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Several years ago I did an elimination diet with my kids. We learned that my daughter was sensitive to dairy and my son to wheat. We chose to eliminate gluten from family meals and to drastically reduce dairy (she does fine with occasional cheese).  We also eliminated soy for a variety of health reasons.

This week we learned that my son has a plethora of other food issues that we had been unaware of.  Our new pediatric naturopath used Meridian Valley Lab’s allergy and candida test. The amount of reaction shocked me, until we began to consider that poor digestion, leaky gut, and candida overgrowth can trigger reactions as well as the foods themselves. And so the kids and I have embarked upon a new journey. Together we are doing a candida cleanse. Among other changes, we have eliminated all sugar, dairy, and fruit (except green apples). We will also limit starchy vegetables to once or twice a week. My son also must avoid eggs and garlic due to reactions.

Sound daunting? I agree!

This will only work with planning, creativity, support (which is why we are doing it together), and a focus on the reason for the changes. We are working on improving his digestion, eliminating frequent stomach aches and constipation, and getting back some of the foods he is currently to reactive to enjoy. I am looking forward to increased clarity of thought, energy, and maybe even some weight loss. The hope for my daughter is a decreased obsession with sugar (thanks to the school for this).

The good news – my kids already like most vegetables and are being pretty good sports about this new adventure.

There are, of course, other methods for treating constipation. Though these would not address the underlying cause: candida, leaky gut, poor digestion, and so would likely have to be repeated. The most frequently prescribed by pediatricians is Miralax, often for months or years. And in fact, my daughter was given this medication when she was a toddler. At the time I questioned the use of an adult laxative program for a small child, but was assured this was safe and customary.

However, there are many who are concerned about the safety of this medication. In fact, the FDA approved Miralax only for adults. Page 46 of this document clearly states that, “while MiraLax (PEG-3350) is an OTC osmotic laxative that is frequently used in pediatric patients for relief of occasional constipation and bowel preparation, approval has not been granted for MiraLax in children less than 17 years of age.” Even in adults, the recommendation is for no more than 7 consecutive days. As with all medications, there are potential side effects. These include, gut dysbiosis, cramps, and neurological disorders. Of major concern here is the absorption of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol (ingredients in anti-freeze). The FDA found traces of these chemicals in each of the samples they tested in 2008. In 2014, The Children’s hospital of Philadelphia was given a grant to study the safety of Miralax for children. The study is ongoing, but Philadelphia lawyers Messa & Associates are considering a class action suit on behalf of parents whose children were affected.

Regardless of the outcome of these studies, I do not believe we are meant to live in a constant state of medicated “wellness.” Instead, we should support our bodies’ natural ability to heal whenever possible.

For us, that means supporting digestion with leafy greens, ginger, bone broth, and some supplements recommended my our health care providers. We will also get outside to breathe and to move, get enough sleep, and balance work and rest. In this way, we will recover our natural health.

Note: For those who are interested in the Miralax debate, here are some resources.

New York TImes

Dr. Mercola

Gut Sense

GI Care for Kids

Autism Speaks

Integrative Pediatrics

Bed Wetting and Accident Support

Allergy Testing and Candida Diet
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