Hi Everyone! April 2004

Welcome to our second newsletter. In this month's newsletter:

ginkgo leaf
Our trademark is the Ginkgo Biloba leaf, also called the Maidenhair tree.

The Ginkgo biloba is the world's oldest living tree species. It can be traced back to more than 200 million years. It was revered by the Chinese and often planted around temples, which probably saved it from extinction. It is a deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 100 or more feet with a 3-4 feet diameter trunk. It is very resistant to insects, disease and pollution. The extracts from the leaves are used medicinally. Learn more...

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians make a statement against the use of antibiotics for ear infections. How can you help your child?
  2. Fevers - to Suppress or Not to Suppress.
  3. Breastfeeding - Benefits to Child, Mother and Society.
  4. Psychological Care of Infants and Children.
  5. Let Food Be Your Medicine.
  6. Ways to Reduce your Health Insurance Cost; by increasing your deductible you can lower your annual premium substantially. You can then use this annual savings to pay for alternative medicine.
  7. Ask Dr. Brannick.
  8. Children's Remedies for every household.
  9. Suggested books to aid with healthy mental, physical , and spiritual development.

American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians make a statement against the use of antibiotics for ear infections. How can you help your child?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians recently came out with new guidelines for prescribing antibiotics for ear infections due to a concern about antibiotic resistance emerging from a history of over prescribing. When more serious infections like pneumonia or meningitis occur, a child treated with antibiotics may not respond thus leaving the child in danger. Several bacterial species causing life-threatening illnesses including M. tuberculosis are now resistant to most antibiotics. Antibiotics are only effective with bacterial infections. However they have been prescribed for viral, fungal and allergic conditions in which they have no effect and thereby increase the resistance.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50 million out of 150 million (that's 1/3) of the antibiotic prescriptions are not needed. Antibiotics do not relieve pain during the first 24 hours and do not reduce fever. Eighty percent of children whose ear infections are not treated with antibiotics get better on their own and have no increase in serious infections. Each course of antibiotics given to a child can result in future infections being more difficult to treat.

Otitis Media (ear infections) accounts for 50% of all visits to the pediatrician and effects 2/3 of American children by the age of 2 years. Increased risk factors for otitis media include day care attendance, wood-burning stoves, history of antibiotic use, second hand cigarette smoke, and food allergies of which dairy products are the #1 food source (see www.notmilk.com for more information on the damaging effects that dairy products have on our bodies).

The new guidelines, for medical doctors, prescribe pain medications of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which do not treat the infection nor the cause of the infection buts treat the resulting pain. It is time to support the body to fight the organism as nature intended as well as treat the cause. This is a basic principle of Naturopathic Medicine.

What can be used to treat ear infections, upper respiratory infections, colds and flues? Naturopathic Physicians are doctors fully educated, trained and clinically experienced in natural medicine. The use of herbs, vitamins and minerals, clinical nutrition, homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture are prescribed according to the patient's presentation. These treatments are safe and effective. Your child will not become resistant to them. These modalities support the proper functioning of the immune system which results in a healthier child. It is well known that after a child is on antibiotics he/she is left in a more vulnerable state. In other words the child's immune system is weaker and the child is more susceptible to illness.

Treatments using eardrops should only be used with an intact tympanic membrane. Please see your doctor prior to self-treatment to confirm diagnosis.

-- Michelle Brannick ND

FEVERS: to suppress or not to suppress

If we desire stronger, healthier children then we must learn to support our body's abilities to heal itself and not interfere with this natural process. Fevers are the result of an intentional mechanism by the brain (Hypothalamus) to create an unfavorable environment for pathogens (germs) to live in. The degree that a fever may increase to is carefully regulated by feedback mechanisms to the brain. Once the pathogen is no longer a threat the temperature will go back down naturally. Therefore fevers should be supported rather than suppressed by drugs or other mechanisms. By lowering a fever artificially the illness is prolonged and the baby/child is left in a vulnerable position because the pathogen may not have been killed and it is very likely that it will resurface again maybe in a couple of weeks or months whenever the immune system is lowered enough to the advantage of the pathogen. Many drugs that are used to lower fevers also make the body toxic and therefore weaken the immune system (the body spends time and energy trying to detoxify itself instead of working on killing the pathogens) along with killing off the "friendly bacteria" which helps to keep "bad" bacteria from growing. All this leaves the body in a more vulnerable state for more serious infections to occur.

Not only does the increase in body temperature create an unfavorable environment for the bacteria/virus to grow, changes in blood composition occur. The iron and zinc levels are lowered and the copper levels are increased. Bacteria needs iron and zinc to multiply. With a decrease in the availability of iron and zinc the bacteria can not grow. Fever also enhances the activity of WBC (White Blood Cells) so fever improves immunity.

