Integrative Health Blog

NIHA Welcomes Lorelle Bradley, M.D., F.A.A.P., Holistic Pediatrician

Posted by on Mon, Aug 22, 2016

National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, is pleased to announce that Lorelle Bradley, M.D., F.A.A.P., holistic pediatrician, has joined the integrative medical team.

Dr. Bradley is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Holistic and Integrative Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has over seventeen years experience as a pediatrician, and has made an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning and advocacy for children.

Dr. Bradley believes in the power of the body to heal itself, which led to her journey of becoming a Holistic and Integrative Medicine Provider. She has a cheerful heart and genuinely loves taking care of children and their families. She believes that children are barometers of family dynamics and sees the vital role of genetics, environment, nutrition, and toxic exposures as contributing factors to the overall health of a child.

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Tags: pediatrics, holistic pediatrician, chlldren's health

Let's Talk About Vaccines: An Evening of Discussion on August 25, 2016

Posted by on Sat, Aug 13, 2016

Special Event


Let's Talk About Vaccines 

When: Aug. 25, 2016
Time: 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Where: NIHA
5225 Wisconsin Ave. NW #402
Washington, D.C. 20015

 

Please join us on Thursday evening, Aug. 25, 2016,  for lectures,  information and education about vaccine safety.

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Tags: vaccinations, children's health, pediatrics

What is Your Baby Sleeping On?

Posted by on Mon, Mar 23, 2015

A question about baby mattresses was submitted recently to our  Wholesome Mama's Facebook group, and the answer is important to share with new and expectant parents. Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, an estimated 16 to 18 hours per day.  For decades, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has promoted the “Back to Sleep” campaign, encouraging babies to sleep on their backs, which has been successful in reducing the incidence of SIDS. However, there is evidence that the mattress that your baby sleeps on may also increase a baby’s risk of SIDS. 

Studies show infants exposed to chemical emissions from mattresses

In 2014, a study by the University of Texas was released which found that “infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses.” The researchers examined 20 new mattresses and found that they contained over 30 volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Moreover, new crib mattresses release about 4 times the amount of VOCs as old mattresses. And even more alarming is that the VOC level is significantly higher in the infant’s breathing space than in the general air.  The researchers estimated that the infant laying in the crib is exposed to twice the VOC levels as someone standing in the room. Therefore, the researchers concluded that a good strategy to reduce this VOC exposure would be to let a new mattress air out for an extended period of time, perhaps in a garage or outdoors.

This research seems to suggest that an old mattress would be protective; however, a used mattress comes with risks as well. Dr. Jim Sprott, a New Zealand scientist, is convinced that a number of chemicals, which includes phosphorous, arsenic and antimony used in fire retardants, are directly responsible for SIDS. His theory is that these chemicals combine with fungi in the mattress and create a toxic gas. He further proposes that used mattresses are more likely to have the fungus in it to mix with these chemicals than new mattresses. His theory is based upon a research study in published in 1994 by Dr. B. Richardson which brought this information to light.  Dr. Sprott strongly recommends that these chemicals be removed from crib mattresses, but industry standards continue to mandate the inclusion of fire retardants.

Protection from chemicals and gases in crib mattresses

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Tags: sleep, children's health, pediatrics

25% of Teenagers are Doing What?!

Posted by on Mon, Mar 09, 2015

Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

It’s common knowledge that adolescence is characterized by risk-taking behaviors and experimentation.  As a parent, you try your best to warn your adolescent children about the dangers they may face, especially regarding drug and alcohol abuse.  One type of drug use that is less commonly recognized is prescription drug abuse. In fact, after marijuana, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drug by teenagers.

A very disturbing trend

Nearly 50% of Americans take at least one prescription medication, and the sale of prescription painkillers quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.  Therefore, prescription medications are readily accessible by children and teens.  It’s estimated that 25% of teenagers has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime.

One disturbing risk taking trend in regard to prescription drug abuse is for teens to gather for what’s called pill parties, or “skittling.”  In these settings, kids are encouraged to bring any pills they can find, and then the pills are dumped into a bowl for them to sample.  The risks are very high, given that the child may be taking a very dangerous medication, and is also mixing medications together.  These types of gathering have resulted in significant illness and even death for some teens.

So what can you, as a parent, do?

1)  Regularly inspect your medicine cabinets and dispose of all medications that you are not using.  Many people hold on to left over medicines “just in case” they need it later.  Please dispose of it to decrease the risk of a child accidentally or intentionally taking the medication. Many communities now offer a "medicine disposal day" in conjunction with the police so that medication can be safely turned in and not disposed by flushing it down the toilet, thereby adding it to the water supply.

2)  Talk to your children about the issue of prescription drug abuse among teenagers and educate them about its dangers.   Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are aware of or have attended  pill parties or other types of social gatherings that encourage drug use.

