Measles, Mumps, Meningitis Holistic Treatments

Measles (Rubeola)

 A highly contagious acute disease characterized by fever, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, eruptions (Koplik’s spots) on the buccal and labial mucosa, and a spreading mucopapular cutaneous rash. 
 
Caused by a virus infections that can be spread by physical contact or through the air via respiratory droplets. One bout usually gives immunity for life, but it is possible for some children to get measles twice. The incubation period is between 7 to 14 days, and is most communicable from 2 to 4 days before to 5 days after the rash appears. 
 
Measles is characterized by fever, red eyes with light sensitivity, runny nose, dry and sometimes severe cough, white spots (Koplik’s spots) on the inside of the cheeks, seen 2 days prior to the red rash near the scalp, later involving the upper body. After 3-4 days it has a brownish bronzy appearance with peeling also occurring. The rash lasts 7 days and the child usually begins to feel better by the fourth day. 

 
The herbal contribution to treatments of measles is based upon alleviation of symptomatic distress. The primary areas to address include fever, itching, eye sensitivity and coughing.

·     The fever will be helped with diaphoretic teas such as Catnip (Nepetacataria), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Linden (Tiliaspp.). For details of appropriate infusions please refer to pgs. 2-71 to 2-79

·     Alleviation of itching can be achieved by the use of the anti-pruritic herbs. An example is Distilled Witch Hazel dabbed onto the itching skin will usually soothe immediately, but very temporary. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a particularly effective anti-pruritic.

·     Eye strain due to photosensitivity is common, and so the child will prefer a darkened room. An Eyebright (Euphrasiaspp.) wash and a Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) compress. Ms. Riggs instructions for making the Eyebright eyewash:

 
Eyebright Eyewash

1/2 oz. Eyebright 
1 cup water 
Paper coffee filter 
Clean cotton
washcloth

1.     Combine the Eyebright and water in a covered pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

2.     Strain the liquid very thoroughly through the coffee filter and discard the herbs. There should be no floating particles in the solution.

3.     When the tea has cooled to a tepid temperature, comfortably warm for the eyes, it is ready to use.

4.     This herbal wash is to be used only once. Discard any leftovers and make a fresh batch each time.

 
Application: Make sure the infant is not hungry or tired before proceeding with the application. Hold the infant securely in your arms and place yourself in a comfortable position on the floor or on a bed. Put the washcloth into the pot of warm tea and place it close to you. Wring out the washcloth with one hand so that it is not dripping but is still quite moist. Gently lay the washcloth across the infant’s eyes and hold it there with very minimal pressure. The infant will close his or her eyes. This is normal and the tea will still be of benefit. Leave the cloth in place over the eyes for 3 minutes, let the infant rest for 3 minutes, then rinse the cloth in the tea and repeat the process 2 more times. The infant will relax at first, then may try to remove the cloth. Keep replacing it gently until the skin around the eyes gets a little red. This is a good sign since it means that blood is circulating in the area. This process may be performed once or twice each day until the infant’s eyes have returned to normal (up to about 1 week). If the infant’s eye disorder seems to cause severe discomfort, or if it persists or gets worse after 1 week of treatment, consult a physician.

   Demulcent expectorants will help with both the cough and any sore throat. Herbs to consider include Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), Mullein(Verbascum thapsus) and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).

 

    Recovery will be further facilitated by good nutrition and possibly using bitter tonics such as Gentian (Gentiana lutea) or Horehound if the cough is persistent.

 

Mumps

 Mumps is a viral infection of childhood that affects the salivary glands, most commonly the parotid glands, located near the ear (hence its medical name, parotitis). The illness begins with a fever, headache, loss of appetite, malaise, and muscle aches. Pain in the ear and under the jaw begins about twenty-four hours later. Over the next one to three days, the salivary glands swell and become very tender. The swelling typically lessens over a course of three to seven days.

The illness is spread by contact with infected saliva. It is somewhat less contagious than either measles or chickenpox. Once a child is infected with the virus, it can incubate for two to three-and-a-half weeks before signs of infection appear. A child is contagious from about six days before the onset of illness to nine days after the glands have become swollen.

Mumps is most common in children from age five through fifteen. It is usually self-limiting and runs its course without complications. One possible long-term complication that does exist occurs in boys, when the virus attacks the testicles. This may result only in pain and swelling initially, but in some cases it can cause infertility the long run, especially if a boy contracts the disease as a teenager or young adult.

Do not give a child aspirin if you think he may have the mumps.The combination of aspirin and a viral infection has been linked to the development of Reye’s syndrome, a dangerous liver disease.

Because mumps is a viral illness, antibiotic therapy is ineffective and therefore not appropriate.

Warm or cool compresses applied to the site of the swollen glands may help relieve the pain and tenderness.

