My guest this week is Dr. Sheila Kilbane, a board-certified pediatrician also trained in integrative medicine by Andrew Weil, MD. She uses the best of traditional and integrative medicine to help families find the root cause of their child’s illness by walking through her seven-step process to significantly improve or resolve, illnesses such as: colic, reflux, eczema, recurrent ear and sinus infections, asthma, allergies, ADHD, and stomach and GI issues like constipation, abdominal pain, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and sensory integration disorder. Sheila conducts an online course to help parents resolve chronic illness in their children by using her step-by-step approach and is the author “Healthy Kids Happy Moms – A Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Many Common Childhood Illnesses”.
In this episode, Sheila and I discuss the difference between the conventional and integrative approach to medicine in pediatrics and how parents can take simple steps toward improving their child’s chronic illness. Sheila shares her seven-step approach to addressing illness and provides valuable resources on where and how parents can begin to incorporate simple changes that bare significant results. Learn more about Sheila here.
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Surge of Chronic Illness in Children
- A few decades ago, approximately 1 in 7 children had a chronic health issue, today 1 in 2 children have a chronic health issue
- The food supply has drastically evolved
- Chemicals, herbicides, pesticides are all more commonly used in comparison to the past
- Roundup was originally patented as an antibiotic
- It is commonly used as a chemical sprayed on crops to help with a quick turnover in crop production
- It becomes absorbed by the part of the plants that we consume
- Consuming non-organic wheat, corn, and soy exposes children to an excess of chemicals and pesticides that can alter the good bacteria in their gut
- The personal care products we use on our bodies and cleaning products we use daily in our homes also play a role
The Difference Between Conventional Medicine vs. Functional Medicine in Pediatrics
- Example: Looking at a case of eczema
- Conventional Medicine
- Trained to find a steroid treatment to apply to the skin in order to resolve the issue
- Functional/Integrative Medicine
- Trained to take steps that look at all factors to find the root cause of the reaction
- Address the 5 triggers of inflammation: food, environmental allergies, environmental toxins, stress and infections.
- By addressing inflammation in the body, you will also be addressing inflammation in the brain
- Decreasing the source of inflammation allows the body to return to working naturally
- Conventional Medicine
7 Steps to Confronting Chronic Illness
- Assessment – find a practitioner assessing the child’s medical history from an integrative standpoint
- Understanding that inflammation is illness
- Addressing the 5 triggers of Inflammation:
- Food, Environmental allergies, Environmental toxins, Stress, Infections
- Gut Health
- Food – Start with tackling breakfast (see below)
Change Up the Food Routine – Tackle Breakfast First
- Remove cereal and milk – this immediately eliminates a lot of sugar
- Try eggs, organic bacon or sausage, a burger, a piece of salmon, leftover chicken
- Try a healthy fat or protein and something colorful
- A green smoothie is a great way to integrate color
- Integrating more organic whole foods automatically shifts away from sugar intake
The Environmental Working Group: The Clean 15 & The Dirty Dozen
- The Environmental Working Group has guidelines to help you shop for produce and reduce your chemical and pesticide intake
- You can decrease your pesticide exposure by up to 92% by following their guidelines
- Children with higher percentages of pesticide exposure have higher rates of ADHD
- The EWG also has resources to point parents in the right direction for reducing toxicity levels in their personal care products
Episode Intro … 00:00:30
From Conventional to Integrative Pediatrics … 00:03:30
Rise of Chronic Illness in Children … 00:08:18
Conventional vs. Integrative Medicine … 00:12:33
7 Steps to Address Chronic Illness … 00:18:45
Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen … 00:29:43
Episode Wrap Up … 00:40:00
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Hi Everyone, welcome to the show — I am Dr. Nicole, and today I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Sheila Kilbane as my guest. Sheila and I have been friends for many years now, and she’s absolutely one of the best pediatricians out there, so I’m really excited that she’s going to talk with us today, and I think one of the things that I most appreciate about her is the focus on root causes of childhood illness.
