Gastrointestinal Disorders

What Are Gastrointestinal Disorders?

Living with gastrointestinal disorders is very painful and distressful for children and heartbreaking for parents, especially when a child has limited language to express how they feel. One thing is certain: the faces of children with gastrointestinal disorders tell the true story. Some of the common pediatric gastrointestinal disorders are:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain due to gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Malabsorption
  • Clostrium difficile infection
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Enterocolitis
  • Failure to thrive
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Vomiting
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastrointestinal disorders will inevitably affect the child’s behaviors, mood, sensory, nervous, neurological and immunological systems if left untreated.

For small and/or nonverbal children, suspect a gastrointestinal disorder if you find him or her constantly draped belly down over couch or chair arms. Children do this to relieve the uncomfortable and/or painful pressure in their abdomen. They may not have enough language or experience to tell you about this pain.

What Your Doctor May Tell You About Gastrointestinal Disorders

Most pediatricians will refer their patients to a gastroenterologist if gastrointestinal disorders are suspected. The doctor will initially collect information from doing a general patient intake, physical exam, requesting parental information on the child’s gastrointestinal history, and doing screen tests such as blood, urine and stool, ultrasounds or e-rays.

In difficult cases, further testing may be needed such as:

  • Colonoscopy
  • EGD (upper endoscopy)
  • Pill cam study (which is a tiny camera in a capsule that takes photos of the small intestine)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders lower scope
  • Biopsy

Medication is the most common form of treatment by a gastrointestinal specialist. Diet is usually not recommended as a contributing factor, unless it is determined that there is a need for dietary intervention such as celiac.

In the case of abdominal pain, doctors will give medication to treat and manage the pain but may not have a long-term solution if your child’s gastrointestinal condition is chronic. If your child has a developmental disorder, the gastrointestinal specialist may tell you that your child’s disorder and behaviors are a separate issue from the gastrointestinal disorder with which your child has been diagnosed.

Another Way to Think About Gastrointestinal Disorders

The Microbiome

When your child has a gastrointestinal disorder, the first thing we must think of is “microbiome”. The microbiome was discovered in the late 1990s as part of the gastrointestinal system and is home to trillions of bacteria.

The human gut “microbiota” is the name given to the colonies of microbes that live in our digestive system. These gut microbes are vitally important for communication with the brain and the immune system. It is believed that 70% of our immune system is located in the digestive tract.

Canadian researcher Derrick McFabe PhD has demonstrated how changes in the gut bacteria affect brain functioning and behaviors, thus proving the theory of the gut/brain axis. He has shown how specific bad gut bacteria can alter the gut/brain connection as demonstrated in children with autism.

Neurotransmitters

Also in our brain are chemical messengers that transmit signals from one neuron to another telling the brain and body what to do. These messengers are called neurotransmitters, and they are also located in our gastrointestinal tract, which allows for communication with the brain.

If the gastrointestinal tract develops a common condition called leaky gut syndrome, then this means there has been too much foreign matter that has permeated the gut lining. As a result, many bad pathogens, bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus and parasites can populate the gastrointestinal tract and disrupt communication with the neurotransmitters in the brain causing the neurotransmitters to misfire.

This process begins the development of an autoimmune disorder, and, if this happens, your child may experience many problems such as:

Therefore, no matter what gastrointestinal disorder your child may have, begin with healing the microbiome.

Gastrointestinal Disorders Healing Checklist

Make Lifestyle Changes

  • Get an age-appropriate amount of sleep per night
  • Get outside every day
  • Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
  • Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
  • Limit screen time as much as possible
  • Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
  • Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
  • Drink half body weight in ounces of water

Eat a Clean Diet

Use Only High-Quality Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil (unheated)
  • Avocados
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
  • Grass-fed ghee
  • Duck fat
  • Grass-fed beef tallow
  • Cod liver oil (unheated)
  • Walnut oil (unheated)

Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
  • Margarine

Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal

  • Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
  • Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts

Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics

These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.

  • Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
  • Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
  • Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
  • Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
  • Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.

Optimize Blood Sugar

Blood sugar that is too high can lead to excess inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.

We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.

Do an Elimination Diet

Children with chronic health conditions often have hidden food sensitivities and intolerances that exacerbate their symptoms. With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:

  • Casein
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts

Clean up Your Environment

  • Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
  • Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
  • Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
  • Remove carpets
  • Use non-toxic cleaners
  • Use non-toxic building materials

Lower Stress Levels

Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.

By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.

Practitioners of techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining) and jin shin jyutsu can lower stress levels for your child, as well.

See a NAET or BioSET Practitioner

Children with chronic health conditions typically also have food allergies and/or food sensitivities and intolerances.

NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.

See a Homeopath, Naturopath or Homotoxicologist

These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

Ask Your Practitioner to Run Some Laboratory Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
  • Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
  • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
  • Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
  • Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
  • Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance

  • Betaine hydrochloric acid
  • Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
  • Proteolytic enzymes
  • BiCarb
  • Bromelain
  • Papaya

Use Supplements with Your Practitioner's Guidance

Always work with your practitioner to determine the brand, type and dosage of supplements. Common supplements include the following:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D3
  • Methylated B complex vitamins
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
  • Others

Help Your Child Detoxify

  • Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
  • Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
  • See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
  • Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
  • Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children.
  • Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
  • Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.

See a Chiropractor

A chiropractor can perform spinal cord adjustments, which can improve bodily functions.

Work with a Health Coach

Our Epidemic Answers health coaches are trained to understand the root causes of your child's chronic health condition.

They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.

See an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture can help lower stress and anxiety. It can also help with blood-sugar and hormonal regulation.

Use homeopathy specific for gastrointestinal disorders:

  • Nux vomica
  • Carbo vegetalis
  • Lycopodium
  • China officinalis
  • Argentum nitricum

Consider using Schueller’s cell tissue salts, which can be effective as well. Sequential homeopathy can also be specific for gastrointestinal symptoms if needed.

Still Looking for Answers?

Visit the Epidemic Answers Practitioner Directory to find a practitioner near you.

Join us inside our online membership community for parents, Healing Together, where you’ll find even more healing resources, expert guidance, and a community to support you every step of your child’s healing journey.

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