As beautiful as the winter time can be, it is regarded by many as cold and flu season. The sad part is that we do not have to suffer from these and similar infections, but most people are not yet able to correlate how their food and lifestyle choices impact every aspect of their health, and that we are more in control of our health than we realize.
An optimally healthy mind and body does not get sick, and if something goes out of balance, it has a natural healing ability to bring itself back into balance—the body’s state of homeostasis. This fact holds true for both adults, as it does for children.
As much as a greater awakening is taking place when it comes to understanding our body, health and disease formation, as well as prevention, the fact is that many are still at a cross roads when it comes to dealing with any sickness. We have the mind set that sickness is a random part of life and when it strikes we need to get rid of our body’s symptoms as quickly as possible. When it comes to infections like the cold or flu, this leaves many people running to drug stores for a slew of over the counter cold and flu symptom suppressing pills, syrups and similar products. The same goes for parents with children.
But have we ever stopped to consider what our body is trying to tell us through the symptoms it presents us with? Have we considered what mental, emotional, or physical imbalance we have allowed into our lives? And have we considered what is in the products we put into our bodies to suppress the symptoms it gives us?
These are important questions that each one of us needs to answer for ourselves as adults, but even more importantly to consider when it comes to the children in our care. Therefore in this article we will examine a very popular product that parents give to their children to suppress fever and pain.
It’s What Is Inside That Counts
We are going to examine two examples of a common infant and children’s product from the makers of Tylenol. The analysis is not intended to pick on this particular company as similar companies are no different, but done to bring awareness to what is being put into young children’s bodies. Therefore with this being one of the most popular and most commonly used products, it is serving as our example.
While the medicinal ingredient—acetaminophen—is common among the Tylenol products differing only in dosage (and has its own health problems), the non-medicinal ingredients will be the area of our focus in this article.
Infant’s Liquid Tylenol (white grape)
Non-medicinal ingredients (as per package listed alphabetically):
- carboxymethylcellulose sodium
- citric acid
- corn syrup
- propylene glycol
- purified water
- sodium benzoate
- xanthan gum
Children’s Liquid Tylenol (cherry blast)
- anhydrous citric acid
- FD&C Red#40
- high fructose corn syrup
- microcrystalline cellulose
- carboxymethylcellulose sodium
- propylene glycol
- purified water
- sodium benzoate
- sorbitol solution
- xanthan gum
The lists above are similar and both contain several red flag ingredients that many health conscious adults would not be comfortable putting on their skin, let alone into their body. Therefore one can imagine the madness of seeing these in infant and young children’s products for internal consumption. With the lists being given in alphabetical order, rather than in order of quantity, it is hard to say which ingredients are in highest concentrations, but irregardless from an optimal health standpoint over 90% of the ingredients above should not be allowed in any amount, especially for babies and children.
Let’s further examine the ingredients listed above in more detail, so that any parent or guardian who is giving, or thinking of giving this to any children in their care, is more aware of the implications.
Butylparaben is in the paraben family of preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors. Parabens are being routinely found in breast cancer tissue, and have been linked to sex development and behavioural changes.
Carboxymethylcellulose sodium is used in the food and pharmaceutical industry as a viscosity modifier or thickener, and to stabilize emulsions in various products. It is synthesized by an alkali-catalyzed reaction of cellulose with chloroacetic acid.
Cellulose is the structural component of the primary cell wall in plants. It is considered a safe and natural compound, but this can vary depending on the type of chemical processing involved.
Citric acid is a weak acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruits. It is a commodity chemical, and more than a million tons are produced every year by fermentation using a specific type of mold. (Anhydrous citric acid, means a water-free form.)
Corn Syrup is most definitely made from genetically modified ingredients – over 80-90% of all corn used in products today comes from GMO sources. Additionally this is normally another name for, or a derivative of high fructose corn syrup (as listed more specifically in the second formula). HFCS has known health implications and long term use linked to liver damage and weight gain, among other things.
Color (FD&C) and Flavor can be any mixture of synthetically produced chemical substances. Artificial colors to date have been linked to various allergic reactions, some have found to be carcinogenic, or linked to behavioral issues, not to mention that all chemical compounds add a stress load to the liver to be detoxified.
Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that can be obtained from natural sources (animal and vegetable fats and oils), or can be synthesized from carbohydrate materials or from substances such as propylene (a petrochemical product).
Propylene glycol is a petroleum based chemical. It is widely used today in the industry finding itself in our food, medicine and personal care products, with its main uses in anti-freeze or de-icing solutions, hydraulic fluids, and as a solvent.
Sodium benzoate is a preservative commonly used in foods, medicines and personal care products. It is synthesized from a reaction of benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide, and has been linked to numerous health problems from asthma-like reactions to cancer.
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol, and normally considered safe unless taken in larger quantities at which time it normally causes various intestinal issues.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener produced by chlorinating typical table sugar, sucrose.
Xanthan gum is a corn-based product, made by fermenting corn sugar with a certain bacteria. This is another likely GMO based ingredient.