So many kids who have have emotional, learning, behavioral, developmental challenges also have many underlying physical issues that they are dealing with in terms of their health, and Dr. Kilbane really gets to the root of treating those things, which ultimately helps all of the behavioral and mental health issues improve too, so Dr. Sheila Kilbane is a board-certified pediatrician who has also trained in integrative medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil. She uses the best of traditional and integrative medicine to help families find the root cause of their child’s illness. She walks families through her 7-step process to significantly improve or resolve altogether illnesses such as colic, reflux, eczema, recurrent ear and sinus infections, asthma, allergies and stomach and GI issues like constipation, abdominal pain, celiac disease, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
And I know many of you are ticking off that list in your mind as I’m reading that because you have kids who have many of those symptoms. In addition to seeing individual patients in her unique clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also gives educational lectures to parents and healthcare professionals. And if you don’t live in North Carolina and don’t have access to an integrative pediatrician in your area, Dr. Kilbane has written a book and has an online course to help resolve your child’s illness using her step-by-step approach. Welcome to the show, Dr. Kilbane, thank you for being here.
Dr. Sheila Kilbane:
Thank you Dr. Beurkens, I’m so happy to be here and as you and I have spoken, all of what we do overlaps so much that I list all of those physical symptoms, but so many of the kids that I see have many of the symptoms that you see also in your practice and this nutritional approach and functional medicine, integrative medicine approach — it’s just such a great tool for all of us to have.
Absolutely, and I love that there are pediatricians like you out there doing this work because you’re the kind physician that mental health practitioners like me and my colleagues need to interface with to really get true, holistic integrative care for patients, right? Especially for these kids with more complicated mental health or neurodevelopmental kinds of issues, we’re not just dealing with stuff going on with their brain — almost always there are things going on in the body that are connected to that. So I would love for you to just share with our listeners as a starting point: How did you fall into doing this kind of work? I mean not only being in pediatrics but what led you to sort of make the shift from more conventional pediatrics to the more integrative work that you’re doing now.
Yeah, so shortly out of residency, I realized I was prescribing steroids and antibiotics and medication after medication. And the kids would get better for 2 weeks, and then we’d stop the medication and they would get sick again 2 weeks later. And so when you understand this functional medicine world — I did not understand it at the time, but we were just keeping their symptoms and their inflammation at bay for a couple of weeks, and then they would get sick again. So I was seeing the same families every month, and they were the families that had that list of illnesses that you just read off. And the moms would look at me and go, “Isn’t there something else we can do?” And I would say, “I don’t think so…” And so then I started reading and started to understand what a huge role nutrition played.
Now even, when I give talks, I have this picture of a big elephant sitting in the middle of the room. And that’s what I talk about, food in the conventional medical world because we don’t get any training on it. And so I just started, little by little, I would do a selective elimination diet with families. So maybe we’d take one food group out of the child’s diet and it was like magic. So the physical symptoms would start melting away, but not only that — they would start sleeping better, their moods would be better, their ADHD symptoms would be improved and so I thought it had to be a fluke, so I didn’t really talk openly about it. And even my partners at that time, you know this was years ago, but my partners would say to me — “What’s that Voodoo medicine you’re doing, Sheila?” Yeah, and then a year later, they would come to me and say, “What’s the does of those probiotics, Sheila? What should I do with this patient?”
And that’s how I felt many years because I didn’t want to rock the boat, I didn’t want to be looked at as that crazy pediatrician who talked about food, which when you really think about it, food is everything, right? So it gave me so many more tools in my toolbox and it made practicing so much more fun again. There was never anything else I wanted to do but medicine. And the frustration that I felt right out of residency, I was miserable. So things had to change for me or I was going to have to change careers, and it’s just been phenomenal ever since then. And it’s just so much fun to come to work everyday and get to make these changes with people who have been from specialist to specialist to specialist. And we get to come in and really say okay, we’re going to look at your whole family, the dynamics, the stress, what are we eating, we’re going to look at the gut microbiome, and we just get to make these really profound improvements and it’s just extraordinarily satisfying.
