Raw ACV for heartburn and reflux

"ewwww! go cough it up!"
"mama, he's doing it in my ear again!"
"i can't stand that noise!"
"that sounds disgusting, go blow your nose or something!"

you could hear at least one of these exclamations in our house no less than 5-10 times on any given evening over the last year. all directed at our middle child, now 7. he didn't have any food allergies that we knew of, and so got minimal amounts of all the allergens outside our home and in some lunches. somehow, without our noticing exactly when, he developed this sound in the back of his throat that can only be described as ...*bubbly*. it made my hair stand on end when he'd sit at the dinner table and give a little cough and we'd hear that junk rattling away in there. out in public, other parents would nudge their children away from him, faces frozen politely as he horked up his tuberculosis-sounding esophageal load.

at first we thought it was leftover post-nasal drip from a cold or bug at the end of last summer. everyone got over it and still jonah rattled. fall passed with it unabated and winter came and was the healthiest ever for our family - and still, jonah crackled and bubbled. we made up our minds he was just a juicy kind of kid, maybe he had constant post-nasal drip or something. it didn't seem to affect his breathing. he didn't snore, he could run and play tirelessly and we soon taught him to go cough it up, which made him sound better for an hour or two sometimes.

his teacher finally asked me about it and told me he sounded truly awful. one night when we told him to go cough it up, he vomited. another day the school called to send him home at lunch because he said he vomited after eating. when he got home, he acted completely normal, energetic and healthy. i wondered vaguely if the post-nasal drip was making him nauseous. already only on dairy minimally, i cut it 90% out of his diet, knowing that less dairy should = less mucous.

we took him to an ENT, who suggested that taking out his adenoids could help. we weren't interested in something so drastic without seeing 100% causation and a promise of a 100% cure.
always prone to nosebleeds, they became much more frequent recently so we took him back to the ENT to reevaluate the possibility of cauterizing the errant bundle of capillaries in his nose that caused the bloody gushers. jonah sat there in the exam chair, rattling and bubbling away in the back of his throat, making me cringe. the ENT brought up the adenoidectomy again. i set a date for the surgery, thinking i was ready to try anything to clear that awful sound away.

after i left his office, i started thinking about how long it had been going on and how it was starting to seem like it involves his stomach and i began to slowly form the thought that this might be reflux and not something from the throat or sinuses at all. i mentioned my concerns to our pediatrician at our next visit and he examined jonah and proclaimed confidently, "it's not sinuses or adenoids, it's reflux. he's not a mouth breather, he doesn't snore and the symptoms are worse around meals. he needs to get off dairy 100%, eat smaller, frequent meals and get on an anti-reflux med."

as usual, i balked at medicating a child without first looking to diet or natural remedies. i asked our pediatrician if there was any truth to the folk remedy i've heard about from dozens of pregnant women for heartburn: neutralizing stomach acid with raw apple cider vinegar. he lit up like christmas and said he was so glad i'd brought it up, because he knew for a fact it could work wonders.

i cancelled the surgery and started giving jonah a mixture of 1 part Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar to 1 part water daily. i put 2 tablespoons in a medical shot glass w/ a little dollop of honey waiting like a reward in the bottom. at 1st he took his "shot" of it before every meal, at any sign of bubbliness and any time his stomach hurt. his teacher was awesome about agreeing to dose him in school whenever she heard him sounding phlegmy or he complained of a stomachache and i packed a tiny bottle of it into his lunch, for him to swig before he ate.

the 1st week, he was probably taking 8-10 doses per day. he didn't love it, but we were all amazed that it cleared the horrible wet cough-y sound up instantly. it also cured stomach aches around meals w/in 15 minutes. even his teacher was impressed. by week 2, he was only getting doses at each meal and bedtime - 4 doses a day. this is the 3rd week and he is down to 2 doses: 1 in the morning before breakfast and the one he gives himself at lunch.

of course i finally got around to wondering *what* was causing my 7 year old to suddenly be producing excess amounts of stomach acid and refluxing it into his esophagus - and knowing my family history - i thought, "allergies". sure enough, when we did the skin scratch test, he came back severely allergic to seasonal allergens (like his father) and moderately allergic to two foods ( like two of his siblings):
peanuts and soy. our home is completely free of any trace of peanuts and lucky for us, his school is also peanut restricted. triple lucky for us, because 3 of our children are now allergic to peanuts (one to a life-threatening degree) and next fall, all three of them will be attending the same elementary school. i know all too well that peanut allergy can be unpredictable and even a person with mild or moderate allergy can suffer an anaphylactic reaction out of the blue, so i'm very relieved, proud and grateful that they can attend a peanut-restricted school while they learn how to navigate their food allergies out in the world, away from the safe cocoon of home.

jonah has now begun taking allergy injections for his allergies and gets special hernia-type adjustments from the chiropractor to further help with his formerly severe reflux, but today you would never suspect he has it -and he never had to go onto the scary and dubiously effective anti-reflux meds. i will take a shot of it myself now when i eat things that normally cause heartburn - and it still amazes me when it actually works and prevents the familiar belchy fire!

