Reflux: How to Help Naturally.
Arching his back while screaming, spitting up when eating, not sleeping, these are all signs of reflux in an infant. While some choose to overlook these symptoms, others want to know more, to understand what their baby is suffering from, and more importantly, to help.
Over 50% of infants suffer from reflux.
Doctors will typically ask parents to cope with their unhappy child for a few months until their reflux dissipates. If the parent is persistent or the child shows poor signs of poor growth, a doctor may perform one of the following tests:
- Ultrasound: detecting an obstruction in the opening between the stomach and small intestine
- Blood Work: to rule out or identify any possible causes of recurring vomiting
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: measuring the acidity in the esophagus by inserting a tube through the nose
- Upper Endoscopy: using a tube with a camera lens inserted through the mouth, the doctor will see into the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. Samples of tissue may be taken for study. This procedure is done under general anesthesia.
Less invasive doctors will first suggest that a breastfeeding mother remove dairy from her diet. A formula fed infant will be given a list of different formulas to try. If the reflux continues, medication will naturally be recommended. H2 Histamine Blockers such as Zantac or Pepsid are prescribed, followed by stronger medications such as Prevacid or Prilosec (proton pump inhibitors). As all medications do, these have a laundry list of side effects from dizziness to vomiting. There have been no studies conducted on children and dosages of zantac.
There are other ways. Natural ways. Ways to help your crying, pained child.
Let’s discuss reflux.
Did you know that reflux is actually the symptom of TOO LITTLE stomach acid? This can be traced back to pregnancy and mom’s morning sickness and heartburn. These ailments can be passed to baby in-utero. As we get older, our acid drops and there is an increase in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
The medications given are actually making the problem worse by suppressing the acid. The absent acid is hydrochloric acid (HCL), and when low, an organism called Helicobacter pylori or H. Pylori causes a low grade inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and over time the body’s response is to want to get rid of it. This is reflux.
Make sure to wean from any medications gradually, as the body will rebound and worsen the reflux if you quit cold turkey.
Behind ear infections, reflux is a close second as to why parents visit the office. After learning more about the child, mother, pregnancy, diet, supplements, and medication usage, we will discuss and plan dietary changes and a supplement plan. If breastfeeding and keeping the baby’s gut “pure,” the plan will be only for the mother. But infants can be supplemented as well as the mother. If not breastfeeding, infant should be supplemented.
- Vitamin D: More than likely, the mother is deficient in Vitamin D. Without knowing your vitamin D levels, you can follow recommended doses of a liquid vitamin D; however, testing to know your levels is most beneficial. (I usually recommend Xymogen brand.) If you are not as concerned with keeping your child’s gut “virgin,” then you can supplement your child with recommended dosage.
- Probiotics: (AMAZING) They help heal the gut and boost immunity. Did you know 85% of your immunity comes from your gut? You want a probiotic with a minimum of 7-10 strain. You just don’t want to take acidophilus. (We recommend Davinci Mega Probiotic davincilabs.com ) Taking care of the gut, yours and your infant’s will boost your immunity and help with a healthy life. Please follow the label for dosage. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166766/
- Digestive Enzymes: Mom can incorporate these alongside the probiotics to help break down fats, proteins, carbohydrates and milk sugars. Our foods today are not broken down like they once were due to over-processing.
- Limit/Eliminate Dairy, Gluten, Caffeine, Alcohol: Dairy can produce histamines, which cause irritation to the lining of the gut and causes a decrease in the production of acid. Gluten also irritates the gut. Stick with organic as far as your budget allows. Look for no antibiotic use, no hormone, and free range with meat and dairy.
- Water: Stay well hydrated for breastmilk supply.
- Unrefined Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt: These salts help produce HCL(hydrochloric acid) in the stomach, fighting off parasites and aiding in digestion.
- Complex Minerals: The body needs an average of 80 essential minerals a day, but the typical person gets 10-15. Also, a diet high in meat and processed foods can demineralize the body; and a diet low in salt will make the body deficient in nutrients. (Schroeder, HA. Losses of vitamins and trace minerals resulting from processing and preservation of foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 24: MAY 1971, pp. 562-573.) We recommend Youngevity’s Cheri minerals http://youngevity.com/
- Aloe Juice: Aloe coats the lining of the gut to allow healing from the repeated acidity that has irritated the lining, therefore allowing nutrients to be absorbed. Mom should consume in the morning on empty stomach and before night time on an empty stomach for 4-6 weeks or until the reflux has resolved. Aloe juice can be given directly to the baby, morning and evening.
