Friday, 21 October 2016

Back to School Back Pack Safety: Protect Your Child's Spine

Back to School Back Pack Safety: Protect Your Child's Spine

As the new school year approaches, kids and parents are starting to think about getting prepared for the busy time ahead.

Although necessary, things such as books, supplies, electronics, lunch boxes, and sports equipment can become very heavy once they are all jammed inside a bag. 

Having a poorly packed bag can lead to neck pain, back pain and ultimately injury. It is important for overall posture and spinal health that your child has a correctly fitted backpack that is not too heavy is important. 

How to Choose the Right Backpack

  1. Make sure there are 2 adjustable straps with extra padding around the shoulder area
  2. A bag that has a waist strap will help to redistribute the weight of the bag from the shoulders to the pelvis area relieving tension on the shoulders
  3. Choose a bag with lighter weighted material 
  4. Make sure the bag has a pad or cushion along the part that contacts the spine
  5. Ideally, opt for a bag with wheels, then your child will not have to carry one all at all

How to Pack Properly

  1. Only carry what you need; the lighter the load the better!
  2. The total weight of the bag should never be more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. To figure this out, multiply the child’s weight by  0.15. The bag should not be heavier than this number.
  3. When you are packing, put the heaver things towards the back, closer to the spine, and the lighter things closer to the front. 
  4. Use all the compartments to distribute the weight of the items in the bag evenly.

How should it feel?

Make sure both shoulder straps are adjusted and snug, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. The waist strap should be at roughly belly button height.

Make sure the backpack does not droop below the buttock area. If this happens, it is too heavy! 
Also avoid leaning forward when wearing the bag. 

Making small changes now to protect your child's spine can prevent bigger issues and injury in the future. Make sure your child’s backpack is not causing unnecessary strain so that they can enjoy the school year to the fullest.  

And of course, the same is true for you as an adult. Prevention is always better than cure!

About the author

Dr Stacia Kelly is a chiropractor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Clinic, located in centre town Ottawa. The clinic has over 15 different wellness practitioners. They work as a team and consider individuals symptoms to provide a real holistic approach, which enables them to identify and treat the underlying causes of your issues to give deep, long lasting healing.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Back to School - The importance of nutrition

Nutrition for School Children

The “Back to School” season is here and getting back on track for most parents and young children can often be exciting but also a stressful time of year. Juggling schedules and priorities can often seem like a circus act, so this is why I’ve taken the time to let you in on a few secrets of mine in order to maintain health and vitality for the whole family.

As a Family

Plan ahead

By marking the calendar with the days of the week that are going to work best for grocery shopping, food preparation and activity.  You may notice that by staying organized and following through with your family dates that you have more time to spend together.

Get creative as a team in the kitchen!  

Not only will this encourage kids to help out with preparation, but children may also be more willing to try new foods and recipes.  This is a great way to lead by example so that they can slowly learn about the importance of whole foods, and all while having fun!

Trust me, a kitchen dance party goes a long way!

Consider individual's food sensitivities 

This is important for everyone in the family!

Although this can seem like a foreign topic for most, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of addressing foods that may not be suitable for them.
Some of the bigger culprits such a gluten, dairy, and sugar can often be responsible for the underlying symptoms of many inflammatory health conditions.

For both children and adults; Autism, Asthma, ADD / ADHD, Allergies, Cold and Flu, as well as skin conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis can all be triggered by food sensitivities.  

There are many ways to discover what foods will act as jet fuel versus foods that will act as poisons to your body.  Consider muscle and allergy testing, as well as an elimination diet to discover your body’s needs.

For Parents 

Include adaptogenic herbs

Supplementing an herbal complex can be very beneficial for higher than average stress levels.  It will help to support physical and mental stress and improve energy levels.

Most days you are everyone’s superhero in the family and even at the office; however you may not be feeling so hot. 

Fatigue or feelings of “hitting the wall”, as well as irregular or disturbed sleep can be important signs that you and your adrenal glands are exhausted.  

Make time for Self-Love 

And on a regular basis...

If daily rituals are not your thing, try your best to incorporate time for yourself to put your feet up and recharge every so often.  Including your favourite activities such as reading or nature walking, a warm bath or listening to music during these times, are awesome ideas!

Pediatric Support

Recognize cognitive care 

Good nutrition is essential in developing children’s back-to-school experiences.  Kids are forever growing and their nutritional needs are high.  

Include high potency fish oil that has omega-3 fatty acids for improving focus and attention in the classroom.  This can often be the primary deficiency involved with children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.