We have been taught that a fever is harmful and needs intervention. This is not the case. A fever should be encouraged by supporting the immune system to run its course. This support may come from immune stimulating herbs or hydrotherapy. (There are many ways to support the immune system - see a Naturopathic Physician) A baby or child with a fever should be encouraged to nurse or drink fluids. This is important to prevent dehydration.

The occurrence of "convulsion or seizure" if a fever gets to high is extremely rare and an unneccesary fear. Dr. Mendleson points out in his book "Raising a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor" that after treating tens of thousands of children he has seen only 1 fever over 106F and that it is not the high temperature that causes the convulsion but rather an extreme rapid increase. These extremely rare incidences have no serious side effects. The body can actually handle temperatures as high as 108F before there is irreversible damage to the brain. Brain damage would only occur in a child that is susceptible, for example, the child would most likely to have had some serious brain trauma where the hypothalamus is damaged and can no longer regulate body temperature.

Most fevers do not get over 104°F. Higher fevers are usually found with bacterial infections whereas low grade, prolonged fevers are usually associated with viral infections. Fevers that have lasted for more than 3 weeks needs to be completely evaluated for more serious problems.

Once a fever begins a baby/child will get the chills which is the way the body generates heat. (Macrophages are activated) The fever then is sustained for a few hours to days. In babies the temperature of their fever will vacillate greatly. The duration and intensity of the fever is regulated by feedback from the body which should not be interfered with. Once the bacteria /virus is killed the temperature will go down automatically. As the body is getting rid of the excess heat the child will sweat and look flushed. The way the body releases this heat is through vasodilatation (vessel widen and there is increased blood flow on the surface of the skin) Heat is then radiated outward and the child starts to become active again.

Additional Sources: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, The Principles and Practices of Medicine by Stobo, Hellemann, Ladenson, Petty, Traill, Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease

-- Michelle Brannick ND

Breastfeeding Benefits to Child, Mother, and Society

baby carriageBreastfeeding Benefits to Child:

Breastfed babies:

Breastfeeding Benefits to Mother

Benefits to the Nation


-- Michelle Brannick ND

Psychological Care of Infants and Children

Did you know that an infant does not know that it is separate from the mother until around the age of 6 months? If premature separation of mother and baby occurs (in which it frequently does) the child may suffer anxiety for the rest of its life. Anxiety is the most common reported mental illness today.

Here are some developmental issues, concerns and strategies to aid with healthy mental development.

Age Developmental issues Concerns Strategies
0-12 months
Trust vs. Mistrust
Learns to express frustration.
Dependence on mother.
Sensitivity to physical environment.
Learning to take solid foods.
Motor development including milestones of rolling over and sitting
Physiologic irritation.
Fear of environment.
Stranger anxiety.
Concerns may manifest as protest, detachment
Encourage parent to stay with the child.
Avoid hunger.
Use warm hands.
Encourage infant stimulation.
Maintain infant routine if possible.
Know parents usual way of comforting child.
Provide consistency in childcare provider if parent does not stay with the infant

1-3 years
Autonomy vs. shame and doubt.
Receptive language more developed than expressive.
Assertive will
Experiments with new ways of reaching goals.
Begins to be able to postpone pleasure.
Learning to walk.
Toilet training.
Uses make believe.
“Me” centered.
Rituals are important.
Activities explores environment.
Negativism in developing self-assertion.
May have fears of dark, noises.
Fear of threats to body.
Fear of pain.
Separation anxiety.
Regression may occur.
Cannot understand reasons for illness and treatment.
Upset when routines not followed.
Concern may manifest as protest, clinging, fighting. passivity, depression, negativism, uncommunicativeness, detachment.
Encourage parents or other supports to remain with child.
Accept protest.
Give choices if possible.
Provide a safe area where no painful procedures are done.
Maintain normal rituals if possible.
Provide toys that promote gross and fine motor activity.
Have child bring from home favorite blanket, animal, etc when in a new place.
Accept regressive behavior without comment. Allow as much mobility as possible.
Encourage child to talk about parents, siblings and other family members.
Early Childhood
3-6 years
Initiative vs. Guilt
Good expressive skills.
Rich fantasy life.
Magical thinking.
Strong concept of self.
Learning physical skills.
Learning to play with others.
Prereading skills.
Egocentricity lessens.
Thinks of one idea at a time.
Includes others in the environment.
Nightmares common.
Equates illness with being good or bad.
Fears long separation.
Fears pain.
Fears disfigurement.
Fears bodily intrusion.
Fantasy and guilt can distort perception of illness.
Unable to perceive long-term effects.
Fears loss of control.
Concerns may manifest as displacement of feelings, aggression, dependency, withdrawal, guilt, and shame.
Allow protest.
Encourage fantasy.
Use play therapy.
Let participate in care.
Encourage family to remain.
Have child discuss home and family.
Accept regression.
Leave favorite toy.
Acknowledge fears and anxieties

Source: Psychological Care of Patients and Their Families

-- Kevin Brannick Psy.D (abd), LPC, M.A.

