Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Colds & Flu: anything natural we can do?

Winter Colds and Flu…..anything natural we can do?
Yes….definitely! Why our physicians are not instructing us all on the immune protective properties of certain herbs like: Echinacea, astragalus, elderberry syrup etc and encouraging us all to drink fresh made organic veggie juices, use miso soup, take fish oil, probiotics, a great multi and Vitamin D….I’ll never know! Well actually I do know. Except for a few docs who have broken from the pack, physicians are not trained in nature’s healing secrets. And when these strategies are not part of one’s tool box ……well, you know what they say: “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If all you have to use is pharmaceuticals and vaccines, then every infection and condition looks like something they should prescribe a drug or give a vaccine for.
I think there is a better way to keep ourselves and our kids healthy. For 32 years I’ve been adhering to most of these principles (not completely of course, remember I’m not a saint). Because I was lucky enough to have a naturally oriented pediatrician and learn a few simple strategies from people much smarter and wiser than me when my kids were young, there was very little need for antibiotics, or any other prescriptive meds during their formative years. Now, they are really healthy adults. In my son’s case, he and his incredibly knowledgeable wife Jen are applying these same natural techniques with their own two healthy little girls with great success So, what I’m saying here is, these suggestions are tried and true!
As far as staying in optimal health, everyone is different; and each of us may require different types of diets and or levels of nutrients. But there are certain general health rules that everyone can benefit from and that is what I’d like to focus on in this post.
Let’s start with Sugar: Did you know that a serving of sugar that exceeds 4gms (a little over a teaspoon) causes our immune system to function less effectively. So it makes sense then to cut way back on sugar when the goal is to keep your immune system strong (think Christmas cookies!) Look for those not so obvious sources too like juices (typically loaded with sugar sometimes 30-50gms per serving), ketchup is 33% sugar, some granolas can have 45 gms of sugar per serving. Don’t be fooled because the package says it’s a health food . Read the sugar content on the label first. If you are going to have something with sugar in it, try not to exceed 4gms of sugar per serving. Still not convinced, check this out: Sugar and Immunity William Stoll, M.D.
Vegetables and Fruit: To get enough fiber (which helps to clean out toxins in our colon) and antioxidants (nutrients that prevent free radical damage), it’s recommended we eat 4 ½ cups of veggies and fruit per day. That’s not always easy even if we have a big salad with lunch or dinner. Solution?....., get out the juicer and juice some of those veggies and fruit. Yes, it’s a pain to clean, but there is no better source of nutrition then a fresh made batch of organic vegetable juice. You might be thinking let me grab a V8…same thing right? Not really, although there is some nutrition left in those cans, even the nutrient content of fresh made juices begins to decline within 20 minutes after making it, so you can imagine how little is left in the canned juices that have been sitting on the shelves for months. Organic carrot/apple is a great combination to get you started because it tastes great. From there, you can add more greens like watercress, parsley, beet greens, celery….for kids: get bolder as they get older!
Why should I choose organic? It’s not just the fact that certified organic produce and grains are free of pesticides (although since the EPA tells us 2 billion pounds of chemicals are sprayed on our crops each year, that is probably a good enough reason). But also they taste better because the soil they grow in is rich in mineral content (not depleted of nutrients like food grown on large farms that do not rotate crops and use the same depleted soil season after season). If you are not convinced that organic is worth the extra money, the best study showing the difference is the 2007 study QualityLowInputFood Project

There's so much more to tell you!

For the full article, go to my website Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet.
and read all my suggestions for avoiding winter colds and flus (way too long a list for a blog I'm told)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Safer Way to Vaccinate...Is there such a thing?