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Tags: children's health, pediatrics, prescription drugs

Can Half of Breast Cancers Be Prevented?

Posted by on Thu, Jan 01, 2015

Teresa Fuller, M.D., Ph.D

Breast Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood

According to a recent interview with Dr. Graham Colditz published by Medscape in December 2014, at least 1/2 of breast cancer cases can be prevented, largely by promoting a healthy lifestyle in girls at a young age.  In fact, Dr. Colditz has challenged us to start prevention by age 2 years old!  I recently wrote about this topic in an October 2014 article,  Breast Cancer Prevention Begins in Childhood?, but it’s worth revisiting based on the sheer magnitude of impact that a few simple preventive strategies can yield.

“Cancer risk is accumulating from before the time a girl hits menarche,” says Dr. Colditz.  Menarche is the onset of menstrual periods, which occurs at an average age of 12 years old in the US.  Therefore, clearly the emphasis on early detection and screening for breast cancer is incomplete.  Instead, our focus should be on educating parents and young women about the steps that they can take to eliminate their controllable risk factors. 

Lifestyle Factors Play a Role in Cancer

In the article highlighting this interview, Dr. Colditz demonstrates that 68% of breast cancer cases are attributable to controllable lifestyle factors which are weight (32%), breastfeeding (15%), physical activity (11%), alcohol consumption (5%), diet (3%) and tamoxifen (2%).  I suspect that diet plays a larger role than is suggested in this article, especially since the diet strongly correlates with weight.

So, given that 1 in 3 American children are overweight, and that few children are exercising for the recommended sixty minutes per day, we have a lot of room for improving our children’s risk factors.  Dr. Colditz is not the only one who is making these recommendations.  The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has been long promoting the adoption of a healthy diet in childhood for cancer prevention.  In their booklet Nutrition for Kids, they state: “Cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate are influenced by diet, exercise, and healthy weight control.  Lifelong eating habits are established in childhood, and the longer the exposure to cancer-fighting foods and the avoidance of cancer-promoting foods, the greater the likelihood that cancer won’t strike during adulthood.”

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Tags: cancer, children's health, pediatrics

Three Reasons to Avoid Excessive Media Exposure for Children

Posted by on Mon, Dec 22, 2014

Teresa Fuller M.D., Ph.D

“Literally, the average child now spends more time watching TV than attending school.  This kind of electronic engagement has had a profound effect on kids’ behavior and the development of their brains.” Dr. Scott Shannon

The above quote by Dr. Shannon highlights the growing problem of children spending too much time with media.  On average, children and teens are spending 7 hours per day with media.  With Christmas just around the corner, people are lining up to purchase the latest media devices.  Popular gift ideas include tablets, smart phones, video game consoles and laptops.  But I’d like to recommend caution regarding the trend to make these the top gifted items for children. 

Here are 3 reasons to reign in the media exposure for our children:

  • Media contributes to overweight children. Media consumption is mostly a sedentary activity, and therefore a strong contributor to weight gain.  In a recent study, it was found that children who consume media for more than 2 hours daily and who have less daily physical activity than recommended were 3 to 4 times more likely to be overweight. Media has another powerful way of helping put on the pounds, and that’s through advertising.  Several very intriguing studies have looked at the food advertising during prime time, and during Saturday morning kids’ programming.  The vast majority of food promoted on television contains low quality grains (i.e. mostly refined, low-fiber grains), a deficiency of many important minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin E, and high amounts of sugar and fat, promoting weight gain.
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Tags: obesity, children's health, pediatrics

Holistic Pediatrics: How to Protect Your Child From Heart Disease

Posted by on Mon, Dec 08, 2014

Childhood Illnesses: Colds…Chicken Pox…Heart Disease?!

Starting three years ago, it became routine to test all 9 to 11 year olds for cholesterol level.  According to a December 2011 Pediatric News article, “…heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems in adulthood are often the end result of cardiovascular risk factors that went unrecognized throughout childhood…”1

I’m glad to see that we, as pediatricians, are acknowledging the fact that heart disease, like many other diseases, really starts in childhood.  And while I fully support the screening process, I’m much more interested in prevention.  What should we do during that first decade of our children’s lives to make the screening unnecessary?  It’s all about diet and lifestyle. 

Trending Toward Disease

For the past thirty years, child health has been going in the wrong direction. Childhood overweight and obesity has skyrocketed during the past 3 decades.  And that trend is directly linked to the increased incidence of a variety of heart related disorders in children, most notably high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol levels.  This is a very serious problem, given that epidemiologists are proposing that life expectancy for this rising generation of children could be shortened by as much as eight years.  So, what are the primary factors leading to these disturbing trends?