Let Your Food Be Your Medicine


bowl of soupIn a large pot filled with pure water add an organic, free range chicken (or the best chicken you can find), 1 chopped onion, I piece of kombu or dulse (dried sea vegetables) and boil until the chicken breaks apart. Take out the bones, skin, and skim the fat off. Add sliced carrots, celery, bok choy (any vegetables that you want).

Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with brown rice, white rice or noodles.

Note: The dried sea vegetables of kombu and dulse add much needed minerals to the diet!


Many people don't realize the skyrocketing cost of healthcare until they no longer belong to an employers group health plan and are faced with the choice of paying high premiums for COBRA (if qualified) to continue their coverage for a limited period of time, or have to purchase an individual health policy for themselves or their entire family. The rates for individual plans can vary widely based on the company that you choose to insure with, but are also determined by the following factors:

Age and sex - Rates can vary greatly depending on your age. Persons above the age of 50 generally will have more stringent medical qualifications. Women at all ages usually pay higher rates than men.

Health history - Individual policies are almost always medically underwritten, meaning that your health must qualify. You may be required to submit medical records to prove insurability. Are there past or present illnesses or surgeries? Do you presently use prescription medications? If so, some of these conditions or medications may not be covered in your new policy for a limited or indefinite period, or the company can decline to offer you coverage.

Occupation - Some insurers look unfavorably at certain "high risk" occupations.

Lifestyle - Do you smoke or use any form of tobacco? Rates are higher for tobacco users, and some insurers may charge these higher rates for everyone in the household, even if some members do not use tobacco.

Height and weight - Insurers use build charts to determine whether you can qualify for the best rate classes. If you are over or underweight, you may be charged a higher premium.

You may now think to yourself "My family and I are in relatively good health and have had no major health issues so far, but how else can I save on health insurance costs?" The answer is that you must calculate how much you actually incur in costs each year for health services, and what you can afford to pay out of pocket each year for health insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles versus the insurance benefits that you receive.

In a perfect world, we would like to have all of our health expenses paid for by our health insurance plan without any additional payments by us (except the premiums) But in reality, the costs for this type of policy (if available) would be very expensive, and not worth the cost for most people. This is why HMO's are no longer popular or cost effective for individual consumers.

What many consumers now choose for individual health plans are PPO's which require you to use services within a network, but still give a large choice of health professionals and hospitals to choose from.

Many individual plans offer services such as low co-pays for doctor visits and emergency visits, coverage for prescriptions, and even wellness benefits for things such as routine physical or gynecological exams.

*Did you know that 92% of Americans use less than $1,200 per year in healthcare services, but that small usage accounts for 30% of all dollars spent on healthcare!

*Also, 68% of Americans spend only $150 per year or less on healthcare!

* Data provided by Unicare health plans

You can save money by choosing your options wisely. For example, just by selecting a higher deductible or co-pay you can receive a major reduction in your premiums. Your out of pocket cost for health services would increase, but would most likely be offset by much lower monthly health insurance premiums.

For example, we will use a family of 4 (husband age 38, wife age 34, and 2 children) to illustrate this fact. Using rates from a major insurer, we will show the difference in premium with different deductibles of $1000, $2500, and $5000. These are the maximum amounts you would have to pay out of pocket before the insurer would pay any hospitalization benefits. After meeting this calendar year deductible the insurer would pay different amounts (co-insurance) depending on the plan chosen. These are as follows:

100% of eligible amount after deductible.


80% of the next $5000, and then 100% thereafter


70% of the next $10,000, and then 100% thereafter

**The plan illustrated on the next page is a comprehensive health plan that includes a $10 office visit co-pay, prescription coverage, emergency room benefit, wellness benefit, and a $5,000,000 lifetime benefit.