Now that my 4th granddaughter has arrived and I am surrounded by lots of young parents, the question comes up more and more frequently. Should we vaccinate? As I've posted before, I've been pediatric registered nurse for 32 years, but more relevant to this discussion is the fact that I've interacted with hundreds of parents of autistic children as a clinician, as well as during my ten years as the coordinator of the Defeat Autism Now! conferences. Because of these experiences, I get many inquiries from family members, friends and clients regarding this very hot and very controversial subject. My reply to these young parents is "It's not as black and white as your pediatrician would have you believe". Please do some homework on this subject before adhering to the guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and or the CDC." It's easier sometimes to blindly trust the authorities because in this case, once that homework or research begins it typically creates incredible doubt on the whole vaccine safety issue. Although almost every article you read on this subject in the mainstream media says that all the studies have shown there is absolutely no link to vaccines and autism, that is simply not true. There is good science pointing to a connection (some studies listed below) and more importantly there are hundreds, if not thousands of parents of sick children who can tell you they had a normal child up until he or she received several vaccines in one day, or he or she was sick and still got their vaccines etc. More research needs to be done for certain (especially examining the differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations). But these accounts by intelligent, observant parents can not be discounted and to me are equally if not more important than ANY scientific study.

For the purpose of practicality, lets say a parent does decide to selectively vaccinate. Here are some ideas on minimizing potential problems which could be caused by vaccines:

1. Choose which vaccines to give only after careful consideration of the individual childs' history and or genetic background. For instance if a child was born prematurely or if they have had recurrent ear infections or if the parents have a history of autoimmune disorders or allergies, these are all indicators that a child may not respond well to vaccines and certainly not when several are given at one time. I'd like to say discuss all of this with your pediatrician, but unfortunately most would not agree with the suggestion to postpone, spread out or avoid vaccines based on a famaily history or current illness. As a matter of fact, I have heard several high ranking pediatricians say that a child's immune system could handle hundreds of vaccines in one day. Honestly, what are these people thinking? And where are the studies proving their theory? They don't exist!

To read this full post (article), go to my website Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Power of Gratitude A Christmas Thank You!

I recently encountered a young man who despite having his health, being in the prime of his life, and having a good degree of financial success, lacked joy and enthusiasm, and his perception of life was rather bleak. After some reflection, I realized that the reason this person was miserable was because he was missing a sense of Gratitude!
It’s been a tough year for all of us, and considering the economy, it’s easy to go the negative route and focus on what we don’t have, or what we haven’t yet accomplished. However, when we stop to consider how blessed we are to know incredible people, to wake each morning and experience the wonders of nature, and the joys of friends and family, it changes our perspective from gloom and doom to one of abundance and appreciation.
This note is say thank you for being one of those incredible people and to let you know that we are very grateful for your support of our fledgling project Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet. The non-profit Vital Intervention Accessible ( and Wellness Workshops, Inc collaborated to create SOKHOP children’s’ health expos so that critical information regarding natural ways to prevent and recover children from Autism, Asthma, Childhood Cancers and other childhood illnesses could be brought to the public. Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet also has a lively website ( with numerous articles on children’s health, and the importance of pre conception care, helpful videos and access to the blog RaisingHealthyKids Additionally, our nonprofit ViA has provided financial assistance to families of children with autism to help them obtain services from biomedical practitioners and attend educational conferences. Thanks to you, and a very recent generous donation by Whole Foods, we will be able to continue this important work.
The idea of prevention and natural methods of recovering children from Autism, Cancer, Asthma etc are not yet popular concepts. However, as a result of your belief in this work, we are gaining momentum. Instead of focusing on the long road ahead, we are choosing to be grateful for the progress that is being made and for your support and encouragement.
Many thanks and happy holidays,
Maureen and Jill
Maureen H. McDonnell, RN Cofounder of Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet, President of VIA
Jill Urwick Cofounder Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet Founder and Executive Director of ViA

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

rebuttal to article in Chicago Tribune putting down natural treatments for autism

November 25, 2009
Dear Ms. Callahan, Trine Tsouderos and Mr Kern,

I have been a pediatric registered nurse for 32 years and was astounded and dismayed to read your recent article in the Chicago Tribune: Alternative Therapies Amount to Uncontrolled Experimentation on Children, Investigation Finds. link,0,5807576.story

