A natural approach
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2008 at 9:00 p.m.
Clogged nose, scratchy throat, up-all-night cough — most parents are all too familiar with the first signs of a cold: the infection that settles into the sinuses of the average preschooler nine times a year.
Natural cures to common illnesses
The infamous sniffle season has never been easy for families with youngsters.
And now, less than two weeks after the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory about the potentially life-threatening side effects of cold medicines for infants and toddlers, many parents are beginning to question the safety of over-the-counter remedies for children of any age. After a year of frightening recalls, more Americans are turning to natural and alternative modalities to keep their bodies and lifestyles as toxic-free as possible.
On Saturday, Gainesville's top holistic health practitioners will gather to show and tell an anticipated 500 visitors about the latest trends in alternative medicine and nutrition.
In its second year, organizers of the Gainesville Holistic Health Fair are extending a special invitation to parents and families interested in learning about natural approaches to child care and family health.
A series of free workshops will feature lectures and interactive discussions about dozens of wellness issues, from nutrition and spirituality to whole-body healing.
Practitioners of massage, acupuncture, herbs and countless other modalities will also offer sample trials of their work at discount prices.
The event will include five different programs specifically geared toward families and children.
In response to the latest medicine ban, local holistic health practitioner Miranda Castro will host an introduction to household homepathy, a 200-year-old therapy that uses microdoses of naturally-occurring substances, instead of conventional chemicals, to trigger the body's own healing mechanisms.
Her lecture, "The Top Ten Homeopathic Remedies for Common Complaints in Infants and Children," will focus on natural, needle-free solutions for everything from infant earaches to playground bumps and bruises.
Although the efficacy of homeopathic treatments has been difficult to prove in clinical trials, the remedies, which come from plants and minerals, are considered safe and side-effect free, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"Homeopathy is especially appealing for kids," said Dorit Reznek, a local mother who uses homeopathic remedies to help treat her 7- and 13-year-old daughters' allergies and daily health complaints.
As an acupuncturist, Reznek has used alternative medicine in conjunction with conventional Western medicine for years.
"People are scared. They're beginning to realize that there is no such thing as taking a medicine without side effects," Reznek said of the growing popularity of natural modalities. "We're looking for the least damaging solution."
Homeopathy involves giving diluted doses of plants and minerals that, according to practitioners, can help correct imbalances and kick the immune system into high gear.
Each treatment is based on a person's unique symptoms, lifestyle, personality and emotional state.
"We cure people, not diseases," Castro said.
Castro's lecture is one of 15 workshops that will be available during the fair on Saturday.
For more information about toxic-free living, families are invited to participate in "Playing with Biomagnification," a cooperative game for children and adults that explains how to avoid the pollutants involved in everyday living.
Elizabeth "Buzzy" Guillete, an associate research scientist in the department of anthropology at the University of Florida, will expose where toxins are and exactly how to get rid of them.
"There are seven times more pollutants in your house than there are in the air outside," Guillete said. "Just open up your windows."
The Gainesville Holistic Health Fair will take place at the United Church of Gainesville on the corner of NW 5th Avenues and 17th Street from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Vanessa Garcia can be reached at 338-3166.
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