Making Sense of Things For Your Child’s Safety
Depending on your awareness and knowledge of health topics, you may be very shocked and disturbed by the above ingredient lists. The truth is that all parents can be more empowered by simply taking a moment to read ALL ingredient labels of the foods, drinks or medications they give to their children. As long as we continue to be unaccountable, and give our power away by trusting the so-called governing agencies, our health and that of our children will continue to suffer.
Of course there are some skeptics and strong proponents of the current food and drug system who will excuse the above information and verse things like, “in such small dosages these things won’t do any harm”, or “if it was that bad, it would not be approved for use.” Let’s examine those two arguments therefore a little more closely.
For starters, yes the concentrations of the chemical and synthetic substances may be small, but today our biggest threat is the cumulative effect of all these substances. They are in our foods, drinks, personal care items, drinking water, medicines and then some. The truth is that any study done to prove their safety is done using limited, single ingredients and often questionable doses. There are no studies to prove the safety of 99.99% of chemical compounds out there when used in combination with other chemicals and over a regular period of use. So the truth is that today, we cannot hide behind the “it’s just a small amount” excuse. I know if it were my body, or my child, I would not put harmful substances into it knowingly in any amount.
As for the second argument, for anyone who still feels this way, I invite you to consider to take a greater interest into all that you eat or put on your body. Simply start to educate yourself on the ingredients in your products, corporate funding, study sponsors and what is really going on behind closed doors in how corporately run our world is today to reflect profits first and foremost, with little regard for our health. As long as something does not harm us instantly, long-term effects are often swept under the rug. As we know today by our health care crisis, weight problems, allergy, acute and chronic disease statistics, things are not indicating a healthy and thriving civilization.
Solutions For Parents To Avoid Harmful Meds for Kids
In conclusion, these types of formulas contain harmful chemical compounds, hormone disrupters, various preservatives, harmful sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial dyes and flavors, animal products and GMO ingredients.
So what are parents to do when a fever or infection strikes, or there is teething, or other pain involved?
1. Work With the Body’s Natural Healing Ability
The first tip is to learn and understand how the body’s natural healing ability works. A fever is not always a bad thing. While it has to be monitored and managed, it is not something that should be fought to be eliminated at its first sign. A fever is part of the body’s natural healing ability, and will normally regulate itself unless it is a serious problem. The body temperature isn’t going up to harm the individual, rather it is going up to destroy the invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc.) The body’s temperature only continues to escalate if the body is unable to deal with the invaders efficiently at which time precautionary measures should be taken. Viruses are only eliminated by the body’s immune system, and things like a runny nose are actually part of the body’s ability to rid itself of the invader. Diarrhea or vomiting are also part of the body’s natural healing ability to rid itself of harmful invaders. When allowed to run their course in a monitored manner, these normally clear up within hours, or a few days given the right support, not suppression.
2. Invest in a Good Naturopathic Doctor
Remember that if you go to your medical doctor, their primary training is in pharmaceuticals, not in prevention or natural healing options. For parents with babies or young children who understand the value of natural health, the best thing to do is to research a good naturopath that specializes in pediatrics in their area and be proactive in knowing what to do before an illness, fever or pain strikes. Most insurance companies today cover naturopathic doctor care. Naturally in the moment of a problem, most people will be hard-pressed to resist products like Tylenol as solutions for their kids’ issue for the sake of convenience or a quick solution.
3. Exercise Some Patience
We live in a very convenience based, loud, busy and fast-paced society and the truth is that the last thing most parents want to deal with today is a crying child. However, we also have to understand that when we take our kids to doctors and give them medication, we are perpetuating the cycle of ignorance for the body’s natural healing ability. While no parent wants to see their child suffer, we cannot be ignorant about the approach we take to soothe our kids’ pain or discomfort. Oftentimes a child in discomfort wants nothing more than our love, care and presence – not be given medication and put in front of a television. Today many parents are self-medicating their kids with over the counter products at the first sign of any sniffle which is a waste of both money and their health. Colds for example, and other virus based infections (as mentioned above) cannot be countered by antibiotics, syrups or pain medication, but a healthy immune system. It is therefore important to be patiently mindful with our approach in what we give our children, and when.
4. Research Some Safe & Simple Natural Healing Methods
Thanks to the Internet today, one can find a lot of valuable information on pretty much any topic they are in need of. Of course it is necessary to be discerning in what source we trust with the information we obtain, and it is always good to cross reference information, or get some second opinion. Either way, numerous options exist today to help parents naturally with anything from teething babies to upset tummies. The fast and common solutions found in a drug store are more and more often starting to be unacceptable for our family’s personal health and safety today.
Therefore if you are a parent or guardian, take the initiative to become aware of what you are putting into your child’s body. Ultimately nothing beats prevention and good health begins with a good nutritional foundation. We reduce our chances of needing to deal with sick kids, if we make the effort to feed them right in the first place. To follow up further and explore this topic in more depth, I highly recommend starting with Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right.