I can't help but wonder if during your research for this article on autism, you might have also come across the startling statistics showing the escalation in recent years of many other childhood disorders including Asthma, (which has more than doubled since 1980), ADHD Childhood Cancer (is now the leading cause of death by disease in children), Diabetes, Allergies etc? If you had, you might have realized that parents and health professionals are dealing with unprecedented and alarming statistics when it comes to children's health issues. However, of even greater concern, is the limited number of safe and effective treatments available for these conditions. In the midst of this urgency, for you to insinuate that parents and physicians seeking real solutions to address these growing problems are irresponsible and putting children at undue risk, is unfair. From a journalism perspective I believe it's pure sensationalism. Sitting idly by as more and more of our children get diagnosed with these conditions, and not doing all we can to find help for them, that is the real definition of “irresponsible.”

I’m aware that as a reporter you do not possess the scientific background to understand the fact that many of the therapies you speak of with a disparaging tone as being untested and unsafe (supplements, chelation therapy for excess levels of heavy metals, intravenous vitamins etc, ) are not only approved, but have been used safely and effectively for for decades.

I think it is a shame that writers unfamiliar with the complexities of autism accuse parents of being naive and professionals (who choose to try and help these children), irresponsible. This type of inaccurate reporting only serves to create fear and spread misperceptions . If you wish to report or comment with a degree of accuracy on the mostly natural and nutritionally oriented procedures that are helping so many children with autism, I suggest you actually read the studies provided to you by Ms. Arranga and others. Another idea is to attend (and listen to) the credible researchers, clinicians and parents at a Defeat Autism Now! Conference. I've heard from several people who you interviewed for this article, that you not only did not listen to them, but you seemed to have made up your mind on the biomedical approach to treating autism before you asked the questions.

Having coordinated the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years, I can attest to the fact that parents attending these events are bright, observant and discerning (not easily misled by charlatan-like physicians out to make a quick buck) as you insinuate in your article. Additionally, the physicians and other health practitioners that I had the pleasure of working worth during my tenure with DAN! were some of the brightest individuals I have ever encountered in the field of medicine. Together these parents, clinicians and researchers are developing effective and safe strategies to help deal with the underlying conditions that cause the symptoms associated with autism.

Until mainstream medicine offers real answers for the growing health problems affecting our children, I applaud and support the maverick parents and professionals that make up the “autism recovery movement”. I also join them in celebrating the fact that many children are improving as a result of their efforts.


Maureen H. McDonnell, RN
Co founder Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet children's health expos (

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Make It A Safe and Healthy Christmas with Natural Toys

Make it a Safe and Healthy Christmas
The EPA tells us that there are 87,000 chemicals which we (and our children) are exposed to. Many of us involved in the health care professions believe that the startling rise in the number of children being diagnosed with Asthma (doubled since 1980), Autism (CDC says 1 per 100 kids, as opposed to 2 per 10,000 20 years ago), Allergies , Childhood Cancers etc is directly related to these toxic chemicals. I know what you are saying….this is a Christmas message?….Where’s the joy and the Christmas spirit?
Well, here it is. I have been a pediatric registered nurse for 32 years and I believe there are many things we can do to improve the health of our children which starts with minimizing their exposure to these chemicals. As the founder of green children’s health expos (Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet), I recommend we feed our kids more organic foods, decrease their intake of processed foods, use green cleaning products in our homes and schools and buy toys made from natural and organic materials.
From the first teething ring in infancy to the scrunchy toys toddlers play with, to the fun games enjoyed by preschoolers, we need toys that not only spark the imagination but ones that are free of toxic substances.
Rosie Hippo is the premier source for natural and organic toys and children’s gifts.
Make it a Merry and a Healthy Christmas….
go to for safe and natural toys this Christmas. Enter SOKHOPDEC for 15% off your order and in addition RosieHippo will make a 5% donation back to SOKHOP.
I can’t think of a better toy company to help Save Our Kids and Heal Our Planet than Rosie Hippo.

