.

Again, remember that unless your child has already been diagnosed with a deficiency, you can often work to get your kids to eat more foods with these nutrients instead of giving them an extra supplement, including vitamin fortified foods.

Look to you pediatrician and a registered dietician if you need extra help.

More on Which Vitamins Should My Kids Take

 

What to Know About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Have your kids ever had a coxsackievirus A16 infection?

Don’t think so?

What about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)?

Symptoms of  Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a very common childhood disease that most of us end up getting at some point, typically before we are about five years old. At least you hope you do, because you don’t want to get it as an adult…

Would you recognize these symptoms of HFMD?
Would you recognize these symptoms of HFMD? Photo courtesy Medicina Oral S.L.

Most people are familiar with the classic symptoms of HFMD, which can include:

  • a few days of fever, often up to about 102 degrees F
  • red spots that can turn into blisters on the child’s palms (hand) and soles (foot), but often also on their knees, elbows, and buttocks
  • sores or ulcers in a child’s mouth which are often painful, causing mouth pain or a sore throat and excessive drooling
  • a reduced appetite, which can sometimes lead to dehydration

Symptoms which can last up to 7 to 10 days.

Although that’s the end of it for most kids, a few weeks after the other symptoms have gone away, some kids will have peeling of the skin on the child’s fingers and toes. They might even lose their fingernails and toenails (nail shedding). This is only temporary though, and new nails should quickly grow back.

To confuse matters though, like other viral infections, not all kids have classic symptoms when they get HFMD. Some don’t have a fever, while others don’t have the rash on their hands and feet, which can make it easy to confuse with other viral infections that cause mouth ulcers, like herpangina.

Some kids don’t have any symptoms at all, but surprisingly, they can still be contagious.

Facts About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

HFMD is caused by the coxsackievirus A16 virus and a few other enteroviruses, including enterovirus 71 and coxsackievirus A6. Because more than one virus can cause HFMD, it is possible to get it more than once.

Other things to know about HFMD include that:

  • it is very contagious, especially if you have close contact with nose and throat secretions, fluid from blisters, and feces of someone infected with HFMD, especially during their first week of illness
  • the incubation period for HFMD, the time when you were exposed to someone to when you develop symptoms, is about 3 to 7 days
  • people with HFMD disease can continue to be contagious for days or weeks after their symptoms have stopped, although this isn’t a reason to keep them out of school or daycare. In fact, as long as they don’t have fever and feel well, kids with HFMD can likely go to daycare or school.
  • there is no specific treatment for HFMD, except symptomatic care, including pain relief, fever reducers if necessary, and extra fluids
  • unlike other viruses which are common in the winter, HFMD season is during the spring, summer, and fall
  • complications of HFMD disease are rare, but can include viral meningitis, encephalitis, and a polio-like paralysis
  • HFMD is not the same as foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease that affects animals
  • there is currently no vaccine to prevent you from getting HFMD, although cross reactivity between polio vaccines and enterovirus 71 might lead to milder symptoms if you are vaccinated

Most importantly, to avoid getting HFMD, wash your hands after changing your child’s diaper, teach them to cover their coughs and sneezes, and don’t share cups or other personal items.

Although many of us had HFMD when we were kids, remember that there are multiple viruses that can cause it. When outbreaks occur and we see more cases in adults, it is likely because it isn’t being caused not by coxsackievirus A16, but by a less commonly seen enterovirus that we aren’t immune to, like coxsackievirus A6.

More on Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Have Questions About the First Generic Version of EpiPen?

Have you heard the news that the FDA has approved the first generic version of the EpiPen?

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first generic version of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) auto-injector for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions, including those that are life-threatening (anaphylaxis), in adults and pediatric patients who weigh more than 33 pounds.”

FDA Press Announcement on FDA approves first generic version of EpiPen

That’s likely surprising news to all of those folks who have been prescribing and using generic epinephrine injectors this past year.

Is This Really the First Generic Version of EpiPen?

Many remember that we all talk about EpiPens so much because their cost jumped from about $100 in 2006 to over $600 in recent years.

The current generic epinephrine injectors are authorized generics, so didn't need FDA approval.
The current generic epinephrine injectors are authorized generics, so didn’t need extra FDA approval.

That prompted Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen 2-Pak and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak, to come out with a half-price authorized generic version last year.

“An authorized generic is made under the brand name’s existing new drug application using the same formulation, process and manufacturing facilities that are used by the brand name manufacturer.”

An authorized generic Adrenaclick injector also became available for a cash price of $109.99 CVS pharmacies. Combined with a $50 coupon, that’s often your best deal on an epinephrine injector if you don’t have insurance.