Build immunity

Use whole foods – not sugar!  This is a huge concept that should become a household habit.  

Nourishing youngsters with natural sugars through fruits and vegetables is ideal.  White sugar is responsible for shutting off the immune system for up to 6 hours at a time.  
No wonder the whole grade gets sick during cold and flu season!  

Vitamin D supplementation as well as a good quality children’s probiotic are wonderful essentials that buddy up well with a sound diet.

With the fall months just around the corner, I am now confident that everyone will have a successful time going back to work and back to school!

About the author

Taylor Sullivan - Holistic Nutritionist - Ottawa Holistic Wellness
Taylor brings passion and enthusiasm to her work as a holistic nutritionist. Her desire to promote healthy living began at young age where competitive sports and outdoor adventures filled her free time. During these years, she suffered from sports induced asthma, struggling with it for more than 10 years. She was heavily reliant on inhalers of all types to prevent it from affecting her activity level and performance.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Three Easy Mindfulness Activities for You and Your Kids

Mindful Chidren

As kids head back to school and work-life ramps up after the leisure of summer, you and your children might be experiencing more anxiety and searching for a way to bring more calm into your lives. 

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on the present moment in an intentional and accepting way. It is a great antidote to the way many of us live on automatic pilot as well as our search for constant distractions when the stress of life is overwhelming. 

Early research on introducing mindfulness techniques with kids has shown that they are effective with specific instructions, for a short-time period, and with dialogue about what the child is experiencing in the moment.

Here are three simple activities that you can do with your school-aged child to introduce a little bit of mindfulness into your lives:

1. Mindful Eating 

While sitting at a meal together, invite your child to take a moment to play a game of discovery with you. Ask your child to choose one thing on their dish to examine. Then suggest that they spend a few seconds really looking at it on the plate. 

Ask them what they see.

Then ask them to smell the food and ask them what they notice. 
Ask them to put the food against their lips and ask them what they feel.

Ask them to put it in their mouth and let it sit there without chewing it for a moment and ask what they taste. Finally ask them to chew it slowly and to count how many chews they can do before swallowing the food. 

2. Mindful Listening 

Stand in a park, in your back yard or anywhere else where you could hear a variety of sounds and suggest to your child that you want to play a game with them.

Ask them to stand very still without making a sound so that they can really listen for different sounds. Depending on the age of your child, you might suggest that they tell you what they can hear or you could offer a suggestion like “do you hear the wind in the trees?”

After they have spent some time listening for different sounds, you could ask them which sound do they think is closest and then which sound do they think is the furthest away.

3. Mindful Breathing

A very simple way to include a mindfulness exercise into your child’s life is when they are giving you a hug. This technique could especially be useful when a child is upset about something and needs some extra support to calm down.

As you hold your child in an embrace, take three slow deep belly breaths yourself. A useful way to ensure your breath is deep and slow is to inhale through your nose for a count of seven, hold for a count of four and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. 
You could also introduce this type of counting breath to your child and modify it to a count of four for all the inhaling, holding and exhaling if the seven, four, eight breath is too difficult for them.
I hope that these simple activities will add a little bit more calm and stillness into your and your children’s lives.

About the author

Sofia Lopoukhine Counselling and Psychotherapy Ottawa
Sofia Lopoukhine, Counsellor for individual adults, understands that deciding to see a counsellor and psychotherapist can feel overwhelming and that’s why she is happy to offer you a chance to meet with her in person to decide if you would like to work with her. Clients that Sofia has worked with have experienced a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship boundaries, communication and intimacy, low self-confidence, identity questions, unresolved grief, chronic pain, and life transitions.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Acupuncture: A Natural Solution for Your Child

acupuncture children ottawa

Perhaps your child isn’t responding well to Western medical treatments, or maybe you are looking for a more holistic approach to relieve the symptoms and treat the root of your child’s condition.

Whatever the reason, chances are acupuncture can help.

More and more, parents like you are turning to acupuncture as a safe, natural and efficient approach to their children’s health.

By encouraging the body’s innate healing, acupuncture can help with a broad range of health concerns including, but not limited to the following:
  • Sleep
  • Allergies
  • Asthma, eczema
  • Flu, Coughs and colds
  • Low immunity
  • Add / ADHD / autism
  • Emotional imbalance, anxiety
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, tummy aches
  • Headaches, body pain
  • Ear infections
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)

Some common concerns from parents

Does my child need to sit still during the treatment?

No. A child’s Qi and Yang are so abundant! 

This means the needles do not need to be retained. They are simply tapped in and taken out. This also means a much shorter treatment time, sometimes as little as 10 to 20 minutes.

