Add scientific researcher to my resume! I have been following the scientific method and making hypothesis’, experimenting, refining my ideas and have finally reached a theory. I feel like I’m having an AHA moment and wanted to share with you guys, especially those with kids who have sleep issues or have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and/or food allergies. I believe I have found the cause of my son’s sleep issues: salicylate intolerance.
My now 20 month old son has had issues on and off with sleep for the last 6 months. There have been nights where he is up screaming for hours at a time. I have researched everything under the sun and have gone to different doctors (one of whom told me to just let him cry it out for however long it takes, seriously?!) I’ve looked up restless leg syndrome, acid reflux, night terrors, separation anxiety, asthma, food allergies and just about any sleep disorder that exists. On the nights he isn’t sleeping he seems very uncomfortable and will squirm his body and kick his legs, which is why I thought it could be restless legs or acid reflux. As a parent it’s heart-breaking to know your child is struggling and to feel so helpless. It’s also frustrating and extremely exhausting.
His sleep isn’t a chronic issue though. It seems to occur sporadically, specifically after we travel. So logically I felt there had to be something causing it, I just didn’t know what. I wasn’t sure if it was mental or physical, but something was causing my child to have sleep issues. The lack of sleep wasn’t just affecting my son, it was causing a lot of strain at times on our family because when no one is getting sleep, no one is at their best.
My sister had suggested keeping a journal of all the things he eats because the more knowledge I have, the more I can explain to a doctor. I basically needed to be our family’s researcher I had started keeping note of the foods he ate and what (if any) effect were taking place. I was keeping a written journal and then just got busy and didn’t keep up (bad idea of course). But mentally I was paying attention to what I fed him. We are really healthy most of the time and limit processed foods greatly. We incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, which I thought was a good thing.
One of my favorite snacks ever is this honey greek yogurt sold in our grocery store. I love to add frozen blueberries to it. Of course every time I eat it, my kids want it too. Well last week I had a feeling and an idea ( a hypothesis!) to stop feeding it to my son just to test it out. Well the next night and then the next 3 nights after that he slept in his bed all night! After more than six weeks of frequent night wakings, we finally got a few full nights of sleep. Hallelujah. I was talking with my husband about it and wondering if it was just coincidence, but just to be safe decided against giving him the yogurt or blueberries.
This past Tuesday night I made teriyaki chicken. I made the sauce homemade and it was delicious! However that night my son woke up in the middle of the night and ended up sleeping in our bed. He has had diarrhea since(today is Thursday) and I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck could be causing him to have it.
Last night for dinner I made roasted potatoes, broccoli and pork loin for dinner. I made sure to give him plenty of broccoli since it’s just so healthy. Well at around 1am he woke up and was very irritable, so I brought him to our bed. He tossed and turned the entire night, poor mommy and daddy!
So this morning I googled “toddler sleep broccoli” to see if anything would come up and I found a site talking about salicylates.
The symptoms listed for salicylates from the above site include:
· headaches or migraines
· itchy skin rashes such as hives (urticaria), eczema and others
· irritable bowel symptoms – reflux in babies or adults, nausea, vomiting, stomach bloating and discomfort, wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation
· bedwetting, cystitis
· asthma, stuffy or runny nose, nasal polyps, frequent throat clearing,
· behaviour problems such as irritability, restlessness, inattention, oppositional defiance, symptoms of ADHD
· sleep disturbance – difficulty falling asleep, night terrors, frequent night waking, sleep apnoea
· anxiety, depression, panic attacks
· rapid heart beat and arrythmias
· tinnitus, hyperacusis, hearing loss
· joint pain, arthritis, and more ….
The reason I thought he could have asthma is because he has had 2 respiratory illnesses (inflammation in his airway) in two months time. Sometimes he sounds like he’s wheezing, but it’s also hard to tell if he is just doing it to get my attention. (He knows to cough and that sort of thing to get my attention). As his last doctor’s appointment the doctor listened to his lungs and said they sound fine. Which from what I’ve read doesn’t actually mean anything because he could still have asthma related symptoms that just worsen at night. Also, asthma isn’t technically diagnosed until age 3, so I’m still not ruling that out as a possibility.
Anyway the symptoms of sleep disturbance, skin issues (he has several dry patches of skin on his body), stomach bloating and diarrhea are all symptoms he has. Those symptoms in combination with the foods he has eaten gave me my AHA moment.
I found several sites listing the foods, products and medications that are high in or contain salicylates, they include:
Fruits: Apricots, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, cherries, cranberries, dates, grapefruit, grapes, guava, kiwi fruit, loganberry, lychees, melons (all types), nectarines, oranges, mandarins, satsumas, tangerines, peaches, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, plum dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, prunes)
Any product made from the above fruits, e.g. jams, marmalade
Soft drinks and fruit juices of the above fruits
Vegetables: Alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, broad beans, broccoli, chicory, chilli, courgette, cucumber, gherkins, okra, olives, peppers, spinach, radish, sweet potato, tomato & tomato products, watercress, zucchini
Nuts & seeds: Almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, peanuts with skins on, pistachio nuts, water chestnuts
Wine, beer, cider
Sweets: Liquorice, chewing gum, fruit flavoured sweets, mints, peppermints
Maize, corn, sweetcorn and products made from corn or maize, e.g. fast food French fries, maize-based snacks, popcorn
Spices, condiments & sauces: Commercial gravies & sauces, all-spice, aniseed, bay leaves, basil, black pepper, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, fenugreek, garam masala, ginger, Marmite, Vegemite and other yeast extracts, mint, mixed herbs, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pimiento, rosemary, sage, tabasco, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, pepper, vinegar, Worcester Sauce
Oils: coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil
Meats: Any processed meat/fish in sauces (check), canned, processed meats
Read more at: http://www.mealplansite.com/medical-salicylate-sensitivity.aspx
The teriyaki sauce I made this week had soy sauce in it. We had broccoli for dinner last night. Soy sauce and broccoli are both high in salicylate. Also on the list…honey and blueberries. It’s all making sense now….
In my research I also found this interesting,: “Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found that three-quarters of 86 children with ADHD reacted adversely to foods containing salicylates.” (http://www.foodforthebrain.org/content.asp?id_Content=1631) Actually the evidence appears to be very strong that diet and ADHD are directly linked.
Anyway I feel like I have found the problem. Part of this post is an AHA moment and the other part is a vent. I am so sick of doctors trying to mask the symptoms of my child instead of trying to source the problem. I have learned as a parent it is our responsibility to do our homework and challenge doctors who just want to push medications at us. I strongly believe in holistic approaches to healthcare. Our bodies are very sophisticated machines and while I’m not against modern medicine I do believe there is a balance.
Why don’t doctors ask about diet? Why haven’t I had a doctor suggest I keep a journal of what he eats? Why haven’t I had a doctor mention issues like salicylate intolerance being related to sleep disturbance?
WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HEALTHCARE THESE DAYS???
I am not lumping all doctors into this category. I know not all doctors are like this, but gosh darnit why is it so hard to find a doctor that seems to give a damn? I will say in my experience I do appreciate the German doctors because I do feel like they generally are more holistic and actually try and find the problem. I just want to say
Before giving up.
Before injecting your children with medications.
Before just accepting a life of little or no answers.
Think about the simple things. Trust your instincts. Food and body go hand in hand. What we put into our bodies does greatly affect our entire being. Logically, that is what makes sense. The air we breathe (exposure to pollutants, chemicals, toxins), the food we eat and anything else we expose our bodies to affects us.
I’m curious to know if anyone else has had experience with illnesses/disorders being improved by diet/lifestyle changes. Please leave a comment if so!