Digestive health is important to the overall health of a child because it can tell us how healthy our child's gut biome is, which will reflect in their immunity, emotions and overall health. When a child has multiple tummy aches and digestive issues it can lead to skin rashes, allergies, asthma, colds and flus. So instead of treating the skin rash topically or giving your child over the counter allergy medication, look at his/her digestive system and see if you can start there so that there is lasting healing instead of temporary relief.
Ayurveda looks at the life span of a human and breaks it up into vata, pitta and kapha times. Kapha being the first 18 years of our life, which has characteristics of spring, filled with mucus, heaviness, building and lubrication. It is the time of growth and immunity development.
Because of Kapha time you see globs of mucus coming out of nostrils of children everywhere when they are young. But there is also mucus happening internally in the gut as well. When the sinuses are making way too much mucus, most likely the digestive tract lining is doing the same and if the child is really dry, that probably means their digestive system is also dry. When a child has too much mucus in their gut their digestive system slows down. And they don't have the proper digestive enzymes and acids to help break it down. This creates malnourishment due to the compromise of absorption and assimilation of nutrients. If the child is too dry this can lead to hypersensitivity to things like food dyes, spicy foods, allergens and hard to digest foods like corn, soy, nuts etc.
An easy way to look at your child's digestive health is to ask them to stick out their tongue. If you see that they have a thick whitish coating on their tongue, this can indicate that there is a lot of mucus happening internally. Stagnant mucus is a breeding ground for germs, which can lead to constant colds and and the flu.
What should be done at this point is treatment to strengthen the upper digestive system by breaking up the heavy mucus. This can be done by an herb mix called Trikatu, which is a combination of Black pepper, pippali and ginger. This spice mix helps to break apart mucus and aid in digestion and clearing or mucus. Trikatu can be ordered here for capsules or here for powder form. Mix equal parts raw honey and Trikatu and make a paste. Have your child take 1/2 teaspoon of mix before each meal. Or give 1-2 capsules 2 times a day before food. This can also be taken by any kid if they are eating a late meal or something a bit heavier than normal. If your child constantly is creating too much mucus also look at their diet and start to eliminate irritants like sugar, dairy, carbs, ice-cream, pizza, mac and cheese, yogurt and puddings. Cooking with spices like black pepper, ginger, hing, fennel, cumin, black mustard seeds and fenugreek is a good idea and will help improve digestion and decrease mucus.
A tongue that is rough and dry and cracked looking is probably a good indication that the mucus membranes are dry and they are more susceptible to allergies as well as constipation. A lack of mucus will allow pathogens and germs to enter the body more easily and effect the child's health. A child who is dry and showing signs of dryness in their skin, having troubles going to the bathroom and sensitive to external allergens could use some support for the intestines, and increase the lubrication of the intestinal walls while encouraging natural peristalsis. For this the herb Triphala is used. A child can take 1-2 tablets after dinner or mix equal parts of triphala powder with honey to make a paste and have your child eat 1 teaspoon after every meal. They may also enjoy a castor oil cookie (recipe below), as a way to get the bowels moving.
*If stools become loose for a day or two back off and lower the dose of triphala or castor oil.
If the tongue is bright red or purplish then this is indication of inflammation and excess heat in the body possibly due to too much acidity and or sugar in the diet. Later in life this constant inflammation can cause colitis, acid reflux, high cholesterol and many other diseases ending in -itis. To cool down your child making fennel/coriander/cumin tea can help balance this overheated digestive system. Add 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds to 1 quart water and boil for 5-10 minutes. Have them drink this tea warm or at room temp throughout the day. A small amount with meals is beneficial. If you need to sweeten it for them to drink it choose organic maple syrup or raw turbinado sugar. Cooking with more turmeric is also a good idea and will help with the inflammation.
Remember, stress can also cause disruption in your child's tummy, so having a talk with your kiddo and observing their behavior might also allow you better insight into what may be the cause for your child's stomach pains.
If you would like to read more about this and dive deeper into the understanding of your child's health I suggest getting the book: Perfect Health for Kids by John Douillard. It is a wonderful book filled with recipes and herbal remedies for each child type.
Much love & health to you and your little ones!
Castor Oil Cookies
1/4 cup whole wheat four
1 teaspoon castor oil
2 teaspoons sweetener of choice (NOT honey)
Preheat oven to 375º
Pour flour into mixing bowl. Add just enough water to make light and moist dough. Be careful not to overtax the water and flour. Add oil and sweetener. Mix until all combined.
Make into 2 balls and flatten them with a fork, like you were making peanut butter cookies. Bake for 8-12 minutes.
Child should eat 1-2 cookies per day to help with regular elimination.