Traditional Constipation Remedies:
Constant abdominal pain, frequent leakage, older kids still wearing nappies, the low self-esteem and confidence for our kids. It’s heartbreaking to see the deeper effects that things like constipation and digestive challenges can have on our children. And it’s beyond frustrating and overwhelming to know what to do to help these kids.
Dairy free, gluten free, prune juice, kiwifruit, gripe water, Metamucil, laxatives… the list goes on for ways you’ve probably tried to help your child’s constipation and digestive challenges. At least, this is what we often hear from the parents of the kids we help at The Wellness Collective who have tried it all, with little to no success, sometimes even making things worse.
It makes sense to think that if we change what is going into the digestive system that it will change how that area functions and what comes out the other side. But this view of how our bodies and the digestive system is incomplete. We can make all the changes externally we want, but if we’re making these changes to an internal system that is not functioning correctly, we’re going to be hard up against it. Making some progress then hitting a plateau, or simply not making any progress at all.
This is why it’s critical to incorporate the health and function of the central and autonomic nervous system into our view of constipation and digestive challenges.
The Role of The Nervous System in Digestion:
The overwhelming majority of functions in the body are carried out unconsciously. We don’t need to think about repairing muscle tissue, filtering our blood, transporting oxygen around our body, fighting off infection, or digesting our food. All these functions are carried out by automatic systems. But where do they get their orders from?
The nervous system, made up of the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves throughout the body (both motor & sensory) oversee literally everything. All these automatic processes are controlled by something called the Autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system has two branches. The Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic nervous systems.
The Sympathetic nervous system is our ‘gas pedal’. It’s responsible for activities such as ‘fight or flight’, high energy, adrenaline and cortisol fueled, survival-based functions. Perfect for when we’re dealing with stressful situations or performing vigorous activity. The Parasympathetic nervous system is our ‘brake pedal’. It’s our rest & digest mode. Responsible for helping our body to be calm, relaxed, repair itself, fight infections, and control our digestion.
The key with these two modes is that we can’t be in growth (brake pedal) and protection (gas pedal) at the same time. So, when our nervous system shifts to the gas pedal the brake pedal is suppressed and inhibited. This is perfect when working correctly since if we’re performing vigorous exercise, we don’t want energy being diverted to the digestive system. This works in reverse too. If we’re wanting to drift off to sleep and be relaxed, we don’t want our gas pedal kicking into gear leaving us wired and staring at the ceiling. The interplay of these two modes is key for normal health and well-being. The trouble arises when this system gets stuck and out of balance.
Subluxation, The Nervous System & Digestion:
Subluxation is a term we as pediatric chiropractors use to describe a nervous system that is imbalanced and dysfunctional. This usually results in too much gas pedal activity and not enough brake pedal activity – clinically described as Dysautonomia. Because when the gas pedal is activated, it suppresses the brake pedal, this also shuts down the digestive system. Which results in chronic constipation, abdominal pain and migraines, food intolerances, and inflammatory challenges like IBS or Crohn’s.
Challenges with digestion are some of the most common we see at TWC, whether it’s the main reason someone is seeking care, or just one of the things since constipation and digestive challenges is often a feature of other challenges such as ADHD and Autism spectrum disorders.
One of the most common causes of Subluxation is birth trauma but can also be causes by everyday falls and accidents, or other life stressors such as school, social pressures, antibiotics, and so on.
The natural response for constipation and digestive challenges is to change diet, or use some form of natural remedy, or laxatives. But when it’s the neurological wiring of the digestive system that is the problem, those solutions often come up short in getting to the real, root cause of these challenges. Excess stress in the nervous system.
The Key to Addressing the Real Cause:
The key to dealing with these challenges once and for all is to restore normal balance and function to the central/autonomic nervous system. This is exactly what we do as pediatric chiropractors here at The Wellness Collective.
The process begins by measuring how a child’s autonomic nervous system is performing (pictured below). The red bars indicate where there is stress, irritation, and abnormal function. In this instance, that region is linked with the major digestive centers.
Then with a customized care plan over time we can ‘re-wire’ their nervous system with specific and gentle adjustments to function normally again. Once balance is restored the digestive system works better and both kids and parents can have confidence back again in their lives. The best part is improvements can be made in just a few weeks.
If your child is struggling with these kinds of challenges, we’d love to help! Simply click HERE to schedule your initial consult and take the first steps.
If you’d like to learn more then head to our FREE workshop! You can register by clicking HERE.
See you soon!
Dr Ben Edwards.
The Wellness Collective