Persistent Childhood Ear Infections: Long-Term Nutrition Trumps Antibiotics

Ear infection, or otitis media, is the most common medical problem for children in the United States, and is the most common reason for prescribing antibiotics for infants and children. The typical doctor does not take care to avoid the overuse of these potentially dangerous drugs, and he does not champion nutritional excellence to prevent future infections.

When Stephanie Rogers, a typical seven-year-old girl, became my patient, her parents handed me a printout from the local pharmacy documenting the filling of 67 rounds of antibiotics at the cost of $1,643.80 by the ripe age of seven. Once the pediatric group started prescribing the antibiotics for minor complaints of fever and cough, it escalated to ear infections, sinus infections, and finally visits to the ear specialist by the age of four. She received 15 separate prescriptions of antibiotics when she was five years old. The first year she was my patient, the entire family changed its diet style. Stephanie went along for the ride and did fine. I did use an antibiotic once for her that next winter, when she had a persistent high fever and a red painful eardrum; however, that was the last time an antibiotic prescription was necessary. Luckily, Stephanie has been free of antibiotics ever since.

An international study following more than 3,000 children treated by general practitioners in nine countries showed that antibiotics did not improve the rate of recovery from ear infections. But nearly 98 percent of U.S. physicians in the survey prescribed antimicrobials routinely, the biggest percentage of all countries surveyed.

As a result of accumulating evidence documenting the dangers of antibiotics and their overuse, new guidelines for treating ear infections in children were just released from a joint effort of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. These guidelines represent a major shift in policy and thinking by physician leadership. The guidelines encourage doctors to initially manage the pain and not prescribe antibiotics for children with ear infections and to defer antibiotic use for the sicker children who are not improving two or three days later. I hope doctors will heed this message.

The story of Stephanie Rogers (not her real name) is from the book Disease-Proof Your Child.

The Infamous Green Soup

Here is a fun letter Dr. Fuhrman recently received from Janine Kroner--the mother of one of his patients.

Dr. Fuhrman,

I thought you might like to hear a cute story related to your vegetable soup and your carb advice you gave me for our son, who is our track star.

Back in May when you started treating our daughter, our son decided to apply proper eating toward his track program. He eats your vegetable soup, or what our kids have now renamed the "Green" soup, everyday. Well he had an amazing spring track season and we would jokingly say it was the green soup with a chuckle. His track friends/teammates found out about it and decided they wanted the soup. It is now cross country season and two of his teammates asked to come for dinner the night before yesterday's meet and have Green soup, sweet potatoes, and pasta. So the three boys ate us out of house and home, hoping the Green soup would work its magic. Well, yesterday the boys had their first meet and won. It was not even close. Not only did they win, but their times were great. When they recovered from the run, they came over to me all excited and said it was the soup. They have now decided they would like to have Green soup parties instead of pasta parties before big meets. Two other moms came to me and asked for the recipe. I found it all pretty entertaining, but hey who knows maybe we're on to something.

Actually, all three of these young men are amazing athletes who have trained hard for months and I do think they would have done well yesterday without the soup, but if it gets them to eat right let there be soup!

Very best,

Janine Kroner

Here is the version of Dr. Fuhrman's soup recipe that Janine uses:

Kale and Collards
Swiss Chard
Broccoli rabe
3 stalks leeks
Broccoli sprouts
Mushrooms diced
3 carrots, diced
3 parsnips, diced
4 zucchini
Spit peas 1/2 cup
Lentils 1/2 cup
Adzuki beans 1/2 cup
3 onions
celery juice 10 oz.
carrot juice 20 oz.
30 oz water
Vogue - Vegebase 2 tablespoons (Whole Foods will have this)

-Fill large pot with water, juices, and two tablespoons of VegeBase.
-Put peeled onions, unpeeled zucchinis, carefully cleaned leeks and beans in large pot, and simmer until zucchinis, leeks & onions are soft enough to blend or food process.
-While waiting for veggies to soften in pot, blend or food process all other ingredients until smooth. (I use half of the bunches of greens.)
-You will need a big bowl to put them in while waiting for zucchini, onions, and leeks to soften for food processing.
-When zucchini, onions and leeks are soft, blend or food process them.
-Put everything in the pot and simmer on low for 1.5 hours.

Making Green soup takes some time--but if you have a really big pot you can cook two weeks' worth at once. If you can't find or are missing an ingredient or two it really will not matter.