So great, and that your story mirrors so much of my story too — from the mental health side. We’re trained to do these things, we’re excited to do this, and then you get into the real world of practicing with people and you’re like, “Oh! My box of tools isn’t quite getting the results that I want to get.” And when you have these tools that we’re going to talk about, it just does it. It makes this work so much more fun and rewarding because you actually see people really get better. Not just temporarily get better or not just sort of get a little bit better, but really see people get better.
And it’s interesting because you said, you see people coming in for the physical stuff — right? My child’s got ear infections all the time, or constipation or whatever. You would treat, with these approaches, and then also their behavioral and neurological symptoms get better. I see the same thing in reverse. People come into my office for help with focusing and managing their anxiety and behavior and those things — I say okay, we’re going to focus on that, and by a side effect of that — their constipation and their ear infections and their eczema improve!
That’s why you need to move to Charlotte!
I know! Or you need to move to Grand Rapids! One or the other! I know, your weather is better for sure! So, let’s talk a bit — so obviously there’s this really strong connection between what’s going on, physiological health-wise for kids and what’s going on with their brain development and function. But let’s talk about, why are there so many chronic issues in kids these days in general? We think about when we grew up, kids weren’t sick all the time like they are now. We didn’t have these chronic levels of things. So what’s going on there in your opinion?
So 25, 30 years ago, it was maybe 1 in 6 or 7 kids that had a chronic issue. And today it’s 1 in 2. The numbers are staggering. And from all of the research and studying I’ve done, I really think that we have changed our food supply so dramatically and we have a lot more chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, cleaning products that we are using in our homes, products that we are putting on our body. Deodorant, shampoos, lotions. And a couple of the big things, I think are some of the herbicides that we use on our foods.
And Roundup is a chemical that most people know, it is sprayed on certain crops, especially things like wheat and it helps the farmers to turn the crops over more quickly if they are spraying at the end of the harvest. If they spray with this Roundup, because it kills the crop quicker. They can combine them and harvest them and then that gets absorbed by the part of the plant that we actually end up eating. And Roundup was originally patented as an antibiotic and so what it does is that it selectively goes in and it’s killing the good, healthy bacteria in our guts. So things like the bifidobacterium, which is what we get from breastfeeding, the lactobacilli, which is what we get through the birth canal and allowing the growth of some of the not-so-healthy bacteria. Things like e. coli, clostridia, and those are bacteria that we need certain species of, but there are certain species that we are getting an abundance of.
And in my clinic, we do stool studies in a lot of the kids that we see and it’s a snapshot in time, it’s not a perfect study, but it allows for me to look at the certain symptoms of the kids — what we’re seeing in their gut and how when we start to shift that, these symptoms really improve. Because even 7 or 8 years ago, we could just take dairy out of a child’s diet, maybe put them on a probiotic and their symptoms were gone. And now we’re having to do a lot more work to get their guts back into balance and to resolve their symptoms. And so I really think that these herbicides are playing a big role, and we have to know where our food is coming from and we have to really look at, what are we putting in our kids’ bodies.
And if we’re doing wheat, corn and soy and they’re not organic — the kids are going to be exposed to these things, and so there are all sorts of tips and tools and we can talk about how to do it without breaking the bank. And the Environmental Working Group has lists — the clean 15 and the dirty dozen. So it’s super doable. And that’s what my intention for our talk today is that I want you to understand that you can make a few tweaks with your child and start to see improvements. It doesn’t have to go down this very expensive route of changing absolutely everything, but if we make a few tweaks, you can really start to see a big difference.