i know ENTs have to earn a living in this economy, too - and i love our guy beyond all reason, but the feeling of NOT having to do surgery or put my son on a medication with truly scary side effects for an indefinite period of time is wonderful. the cost, the inconvenience and the worry simply can't compare with buying a $10 gallon of this stuff. it's empowering and reaffirming to be able to make some dietary adjustments, add a natural remedy like ACV, and watch your wilting child unfold into the full bloom of health again. somehow it puts the power back where it belongs and doesn't make the parent rely on dr.s and pharmacies and hope someone else did something right to make your child better... and didn't screw up and do something that might make them worse! any time i can avoid them being dependent on a medication, i consider it a victory.

one for the intactivists!

out of the mouths of babes:
i have a whole son still exploring the limits of retractibility.
this morning in his shower he got his biggest peek
at his properly internalized organ.
in utter awe and slight horror, he exclaimed
in whispered excitement,
"oh my GAWD, did i just see my BRAIN?!"

breastfeeding explanation!

all breastfeeding mothers and professionals alike know instinctively that kneading, squeezing, pinching, pushing, jostling, etc... on the breast by a nursing baby or child is to elicit stronger or more frequent letdowns. all you have to do is watch kittens or other mammals nursing - or milk a cow or goat by hand! - to figure out how it works.
but lest any doubt remain, i present you w/ a video of testimony straight from a nursing child himself - "it makes it go "whick! whick! whick!" :-)

before and after shea butter

the last picture was taken 20 minutes after the 1st two! vaseline makes all the creases of his skin bleed, aquaphor just coats and suffocates his skin, any other commercially sold lotions, oils or creams make him sting and itch from the corn-based alcohols and fragrances. prescription steroid creams burn like fire. at this point, when his creases are swollen and seeping blood because his skin has gotten so thin and irritated, even coconut and olive oils provide no real relief, they are too thin.

only waxy, heavily oily, emollient rich raw shea butter truly soothes, nourishes, heals and feeds his skin when he's dried out and fragile after a flare-up like this. i watch the redness literally fade away before my eyes and the inflammation dissipate as it sinks in and his skin drinks it up like the desert does the rain.
thanks be for shea butter for atopic allergies!!

hair today, a jumbled mess tomorrow !

i can't believe the ratio of hair accessories : girl children in this house.
or better yet, the ratio of hair accessories : actual girl child *hair* in this house.
she's got enough accessories for a small nation of girls and only enough hair for one very small dog. and a patchy one, at that.

but hair things and dreaming of the day that she will have long princess hair like her kindergarten classmates makes her happy. and finally being able to buy pink frilly things for one child out of 5 makes *me* happy, so i buy them. and they end up taking up a much coveted drawer - or 2 or 3. you know the ones - they are such a jumbled, tangled mess everyone dreads opening them to look for an elastic hair band or barrette. i tie my hair up in a knot and stick a pencil in it rather than dig through that drawer!

i stood contemplating that drawer for the millionth time this morning, yearning for a hair tie, yet frustrated and annoyed at the mess i knew i'd have to dig through. my eyes went from the dreaded vanity drawer to the vanity mirror, where i had draped a frilly lacy scarf i like but never wore. inspiration suddenly struck and a lightbulb clicked my head. in a flash, i saw all the things from the jumbled drawer flying to a neat and orderly position around the vanity and down the scarf.

i could tie big knots all the way down the scarf to section it off.
put the headwraps/elastic headbands over the pointy top of the vanity frame.
keep the knotted scarf where it is, clip a bunch of the clippy barrettes to the section above the 1st knot.
push the scrunchy-style hair ties above the second knot.
put the gumball style, old fashioned rubber band/ hair ties above the next knot - just wrap them loosely enough to hang above the knot and stay there.
more barrettes below those! the fabric of the scarf (less than $15 from target) would allow for me to clip any style of barrette onto it.
even better, the ends of it have sort of frayed/stray pieces of cloth - perfect for those super teeny tiny, eensy weensy barrettes for baby fine hair.

the plastic/hard head bands could finally have a home on the vanity top itself, once i freed them from the tangle of the drawer. i've tried everything else with them - hanging them on hangers, stacking them around a paper-towel dispenser, i finally realized there's just no good way to store them except for very small piles on a flat surface.

i'm very pleased with the end result! we can see everything now! i finally matched up missing pieces we haven't been able to find in months. i was able to throw away broken and ruined items. i put all the elastic and rubber bands into a mesh wire box by themselves on the vanity top - no more tangling everything up!

i imagine if you don't have a vanity, you could still hang a scarf on a wall and do this. or even a row of 3 or 4 scarves if you have enough hair stuff to organize. it could be done over a dresser top, on a closet wall...etc... if i didn't have a pointy vanity top for all the soft headwraps, i'd hang one of those decorative coathooks for them and then put the scarf under it.

now that cursed vanity drawer is free for all of her her epi-pen purses to go into.
jovie is thrilled with the project - i'm happy to report that is highly 6 year old girl approved! she raved and crowed to see old treasures found and prominently displayed. she thinks it looks like rapunzel's hair, hanging down and all done up with hair accessories! :-)
next i want to get a tussock-style stool to scoot up to the vanity so she can sit and decide what she's going to wear in her hair.

i'm also thinking about a shelf she has in her "someday" room. (the room she will have to herself someday). it is filled with her purses right now, but it could easily hold 4 or 5 scarves for organizing hair accessories. the shelf could hold the hard head bands.

here's hoping this new organization lasts and her 4 brothers don't think the rubberband basket is a handy arsenal for a rubberband war!