Pediatric Functional Medicine
I've shared a bit before about functional medicine, it's approach, and why I favor this mindset for approaching management of dis-comfort and dis-ease in my practice. I also believe sparing kids from unnecessary medication and medical procedures is very important. Educating clients in natural approaches so they feel empowered to address minor issues at home has always been a passion of mine, and then certainly as children and their parents seek care within the practice, we work together to discover the underlying cause and then discuss options, whether their preference is to nudge the body to heal itself with earth medicine or to move towards allopathic medicine.
There is saying in functional medicine that goes something similar to, if you are standing on a tack, it will take a lot of aspirin to make the pain go away. If you are standing on two tacks, you may even remove one but you still won't completely eliminate the issue. These band-aide approaches don't really fix the underlying problem, so unless all tacks are removed and the body provided some support to heal itself, the need for more advanced treatment will likely prove necessary into the future.
Children, just like adults, benefit from addressing symptoms with the goal of treating the underlying cause but this can be a challenge at times, as children sometimes lack the self-awareness or even the ability to articulate what it is they are feeling. They often also lack the ability to assess and evaluate the myriad of contributing factors. Utilizing a functional medicine clinician can really help put all these puzzle pieces together and save your little one from unnecessary medications or procedures, or even worsening dis-comfort and dis-ease.
Addressing health in a holistic manner is important not only for maintaining wellness, but it is also vital for supporting healing. Practitioners certainly may have the skill to identify the underlying cause and may even prescribe the best treatment plan, but without addressing stress within the family, toxins in the child's environment, inflammatory exposures in their diet, or suboptimal sleeping habits, vitality may remain beyond reach.
Emotional stress in children can easily go unidentified and are often the root cause of illness. Conflict and even unspoken tension, misunderstandings and misconceptions, whether inside the home or outside the home, really do need resolution so the entire family can realize their best selves. Even plants fail to thrive in environments that are emotionally toxic. It is hard however, to identify these stresses within your own family as sometimes, what concerns one, doesn't concern another. Other times, you've simply ignored or rationalized the stress, even becoming a little bit detached or disembodied. Checking in and assuring not only parents are making time for self-care, but that the little ones are learning this important skill is an essential part of a wellness consult.
Pediatric Functional Medicine Testing
Testing takes the guesswork out of designing safe and effective wellness and treatment plans for your littles. Children really can heal quickly when changes in diet and their environment are identified and corrected. Experience has taught me that sometimes the most obvious or the most common trigger just isn't always the underlying issue in each case, so gathering information on an individual basis truly is key.
GPL Toxicity Panel
This is a urine test that looks at markers of chemical exposure. This may be recommended if your little lives near natural gas extraction, superfund sites, busy streets, factories, or other sources of pollution, either via water or air. Other times this test may prove helpful is if there are autoimmune diseases, #asthma, #allergies, ADHD, or cancer in any parents, grandparents or siblings. Individual cases of hyperactivity, behavioral issues, emotional regulation issues, #headaches, sinus or respiratory irritation, #rashes, developmental delays, sensory processing symptoms, or even sleep disturbances have seen resolution with the identification and treatment plan created from this screening.
The Organic Acids Test (OAT) is a urine test that looks for markers of fungal and bacterial overgrowth in the gut. This test also checks on nutritional status, detoxification and metabolic functions, and some genetic disorders. We know that imbalances in the gut microbiome are intimately linked with behavioral and neurological symptoms in addition to more obvious digestive health symptoms. This screening may be recommended for children who are hyperactive, who suffer emotional reactivity, obsessive compulsive disorder, #aggression, #insomnia, bed-wetting, bowel and urinary issues, #yeast infections, eczema, hives, rashes, asthma, or frequent strep, ear infections, and sinus infections.
Food Sensitivity Testing
This is one of my more favorite screens as I've seen the most incredible, life-changing results using these tools. There are a number of ways (and costs) to evaluate food sensitivities, with some tests offering chemical and dye sensitivity as well. The immune system has a number of mechanisms for responding to offending organisms, whether that is an IgE response (histamine response or allergy) or a sensitivity (IgG, IgA and other mediated responses), or even an inability or lack of proper enzymes for metabolism. The beauty of mediated-release testing is that we can identify those foods that do not cause inflammation for your little one and then create a diet that includes only those foods, giving opportunity for the gut to heal, and then reintroduce foods slowly. While many practitioners start with an elimination diet, either gluten, dairy, eggs, or soy, I find this often misses additional sensitivities (similar to the idea of only removing one tack) or it creates life-style changes which are really hard to implement and maintain which really might not be necessary.
While I have utilized this test for a number of dis-ease conditions, I more commonly recommend it in children for behavioral issues, stomach aches, constipation or diarrhea, eczema, hives, rashes, headaches, asthma, cough, and sinus infections.
Wellness Plans and Treatment Options
Children do have different needs than adults so their plans do differ to some degree. We need to consider that they not only need a child-safe supplement, but there is potential they may not #consent to various supplements after purchasing them. Herbal options can also be a challenge to implement. Dietary and lifestyle changes really can make incredible improvements in the health of children.
Gut-healing and detox protocols can be incredibly helpful for rebalancing physiology. Our #Earth has become incredibly toxic. These exposures may come through our water, air, food, medications, or even #vaccines. Immune system dysfunction can occur and these symptoms may be very sporadic and nonspecific; however, remedies can be tailored to reduce total toxic load on the body.
#Mindfulness and #earthing can be incredibly important for children, as adults. Talk therapy and even #EMDR are common recommendations for either mental health maintenance or addressing potential #triggers and #trauma.
Referrals may be provided to any number of specialists with a plethora of integrative and complementary healing modalities, and the parents of littles are invited to our private facebook group for littles that addresses childhood issues and offers nature #hikes and opportunities for #yoga!