What if my child has a fear of needles?

We refer to the needles as “tickle taps” and avoid the term needle to help make your child as comfortable as possible. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and often a tickle is all they do feel. 
Acupressure is another technique which is a needle-free way of directing the body’s energy. This is something that you can do at home between visits to your acupuncturist. Ask your practitioner to show you some suitable techniques and points.

How many treatments would my child need?

This depends on the nature of the condition. 

Longer standing, more chronic issues such as asthma can take six months to a year, whereas with a tummy ache or an earache as little as one treatment can relieve the symptoms.

Because children have such an abundance of Qi, they respond quickly to acupuncture. For chronic conditions, you should expect to start with around eight treatments, one per week, by which time improvement should be seen.

As with adults, maintenance care after the body has found its balance is beneficial to prevent other health conditions from developing.

By tapping into our children’s own ability to heal themselves, we can influence their health in a very profound way, helping them grow into stronger, healthier, more confident and balanced adults.

Using acupressure at home

Using acupressure is simple, efficient and totally safe for the whole family.

Why not attend a class in acupressure? Learn how to use some basic points to deal with acute conditions such as a headache or tummy aches, and which points to use to promote general health and wellbeing as your child grows.

Of course, these are equally valid for the rest of the family too!

About the author

Emily studied in Ottawa at the International Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine to become a registered acupuncturist and has additional training in Dr. Tan's Balance Method and Master Tung's Points. She has also completed a facial rejuvenation course for cosmetic acupuncture.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Reflux and Spitting up; cause for concern?

Reflux and Spitting up

What causes reflux or spitting up?

In infants, the ring of muscle between the oesophagus ( the tube from the mouth) and the stomach — the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES) — is not yet fully mature. As your baby grows this develops and will open only when your child swallows, remaining tightly closed at other times, keeping stomach contents where they belong. Nearly 50% of infants will experience reflux or spitting up; contents are coming back up into the oesophagus from their stomachs during their first three months after birth.

It may only reach the lower part of the oesophagus, or it may exit from the mouth, i.e., your baby spits up. Babies can have reflux many times in a day and generally this is not a serious problem. The stomach contents contain little acid and do not usually irritate the throat or oesophagus. It will improve as your baby grows, usually disappearing by 12months of age.

If you baby is thriving; growing well, healthy and content then there is no need for concern.

On occasion, infant reflux can be a sign of a medical problem, such as an allergy, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or rarely a blockage in the digestive system. 

Some babies will have silent reflux where the stomach contents only go as far as the oesophagus and are then re-swallowed. This can cause pain but no spitting up, gagging, choking, frequent burping or hiccoughing, bad breath and restless sleep.

You should take your baby to a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Isn't gaining weight
  • Consistently vomits – where contents are forcibly projected several inches  from the mouth
  • Spitting up green or yellow fluid, blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Refuses food
  • Has blood in his or her stool
  • Has difficulty breathing or a chronic cough
  • Begins spitting up at age six months or older
  • Is unusually irritable after eating

Causes of infant reflux 

There are some factors that contribute to infant reflux, and they cannot always be avoided. They include lying flat, a liquid diet and premature birth.

Other more serious causes are rare but can involve:

  • Pyloric stenosis. The exit valve from the stomach to the intestines is too small interfering with the emptying of the stomach.
  • Food intolerance. Allergy or intolerance to a food that is eaten directly or through breast milk. Common triggers cow’s dairy products, wheat, corn, soy and eggs.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis. A particular type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up and injures the lining of the oesophagus.

Diagnosing serious causes:

Your doctor can advise you as to whether you should be concerned about your baby spitting up. If serious issues are suspected they may recommend testing:

  • Ultrasound to detect pyloric stenosis.
  • Lab tests. Blood and urine tests can help identify or rule out possible causes of recurring vomiting and poor weight gain.
  • Esophageal pH monitoring. A thin tube with an acidity monitor is passed from the mouth into the stomach.
  • X-rays. This can look at the structure of your baby’s digestive tract.
  • Upper endoscopy. A tiny camera and light (endoscope) are passed from the mouth into the oesophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine. It is usually done under general anaesthesia for babies and small children.

