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St. John's Wort

St. John’s wort

It started with his walking. I noticed our 14-month-old son Oscar was a little unsteady on his feet—well, more so than usual—sometimes veering off to one side or the other like he was dizzy.

Occasionally, he would stop whatever he was doing—laughing, talking, playing—and look up at nothing in particular, forehead wrinkled, and touch his cheek, distracted by some sensation.

Then he started to fuss. He clung. He became anxious, melting down if I went out of his sight for even a second. He was hungry but refused to eat his dinner. He ran a little warm now and then, but nothing high enough to classify as a “fever.” He seemed generally uncomfortable in his own skin and altogether not himself. He’s got some pretty daunting chompers coming in, so I kept hoping it was just teething.

Then, Oscar’s child care called me to pick him up because he’d thrown up his whole bottle, projectile style. When I pulled up out front, I could hear him crying. The second he saw me, he reached for me with unhappy desperation, tugging on his ear repeatedly. Hard to miss it at that point.

Ear infection.

Mullein

Mullein

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to make sure there wasn’t more going on, but in the meantime, I hustled Oscar home. I warmed some ear oil in a cup of hot water, then leaned him over in my lap to put the drops in his ear. He squirmed and fussed at first, but as soon as the drops slid in, he relaxed. The relief just seemed to come that fast. He calmed and breathed easy, letting me massage the area around his ear gently.

There’s nothing worse than seeing your little one in pain. But there’s nothing better than being able to bring him some relief and comfort. The oil I currently use is Gaia Herbs Ear Oil, an herbal oil of garlic, mullein, St.John’s wort, etc. Once this runs out, I will keep on hand a homemade garlic mullein oil from the recipe in Aviva Romm’s book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children.

Pediatricians and parents alike are widely divided on ear infection treatment and prevention. Many doctors claim that there is no way to prevent ear infections, but others say it is entirely preventable with proper diet and care. Many resort immediately to antibiotics, while others prefer to treat herbally and/or with diet.

As with all things, I think it’s a matter of what’s right for your family. I personally found this blog on the subject very helpful.

What are your preferred ear infection remedies/preventions?

Actually, “salt free” isn’t entirely true. More accurate would be to say that this seasoning blend only contains the naturally-occurring salts found in the herbs—no salt is added.

A gomasio is a traditional Japanese seasoning blend made of unhulled sesame seeds and salt. My challenge was to come up with an herbal gomasio that was “salt free” and highly nutritive. Many of us eat far too much salt in our diets, but we still crave the flavor, and especially now in the grand season of a fresh food bounty—farmer’s booths at the market overflowing with greens and reds and yellows and purples—it’s simply divine to be able to put raw greens and veggies on a platter, drizzle on some oil and a sprinkling of this gomasio. I don’t know about you, but this time of year I have trouble keeping salad dressing around, we go through it so fast.

My other challenge is that I don’t particularly like the taste of seaweeds, which are a major component in most other saltless seasonings.

You may also be aware that much of the salt we get at the store is “iodized,” that is to say iodine is added as a supplement to ensure that we get enough of it in our diet. Well, both sesame seeds and nettles are good natural sources of iodine. On the whole, this blend boasts myriad beneficial vitamins, minerals, and proteins. It’s good medicine for the whole body.

And my favorite way of taking my medicine is always by eating it in ridiculously tasty dishes. Hands down. Food is good.

Salt-free Herbal Gomasio

1 part nettle leaf
1 part celery seed
1 part sesame seed
1/2 part milk thistle seed
1/2 part fennel seed
1/2 part onion or garlic

Mix all the above in a small bowl. Place in an herb mill (or an empty salt or pepper grinder).

Other variations: try some dry citrus rind, pepper, or a small amount of mustard seeds. If you like seaweed, give it a whirl.

Feel free to post your own variations and ideas in the comments!

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