Friday, December 14, 2007

Take Your Medicine

And still more milestones. In my ten year tenure as a mother, this is my first encounter with the dreaded ear infection. We were driving down the road into town to run errands when Princess announced that she needed her ears squirted out when we got home. She elaborated that there was a gnat inside her ear that was causing her ear to "boom." I got cold shivers when I heard that because it so aptly described what I remember ear infections being like when I was her age. And when I was her age, I got them all the time. I was one of those of that generation who got tubes in their doctor described what lurked in my inner ear as "airplane glue." Nice, huh?

I know that antibiotics are the normal course of events in most protocols for dealing with ear infections, despite the fact that the cure rate for sitting it out is almost identical to the cure rate for prescribing. Well, put me in the wait-it-out school of fish then. The more I read about antibiotics, the more I want to save it for things like tuberculosis and bubonic plague and not on frivolity like keeping cattle being fed a biologically inappropriate diet alive long enough to slaughter. Stephen Harrod Buhner talks about the overuse of antibiotics in his book, Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, pp. 8-9. Particularly riveting was his description of how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. "As incredible as (their) capacity for literally engineering responses to antibiotics and passing it on to their offspring is, bacteria do something else that makes them even more amazing and dangerous. They communicate intelligently with each other." He goes on to explain how bacteria position themselves alongside each other and pass DNA back and forth, the resistant bacterium sharing its immunity with the naive one. As if this wasn't alarming enough, the resistant bacteria exudes pheromones that attract non-resistant bacteria to them in order to share this resistance. And exposure to only one kind of antibiotic lays in motion the chain that teaches the bacteria to be resistant to all antibiotics. It is believed that by these mechanisms, eventually all bacteria will be antibiotic resistant. To all antibiotics.

So it becomes clear why avoiding the use of antibiotics seems like a good idea, particularly in such ambiguous situations as a 50/50 chance of improving by not doing anything. And Buhner gives some pretty good suggestions about herbal alternatives that can be applied without risk of increasing bacteria resistance. While we wait and see how things with Princess' ears will progress, I dose her with garlic, licorice, ginger, and echinacea. While I was running errands, I picked up some mullein and garlic oil drops to put inside her ears and dose with that.

And, of course, there is the old traditional standby...chicken soup. Tool Guy tells me that before we got married, he hated chicken soup. Dunno what he'd been eating before, but when I whipped up my first batch of the homemade variety, he was hooked. He is an admitted chicken soup addict. Actually, all of the Hobbits are. With cold weather settled in outside and bronchitis settled in at least one set of lungs inside, we're swizzling the chicken soup. And now Princess' ear infection. Well. Nothing for it, then. Time to take your medicine.

Chicken Soup
(Or as Bug calls it "Chicken Noodle Doodle Soup")

2 whole chickens, quartered
4-5 carrots, bias sliced
1 lb. sliced mushrooms...anyone who has read Tolkien knows that Hobbits adore mushrooms, right?
1 bunch green onions, bias sliced
4-5 stalks celery, bias sliced
1 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
Black pepper to taste
2 tsp. Real Salt
1 gallon of water

In the largest stock pot you can manhandle on your stove, set the water and chicken to boil. (If you're in a hurry, this process can be shortened to 20 minutes or so in a pressure cooker.) Bundle herbs into a coffee filter and staple closed. Add this herbal sachet, salt, and pepper to the chicken while it boils. After the chicken is cooked, remove pieces into a bowl and allow to become cool to the touch in order to debone. Meanwhile, strain the broth through a cheesecloth and return to a clean stock pot. Place all of the vegetables into the broth and return to a boil, cooking until just tender. Debone the meat and return to broth. (Be sure to save the bones to make bone broth later!) Serve over hot pasta and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Love the herb sachet idea!

Anonymous said...

you know what we tried for an ear infection? boil an onion whole in the peel. then cut it in half and dry it off (kind of). they wrap half in a baggie and then put the warm soft onion on the ear (making sure no water drips in). sounds really crazy but my boy said "it feels better". maybe the warmth or the "onion steam" who knows!