How Much Will the First Generic Version of EpiPen Cost?

And now we have a true generic version of the EpiPen 2-Pak and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak, from Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

“The reduction in upfront research costs means that, although generic medicines have the same therapeutic effect as their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantially lower costs.”

FDA on Generic Drug Facts

Will it be cheaper than current EpiPens?

“When multiple generic companies market a single approved product, market competition typically results in prices about 85% less than the brand-name.”

FDA on Generic Drug Facts

It should be, but how much cheaper will it be?

“A company spokeswoman declined to say when it would be available, or how much it would cost.”

F.D.A. Approves Generic EpiPen That May Be Cheaper

While most folks would be happy with a $90 EpiPen and a tier 1 generic copay, I wouldn’t count on it. For one thing, we technically don’t have multiple generic EpiPens competing against the TEVA EpiPen yet.

And looking at drug prices of some of TEVA’s other medications, you can get a clue about their pricing plan:

  • Airduo generic (similar to Advair, but about 1/4 the price) – $98
  • Qvar (similar to Flovent) – $200
  • ProAir (albuterol inhaler) – $71
  • Budesonide Inhalation Suspension (generic Pulmicort Respules) – $176
  • Levalbuterol Inhalation Solution, USP (generic Xopenex) – $121
  • Clindamycin Phosphate and Tretinoin Gel (generic Ziana) – $600
  • Cefdinir oral suspension (generic Omnicef) – $45
  • Syprine (generic trientine hydrochloride) – $18,375

Their drugs typically ain’t cheap…

Will the first generic version of the EpiPen simply be a little cheaper than the authorized generic or can we expect TEVA to offer it at substantially lower cost?

What’s your guess?

More on the First Generic Version of EpiPen

A Parent’s Guide to Complementary and Integrative Medicine

What does your alternative medicine provider think?

How does he or she heal what ails you?

In other words, what’s really behind the idea or philosophy behind what makes their techniques ‘work?’

“…there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

Paul Offit on Do You Believe in Magic?

Does it matter to you that the concept of innate intelligence of chiropractic “is derived directly from the occult practices of another era?”

Does it matter to you that following their bad advice might have deadly consequences?

A Parent’s Guide to Complementary and Integrative Medicine

You may think that it doesn’t matter how something works, as long as it works, right?

Unfortunately, these treatments have not been proven to work and sometimes do real harm to folks, especially when they have serious illnesses and skip using traditional treatments that could have really helped them.

Acupuncture – a practitioner of acupuncture “heals” by inserting needles along specific meridians to unblock your child’s qi (chi) or life force. Can also be done without needles (acupressure), with practitioners applying physical pressure to acupuncture points to clear blockages in specific meridians

A patient being
A patient being “treated” with acupuncture. Photo by Jaap Buijs (CC by 2.0)
Aromatherapy – invented in 1937 by Rene- Maurice Gattefosse, aromatherapy uses essential oils or “naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” How do essential oils work? They help to “unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.” Is that what you are doing when you use essential oils?

See the diffuser? Know that many folks who use essential oils also sell them...
See the diffuser? Know that many folks who recommend essential oils also sell them…
Ayurveda – with origins in ancient India, practitioners believe that imbalances in three elemental substances (which are made up of five classical elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether) can cause disease, as they lead to excess or deficiency in one of three forces – vata, kapha, and pitta.

Not only is will they likely not work, your Ayurvedic medicine may also contain lead, mercury, or arsenic...
Not only will they likely not work, your Ayurvedic medicine may also contain lead, mercury, or arsenic…
Traditional Chinese medicine – includes the use of herbal medicines, tai chi, and acupuncture, etc., and is rooted in Taoism and based on keeping yin and yang in harmony, the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal), and qi – a vital energy that flows through your body.

Like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the five elements, which create disease when they unbalance your yin and yang.
Like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on five elements (interestingly, they are a different set of five elements), which create disease when they unbalance your yin and yang (vs the three forces of Ayurveda).
Chiropractic – chiropractic subluxations interfere with our innate intelligence that works to keep us healthy and our ability to heal ourselves. Daniel David Palmer, a magnetic healer, discovered this when he adjusted and “healed” a partially deaf janitor in Iowa in 1895. It is important to note that these chiropractic subluxations are usually not visible on xray, unlike true spinal subluxations. Like other alternative providers, chiropractors have  vertebral subluxation and nerve charts that they think map to specific areas and parts of our bodies.