- Inclined Sleep: place a wedge or small pillow under the mattress of child’s bed/crib to prop her up at a slight This keeps the body in proper alignment for digestion.
Reflux in Toddlers:
Along with supplementing a toddler, helping to close the cardiac sphincter, the valve that allows everything in and out of the stomach, will help control the reflux. This can be done by laying the child down after eating and feeling under the breast bone and sternum (small knob) for a pocket of tissue, no bone. That is the sphincter. Depending on if the child is infant or older, you may use 1 or 2 fingers, pressing down about ¼ to ½ inch and then aiming your hand toward the feet (almost like a scooping motion) using sustained pressure for 20-30 seconds after every feeding.
Chiropractic Care for Reflux:
Misalignments in the upper neck due to childbirth or not being positioned correctly in the womb can be a cause of reflux. Parents tend to place baby in a swing or seat inclined to aid in reflux relief. This then causes the legs to be elevated and the spine to flex and curve forward, putting added stress on the infant’s body that shouldn’t be there. This causes tight and spasming muscles. The chiropractic adjustments will help to calm the muscles down and align the spine, allowing for the body to function more effectively.
In light of the news that this year’s flu shot is, at best, 23% effective (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/flu-vaccine-working-23-percent-effective-28249610), many people are wondering what they can do to help protect themselves and their family from the flu. In fact, there are a lot of lifestyle changes that you can make in order to help keep your family healthy during what we have been calling ‘the sick season.’ In addition to influenza, norovirus (what most people refer to as a ‘stomach bug’ or ‘stomach flu,’ that includes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever), and rhinovirus (the common cold), all run rampant this time of year. Many of the tactics that you can use to prevent the flu will also prevent the spread of other common contagious illnesses.
First and foremost, practice proper hand washing! Check out this awesome poster from the World Health Organization. You can print it out and hang it in your bathroom for your kids: http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/How_To_HandWash_Poster.pdf. One of the best best strategies that you can implement to help prevent the spread of illness, is have everyone take off their shoes and jackets, and WASH HANDS as soon as you get home. From anywhere! When you get home from school, the drugstore, the mall, the grocery store, a friend’s house, your mom’s house, anywhere. Every time you walk in the door make it a habit to wash your hands. If you are running multiple errands, or will be in a location where soap and water is not readily available, it is a good idea to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but keep in mind this does not kill norovirus, clostridium difficile bacteria, or many strains of the flu virus. Experts have said that hand sanitizer is more effective at preventing germ proliferation, rather than at killing it off, so it’s important to use soap and water whenever it’s available, and not to rely on hand sanitizers.
In addition to hand washing, when you are out and about, it’s important to try not to touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth! This is more difficult than people realize. It’s habit to rub our eyes when we are tired, scratch our nose, or eat something with our hands. Spend any time with children, and you will notice how often they have their hands in their mouths, and fingers in their nose! That’s one of the best ways to spread germs, so talk to your kids about keeping their hands away from their face. This will be almost impossible for them! But it’s still important to try, and it’s never too late to begin instilling good hygiene habits in our children.
Typically, the influenza virus is considered a “droplet transmission” virus, which means you must come into contact with the secretions of someone who is infected. Some strains have been known to be “airborne,” which means the microscopic droplets can stay suspended in the air for some time and you can become infected by breathing them in. For this reason, if you are going to be in contact with someone with the flu, or if you MUST go out in public when you have the flu, it is prudent to wear a respiratory mask. These are available at any drugstore. While you might feel silly wearing it, it’s better than getting the flu or spreading it to someone else! Alternatively, you could wear a Scough and pretend you are covering your face because you’re cold! http://wearascough.com
Getting regular chiropractic adjustments can help keep you and your family in optimal health. In order for our immune systems to function appropriately, our body and brain need to be able to send effective messages to each other! These messages are sent up and down our spinal cord (in a complex process I won’t bore you with here), and a simple adjustment can make all of the difference if some of those pathways are blocked. Chiropractic adjustments can be especially helpful for children who have frequent sinus and ear infections as the adjustments help to keep those areas open for drainage.
