Advice from Dr. Marcel Hernandez, ND: How to Support Your Child’s Immune System

I want to thank Dr. Marcel Hernandez of Pacific Naturopathic for his FREE advice to me on how to support children’s immune systems. His wisdom is much too valuable not to share with everyone, so I am disseminating it in the hopes that my fellow holistic Moms can use these techniques to bolster their child’s all-important immunity.

    • Nutrition: Not surprisingly, holistic physicians like NDs use food as the first line of defense. Dr. Marcel would like to see us Moms feed our children only whole foods and grains, organic whenever possible. He reminds us that many children have difficulty digesting certain foods and develop allergic reactions to them. The most likely culprits for provoking allergies include dairy and wheat. (But, Dr. Marcel, those are so prevalent. How can I stay away from those???) Luckily, we can use these substitutes:
    1. Substitutes for Milk: Soy milk, goat’s milk, and Rice Dream
    2. Substitutes for Cheese: Soy cheese
    3. Substitutes for Wheat: Spelt bread or rice bread
    4. Substitutes for Pasta: Spelt, rice, or corn pasta
    5. Substitutes for Crackers: Rice Crackers

What is just as important as what to feed your kids is what NOT to feed your kids, however. Dr. Marcel suggests avoiding feeding your child foods that contain refined sugars or too-sweet items (candy, pastries, foods flavored with fructose or concentrated fruit juice). This also applies to dried fruits, which he says to serve in small quantities only. Lastly, ALWAYS dilute fruit juices by at least 50%.

  • Exercise: We need to make sure our child(ren) spends time outdoors running and playing (see, Mom and Dad? I told you it couldn’t be good for us to practice piano all those hours every day indoors). Exercise and natural sunlight are important components of a healthy immune system and overall wellness.
  • Stress: Yes, children do experience stress. It’s stressful being little and not fully developed in this world! According to Dr. Marcel, unmanaged stress is one of the most powerful immune suppressants. As Moms, we need to tune in to our child’s patterns of stress and how he/she handles it.
  • Vitamins and Supplements: Dr. Marcel believes that the only supplement a child should take year-round is a pediatric multi-vitamin (one that contains no sugar, of course). Then, starting in late fall and continuing through early spring, a child should take these additional supplements (on top of the multi-vitamin) as a prevention measure: 250 to 500 mg per day of Vitamin C and 1 to 5 teaspoons per day of liquid bioflavonoids (the latter act as an immune system stimulant and anti-inflammatory).
  • In case of infection: If your child does contract an infection, you should consult with your hopefully-holistic pediatrician and follow a specific program based on lifestyle, nutrition, supplements, and hydrotherapy (see my previous post on a very useful “wet sock treatment” in cases of congestion) tailored to your child. In general, Dr. Marcel says the basic components of acute care during an infection include Vitamin C, Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), beta carotene and Vitamin A, zinc, and a potent immune stimulator like Echatin Plus (I’ve provided a link to this, because I had to go look it up myself). If the infection is bacterial, then garlic and Goldenseal (Hydrastic canadensis) should also be included. Of course, your child should also be given plenty of rest and fluids (there ARE commonalities between natural and conventional medicine!). Lastly, Dr. Marcel gives some VERY useful advice about the proper dosage for Vitamin C: multiply your child’s age by 500 mg. So if your child is 6, give 3,000 mg of Vitamin C.

You know, with his wealth of knowledge on natural approaches to children’s health, I might just do an interview or a series of interviews with him on topics related to holistic pediatric protocols. If you have any questions in particular you’d like me to ask him, please comment below or on my Facebook Fan Page.

About Mare

is a Master Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist, and enthusiastic natural mommy to a beautiful tot of 2, the Little Apple. She shares her parenting adventures (sometimes mis-adventures) via this blog.
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