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From Asthma to Autoimmunity and Ear Infections to Eczema: Why Our Kids Need a Functional Integrative Approach

From Asthma to Autoimmunity and Ear Infections to Eczema: Why Our Kids Need a Functional Integrative Approach

In today’s podcast episode, I wanted to give you a sneak peek episode from an interview with Dr. Elisa Song. Dr. Song is my go-to expert on holistic integrative pediatrics as she teaches in such a helpful way for parents and practitioners. I know I always get so much value from her talks, which is why I want to share an excerpt of an interview I did with her that can be found in the Knowledge Vault™ Membership.

This particular interview is about the increasing rates of auto autoimmunity, asthma, eczema and allergies in our children and why a functional integrative approach is so important for our kids. The full interview can be found in the Knowledge Vault™ Membership and is jam-packed with foundational steps you can take on your healing journey with your child and some of the natural interventions Dr. Song recommends straight out of her own paediatric toolkit.

You can also find another complete masterclass from Dr. Song entitled “The Cell Danger Response: Harnessing the Power of the Vagus Nerve to Optimize Your Child’s Health” available for free on the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit.

This podcast episode is just a quick excerpt from Dr. Song’s full interview that can be found in Knowledge Vault™ Membership. You can sign up to watch Dr. Song’s full interview as well as other interviews with speakers just like her.

Things You Will Learn
  • Why we are seeing increasing rates of autoimmunity, asthma, eczema and allergies in our children
  • How taking the deep dive on both ours and our children’s medical history can help guide the path to healing
  • What foundational steps you can take to start the healing process in a manageable way
  • What type of immediate natural interventions you can use to help your child during a flare of eczema or a bout of asthma (get a peek inside Dr. Song’s integrative pediatric toolkit)
  • What steps you will need to take to address the underlying causes of atopic illness like eczema, asthma etc
  • And much more…

Show Notes for this Podcast 

  • How to join the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit and more about Dr. Elisa Song. (2:05)
  • Why issues like autoimmunity, asthma, eczema and allergies are on the rise in our children. (5:33)
  • The first things Dr. Song looks at addressing her patients. (7:29)
  • How Dr. Song used her integrative toolkit to help her sister with her twins colic and reflux issues. (13:23)
  • Medical history is not to blame parents, it’s to help the practitioner get all the information needed to help your child thrive. (19:22)

Resources and Links

Dr. Song’s website: Healthy Kids Happy Kids

Sign up for the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit

Join the Knowledge Vault™ Membership


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More about Dr. Elisa Song

Holistic mama doc, Dr. Elisa Song, MD is a holistic pediatrician, pediatric functional medicine expert, and mama to 2 crazy fun kids. In her integrative pediatric practice, Whole Family Wellness, she’s helped 1000s of kids get to the root causes of their health concerns and helped their parents understand how to help their children thrive – body, mind, and spirit – by integrating conventional pediatrics with functional medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and essential oils. These health concerns have ranged from frequent colds, ear infections, asthma, and eczema; to autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and autoimmune illnesses. Dr. Song is the host of the Thriving Child Summit – a life-changing event for parents to learn how to help their children thrive. Dr. Song created Healthy Kids Happy Kids to share her advice and adventures as a holistic pediatrician and mama. Now everyone can have their very own virtual holistic pediatrician! You can follow her blog at Healthy Kids Happy Kids and get daily tips and inspiration from her on Facebook.

00:01 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, nutritional therapy practitioner, certified GAPs practitioner, restorative wellness practitioner, and mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities.

My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer, before we get started.

My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds if not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.

Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better judge what is normal or abnormal for your child. The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty.

Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to mychildwillthrive.com/summit.

2:05 Tara Hunkin:
Hello, and welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive Podcast. Today in the podcast I have for you an excerpt for an interview that I did with Dr. Elisa Song. Dr. Song is an expert in pediatrics, she's board certified, and she has a wonderful approach to how she works with families in a holistic way to ensure that their children thrive. This interview is an interview that can be seen on the current version of the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit in entirety. Today on the podcast, I'm just gonna give you a taste of what you can learn there.

If you want to sign up for the summit and listen to all the interviews, including Dr. Elisa Song's, you can find that at mychildwillthrive.com/summit. Interviews from that summit and my past summits, as well as master classes that we host here at My Child Will Thrive and my framework that I teach on how to determine what the right treatments and therapies are for your unique child, all can be found in the My Child Will Thrive knowledge Vault.