Treatment options

To reduce reflux you can try the following:

  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Burp your baby during not just after feeding.
  • Keep your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feeding. You can also raise the head of their crib. Laying baby to sleep on their tummy to prevent spitting up isn't recommended as it is linked to SID (sudden infant death).
  • Avoid active play, bouncing and swings immediately following feeding.
  • Consider an allergy test or try removing potential allergens from Mom’s diet if breastfeeding and also from any formula or food given directly to the baby. Start with cow’s milk products, wheat, corn, soy and eggs and remove for at least two weeks.
  • Experiment with the size of the nipple on baby bottles. Your infant can swallow air if the nipple is too small or too large.
  • Rice cereal can be used to thicken milk or formula if done in gradual increments. It does, however, add extra calories to your baby's diet. 
  • Visit an Osteopath who offers cranial treatments. These can often improve symptoms.

Medication and surgery

Medications can prevent absorption of calcium and iron, and increase the risk of certain intestinal and respiratory infections so are not recommended unless there are severe health concerns. Surgery is a last resort and usually only used when the reflux is severe enough to cause breathing issues.

Remember, if you are concerned about your baby’s health, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. It is rare that there is anything seriously wrong; however, it is always best to be certain.

About the author

Sue Taylor - Natural Allergist - Ottawa Holistic Wellness
Sue is co-founder and Clinic Director at Ottawa Holistic Wellness. She also works as a Natural Allergist and Energy Healer.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

ADD, ADHD? Or is your child simply escaping reality?

Recently I treated a 13 yr old boy, who has the inner wisdom of Gandhi. 

His mother was concerned about his apparent lack of focus at school, and how his self-esteem was so significantly affected by his low marks.  

He was bullied and, having a genuine sense of caring for those kids who would be blamed, he believed that he needed to accept the responsibility of fault in the schoolyard as well as at home. 

In sessions, we discussed how he saw his inner warrior. He realised that when he felt weak or powerless that his inner warrior had retreated to the’ head in the clouds’ place, and as a result, he was left with a feeling of defeat and surrender.  

When I asked him to describe his warrior, his response left me speechless.  

This is indeed a moment in my practice when I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how very much I love what I do!  

This young sage went on to describe a Sumari warrior. He held a golden sword with a dragon etched into the blade. 

He said that when he swung the sword that it moved in an empowering way, not a destructive way, and it was in the name of justice, courage and strength.  

Ultimately he said…it was in the name of Love.  

When I suggested that this young man might call his warrior home, to be present, he lit up with the knowing that that is what he needed to do.  

As it is with so many kids I treat, I can see the pattern of the "head in the clouds" and lack of focus as being a result of not wanting to be 'present' here in reality. 

A place to escape 

Some kids have anxiety around performance, where others want for escape from the classroom due to lack of interest or boredom. 

Through my work with these children, I can see that they often literally make a choice to leave their bodies and connect with their ‘head in the clouds’ place of retreat.  

As a result, they may appear to be daydreaming or in a fog. This can cause a sense of not belonging for these kids and can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of guilt, shame and self-blame for their lack of achievement. By making these kids aware of the importance of breathing and with other tools I share with these kids that they can make a conscious choice to be fully present as opposed to ‘checking out’ to the cloud zone.  

They soon realise that in doing so their marks improve and they find a greater sense of wellbeing. Ultimately they gain a sense of feeling grounded and can see that being present is a very cool place to be! 

One young man was very aware of his head in the clouds place and described a sense of flying out of his body. His parents had recently separated, causing a lot of stress at home,  so it was a happier place for him to be.  

When he realised he could bring this fun cloud place here in the present moment, he was more in control of his emotions and his anger depleted, his focus and performance at school improved dramatically. 

Where children, young people, and even adults are showing signs of ADD or ADHD, I always recommend looking at reasons why they might be making that choice, conscious or subconscious to simply not be here in the present.

About the author

Deborra Cameron has a nursing background, and for over 20 years, has been using Clinical Reflexology and Emotional Blueprint Counselling to help her clients experience relief from chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, digestive issues, migraines, and many more symptoms as well as achieving relief from paralysing emotions.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Allergies in Infants: Colic, Reflux, Asthma, Eczema, Sleep issues

Parents and even doctors can be slow to realise that their infant’s symptoms may be triggered by allergies.

When babies are fussy, colicky, or have reflux this is often caused by food allergies; and the infant who has what appears to be a permanent cold with congestion, runny nose, and possibly a cough too is most likely reacting to allergens.

Allergies can also trigger asthma and sleep issues and skin problems such as eczema and diaper rash. Reactions can occur immediately following exposure or eating, or can take several hours or even a day to appear.

There is a definite genetic tendency towards allergies, so if mum or dad are allergic to food or environment then frequently baby will have allergies too, although not always to the same things and not the same symptoms.

Allergies happen when the body has an inappropriate immune response. The immune system is designed to protect the body against harmful viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. In the case of allergies, the body is fighting something that is not a threat. One example would be pollens.