I doubled checked my copy of Gray's Anatomy, and our nervous system and the things it supplies don't look like this. The gall bladder, for example, is supplied by the vagus nerve (Cranial Nerve X) and the phrenic nerve (cervical nerves 3 to 5) and is not associated with the T4 vertebrae.
I doubled checked my copy of Gray’s Anatomy, and our nervous system and the things it supplies don’t look like this. The gall bladder, for example, is supplied by the vagus nerve (Cranial Nerve X) and the phrenic nerve (cervical nerves 3 to 5) and is not associated with the T4 vertebrae.
Craniosacral therapy – has to do with tides, rhythms, and flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which these practitioners think they can feel and manipulate by massaging your head. It was was developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s.

Craniosacral therapy can 'fix' autism?
Craniosacral therapy can ‘fix’ autism?
Cryotherapy – no, we aren’t talking about freezing warts, but rather whole body cryotherapy, the new trend that has hit your local strip-mall and many chiropractic offices.

A routine cryotherapy session might not be deadly, but there still isn't any evidence that it is going to help you.
A routine cryotherapy session might not be deadly, but there still isn’t any evidence that it is going to help you.
Cupping – truly an ancient practice, cupping is supposed to draw toxins out of your body. It was once combined with bloodletting.

Cupping for kids?
Cupping for kids?
Dry needling – involves sticking needles into “myofascial trigger points” in your skin to create a local twitch reflex, which is supposed to stop pain. Another ancient practice? Nope. It was invented in the 1940s. Physical therapists often learn how to do dry needling at weekend seminars.

Just because the local news pushes the latest fad, that doesn't mean that there is any evidence that it works.
Just because the local news pushes the latest fad, that doesn’t mean that there is any evidence that it works.
Electromagnetic therapy – do you believe that an imbalance of electromagnetic frequencies or fields of energy in your body is making you sick? Have you ever used a TENS unit for pain?

Same technology used by chiropractors, which is strange, since if chiropractic works, why do they need TENS?
Same technology used by chiropractors, which is strange, since if chiropractic works, why do they need TENS and stem cell therapy?
Faith healing – while there is certainly nothing wrong with praying when your child is sick, there are way too many stories of tragedies when parents rely on prayer alone.

There continue to be reports of children dying because there parents didn't get them any medical treatment for easily treated diseases.
There continue to be reports of children dying because there parents didn’t get them any medical treatment for easily treated diseases. It’s not just in Oregon and Idaho.
Herbalism – herbalism is a part of many traditional medical traditions, but many practitioners make exaggerated claims about what these herbs can do.

Gonna get your child's medicine in a herbalist shop?
Gonna get your child’s medicine in a herbalist shop? Photo by Mike Shaver (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Holistic Dentistry – use homeopathy, ozone therapy, essential oils, and other alternative therapies to take care of your whole body, not just your teeth. Many even have their own meridian tooth charts, thinking that you can map each tooth an organ in the body or a disease. And of course, they are often anti-fluoride and will want to replace any mercury fillings that you have.

Meridian tooth charts are really a thing?
Meridian tooth charts are really a thing?
Homeopathy – homeopathic medicine was created in Germany by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. It is based on the concepts that “like cures like” and the “law of the minimum dose.” Homeopathic medicines are diluted so much, in fact, that they are said to only contain a memory of the original substance.

homeopathy
When you buy a homeopathic medicine for colic or teething or for the flu, do you understand that they only contain the memory of an active ingredient?
Holistic Pediatricians – likely panders to your fears about vaccines and incorporates many of the alternative therapies on this list, especially acupuncture, the use of essential oils, and homeopathy. Probably doesn’t take insurance, but has found a way to integrate a lot of expensive, non-evidence based testing and treatments into their practice, like meridian testing, Zyto scans, detox testing, and chelation therapy, etc.

How will your child be treated by a holistic pediatrician? Essential oils and wet socks...
How will your child be treated by a holistic pediatrician? Essential oils and wet socks…
Hypnotherapy – while maybe hypnotherapy can distract you during a painful procedure, there is less evidence that it helps treat medical and psychological problems

Show me the evidence!
Show me the evidence!
Iridology – the “science” of the iris of the eyes, a certified iridologist, by consulting an iridology chart, can diagnose your problems “based on the markings, fibers, structures, pigments and color variations in the iris which are located in specific areas”

Although it become popularized in the 1980s by an American chiropractor, iridology was actually discovered in the 19th century.
Although it become popularized in the 1980s by an American chiropractor, iridology was actually discovered in the 19th century.
Naturopathy – in addition to licensed naturopathic physicians that have to complete four years of schooling, there are also unlicensed, traditional naturopaths with much less formal education, which is why you see many using a lot of non-evidence based treatments. Naturopaths combine herbalism, homeopathy, acupuncture, IV therapy, and other alternative therapies.