Vitamin D deficiency is almost epidemic in this country, especially during the winter months when we are exposed to very little sunshine. However, vitamin D is crucial for proper immune function and many other functions in the body. In order for our bodies to make adequate vitamin D, we need to have adequate levels of cholesterol in our bodies, and at least 15 minutes of face and arm exposure to sunlight per day. Clearly no one one in the Northeastern United States is getting that amount of exposure during the icy cold winter months. A high quality vitamin D supplement can help fill in the gaps until we can all lay out in the sunshine during the warmer months. We like Bluebonnet brand, Xymogen, and Nordic Naturals, but you can ask your chiropractor or naturopath which supplement brand they recommend. It is especially important for breastfeeding mothers to make sure that they are not vitamin D deficient. Many pediatricians mistakenly claim that breastmilk is deficient in vitamin D and that babies need supplementation, but this is only true if the mother is deficient. Some breastfeeding mothers need as much as 5,000-10,000 IU supplementation in order to have enough vitamin D for themselves and their nursing baby. Your chiropractor or other health practitioner can order a blood test so that you know what your vitamin D levels are.
It is very important to maintain the healthiest diet possible when trying to prevent the flu and other illnesses. By now, most of us know how damaging excess sugar can be to the immune system, so it’s especially important to keep the sugar down during outbreaks of illness! We know how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet when fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t as available and when all you want to do is curl up with some hot comfort food. Nourishing soups that contain a lot of garlic, onions, and ginger will help fight the flu and other illnesses. Bone broth is a wonderful addition to everyone’s diet, see our favorite recipe here: http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/ Organic oatmeal with grass-fed butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup is a delicious and nourishing way to start the day. Pastured eggs have plenty of protein, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D. Don’t forget to eat the yolk! That’s where the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are. Snack on organic almonds and walnuts, organic dried fruit and seeds, and grass-fed cheeses. If you must have something sweet (as we all must sometimes), you can make your own organic low-sugar hot chocolate. Organic, fair-trade pure cocoa powder, plus the milk or milk alternative of your choice, and just a couple teaspoons of organic cane sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Remember also, that the majority of your immune system resides in your gut. There are certain food additives and over-the-counter medications that are known to harm the beneficial bacteria inside your large intestine that protect you from infection. NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can damage gut flora when taken in excess or over long periods of time. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) have been known to kill off beneficial bacteria. Always read labels of all over-the-counter medications as many contain sucralose or aspartame. Pedialyte, often given to children for dehydration during illness, contains sucralose, which is almost guaranteed to make your child feel worse. Check out this blog for an all-natural rehydration drink for kids: http://dontmesswithmama.com/homemade-citrus-electrolyte-drink/
If you or your family members do happen to come down with the flu, in the absence of other serious medical conditions, it is usually a self-limiting illness. It is important to stay at home, preferably in bed, and to REST, when you are ill! Our culture encourages pushing yourself to the limit, but it’s important to STAY HOME when you are sick in order to prevent passing the illness along to others. Plenty of rest also results in a quicker recovery. Keep hydrated and eat nourishing meals such as bone broth. For kids without an appetite, I make a delicious, immune boosting rice dish that I have put on my birth blog here: https://birthinfullbloom.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/immune-boosting-rice-dish-for-sick-little-ones/
Stay hydrated with coconut water, electrolyte drinks, organic juices, and tea. Organic Lemon Balm tea is both antiviral and delicious! Even kids like it, sweetened with a little raw honey (honey is not recommended for babies under 1 year of age). Breastfeeding babies and kids are much less likely to come down with the flu, but if they do, it is important to nurse frequently for hydration, calories, and immune boosting effects. If you are nursing a baby and your older child comes down with the flu, pumping breast milk and giving it to your older child in a cup can help them benefit from the antibodies it contains. We have yet to read a convincing study indicating that Tamiflu is indicated for treatment of the diagnosed flu, but this is something you must discuss with your healthcare provider.
There are many herbal remedies that are safe for treating common illnesses at home. These include Echinacea and Elderberry, the two most common, Lomatium, Olive Leaf Extract, and others, but as herbal remedies are out of the scope of this blog post, we suggest directly contacting an herbalist or naturopath for dosing recommendations. As always, boosting probiotics and vitamin C will help almost any illness. Note that too much of either can cause loose stools in both adults and children. If this does happen, remember that is normal (and often indicates you have just passed the therapeutic dose), and simply discontinue or back off the dosage.
There are so many ways that you can help protect your family from the flu this season, and not all have been listed here. If you have any questions about the information you’ve read here, please contact us at peaandthepodchiropractic.com or 302-368-0800.