Breastfeeding? Your infant can still be reacting to foods

When breastfeeding your baby will be getting what you are eating. So if mum consumes a portion of food that the baby is allergic to then the baby will react.

Severe, anaphylactic reactions 

With severe allergies, the mouth, throat or airways can become so inflamed and swollen that baby cannot breathe. It usually happens very quickly and must be treated as an absolute emergency. Call 911 immediately.

Cold or Allergy?

So, how do you tell if your baby is unwell and has a cold or virus, or whether they have allergies?

Colds and infections: 

  • Usually, the symptoms will be short lived, perhaps a few days to a week or so before they disappear.
  • Nasal discharge may be cloudy or possibly green or yellow in colour
  • Red, sore eyes (although pink eye can also be itchy)


  • Symptoms will be present for long periods and at any time of year.
  • Nasal discharge is clear and persistent.
  • Red, itchy, watery eyes that baby often rubs, also crusty discharge and dark circles under the eyes possibly accompanied by irritability.

Different symptoms and their causes


Asthma affects the lower part of the respiratory tract. The airways become inflamed and restrict airflow. There are many causes including colds and viruses, allergies to the environment, foods, and also reflux. 

Both allergies and colds can cause wheezing and a cough. Babies have small, sensitive airways. 

Remember, if you think your child is having difficulty breathing treat it as an emergency and seek help immediately. 

Eczema and rashes

These can be caused by food allergies and by contact with environmental factors such as detergents, synthetic fabrics and pets. Rashes can be the first sign of allergic tendencies in a baby. 
Eczema can be red, scaly and can be dry or ooze. It can occur anywhere on the body, and is common on chest, torso, face, arms and legs.
Hives rarely occur in small babies and when they do they are small welts.

Digestive Complaints: Colic, spitting up, reflux, fussy eater

Both allergies and the occasional virus can cause these symptoms. In the case of allergies, the symptoms will be frequent and may be persistent. Both food and environmental allergies can cause digestive upset.

Behaviour and sleep problems

Allergies can trigger issues with eating, sleep and cause irritability, usually because of congestion, abdominal discomfort or itchy skin, eyes or nose.

Common Allergens

There are many common allergens to consider. This list is not exhaustive and babies can react to almost anything.


  • Cow’s milk products – milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, ice-cream
  • Eggs
  • Wheat and Corn
  • Soy
  • Nuts – tree nuts and peanuts
  • Fish and shellfish

Environmental allergens

  • Chemicals and Perfumes: household cleaning products, body products and shampoo, detergents, perfume and cologne
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Fabrics - Synthetics and wool
  • Feathers and Pets

So, what can you do?

The first step it to try to remove any potential allergens.

Food allergens

Breastfeeding: mum can eliminate the common allergens from her diet for a week and monitor baby’s symptoms. One they have improved try reintroducing one food at a time over several weeks and watch for reactions. 
Bottle feeding: use a hypoallergenic protein hydrolysate formula (made up of protein that's so broken down it's virtually undetectable by the immune system).  You can find more information on formula feeding here:

Environmental allergens

Reduce exposure

  • Remove feather bedding and change bedding to natural fibres such as cotton and bamboo
  • Use Dust-mite proof covers for mattresses and pillows
  • Use scent free, natural bathing, cleaning and laundry products
  • Send your pets to a friend for a week
  • Avoid tobacco smoke in the house and on clothes

Treating Allergies

Continued exposure to allergens will cause reactions to get worse, so it is important to try to identify and remove them. If this can be done for six months then often the body may effectively forget about them.
In identifying allergens, it can be helpful to keep a diary of where your baby has been, what they have been exposed to and eaten, or what mum has eaten if breastfeeding.

Natural allergy treatments

Natural allergy treatments such as NAET can be used to help desensitise baby to the allergens. This process is painless, non-invasive and efficient for food and environmental allergens. It can be used to identify and treat allergies in babies as young as a few days old.

Medication for allergies

As a last resort to get symptoms under control medications can be used:

  • Oral antihistamines such as Benedryl
  • Creams for rashes - hydrocortisone cream and, short term for severe cases, steroids 

Allergy Prevention

Breastfeeding and decreasing exposure to potential allergens will minimise your baby’s risk of developing allergic reactions. 

Allergies are usually not dangerous, but if you are concerned to seek the advice of your doctor or paediatrician.

About the author

Sue is co-founder and Clinic Director at Ottawa Holistic Wellness. She also works as a Natural Allergist and Energy Healer.