Back to School – Immunity and Mental Health. 

How is your child coping?

by Cassi Cowlam, Naturopath

Back to School Bugs!
So the school holidays are over, the kids are back at school, and just as our routine is getting back to normal again it can seem that our children are suddenly getting sick.  Constant sore throats, runny noses, a cough that just won’t shift, or perhaps a tummy ache and bowel changes.   Just as in our own workplaces where “things can go around”, so too can the school grounds be an environment for exposure to nasty pathogens (bugs).

Saying this, there is no need to be paranoid about the school we send our children to, but rather we should be asking the question why is my child potentially more susceptible than others?   An answer may be that their health has been compromised and unable to defend itself as well as it should, and our immunity is the most important defence mechanisms in the body.

Persistent colds and flu are an indication of an unhealthy immune system.  If your child seems to suffer recurring infections, is generally unwell, failing to grow or thrive, or you just wish to boost their immunity, natural help is available. 

Mental Health Plays a Role …
Going back to school can also involve a lot of “change” for your child.  New environment, new teacher, having to reform social bonds with peers and also being away from the “safety” of home.   This can affect your child’s nervous system dramatically, upregulating anxiety and affecting their behaviour.  There is a direct link as well between the nervous system and our immune system, and being stressed and anxious can also reduce our resistance to pathogens and disease, and so our little ones can be not only stressed, but constantly sick.

Why are some children more susceptible?
There can be many reasons for this.  Nutritional deficiencies can be a key cause of immune and nervous system disorders, and children can be particularly at risk as they need so many different nutrients for their growth.  Some of these include Zinc, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, protein and essential fatty acids just to name a few.  They need a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, protein and fats, and a reduced intake of things that aggravate our immune system, such as processed foods, artificial colours and flavours and additives.

Also, when assessing a child’s immune system, it is essential to take into account their gut function, as this is their “first line of defence” against the world.  Do their bowels work every day?  Is there excessive wind, tummy pains, poor appetite or picky eating habits?  Is there potentially food allergies or intolerances that may be depleting their immune system, creating inflammation that then affects their behaviour and mental health?

Getting a Health Check – what to expect
When conducting a Naturopathic Assessment – besides looking at signs and symptoms, doing a physical examination including iridology, checking diet and lifestyle, Cassi will ask a lot of questions about past medical and family history, as well as the health of the gut and specific questions about behaviour.  Cassi can also order specific investigations if they are needed, including intolerance tests.

A key concept of Naturopathy is not just treating the symptoms, but identifying the “cause” which will ensure a much better health outcome – strengthening the immune system so that it is able to fight for itself, and supplying the nutrients needed for the nervous system so your little one copes much better with stressful situations.

What is involved in Treatment?
Cassi practices Naturopathy which uses safe and effective natural therapies to support and stimulate the healing power of nature in a gentle but efficient manner. These therapies include herbal medicine, nutrition, dietary and lifestyle changes.

What therapy is chosen depends upon the individual – no two treatments are the same because no two people are the same.  Natural medicine treats the person, NOT the illness!  Every patient is viewed and treated as a whole being – a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and other factors.  So it doesn’t matter if you are seeking treatment for just an acute cold, or perhaps a more serious chronic illness – anyone can benefit from naturopathic treatment.

An essential role of any Naturopath is to give guidance and education about factors that may have led someone to ill health, and what they can do to help reverse this and make better choices.   Understanding what is happening to you and being given the tools to regain health is very empowering. Everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

How many treatments will be needed?
Usually at least an Initial Consult and a Follow-up is needed, depending on how long a condition has been happening.  A Follow-up ascertains how the treatment has gone, if any other changes are needed, and to see if further investigations are also warranted. 

For further enquiries, contact Cassi on


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