How I Choose Kids’ Medications

March 6, 2013 at 11:33 pm , by 

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s that time of year again, when I as a your parent have this constant worry in the back of my mind that your daycare is about to call me to say I need to come pick you up because you have a fever.

Mommy and I both save our own sick days from work for the days you will have a fever and one of us will need to stay home with you.

On top of wanting to know I can help restore you back to health, I also want to be able to have confidence that the medicine I give you is as natural and healthy as possible.

You know how passionate I am about our family not consuming products that contain red food dye. I’ve mentioned several times now that the popular food dye Red 40 is made from petroleum  while Crimson Lake is derived from the powdered and boiled bodies of insects including the cochineal scale and the Polish cochineal.

In fact, back when you were only 13 months old, I wrote “Why This Dad Despises Red 40 And Crimson Lake Food Dyes” here on The Dadabase.

As a parent blogger, I have a solid track record of denouncing illegitimate food and medicine ingredients in my writings. One of my goals is to actually help make it taboo for any food or medicine companies to have Red Lake or Red 40 as one of their ingredients.

I want every parent to understand where those dyes come from; they’re simply not fit for human consumption.

Companies can legally be vague when it comes to listing their ingredients. That’s why, and I’ve said this before, if I see “artificial flavor” or “natural flavor” on the ingredients list, I won’t buy it; because any ingredients generically listed as “artificial” or “natural” could be… anything.

Because after all, anything is definitely “natural” and/or “artificial.” That’s always a red flag for me. (Pun intended.)

In addition to my skepticism of artificial colors and flavors in regards to what I allow you to consume, I have to be honest, my conscience isn’t clear when it comes to giving you medicine with alcohol, either.

It goes without saying that as your parent, I have incredibly high standards when it comes to what food and medicine I let you consume. I wish I could say there are several brands of medicine that gain my approval, and therefore, that I have actually given you. Unfortunately, there are very few.

As far as a brand that is very forth-coming about being both dye-free and alcohol-free for all their products, Little Remedies is the only one I’ve come across so far.

Mommy and I actually used their Gripe Water (to relieve discomfort from hiccups and gas) when you were an infant. Sure enough, it was the very first medicine we ever gave you.

Even if as an “extreme ingredients-aware parent,” I only represent a minority of the market, I’m just glad to know there are options I can give you.

I will never stop being mindful of the ingredients that go into your medicine, because medicine that has unnatural and questionable ingredients in it isn’t really medicine, if you ask me.



P.S. I invite any other readers of this letter to share your additional pointers, personal stories and struggles regarding the avoidance of artificial colors, artificial flavors, and alcohol in children’s medicine; feel free to leave a comment.

This post is sponsored by Little Remedies— makers of children’s medication without artificial colors, artificial flavors, or alcohol.  

Photo: Child receiving medication, via Shutterstock.

healthnutshell: What Exactly is a Doctor, Anyway?

Stupid question, but doctors should outlive their patients, right?

One of my favorite movies of all time is actually a documentary, Super Size Me.  As Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30 day fast food binge, he checks in with the three separate doctors to monitor his health.  But something I always thought about in the back of my mind when I saw one of the doctors in particular was “that doctor needs to go on a diet himself”.

Isn’t there something a bit off about that?  An unhealthy doctor?  A doctor who is in danger of a heart attack?  In my mind, a doctor is an expert on health.  Therefore, he should live out what he knows.

Consider a pastor of a church.  His career is over if he gets caught cheating on his wife (unlike certain celebrities who may lose their marriage over it, but not their careers…).  A pastor is held at a higher standard because of his profession.  Why aren’t doctors live by a higher standard as well?

Just like no one can take seriously a man under the age of 40 with a mustache, I can’t take seriously an unhealthy doctor.

I should find out what exactly a doctor is, according to Wikipedia:

A physician — also known as medical practitioner, doctor of medicine, medical doctor, or simply doctor — practices the ancient profession of medicine, which is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease or injury.

What’s interesting in this definition is the lack of the word “prevention”.  So it’s a doctor’s job to maintain or restore human health, but not prevent a healthy person from becoming unhealthy.

According to the Wikipedia definition of a doctor and America’s general concept of them, doctors are there to help fix what is broken.  With medicine.

It’s no secret that doctors make money off of people sitting at home watching commercials targeted at unhealthy people who go to the doctor to buy the legal drugs they saw advertised.  I can remember a time, pre-1995, when I didn’t use to see commercials advertising for prescription drugs.  Doctors sell drugs, legally.  To people who, for the most part, were simply uneducated on how to live healthy in the first place.

If I break my nose, have strep throat, get a pregnant wife, or need to get “snipped”, I will go to the doctor.  If not, I do everything I can to avoid that place.  I definitely won’t go there to buy their new product.  I eat an apple a day, literally.

After suffering for years from a rare case of eczema, I did some research on Wikipedia to find out how to be relieved of the disease.  While no known medical cure exists, I followed the advice on Wikipedia and drastically changed my diet, and now, thank God, my skin cleared up on my hands.  Cost me no money and required no doctor’s visit.  Despite many people urging me to go for a visit.  I saved myself time and money.

Doctors are good.  They do their thing.  I do mine.  We already learned that a doctor’s job, according to Wikipedia, does not involve preventing the problem.  So I take it upon myself to do just that: prevent the problem.  So what do you call a person who does that?  I need a clever word for that.  Whatever it is, I am one.  And anyone can be one.

"Dr. H" from The Biggest Loser

As if looming Diabetes and heart disease weren’t enough of a reason to live a life of prevention, consider a new study done on doctors in India, which is said to be true in America as well.  Their average lifespan is around 58 years old for doctors, while the general population lives to be closer to 70 yeas old:

“Stress, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise were the main causes of death in these cases. [Doctors] tend to become obese and are under great stress… Most of them are hypertensive and diabetic. These conditions reduce their chances of living longer.”

Read the full article:

Typically, medical doctors have stressful jobs that keep them from spending much time with their families.  They don’t make time for exercise or plan healthy meals.  Doctors have easy access to antibiotics and other medical quick fixes.  And of course it’s not uncommon for a doctor to smoke.  Not that any of those traits are unique to just doctors; they actually all sound pretty familiar.

And that’s another reason why I choose to live like a nutritionist, not a doctor.  My role models?  Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dr. Huizenga (“Dr. H.” from The Biggest Loser.  Seventh Day Adventists.  Kosher diet abiding Jews.  My dad.

They are my doctors, with or without the M.D.