Maureen McDonnell, RN

My Granddaughter and me.
If you’d like to learn more about Raising Healthy Kids Naturally, go to our blog or check out the Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet website (

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Healthy Holidays ....Is that an oxymoron?

Our relatives just left after visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had a wonderful time, but after their departure, it hit me (as it does almost every year): why do we eat so much, push ourselves, sleep less, consume more sugar, alcohol, white flour etc etc when we know without a doubt that these things leave us feeling depleted, tired and a little heavier around the midline? Can't quite figure it out, but I know I do it every Thanksgiving and Christmas! What's that definition of insanity that rings so true? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Love that one! Anyway, I few tips I've learned through the years to minimize the damages to ourselves and our kids..... Believe me, I'm not a saint and I don't always follow my own suggestions. But when I do adhere to this advise (from many wiser than myself), I do feel better.......

1. Drink lots more pure water and eat small healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent gorging out on that big dinner. Things like fresh sliced fruit, nuts and seeds, flax muffins made with walnuts, hummus with fresh vegies etc.
2. Even when the pace picks up and the day gets hectic, continue to take your daily round of supplements including a great multi (like Nutritionist's Choice essential fatty acids (fish oil), Vitamin D and C
3. If your throat starts to get scratchy or you feel a little achy, take a preventative dose or two of Echinacea liquid to give an extra boost to the immune system. This simple tip has short-circuited more colds for my kids through the years than any other health routine.
4. dress in layers (we're in the mountains!) with a comfortable scarf wrapped around the neck on cold days
5. Exercise or try to get outdoors for a brisk walk at least once per day and remember to breath deeply. Sweating of course is a great way for the body to get rid of toxins (the skin is our biggest eliminative organ)
6. Speaking of elimination, add a little extra fiber or a cup of Smooth Move tea by Traditional Medicinals at night to keep things moving through the colon. Getting stopped up allows the blood to reabsorb the toxins that the body is trying to get rid off.
7. At the end of a long exhausting day of shopping or entertaining, take a hot bath with 2 cups of epsom salt and a little lavender oil to relax, unwind and induce a great sleep.
8.Oh yes, one last a mom, don't try to do it all, be it all and shoot for perfection.....can't be done and you'll wear yourself out trying. The more I actually relax and enjoy myself during the holidays, the happier and healthier the people around me seem to be! Funny how that works!

For more tips on getting kids healthy, visit my website and read the article 12 tips for Healthier Kids......have a happy and healthy holiday, Maureen

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raising Healthy Kids, Naturally

Sometimes I look around and see kids who don't look very healthy and I want to stop the parents and have a conversation. I don't want to judge anyone. But I've been a registered nurse for the last 30 years (during which time I've watched in amazement as the number of kids with asthma, autism, ADHD, allergies, childhood cancers etc has skyrocketed), and so I want to have that conversation with the parents because I believe as a society we've strayed from mother natures ways and our kids are paying the price. I want to get all these kids back on track. You can probably tell by now that I tend to be a little I have the answers. Actually, I only have a few, but I think they are important ones and they seem to be missing from conversations parents are having with their pediatricians. Because I was a labor and delivery nurse, taught childbirth classes for many years, became a mom of two kids, coordinated the Defeat Autism Now! conferences for 10 years and 2 years ago started the Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet green children's health expos, people tend to ask me this question: Is it vaccines? I always give the same answer: I don't think kids are sicker now just because over the past 20 years, the number of vaccines we give our kids has increased to 36 before the age of 5, I also think it's because we have 87,000 chemicals in our air, water and food and our kids for the most part aren't eating all that well. So there you go, my first blog post. Hopefully not too obnoxious. I plan on posting more about natural ways you can boost your child's immune system to help ward off the flu and other infections. Super foods to super charge your children's health. Great tips for women to consider prior to conceiving to minimize the chances that their offspring will develop autism or other chronic health conditions, some natural approaches for preventing and treating asthma, ADHD, autism, allergies etc. etc. Here we go!