I totally agree and I love that approach because sometimes this is really overwhelming. So parents go, “Okay, I understand this, I understand that food is important, I understand what you’re saying about the way that food is processed and chemicals and toxins and all of that but oh my word, how do I do this?” And that then can be the big barrier, so you focus on things so practically and I’m looking forward to diving into that to give people some strategies. I want to touch on, because the stuff that you are talking about is not what most people hear their pediatricians talk about, right? So I wanted to have you touch on the difference between integrative or functional medicine and that approach to pediatric care and illness in kids, compared to what conventional pediatricians do.
Yeah. So when we were trained in medical school, we look at what is the issue? So if it’s eczema, we are trained about which steroid to use on the skin in order to resolve the eczema, whereas in functional integrative medicine, we say okay — this is an inflammatory issue, its multifactorial, meaning there can be environmental allergies, food, and so what we do in functional medicine is — I have broken it down into 5 simple triggers of inflammation. So we look at food, environmental allergies, environmental toxins, stress and infections. And some of them biggies! So under the food category, we know and it’s well-studied that with eczema in particular, about a third of the time it can be triggered by food and the two big culprits can be dairy and eggs. And it doesn’t mean that is all the time, so that’s just one category, so we look at that. And when we are looking at environmental allergies, that’s pretty conventional. We can do blood work to ascertain that, we can do a skin prick test.
But the third category, the environmental toxins — my medical school did not get any training in this. So that’s where we’re looking also at things. You can have mold exposure, the kind of mold that grows behind a wall in a water-damaged building. That’s where the herbicides, the pesticides and all of the different chemicals that we get exposed to in our environment come into play. And then, when we are talking about infections, that can be bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites — and parasites are another biggie. I’ve had a couple of patients really in the last 6 or 7 months, one of them, was a classic asthma eczema and the family came back to me, because I had seen him when he was a baby because I was doing primary care. And a lot of his asthma and eczema were under good control, but they came back to see me because he wasn’t sleeping. So we did a stool study and he had a parasite. We treated the parasite and he in the process jumped 2 reading grades. And so in medicine we have to be careful not to say, just because we did that this happened, so yes it could have been a timing coincidence, but the teacher actually called mom and said “I’ve never seen a child jump that quickly in their development for reading.” And the mom really thought it was from treating the parasite.
We have another boy who is on the spectrum who had a parasite and we treated him. We’ve not only been able to get rid of all his asthma medications but he used to cry every time he would read. And he is now reading, he would pick up a book and read. So it’s going through that process of looking at where is their system inflamed. Because if your body is inflamed, if you have eczema, if you have uncontrolled asthma which means you may be using your inhaler two times a week — or if it’s constipation and the child isn’t having a nice, easy bowel movement everyday, that’s inflammation in your body and inflammation in your body means inflammation in your brain. So that’s harder for our neurotransmitters to do their work. So the neurotransmitter is going to find the receptor side on our cell and it’s going to send the signal. And so all we do is we look at what’s going on in the cellular environment. We decrease the inflammation so we just allow the body to do its job the way that it’s supposed to happen. Does that make sense?
It does and it’s such a helpful way of just summarizing that approach of really looking at what’s going on underneath the surface. I always say to parents, if your kid has an acute illness — a strep throat, a broken arm, whatever the situation maybe then a conventionally trained pediatrician or physician is exactly who you want for that. And if you have these more chronic kinds of things that aren’t going away with some of those more short-term treatments of an antibiotic or a steroid or whatever it might be — these are things now that are going on long-term: You need a physician who is able to take a root-level approach — Aha, why is it that this kid is having eczema or constipation or whatever in the first place? Let’s just not resolve what the surface-level symptom is, let’s really look at why that’s happening and let’s address it from that level which can take a bit longer, right?