So you can also get access to that. The members of the My Child Will Thrive Knowledge Vault get ongoing access to the hundred plus interviews and master classes in a searchable format so that you can find the information you need as quickly as possible so that you can help your child for where they're at right now. If you want to just learn about the Knowledge Vault, you can see that at mychildwillthrive.com.

But without further ado, let's just talk about what you're gonna hear today on the podcast. Dr. Elisa Song is going to talk to us about all the things that you can do and look for when you're dealing with asthma, autoimmunity and ear infections to eczema and why she feels and she also does practice a functional integrative approach with all the families that she works with in her practice. Types of things that you learn during the entire interview are why we're seeing an increasing rate of autoimmunity, asthma, eczema, and allergies in our children. She talks about in the interview, how taking a deep dive on both ours and our children's medical history can actually guide the path to healing for your child.

What foundational steps you can take to start the healing process in a manageable way, which is always really important. And what types of immediate natural interventions you can use to help your child during a flare of something like eczema or a bout of asthma. What steps you will need to take to address the underlying causes of atopic illness like eczema and asthma, and so much more.

So this interview in its entirety is jam packed with so much information. Dr. Song goes into some of the tools she uses in her toolkit as well, to help the families that come to see her. So without further ado, here is a snippet of the interview that I did with Dr. Elisa Song.

5:16 Tara Hunkin:
So it is really hard to differentiate between when it's a normal or I should say normal regression that's right. Yeah, or something like you said, a phase that you think that they might wash out of, and when we should be really getting aggressive.

5:33 Dr. Elisa Song:
Yes, absolutely. And what I tell parents is it's not that there are more of these bugs around. I don't think that there's more strep floating around. I don't think that there's more hand, foot and mouth virus floating around. I don't think that there's more Lyme the ticks are carrying. I think it's what our kids' immune systems are doing and our adult immune systems are doing, they're not responding appropriately to these infections that our bodies should be able to contain if we're in a healthy state.

And that goes back to why is this autoimmunity happening in the first place, right? Why are our kids' immune systems so dysfunctional at an early age, sometimes from birth, right? And that goes back to really then what can we as mamas and papas, even before we conceive or even if we have a child who has neurodevelopmental concerns, and we're thinking about a second child, what can we do, right.
That having that second or third child after you have a child with autism, or special needs can be a really frightening prospect. Right. I have a lot of parents who come to me and say, we really want to have a second child, but we're so afraid that this might happen again. And we don't know that we have the bandwidth to help two or three children who have incredible biomedical needs, school needs, social needs.

And so that's where we really look to see, well, what can we do for prevention? What do we know about some of the potential causes and triggers for autoimmune illness? And how can we set the stage then in this child's developing immune system and body to make sure to the extent possible, right, that they don't shift over into this autoimmunity.

7:15 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. So let's talk about a few of those things, because the same things for preventative can be also applied to what to do about it.So what do you say in terms of the first things that you look at addressing?

7:29 Dr. Elisa Song:
Yeah. I go back to, if I have the opportunity, I tell parents really, if I could get to parents three to six months before they're trying to conceive that that's really the ideal time, that's the best time to do prevention because we know that really the heart of our immune system and the heart of our nervous system is the gut, right? That's what we teach in functional medicine.

It all starts in the gut, but there's a backstory to that. This baby doesn't just come out and all of a sudden they have the gut that they have.It really starts with that. Mom's gut before she even conceives. So that gut microbiome is really critical to establish even in utero. So if that mama's gut is disrupted, let's say she's had chronic yeast infections, or she's had a ton of antibiotics throughout her childhood and adult life, or she's on a ton of Zantac for reflux or we're having a huge amount of stress.

We know that stress alone disrupts the gut microbiome and then that disrupted gut microbiome exacerbates the stress because most of our serotonin and our dopamine, something like 80 to 90{4537a52abafa24f75931b694e3f6d1d9b0beb5896e18e49b3141987b78b41d96} is made by our guts so it becomes this vicious cycle. And so addressing that mama's gut, making sure that she's eating a diet that's full of phytonutrients to support her gut lining adequate levels of probiotics or fermented foods, doing a gut cleanse for yeast or parasites before she gets pregnant, really trying to reduce her maternal stress.

We've actually shown their studies, looking at maternal stress during pregnancy and changes in her vaginal flora. It's fascinating. But what mom, isn't stressed nowadays? Whether you have zero children, you're working 80 hours a week, or you have three children and you're thinking, Oh my gosh, how can we handle a fourth child?