* Rates provided by Celtic Health Plans



Premium for Male

Premium for Female

Premium for Dependents

Plus Option

Term Life Option

Total Premium

70/30 10000 60 67 64 143 0 334
80/20 10000 65 74 72 143 0 354
100/0 10000 68 77 74 143 0 362
70/30 5000 73 82 80 143 0 378
80/20 5000 81 91 88 143 0 403
100/0 5000 89 101 98 143 0 431
70/30 2500 94 106 102 143 0 445
80/20 2500 104 118 114 143 0 479
70/30 1500 120 135 130 143 0 528
100/0 2500 129 146 140 143 0 558
80/20 1500 133 150 146 143 0 572
70/30 1000 140 158 152 143 0 593
80/20 1000 155 175 170 143 0 643
100/0 1500 160 180 174 143 0 657
80/20 500 178 201 194 143 0 716
100/0 1000 179 201 194 143 0 717
80/20 250 224 253 244 143 0 864

As you can see in the rate examples above, this family would save $1908 per year just by using the $2500/year deductible. The same family would save $3432 per year by using the $5000/year deductible. To save even more money, the rates for an alternate health plan are shown below. The plan below does not include doctor visit co-pays or prescription benefits (Rx benefits are available at an extra cost). This plan would be ideal for persons who have infrequent use of medical services and medications, have a fair amount of personal savings, or are looking for catastrophic coverage in order to save a large amount of money on premiums ($6384 per year savings!).

Co-Insurance Deductible Premium for Male Premium for Female Premium for Dependents Premium for Drug Card Total Premium
70/30 10000 51 57 56 0 164
70/30 6000 58 65 62 0 185
70/30 3500 70 79 76 0 225
70/30 2000 88 99 96 0 283

These examples are just some of the many ways that you can save money on your individual health insurance plan. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will obviously keep your healthcare costs lower. Keep in mind that you need health insurance to prevent financial ruin in case you develop a major health problem, but you do not want to put yourself in the position of having high premiums that you cannot afford. Just like insuring yourself against other types of risks, the assumption of some additional risk on your part can help you save money for many years in the future.

We can help you make the right decisions regarding your individual insurance plans for health, life, disability, long-term care, and help you obtain the best rates and programs possible with the many quality companies that we represent. We also offer coverage for small groups. Contact us for additional information.

Joseph Ramos

Secure Financial Solutions


Ask Dr. Brannick...

If you have a general health question, you may submit it to our published column "Ask Dr. Brannick". Please submit questions by email and advise that it is for the e-newsletter publication. We will answer questions on a first come, first serve basis.

Why do you recommend breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years?


I recommend breastfeeding for 2 years to support the full development of an infant's immune system and to protect the child from illness. The infant's immune system is not fully developed until around the age of two. Prior to 2 years old the child is susceptible to various illnesses and diseases. Since the infant has an inferior immune system it is difficult to overcome illness on its own. By nursing, the child acquires the mother's immune system which is called "passive immunity". With the help of mother's milk the child now can resist most illnesses/diseases. It is a well-known fact today that breastfed kids are healthier. Breastfeeding also allows for the child to have optimum nutrition that supports and encourages normal development. Breast milk changes to meet the baby's needs and delivers optimum protein for normal development.

-- Michelle Brannick ND

Children's Remedies for every household

cough syrup bottleArnica Montana 30C homeopathic remedy for falls, bumps, bruises, pinched finger, involving some sort of trauma. Dose 3-5 pellets under tongue every 5 minutes until pain relieved. Usually only 1 to 3 doses is needed.

High quality multivitamin and mineral to increase nutritional status if needed.

Cod liver oil, it provides essential fatty acids that today are lacking in most diets and are needed for proper central nervous system development. It also has antiviral and antibacterial qualities along with enhancement of the cell membrane resulting in cell being more fluid and resisting damage therefore allowing for optimal cell functioning.
For children 1 heaping teaspoon daily taken with food.

Herbal cough syrup is needed to decrease the irritation of the throat, strengthen and support the body to overcome the irritant. See a natural physician for dosage.

Vitamin A and C are needed to support the body when ill. Usually ages under 5 require a liquid form and can be put in a small amount of juice and water for improving the taste.
Care must be taken with vitamin A use and should be supervised by a physician due to toxicity when used at high dose for an extended amount of time.

Topical herbal creams are great for minor skin irritations, scratches, burns or cuts. Use as needed directly on the skin. (Not for internal use)

Suggested books to aid with healthy mental, physical , and spiritual development

book graphicHere are some suggested books to aid with healthy mental, physical, and spiritual development. I highly recommend these incredible books. Anxiety is very prevalent in our society and it is the most common mental disorder. Learn how to have secure, well-bonded children resulting in anxious-free adults. If we have more secure people in the world I believe we will have world peace. These books will touch you deeply. May you find beauty in natural development for it may heal you.

--Michelle Brannick ND

The Continuum Concept In Search of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedloff
The Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce
The Scientist in the Crib by Gopnik, Meltzoff, Kuhl