I mean this is more of a process but I always say to people when we slow down and really work on the foundations, we actually speed up the process because over time, what you get is a much better result. So I love that you talked about that 5 areas because that’s so helpful to break that down and I think for our listeners to understand that we’re not just talking about food or just talked about infections or toxins. There are several other things and that’s a helpful way of conceptualizing that. So you really kind of got into how you approach looking at the root cause, looking at those 5 areas. Let’s talk about steps that are involved. So parents might be like, “Okay this makes sense — we’ve got to look at these areas.” How do you actually approach this? So what should parents expect in terms of, what are the various types of steps to help a child who maybe has been struggling for quite a while with these physical or neurological types of issues.
So I like to break it down, I have 7 steps that I do in my practice. And I’m going to go through those, but then I am going help you listeners understand how to turn that into action at home. So the first thing is an assessment and in my book, in my online course, I go through the difference between looking at a child’s medical history from a conventional standpoint vs. an integrative standpoint. And these are researches to the patterns in the family. So everybody’s got dark circles under their eyes. Everybody’s got bumps on their cheeks and bumps behind their arms. Mom only has a bowel movement once a week. So that’s what we’re expecting.
So I’d like you to do an assessment first. And we can’t know where we’re going unless we know where we are. And do this: look at your child’s health the same way you plan a vacation. What do we want to do? Where do we want to be? I mean you don’t ever get in your car for a vacation unless you know exactly where you’re going. So let’s figure out where your coordinates are before you start. So looking at that first of all. And then the second thing we do is understanding that inflammation is illness. So whether it’s mood swings, behavioral challenges. And I personally always look at behavior in kids as a signal for us adults to look at how they’re processing information, how they’re processing food. I really don’t believe there are many kids who just do things intentionally to irritate mom and dad. I mean yes, there’s manipulation, but I always say you want a child who is smart enough to manipulate us, right?
Then we have to ascertain that. So we want to understand that inflammation is illness and in conventional medicine we give them a diagnosis code. In functional medicine, we look at the overall picture. And then understanding the triggers of inflammation and those are those 5 things I just went through. I’ll say them again. So it’s food, environmental allergies, environmental toxins, infections and stress. And always remember stress can do just as much as any one of those other categories and that includes what’s going on between mom and dad. I mean I’ve had several families over the years that maybe marriage is really strained. And instead of parents going to marriage counseling or looking at that piece of it, they’re taking the kids from therapist to therapist to therapist. And so we always have to start with ourselves. So that’s another factor. So that’s our third step in the overall steps.
So it’s the assessment, understanding inflammation and illness, triggers of illnesses and the fourth thing is gut health — and that’s where we think about the microbiome, how many antibiotics have they been on. The fifth step is food and that’s where we really look at what we are going to be eating. The sixth step is supplements. I’d love to think that we can get everything we need from food. In my experience, we need to use some supplements to get us back into even playing ground, and then we have some foundational supplements that we need. And the seventh step is the roadmap. So once we’ve figured out what we need to do and we get the child back into balance, what’s our long-term? What do we need going along? What do we need for the long-term gain?
So I’ll go into number 5 and I’ll address that and a few things that I love for families to do, Nicole I also would love to hear what you start with, but I always start with breakfast and I say — if we can take cereal and milk out of breakfast, we are eliminating a lot of sugar. And can we do a green smoothie? Can we do eggs if your child tolerates eggs, even an organic piece of bacon or sausage or even a burger. I love to see the dads, like the big dads who think I’m going to be saying all this stuff and then I say I’d rather have you have a burger for breakfast than cereal and they about fall off their chair. A piece of salmon, wild-caught sockeye salmon, some leftover chicken from the night before. But we want to think about, we want your child to have that, a clean fat, a clean protein and then something colorful. So a fruit or a vegetable. And that’s one of the reasons I love a green smoothie.