It is the Nature that heals, but you pay your naturopath.
It is the Nature that heals, but you pay your naturopath.
Phrenology – developed at about the same time as homeopathy, phrenologists thought that they could tell things about a person’s personality by feeling their skull.

Is there any reason phrenology couldn't come back if practitioners could charge for treatments with an electric phrenology helmet?
Is there any reason phrenology couldn’t come back if practitioners could charge for treatments with an electric phrenology helmet?
Reflexology – although it may have its origins in ancient Egypt, modern reflexology traces itself to Dr. William H. Fitzgerald and Eunice D. Ingham in the early 20th century. Reflexologists believe that they can diagnose and cure diseases by feeling a persons feet or hands, as, the International Institute of Reflexology claims, “there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which correspond to all of the glands, organs and parts of the body.”

A foot reflexology chart to map sole zones and organs.
A foot reflexology chart to map sole zones and organs. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Reiki – rei (universal) and ki (life energy) was introduced to Western Cultures from Japan by Hawayo Takata in the 1930s. Reiki practitioners, trained by a Reiki Master, can, according to the The International Center for Reiki Training, get “miraculous results” and Reiki is reportedly “effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect.” How? Reiki is “a non-physical healing energy made up of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy. This is a functional definition as it closely parallels the experience of those who practice Reiki in that Reiki energy seems to have an intelligence of its own flowing where it is needed in the client and creating the healing conditions necessary for the individuals needs.”

As other alternative therapies, Reiki is based on your body’s innate or natural healing abilities.
As other alternative therapies, Reiki is based on your body’s innate or natural healing abilities. It has been shown that Reiki Masters can’t actually feel anyone energy field though…
Rolfing – invented in the 1920s by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, rolfing is like deep tissue massage, except that it also “aimed at improving body alignment and functioning,” to keep your body’s energy field in alignment with the gravitational field of the Earth.

Maybe it's not just your spine. Maybe your whole body is out of alignment...
Maybe it’s not just your spine. Maybe your whole body is out of alignment…
Sclerology – the belief that a practitioner can diagnose your medical problems by looking at the veins (the red lines) on the sclera (the white part of your eyes), as a sclerology chart shows you that each part of our body is represented in a different part of the sclera.

Are our bodies mapped to the iris or the sclera?
Are our bodies mapped to the iris or the sclera?
Shamanism – ancient practices, typically of indigenous people, who invoke spirits and travel to the spirit world to heal people and the community.

The Ancient Tibetans believed in Shamanism, and yet the Dalia Lama believes in modern medicine and helps vaccinate kids.
The Ancient Tibetans believed in Shamanism, and yet the Dalia Lama believes in modern medicine and helps vaccinate kids.
Shiatsu – accupressure from Japan

There is no evidence that Shiatsu has any extra benefits than a basic massage.
There is no evidence that Shiatsu has any extra benefits than a basic massage.
Shonishin – this is pediatric acupuncture, so acupuncture for little kids, but don’t worry, they don’t actually use needles…

Shonishin is needle-less acupuncture for children. So what are they actually doing?
Shonishin is needle-less acupuncture for children. So what are they actually doing?

When you go to one of these practitioners, do you really think you need help unblocking your qi, an adjustment to help your “Innate Intelligence” get unblocked, or to have your life force energy moved around?

Do their charts and maps really make any sense to you?

But these are ancient treatments, so doesn’t that mean that they must work? Many of these treatments aren’t so ancient, but were invented fairly recently.  Even those that are ancient, they have often been replaced by modern medicine in the places where they were discovered.

But many modern medicines are derived from natural substances, so doesn’t that mean herbal therapies and natural treatments can work? Sure and when they do, they become conventional medicines. It doesn’t mean that everything that is natural is a good medicine.

And it certainly does’t mean that you should try the latest fad holistic therapy on your child.

More on Complementary and Integrative Medicine for Kids

What is a Lyme-Literate Doctor?

By most definitions, a person who is literate is well educated.

So a “Lyme literate” doctor is good thing, right?

What is a Lyme-Literate Doctor?

That you can get Lyme disease after a tick bite is well known by most folks, even if they don’t live in an area with a lot of confirmed cases.

The majority of Lyme disease cases, about 95% of confirmed cases, are reported in just 14 states.
The majority of Lyme disease cases, about 95% of confirmed cases, are reported in just 14 states.

Early symptoms are also well-known, including flu-like symptoms ( fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches), swollen lymph nodes, and the classic erythma migrans rash.