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Tags: heart disease, holistic nutrition, children's health, pediatrics

Is It a Big Deal That My Child is Overweight?

Posted by on Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

 

One in three American children are overweight or obese

It’s now common knowledge that childhood obesity has become an epidemic in our country. One in every three children is overweight or obese.  While this issue has been getting less media attention recently, we don’t want to underestimate the looming health crisis that will result from such large numbers of children being overweight.   We have already been seeing a staggering increase in common childhood illnesses, such as asthma and allergies, because of the increasing toxicity of our environment.  Overweight and obesity add yet another burden to our children’s stressed systems. 

Overweight and obesity may put your child at risk for the following diseases:

Type 2 Diabetes: Obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.   A serious illness, diabetes is the leading cause of many serious medical problems later in life, such as kidney disease, blindness, heart disease, and circulation problems leading to amputation.

High blood lipid levels: By lipids, we are referring to cholesterol, triglycerides, low and high density lipoproteins to name the most common ones.  Obese children often have lipid disorders, specifically: high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, high LDL levels, low HDL levels.  These abnormal lipid levels lead to increased cardiovascular risk.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure also increases with overweight and obesity in childhood.  Just like other health problems, it continues into adulthood which sets these children up for cardiovascular disease later in life.   

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Tags: obesity, children's health, pediatrics

Can Diet Affect ADHD?

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014

Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

Is there such a thing as an ADHD Diet?

I’ve been asked this question quite a few times. 

The answer is yes…and no. 

What I mean is this: a child’s diet is a critical piece in the treatment of ADHD.  However, the right diet doesn’t treat just ADHD symptoms, but it makes the brain work better in general.  So, an ADHD diet is what I prefer to call a brain healthy diet.

What happens in ADHD? 

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are brain disorder diagnoses usually made by a pediatrician or psychologist. It is characterized by inability to concentrate, restlessness, and impulsiveness, but may be difficult to diagnose. It is often first reported by teachers or parents. There is no single cause of ADHD. Rather, scientific research suggests the effects of many underlying causes, which taken together are expressed through each individual's genetic make up as a group of symptoms qualifying for a diagnosis of ADHD.

When a person has ADHD, the brain has difficulty focusing and staying on task; it has difficulty planning and self-regulating. In order for the brain to carry out these tasks, it needs adequate amounts of building materials.  The brain is one of the most metabolically active parts of your body, and therefore it needs a constant flow of nutrients to work well. 

Here are the Building Blocks of an ADHD Healthy Brain Diet

1. Protein: Many children today eat a diet that’s heavy in simple carbohydrates and low in protein.  A brain healthy diet needs a good supply of healthy proteins. Even though lean meat and eggs are good sources of protein, make sure you remember plant sources.  For example, beans, nut butters, certain vegetables, such as broccoli, and certain whole grains such as quinoa, are healthy sources of protein. 

2. Complex carbohydrates are essential for brain health because they provide steady energy to keep up with the brain’s high metabolism rate.  A variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and whole grains, provide this energy source.

3. Healthy fats are finally being recognized for their critical role in brain function. Almonds, walnuts, avocados and flax seeds are important sources of fat for your child’s diet.  Also, wild salmon once or twice per week provides essential fatty acids.  If you use oil when cooking, the best choices for brain health are coconut and extra virgin olive oil.

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Tags: ADHD, holistic nutrition, children's health, pediatrics

5 Reasons to Choose a Holistic Pediatrician

Posted by on Wed, Nov 05, 2014

One of the most important decisions you have to make as a parent is the choice of pediatrician.  Whether you are expecting a baby, or have just moved into a new area, or are simply no longer satisfied with your current pediatrician, you have the task of choosing the right doctor among the numerous pediatric services in your area. Many prospective parents call my office as they are searching for a pediatrician, wanting to determine if a holistic pediatrician can meet their needs.  While different parents all have their own unique concerns, I have found quite a few commonalities among parents in the search for a pediatrician who will partner with them in the best interest of their children.  

Here are the common concerns for choosing a pediatrician: 

1. You want to raise your baby in the most natural way possible. When your child develops an earache, a stuffy nose or constipation, what should you do?  You want to know safe and effective options that are drug-free if possible.  You want to know herbal or homeopathic options for your young child.  While most conventional pediatricians aren’t familiar with many of these interventions, a holistic pediatrician will be.

2. You want accurate information about vaccines and the choice of vaccination to be yours.  After studying mountains of vaccine information on both sides of the issue, one thing is clear: there is a lot of misleading information pro and con.  As a holistic pediatrician, I believe it’s my responsibility to know both sides of the issue, and objectively discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with you, the parent, so that you can make an educated, informed decision based on facts instead of fear.

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Tags: children's health, pediatrics