Away-at-School Student Health List

Integrative Clinical Pharmacist Scott Berliner, RPh

My son David is a senior at UConn this year, and the annual process of keeping him stocked with essentials like clothes and footwear also includes personal care items such as first aid, vitamins and herbal supplements.

Here is a general list of practical items and why they are used. Each student has his or her own personal needs, so this list is quite general. None of these suggestions is intended to replace your doctor’s prescribed medications. Before using any of these products, it is recommended that you check with a knowledgeable health professional about interactions with prescription medications.

We are not suggesting that you need every item in this lengthy list. You know your child best, and can determine the types of products that will be most helpful to support the good health of your son or daughter when he or she is away from home.

  1. Once-a-day multivitamins. Students don’t usually eat a balanced diet on a regular basis. I like Simply One by Super Nutrition or Total Formula 2 by Integrative Therapeutics. For the more active student, try Active Nutrients by Xymogen.
  2. Fish oil. The DHA portion of omega-3 supports neurological health and brain development. There are many choices, including EPA-DHA 720 by Metagenics.
  3. L-Theanine is an amino acid derived from green tea that can be used safely for mild cases of pre-test jitters. It can also be used to aid in sleep. Melatonin is another safe sleep aid.
  4. For allergies I use BHI “Allergy” formula. This is a homeopathic combination that is nonspecific so it is handy for seasonal allergies as well as insect bites or any allergic reaction. D-Hist is a classic herbal combination of quercetin and nettles, which is a non-drowsy, natural compound with antihistaminic properties. For chronic congestion caused by overly hot dorm rooms, Sinusin by BHI is a homeopathic nasal spray for chronic rhinitis and sinus infections. These three products offer several options for different respiratory issues.
  5. For sinus issues, I send Kold Kare, an adaptogenic herb that has decongestant properties. Research indicates it can reduce the severity of a cold or sinus infection especially when taken at the first signs. At the first sign of the flu I recommend FluPlus by BHI. If it is a scratchy throat Immunity Take Care is an effective elderberry-based lozenge.
  6. For athletes, I strongly suggest sending along sunscreen. According to the Environmental Working Group, one of the best and least toxic is All Terrain’s TerraSport Spray available in SPF 15 and 30. This is free of parabens (carcinogenic) and oxybenzone, a toxic sunscreen agent. It uses zinc oxide, the safest of all sunscreen agents, to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
  7. For trauma or sports injuries, and also for general inflammation issues, Traumeel is a homeopathic preparation for muscle and joint pain. It has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and is available topically as a gel and orally as a tablet or liquid. Dehydration is another issue for athletes. For muscle cramping plus poor athletic performance, it is essential to get electrolytes into your system. Water alone is not always sufficient. Minerals insure proper utilization of water. Alacer, the makers of Emergen C, make Electromix in individual packets that can be easily added to bottled water. For the extreme athlete, Designs for Health makes Electrolyte Synergy.
  8. Many of the protein powders many athletes have used are no longer acceptable due to heavy metal contamination that is of concern to health practitioners knowledgeable about environmental illness. Bluebonnet’s Whey Protein Isolate and Dual Action Protein are affordable, quality protein powders that athletes can use safely to support healthy muscle growth. For athletes with health issues and in need of immune support Design for Health makes Whey Cool, which provides a rich source of immunoglobulins, in addition to the whey isolate. For snacking, try naturally sweetened options like Paleobars (each containing 7 to 13 grams of healthy protein) available in several flavors, or Organix bars by Xymogen. There are also healthy meal replacements like Fit Food Lite by Xymogen or Paleomeal by Designs for Health or Ultrameal by Metagenics
  9. For students with intestinal issues, digestive enzymes like Similase help with some often “difficult to digest” cafeteria food. Probiotics like Probiotic Pearls or Probiomax DF are pharmaceutical grade, non-refrigerated options that can aid in bowel issues and increase immune function.
  10. For those people concerned with the general toxic nature of mass-produced hygiene products, The Radiant Health Apothecary also features Spry Toothpaste and Spry Gum, Periobiotic Toothpaste and many other nontoxic personal hygiene and health and beauty items.