And if we’re starting off and if your child does have any kind of gut issues like constipation or loose stools or stomach aches — the green part of your smoothies, I prefer that to be something like lettuce, microgreens or bok choy vs. spinach because spinach can be a little bit hard on the gut at first and I know that sounds crazy to say. We don’t want to do a ton of spinach right away. But if we can do that, do a little bit of fruit in it, maybe make the base water so we are not getting a lot of sugar from any of that other kinds of milk, whether it’s hemp milk, oat milk, things like that — that would be great, and then you want to have your fat and your protein, maybe some avocado. Again, you can have an egg, any kind of piece of meat and if you’re vegetarian or vegan, chia seed, flaxseed and hemp seed provide a really good amount of vegetable or plant-based omega 3 fats. So that is where I start because we can do a huge decrease in the sugar load, we can get a lot of fat, we can get protein and that’s going to keep the kids full until lunch time.
And also, I like to start with breakfast too because what we are doing then is setting kids up for success in school, or at home too. But that focus on protein and fat and getting rid of those processed carbs and sugars helps to stabilize the blood sugar so they have a better chance of being able to focus and to learn and to manage their emotions and behavior in school then. So yeah, it’s a great starting point and it just sets the tone then for the whole rest of the day too.
Absolutely. Because a lot of the things that I do is I will pull dairy out of the kids’ diets and all we do is we say we’re going to take 3 weeks. In the back of the mind, I am going — I hope this is more of a lifestyle. But I’m doing it for the sake of the parents and the kids so that I don’t lose them before they get started. We say just 3 weeks and gradually, we always do it gradually because the impact that dairy has on the body, the kids can have a withdrawal type effect. And I learned that the hard way when I first started doing this. We would stop it cold turkey and moms would call me and say, “Sheila, these kids are going bizarre.” And I’d go, “I’m sorry, but we are on the right track and keep going!” It’s a good thing but it’s not. I’m sorry that we did it so quickly.
So now we gradually — and that’s what I do in my online course, is that on the first week we take dairy out of breakfast, the second week out of lunch, the third week out of dinner and snacks. And if you can do that, and if you can start to look at added sugar — so the American Heart Association has created guidelines for how much sugar your kids should have. And the amount of sugar, even in something like a vanilla yogurt, even in organic yogurt, even coconut yogurt, it can have up to 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar a day. And for a young school-age child, that’s the amount of added that they’re not supposed to have more than that for a day. So before they’ve even left the house, if they’ve had one of those yogurts, you’ve maxed out your sugar. So just really thinking about the added sugars in things and I’m not a big one, I don’t love to have people scrutinizing packages. I do want moms to be looking at the sugar content and then I want you to be looking, if we’re doing less and less packaged foods, then we have to do less label reading.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean really — I think sugar is such a great starting point, because when we focus on trying to get process sugar out, it automatically takes care of removing so many other things that we don’t want to be including, so it’s a great place to start.
Yeah and it is, it’s funny because I don’t talk that much about sugar, I just talk about decreasing the package foods and it automatically takes care of it.
Yeah, just that idea of shifting to more real food. What we call whole food or real food. Stuff that is actually how it occurs in nature. Real fruits and vegetables, real whole grains, real meats and seafoods and stuff like that and moving away from some of the packaged options. You know, and if you’re listening to that and it feels really overwhelming, just know there are more options than ever before in convenient sort of packaged ways to get clean foods. That’s one of the benefits of it being now as opposed to when we were talking with families about this even 8-10 years ago. There were not a lot of companies who were doing things like that. Now you can go to many of the mass grocery stores or places online and you can find more packaged convenient options that are conscious of better ingredients, lower sugar, all of that. So I never want, when we start talking about moving towards whole foods and things like that, I never want people to shut down to the idea and be like, “Oh my gosh I don’t have time, I can’t do that.” There are lots of ways to do that and going back to what you said earlier Sheila, about — just take simple, small steps to start. Like really, any step you take in that direction is going to be a positive thing for your child. So don’t not do it just because you think you can’t go a 100% all-in. Any step that you take is going to support your child in this way.
