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Back-to-School Health Tips from Dr. Cates

by Dr. Trevor Holley Cates

​Summer is coming to an end and that means back-to-school time. Along with the backpacks and school supplies, equip your family with natural remedies that will keep your children healthy throughout the school year. Each year, my patients’ parents share with me their top back to school concerns: immune support, head lice, sleep, and which foods are the best for their child. Here are some tips to help your children enjoy a healthy and productive school year.

  1. Sleep. The recommended amount of sleep within a 24-hour period (including naptime) is 12 – 14 hours for toddlers, 11 – 13 hours for pre-schoolers, and 10 – 11 hours for school-aged kids. Most American children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which, in turn, affects their daytime behavior and school performance. If you're having trouble getting your little one to settle in at night, start by cutting out television and video games before bed, especially programs that have any scary images. Also, food and drinks containing sugar and caffeine are best avoided near bedtime since they can cause hyperactivity in children. Having a regular relaxing bedtime ritual can help your child mentally and physically prepare for sleep. For example, a warm bath followed by some bedtime stories or soothing music can help a child relax and prepare for sleep. Consider a homeopathic medicine such as Hyland’s 4 Kids Calm ʹn Restful. This or another well-selected individual homeopathic remedy can help with restlessness, irritability, nightmares, and anxiety, especially in the first few weeks as you are re-establishing a sleep routine .
  2. Eating healthfully. As you get your children ready for school, make a fresh start with healthy foods to nourish their brains and help them grow and flourish through the school year. On school days, parents find it even more challenging to encourage their children to eat nutritious foods. Do your best to start your child’s day with a nourishing breakfast. Even if it’s a smoothie on the run, pack it full of foods you know will help your child get a healthy jumpstart for the day. Include the following power foods to keep your child focused and healthy: legumes, fish (visit www.edf.org for the safest fish), fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
  3. Immune Support. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. children miss 22 million school days each year as a result of the common cold. A natural approach using homeopathic medicine to support the immune system and relieve symptoms can help keep your child healthy and back in school. Some of the common cold and cough remedies are Aconitum, Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, and Allium cepa. There are many other remedies helpful for cold symptoms, but these are some of the most popular. When administering individual remedies, 6, 12, and 30 C and X potencies are generally best for acute illnesses. Homeopathic remedies can also be given in combinations that offer a simpler approach. Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold ʹn Cough is a combination medicine that includes some of the remedies mentioned above and is designed to help relieve the most common cold symptoms such as watery eyes, congestion, sneezing and a runny nose.
  4. Head Lice. When children are heading home from camps and back to school, they may pick up head lice. Head lice are common, affecting millions of people each year, especially elementary and preschool children. Most conventional treatments are not safe for children under 6 years old and the ingredients can be quite toxic. Help prevent the spread of lice by teaching your child to not share hats, scarves, brushes and hair accessories with other children at school. If your child ends up with lice or you get word that a child in their classroom has lice, there are natural treatments for lice that contain natural ingredients. Quit Nits is an example of a natural prevention and treatment option. It’s a great product to have on hand since it’s hard to know when lice will hit your child’s classroom. Also, since Quit Nits is chemical pesticide free, it is safe for the environment and will not contribute to polluted waterways when it’s washed down the drain. Click here for some Head Lice FAQs.

Support your child with a great start back to school. Well-balanced, nutritious meals gives a boost for learning, focus, strong immune systems and growing bodies. In addition to nourishing foods, homeopathic medicines offer a gentle and effective way to enhance your child’s immune system. Stock your kitchen pantry and your medicine cabinet with health-promoting foods and natural medicines and enjoy a successful school year.


Dr. Trevor Holly Cates is the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at Golden Door Spa at Waldorf Astoria Park City. She is a primary care physician specializing in an integrative, holistic approach to medicine. Dr. Cates received her naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2000. In addition to private practice in Park City, Dr. Cates was twice appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council and serves on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians board of directors. She is a frequent lecturer and writes articles on natural medicine for various local and national publications.

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