Later symptoms of Lyme disease, when it isn’t treated right away, can include more rashes, arthritis, heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat, facial palsy, severe headaches and neck stiffness, nerve pain, and problems with short-term memory.

Fortunately, that there are many antibiotic regimens that can effectively treat Lyme disease, including amoxicillin, isn’t a huge secret.

So do you need to see a “Lyme literate” doctor to get diagnosed and treated if you think you have Lyme disease?

That’s actually the last thing you want to do.

The first thing you want to understand is that the term “Lyme literate” doctors is actually kind of ironic. These are not literate doctors, at least not in the sense that they are educated and practice evidence based medicine.

Quest Diagnostics says that they have detected Lyme in all 50 states, even Arizona and Colorado, even though they are among the 8 states that don't have any of the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme... Are those really the states "where people are being infected?"
Quest Diagnostics says that they have detected Lyme in all 50 states, even Arizona and Colorado, even though they are among the eight states that don’t have any of the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme… Are those really the states “where people are being infected?”

They are often alternative medicine providers who think that you can get Lyme disease anywhere, even if you don’t live in and haven’t traveled to an area with ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

Many also diagnose folks with many different kinds of non-specific symptoms as having Lyme disease, especially because they misuse tests for Lyme disease as screening tests, or simply misinterpret the results. Tests that often lead to false positive results and folks getting misdiagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

“Once serum antibodies to B. burgdorferi do develop, both IgG and IgM may persist for many years despite adequate treatment and clinical cure of the illness”

Murray et al. on Lyme Disease

They also often think that it is likely that if you have Lyme disease, then you are also likely to have many coinfections, including Bartonella or Mycoplasma. And that the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria can hide in our bodies, creating persistent infections, even passing through breastmilk or causing congenital Lyme disease.

“You can access a variety of online resources and directories to locate doctors who are specifically trained in identifying and treating tick-borne illnesses. This is particularly important if you suspect that you may have Lyme disease since it is the most frequently misdiagnosed of all tick-borne diseases. Finding a Lyme-literate medical doctor (LLMD)—or a physician who is familiar with the vast range of symptoms that may indicate infection at various stages of the disease, as well as potential coinfections and other complexities—can help ensure that you get the right treatment, right away.”

IGeneX Inc. on How to Find Doctors Who Can Help with Your Tick-Borne Disease

Why does IGeneX Inc. want to help you find a Lyme-literate doctor? Maybe because IGeneX Inc. sells the tests that many Lyme-literate doctors use to diagnose Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease! Tests that most other doctors don’t recommend doing.

“The controversy is a nice model for many similar controversies: the science doesn’t support the existence of the disease, but a dedicated group of activists, including some scientists and physicians, feel their extensive experiences more than make up for lack of data. What some of us have problems with is not only the lack of data, but also the willingness of people who believe in this to go about trying to prove it in unconventional ways, for example, relying on lab tests that are not validated.”

Lyme disease—who is credible?

Still, not everyone knows about Lyme disease.

And if you don’t mention a history of a tick bite, didn’t notice a tick bite (Lyme ticks are very small), or don’t have the classic erythema migrans rash, then diagnosis might be delayed.

Tips from Lyme Disease Country

So what should you know to be literate about Lyme disease and be prepared if a tick ever bites your child?

  • you can prevent Lyme disease by avoiding tick bites and removing ticks as quickly as possible after they bite you, which is why it is important to do use insect repellent and do regular tick checks after spending time outdoors, especially if you were in wooded, overgrown areas or places with tall grass or unmarked trails.
  • just because you were bitten by a blacklegged tick, it doesn’t mean that you will develop Lyme disease. In general, only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease.
  • in most cases, ticks don’t need to be tested for Lyme disease, after all, even if the tick tested positive, it doesn’t mean that it transmitted the Lyme bacteria during a bite.
  • Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne disease that we are concerned about, so do tick checks even if you aren’t in a Lyme endemic area.
  • except in very specific cases in high risk areas, people shouldn’t usually be treated with antibiotics after a tick bite, just in case they might develop symptoms of Lyme disease
  • according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, eight states, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, don’t have the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme disease

And know that in addition to your pediatrician, a pediatric rheumatologist or pediatric infectious disease specialist can help you if you think your child has Lyme disease. Unfortunately, late symptoms of untreated Lyme disease can be serious. That makes early diagnosis and the return of a Lyme disease vaccine important.

What about Lyme-literate doctors who say that they specialize in caring for patients with Lyme disease? Understand that the term “Lyme-literate” is simply a dog whistle for alternative medicine providers and websites who are likely to offer non-evidence based care.

More on Lyme Disease and Lyme-Literate Doctors