Absolutely, absolutely — and with what I alluded to earlier, the Environmental Working Group has a list and it’s called ‘The Clean 15’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen’. So if you are going and in your grocery store, you don’t have all the organic options or some things are really expensive, you can have this — there’s an app you can get and you can have it right on your phone and go, “Umm okay.” If there are strawberries, so strawberries are one of the foods that really absorb pesticides. So if they’re super expensive in the organic realm then maybe we don’t want to do that, just skip the strawberries and go to something like an orange, or one of the things that has a rind on it that’s going to have absorbed less pesticides.
And you can decrease your pesticide exposure by up to 92% by following their guidelines. And as you see everyday, Nicole — the studies are pretty clear that kids with pesticide exposures that are higher, have higher rates of ADHD and within a week, we know that kids going on clean food, their urine will clear from these pesticides. So I always love to talk about that because just as you said, doing a few simple steps can really make a big difference.
That’s really powerful information, you know that a 90+% reduction. That’s powerful, and I think, such a practical thing that a parent right now who is listening can do, just go to the Environmental Working Group, download that Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list and even if you just focus there, because it’s true — the research is getting even clearer, stronger over time. It feels like very week I get something in one of my research feeds about new connections about pesticides and chemical exposure and ADHD, autism, seizure issues, allergies, just the whole thing! And that’s such a simple step that we can take.
I also like going to one of your 5 core things about some of the environmental toxins too that come into our body in the form of personal care products or things that we use to clean. I always recommend to families — you know the Environmental Working Group has a great guide they put out every year for clean sunscreens and all of that kind stuff, lotions and different things, it’s a great resource for just looking at products that can help reduce our overall toxicity in terms of what we’re using in our homes, what we’re using in our kids bodies. It really is a good guide for that.
Yes. And a couple of my favorites too — when it comes to cleaning products, vinegar and water cleans just about everything. And baking soda can clean your bathtub and right there, you’re going to save money on your cleaning products and you’re not going to be exposing your kids to all of the chemicals that in the strong cleaning products. And the other way, I heard it in a conference explained this way and I love this, so we breathe about 10,000 liters of air a day, so we want to make sure we have clean air. We drink, adults, 1-2 liters of water a day, so we definitely want clean water and it’s more than just the refrigerator filter.
You may have your favorites. I have a couple of the filters I prefer and that’s another way. Third thing is food that we’re eating. 3 meals plus a day and then the last are all of those things that we have on our bodies. I had one case straight out of residency and it was a terrible, the worst eczema — one of the worst cases I have ever seen. And I didn’t figure it out, but it was the dermatologist who figured it out that it was the Glade plug-ins that was triggering this girl’s eczema. And we just have to be sleuths and that’s what I always tell parents, is that I am going to give you this list of things that can be the triggers and often, it’s the parents who figure it out. So information is power.
We only have a couple of minutes left, but I want to touch on something related to that, just that I know comes up a lot when working with families or even with other professionals. I know that there are some people listening right now that are going, “Yeah, I get that but look — nobody else in the family seems sensitive to that stuff. I use the same bath soap on all my kids”, or “I use the same cleaning products. But I’ve got this one child who has got this terrible eczema and ADHD and other issues. But why don’t all of my kids have problems then? If it’s the food or the things in the environment, how come all of us aren’t walking around with all of these issues?” Can you just speak to that for a minute?
Yeah, absolutely. So we are all, we all have different genetics. When we have different genetic snips — are what they’re called. So we metabolize things differently based on what our genetic makeup is. And we also know that it’s the environment that our cells are in that determines if these genetic things are turned on or off. So this could have been whatever was happening with mom in pregnancy, with the baby when they’re young, what’s happening with their gut flora, were they breastfed, bottle-fed? Were they a c-section, did they have vaginal delivery? So there are many different variables and even things like celiac disease. Two people may be predisposed to it, but one person may get it because maybe there is a big stressor, maybe they had a viral illness, a lot of people realize that — we know this in the medical world, but with diabetes type 1, that’s another one that we know where the kids will get a viral illness before they get diagnosed with it.
