I am a humanitarian and, reluctantly, a spidertarian. 

(Yep. You caught me. I made that word up.)

My mother is an ex-hippie and insect activist. I couldn’t squish a spider as a child. Instead, I had to transport the eight-legged, mini Borgias outside. My father even used to take my black widow hunting while we visited my grandmother in Las Vegas. What else could put a young child into the state of repose like the nightly ramblings of black widow stalking? Those shiny, black torsos with blood red markings are the perfect thing to dwell on before engaging in a long night of sound sleep. 

So what does my weird childhood have to do with the new school year? Plenty. The fall rains have hit Anchorage and, no, I do not want to quibble this point. The rain is here and now the spiders are coming indoors. Children and arachnids start to appear in places that they have eschewed all summer. What does this mean? Time for the back to school talk!

As much as you love your children, they are covered in germs. What can a parent do? You can strengthen that immune system. More mushrooms in your diet and water in your adult sippy cups. ENT probiotics are another great tool when you feel like those adorable fingers are smattering bacteria and viruses all over your delicate person. They are a delightful, melt in your mouth boost of beneficial bacteria that help to make your mucosa less inhabitable for those pesky infections.

Keep your Vitamin D at an appropriate level. We live in Alaska. I repeat, we live in Alaska. I encourage everyone to go out and get some sun on their skin but we do live in Alaska. If you have not had your Vitamin D level taken lately, you should. That being said, 2,000 ius daily will help keep you in spider, fighting form. No reason to take insect cohabitation too far. 

The final tip will be my most controversial, cold stress/hydrotherapy. There is some literature out there supporting cold stress and hydrotherapy to boost immune function. Getting out there in the rain and taking a jog might be just the thing to keep you healthy this fall. So while the little uns’ and the venomous bitty beasts come in, you can head out. 

School is a marker of time passing, watching those you love grab another rung on the milestones of life and reminding yourselves just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t lurking in the corners ready to strike. (Just kidding – spider bites are way over diagnosed by anyone with access to Google.) 

Happy fall and remember – spiders eat other insects and we shouldn’t judge. Even a little assassin needs some love. 

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Dr. Cameron O’Connell is a Naturopathic primary care doctor with interests in longevity, endocrinology and sexual health. Dr. O’Connell hails from Alaska and spent much of her childhood improving her micro biome by playing in the forest and foraging for snacks among the edible flora. Having had variable life experiences – from working at a ski resort in Montana to acting as the Assistant Medical Director for the Engine2 Immersion Programs in 2016 – she loves meeting and helping people with a variety of backgrounds and concerns. One of Dr. O’Connell’s objectives is to meet the patient where they are at and help them to further their own health goals. She believes that the patient is an active partner in determining future wellness and it is Dr. O’Connell’s job to help them cultivate and create both patient- driven preventative medicine and client-motivated treatment for chronic conditions.

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