If your son has a case of mumps that causes testicular pain, bed rest is particularly important. It may help lessen the pain if you support the scrotum by using cotton held in place by an adhesive-tape “bridge” between the thighs, and/or if you apply ice packs. In rare cases, where pain and swelling are extremely severe, a corticosteroid may be prescribed to combat these symptoms.

 
Dietary Guidelines 


Mumps causes pain when chewing or swallowing, therefore a diet of soft foods may minimize discomfort.

Avoid citrus fruits or other acidic foods, which can be painful to swallow.

Keep well hydrated. Offer fruit-juice popsicles, spring water, herbal teas, soups, and diluted fruit juices. Once the acute phase of the infection has subsided, immune-boosting astragalus and vegetable soup is very good for supporting recovery.

Eliminate fats as much as possible. Fats are difficult to digest under normal circumstances, and are even harder to digest when the digestive system is weakened by infection. Undigested fats contribute to a toxic internal environment.

 
Nutritional Supplements 

 

Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A, which helps heal mucous membranes.

 

 

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help to stimulate the immune system.

Zinc stimulates the immune system and promotes healing.

Arnica or peppermint oil, used as a rub, can help to relieve headache. Rub arnica tincture into the temple or forehead area; rub peppermint oil into the temple area. Be very careful to keep tinctures away from your child’s eyes and do not use them on broken skin.  
Note: If you are using peppermint oil as well as a homeopathic preparation, allow one hour between the two. Otherwise, the strong smell of the mint may interfere with the action of the homeopathic remedy.

Feeling restless? A cup of chamomile tea, twice a day, as needed.

Echinacea and Goldenseal combination formula helps to fight viruses and boost the immune system. It also soothes mucous membranes.

Shiitake mushrooms have immune-stimulating properties. They may be taken in capsule form.

Castor oil packs can be soothing to swollen glands. Heat castor oil to a soothing (but not too hot) temperature, soak clean cotton cloths in it, and apply these compresses as often as needed.

 

General


A child with the mumps should be isolated until the swelling of the glands has gone down, to decrease the possibility of spreading the disease.

Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks plenty of fluids. The increased metabolic rate that results from a fever causes the body to lose fluids rapidly.

Apply warm or cool compresses to ease the discomfort of the swollen glands.

Be alert for signs that a secondary infection may be developing. If symptoms seem to get worse, or if new symptoms develop, seek medical treatment.

 
Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection and inflammation of the three meninges, which are thin membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The infection can be caused by either a virus or bacteria. Hemophilus influenzae, or “H. flu.,” is the most common among the bacterial organisms that cause meningitis in children. An infection in the blood (bacteremia), ears, jaw, or sinuses can also lead to an infection of the meninges.

A newborn with meningitis may have poor muscle tone, difficulty feeding, a weak suck and cry, vomiting, irritability, sleepiness, and/or jitteriness. In infants, symptoms of meningitis include a high-pitched cry, irritability, loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and possibly a fever or convulsions. An older child is likely to have a fever, chills, vomiting, irritability, headache, and/or a stiff neck. Seizures and changes in consciousness, such as stupor or coma, are possible as the infection progresses.

Meningitis is a serious infection that is potentially life threatening and can cause such long-term consequences as hearing or vision problems. It requires immediate medical attention. If treated early and appropriately, there is a low likelihood of complications or lasting harm to your child.

Nutritional Supplements 
The nutritional supplements listed below are aimed at supporting your child’s recovery from meningitis. They should not be considered a substitute for appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Floradix is an herbal iron supplement that will give your child v,itamins and minerals necessary to rebuild his strength.

GreenMagma is a product that supplies trace minerals and beta carotene end helps to restore strength.

Lactobacillus acidophilus and/or bifidus is very good for restoring bowel health after a regime of potent antibiotics.

The B vitamins help to restore strength.

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help stimulate the immune system. 

 
Herbal Treatment 


Herbal treatment for meningitis is aimed at supporting your child’s recovery from the illness. It should not be considered a substitute for appropriate antibiotic therapy.

The antibacterial properties of garlic will help resolve infection.

American ginseng is an excellent source of trace minerals and micronutrients. It will also support and strengthen your child’s immune system.  
Note: This herb should be used during recovery only. It should not be given if fever or any other signs of infection are present.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous), with its rich concentration of trace minerals and micronutrients, will help strengthen your child’s immune system. Note: This herb should be used during the recovery phase only, not while fever or any other signs of acute infection are present.

 

General:

During the acute phase of meningitis, a quiet, dimly lit room will help ease the headache pain.

Bacterial meningitis- be aware of the possibility of a subtle injury to the brain. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you are worried about persistent hearing loss, problems with balance or coordination, difficulties with schoolwork, or similar difficulties.

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