So there are certain triggers that will turn some of these genes on that are not going to allow us to detoxify and to get these things out of our system as easily as someone else will. And so it’s really important not to discount it or to discount what’s going on just because it’s only one person in the family. And those kids are like the canaries in the coal mine. Their bodies are more sensitive and they’re alerting us to the fact that these chemicals really are not good for us and if we’re exposed to them for a long enough period of time, everybody is going to have some subtle changes, but it may happen so subtly that you don’t realize wow, I actually have a headache everyday. And I’ll use myself as an example with this, which is when I was a kid, I had to take antibiotics for 6 months. I used to get these kidney infections and I never had any problems with my kidney again. But when I was started medical school, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune thyroid condition.
Well they told me at the time at the student health center was that it was the best thing to get because all you have to do is to take a medication for the rest of your life. I had no idea about food at that point in time. And after I went through all my training and through my integrative fellowship, I said — you know what? I’m going to take gluten out of my diet. And I took gluten out and it was like someone took a bag off of my head. I could think more clearly, I didn’t have energy slumps after I ate, and all of a sudden my GI system worked and I didn’t have a stomach ache after I ate and I don’t have celiac disease, but I have a gluten sensitivity and I am pretty… I really think mine was partially from the antibiotics and glyphosate which is in Roundup, they started to use it a lot more in the 90s and the late 80s. In college, what would I do is I ate a lot of pizza, I drank beer and you can see the difference in my face when I was in college.
And unfortunately it wasn’t until years later that I figured it out, but that’s the whole thing. So that’s an example of not being able to tolerate something, and I think it’s just the timing for it. And I think it was just built up over time, and I wish I had known to go off of gluten right when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, because I probably could have stopped it in its tracks, or potentially could have. So I hope that explains it but it has a lot to do with our genetics and snips and how we detoxify and clear things from our system.
I think that’s really helpful because that’s often something that comes up that people ask about or it can be a barrier to people really moving forward with things because they just think it just couldn’t be that big of a deal or whatever, and I think that often there’s a child in the family, who is the identified patient when families come to me or come to you. And as you start to get to know the family, things start to come out about what’s going on with other kids or with the parents too. And it’s like actually, probably everybody in the family, or more than just this child has some of these issues going on. Because they do share a certain amount of genetics and environmental exposure or whatever, but it tends to be one kid in the family who really is having the more severe issues and that draws people’s attention to it, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues going on with everybody else in the family too.
Yup, absolutely. And that’s where the fun is, it’s that everybody gets better.
That’s exactly right and taking that family approach. That’s exactly right, where what we talk to parents about doing for this one child — when you implement it as a family, suddenly everybody just feels better and functions better, which is great. We can talk all day about this! I’m realizing that time is going down here. So I want to make sure that you share with people where they can get more information about you, and I know you’ve got lots of resources online, a book — so where can people find you online? Talk about your book for a minute.
So my book is on Amazon, it’s called ‘Healthy Kids, Happy Moms’ it’s a step-by-step guide to improving many common childhood illnesses and then my online course is called ‘7 Steps to Healthy Kids, Happy Moms.’ And you can go to my website, it’s sheilakilbane.com and we have links to all of those from the website. We do have a lot of out of state families, you just have to come to Charlotte at least once in order for me to be able to see you and the goal is to have enough resources that you can really start to make a big difference. I’d say for 60-70% kids using the resources I have online is going to be all that you need and then it’s only the more severe cases that are going to need a lot more in-depth work. Looking at the gut and labs and things like that.
Yeah, great resources — things that I refer families to often, so definitely check those out. Sheila, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. I know that people found this incredibly helpful, so thank you.
Absolutely. Thanks for doing this, Nicole.
Alright everybody, we will see you next time for our next episode of ‘The Better Behavior Show’.