And you're not really taking care of yourself during your pregnancy, but to the extent possible having those mindfulness routines, exercising, making that a priority, right. Addressing maternal adrenal fatigue, if it's there because if we, as mamas have adrenal fatigue, which most of us do to some extent, but when it's really severe, our adrenals can actually literally start feeding off of our baby's adrenals. And then we have babies who come out in this fight or flight mode, and much more at risk for eczema and allergies and subsequent neurodevelopmental issues. And of course, vitamin D. Making sure that mama is really, really optimized in her vitamin D levels because we know that low vitamin D levels prenatally is correlated with higher risks for autism and eczema and asthma in our babies.

Maternal antibiotic use and maternal Zantac use has also been linked with increased risk for eczema, asthma, this atopic class of illnesses in our kids. And in fact, we all bring with us our family history, right? There are some kids with eczema and asthma I see that have zero history.

There's no one in the family who has eczema and asthma, but there are some families where every older sibling, aunts and uncles, cousins, mom, dad, they all have eczema or they all have had asthma. And so that child just has a higher risk. But so we found that if moms during their third trimester and while they're nursing take a particular probiotic, called Lactobacillus rhamnosus

that she can significantly reduce the risk of that child developing eczema and asthma. So again, it goes back to the gut health right. Now, once babies are born, we have these postnatal factors that we can modify as well. We can't necessarily modify how our babies are born, but if we can have a vaginal birth, that would be ideal, right? Because coming out through the birth canal, getting exposed through all that good vaginal flora, it makes a huge impact.

We know that C-section babies compared with vaginally-birthed babies have very different gut microbiomes within that first two weeks of age. And in fact, some hospitals now are doing studies for the C-section babies, taking a vaginal swab from mama and swabbing baby's eyes, mouth, nose, rectum, right, to colonize that baby and finding that it actually can be very helpful. So that is a potential option for babies who are C-section births.

But if you do have a baby who was one of my C-sections or you received antibiotics for group B strep, making sure from the very beginning, day one, giving probiotics to that infant and taking probiotics yourself is very important. If there are other reasons for gut disruption like that baby is very fussy and colicky and your pediatrician says they have reflux, let's get them on Zantac.

There are times where Zantac might be necessary, but I will tell you, there was a shift somewhere in the early nineties where, in my training, or I should say the early two thousands, my training never, ever did we put a baby on Zantac for being fussy or having colic or reflux. All of a sudden there was this one year I remember where we had these drug reps coming in saying, look at this new indication for babies who are fussy. Get your babies on Zantac, which at that point wasn't generic. And I mean, all of a sudden we had these two week olds, these three week olds who were fussy and colicky and mothers and fathers didn't have the tools to deal with that.

And their babies were immediately put on Zantac and it does help often, but we have so many tools when we're using an integrative medicine toolkit to really handle that reflux and that colic without turning to Zantac, because Zantac in infants has been shown to have a higher risk later on for that baby to develop eczema and asthma and auto-immunity. Same thing with early antibiotic use, antibiotics before the age of six months.

13:23 Dr. Elisa Song:
Tylenol use has been shown to increase the risk for autoimmunity and atopic illness. So if we can use an integrative medicine toolkit, and this is where I just visited my baby sister, who just had twins herself. And her little babies were going through a really, really hard time with constipation, fussiness, gassiness, spitting up and her pediatrician had recommended perhaps stopping nursing and going on formula. And I just, I said, this is not acceptable, right? This is not okay. I made an emergency trip out there. She lives in Denver.

I brought all of my tools. I brought special infant probiotics, including a probiotic called lactobacillus reuteri which has been shown to really help soothe that colicky, intestinal tract for babies who have reflux. I brought my acupuncture needles. Yes, you can do acupuncture for infants and it works remarkably well. I brought some herbs like chamomile and fennel that have been shown to reduce reflux and colic in infants. And I brought my homeopathic medicines. Which is a homeopathic combination for upset tummy and distress and colic in infants.

And I put my sister on an elimination diet. I took her off of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts. And she said, well, oh my gosh, there's nothing for me to eat. And then I said, oh my gosh, there's so much for you to eat. Right. Let's look at that. Let's look at all the lean meats you can eat any fruit and vegetable. There's so much. And it takes about two to three days to wash out from your system, from the breast milk, and in the meantime, we started the babies on acupuncture and the probiotics and homeopathics and the herbs.

Three days later, happy, calm babies, pooping regularly. She's pumping and able to nurse. They're on breast milk, no problem. And now we're at the point where she slowly one by one reintroduces each food to see, well, what was the biggest culprit? I'm sure it's the dairy in this case. I mean, that's the number one for babies who are refluxy and colicky and gluten would be the next second.

So, and then once babies are older, once they're toddlers and once they're in grade school, it's really our diet, our standard American diet that's one of the biggest culprits in creating this inflammation, this underlying inflammation in our kids' bodies.

Again once you have this inflammation that's up to here, then you get this infection or toxic exposure, like mold or heavy metals, and then the inflammation bumps up to here, right? And then you get another inflammatory insult, like emotional stress, which our body can't distinguish between the inflammation caused by emotional stress and physiologic stress. That's all inflammation.

And then we bump up the here and now our children, their bodies can't contain it and we see the eczema and the asthma or the autoimmune phenomena. So to the extent possible for our children as they get older, if we can keep their diets clean, right. Keep out those artificial flavors, preservatives, colors.

Eating a rainbow of phytonutrients and I know that some of our kids the parents listening, their kids are so sensory defensive, and they're eating maybe three different foods and it's gotta be the same package of Mac and cheese. And it's gotta be the very same chicken nugget, but there is a way to do this. Your kids can get there. It's not a race.

We just keep taking baby steps and even if it means that in a few months they're just licking a strawberry and holding an apple and just smelling it, that's progress, right. That's progress. And your kids can get there. And then, really pesticides, right.

Eating as organically as possible. And I know organic foods are more expensive. So really focusing then on the dirty dozen that the Environmental Working Group hands out every year, they update their list of the most heavily sprayed foods and then they have their lists of the clean 15, which are less sprayed. But pesticides like glyphosate, Roundup are highly toxic, not just as a chemical and causing stress on our liver detoxification systems, but glyphosate, it actually is classified as an antibiotic. So every time we eat something with glyphosate, it's going to kill off many of our good probiotics in our gut. Glyphosate itself has been shown to disrupt the junctions between the small intestinal lining. That's leaky gut, right? That's leaky gut, that's food sensitivities.

18:15 Tara Hunkin:
Well, I mean, I think that everything that you were just talking about, it goes with all of these kids, the personalized medicine approach is so important. So right from prevention through to actually, what do we do for our particular child? And that's the challenge for parents is that they're learning all these things that could be impacting, their seeing their kids in every description of probably every talk they're listening to on the summit.

19:22 Dr. Elisa Song:
Absolutely. They say it gets a little overwhelming, but the reality is that it does need to be a very personalized approach. And why you work with your patients to make sure that you have such a comprehensive history because it does change the way you approach things. It does. And the other thing that I would just like to back up and say to any of the parents listening out there, there's so much mama guilt, right. We as moms, I mean, no matter what is going on with our children, we are constantly racking our brains with what did I do wrong?

What could I have done differently when I was pregnant? Oh my gosh, was it that tuna fish sandwich that I just had to have whenI was four months pregnant? Was it because I cleaned the bathroom with that cleaner cause there was so much mold.

We can't go back and change what the story, what our backstory is. Right. And so this is just not to have parents feel guilty. It's just to say there is always a backstory that when we use functional medicine and precision medicine and individualized medicine, we can then go back and say, well, okay, what is this child's backstory? What tipped them over to having this neurodevelopmental illness or this auto immune illness? And then what's the backstory that we need to unravel. And that's where we get to the true root causes of what happened for that child and we move on with hope, right?

We move on with the knowledge that, okay, once we identify whatever happens to this child and figure out what the root causes are, we need to first deal with our own guilt. Right. And just say, all right, I know that this is not reversible, that I can't change what happened in the past, but what is reversible is the damage that then ensued.

And I can do the work that I can as a mama and with my practitioner to really move forward and make my child as healthy as possible. And we can do that. And I do want to say for parents too, there's usually one trigger that we might identify, whether it's that strep throat or that tick bite, but it's never one thing, right? There's always this, this backstory of events that happen. And what we see as the trigger is just the straw that broke the camel's back. But that's the most obvious trigger.

But even for a kid who overnight seems like the develop hand us after strep throat, there's something that happened that made that child's immune system just be a little off that then tip them over. Right. But that's what functional medicine is. Functional medicine is getting to that child story and figuring out what we can do.

21:23 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. I think that's very, exactly what you said is there is a lot of mama guilt and I always say if I knew then what I know now, but it is, but I still go back to saying exactly what you're saying, which is that the medical history is important because it's how we identify how to move forward. And so it's important to unpack that, not have guilt over that, but then leverage that. And it makes a massive difference moving forward when you've really dug into it with vigor.

So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village. So join us in the My Child Will Thrive village Facebook group, where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com.

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