Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peppermint

We can't seem to put Abigail's chronic stomach aches behind us.  Last summer I took her to see a pediatric gastroenterologist and through history and blood work, he ruled out a ton of potential culprits, Lupus, Crones, Celiac to name a few.  We opted not to do an invasive endoscopy because the blood work didn't indicate a need.  We left with a diagnosis of Functional Abdominal Pain and a prescription for Zantac.  We had already tried the stronger Prilosec without much benefit, and it was not something I wanted her to continue to take anyway.  The Zantac helps with the occasional bought of reflux.

Later in the fall, I took Abigail to see a Mind/Body Therapist who specialized in treating children who have chronic pains.  She worked with Abigail for a couple of months teaching her how to use breathing and visualization techniques.  That had some benefits and the stomach pain stopped occurring on a daily basis.

I'd like to say that she no longer suffers from stomach aches, but that's not the case.  They seemed to wain this last winter, but now she's complaining about them more frequently.  She has also been experiencing heartburn/acid reflux more frequently and most of the time Zantac or children's Tums takes care of it.  But other times, her stomach just hurts for no apparent reason.  I ask, and she'll say that she's not nervous or anxious about anything, although sometimes, I can attribute her stomach pains to a particularly stressful week.  By chance though, I did find something that provides some comfort.  Peppermint.

Whether it really helps physically I don't know.  It could very well just be a mental thing.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center website though, "because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence."  The site also reports that a number of studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

I'm a big tea drinker.  I start with hot green tea in the morning, usually have iced black tea in the afternoon, and a lot of evenings drink hot peppermint tea before bed.  While I was tea shopping for myself, I came across Just for Kids Organic Tummy Comfort by Traditional Medicinals.  It's safe for kids with mild herbs in child appropriate amounts.  Abigail doesn't drink it too often, but I like having it available in the pantry.  I usually make it and then ice it down.

Seeing how she enjoyed the peppermint tea and was always asking to have one of my Newman's Own Organic Wintergreen mints, I wanted to find a special tin of mints just for her that was pure peppermint.  My local health store stocks VerMints.  These were a wonderful find.  They're nut free, GMO free and gluten free...and they're all hers, making them extra special.

Neither the gastroenterologist, her pediatrician or her doctor at Duke believe that taking the peanut drops is causing Abigail's stomach aches.  I just know that she didn't complain of stomach pains until several weeks after starting the peanut clinical trial. I posted about my concern as long ago as March 2010.  We won't really know if the two are associated until we've finished the trial.  Maybe not even then.  She'll still have to continue eating peanuts to maintain her tolerance.  Another year though and she should be desensitized.  If by chance the two are linked, then these stomach aches should go away sometime between now and next June.  If not, I just don't know.

3 comments:

Lisa said...

Interesting. I would say that the peanut is probably linked in some way...not as an allergic reaction necessarily though, but just perhaps the body's way of saying "hey, I am struggling a little bit here". Not enough to stop treatment of course and probably not everyday, etc. However, I would think it is likely related in some way. It will be interesting to see how she does after you stop treatment and if she passes the food challenges and is tolerant, then how will her body handle foods with peanut.
Also, the only other thing I was thinking was for you to keep a food diary for her for a few weeks and see if perhaps it is linked to something else she is eating...for example, I find that my son will spit up if he consumes too much dairy close together...like if he has a cup of milk AND mac and cheese at the same meal, he is more likely to spit up a little/have reflux. So, we just limit the dairy to a little at a time. It could be a spice or something else that is causing the tummy issue...like, I love garlic, but it does send my tummy gurgling if I get too much of it. Anyway, just a few thoughts! :)

Julie said...

I am going to have to try the peppermint thing with WIll. He went off the prilosec almost a week ago and he has had a few tummy aches. The next step is an endoscopy. Which I hope to avoid. I just want him to feel good!

Mom with a Mission said...

Lisa, my gut tells me that somehow they're linked. Like you said, just her body's way of saying that I'm under a little stress. When her stomach first started bothering her, my husband and I did discuss the impact to the trial. If the pain had been intolerable, we would have asked to be removed. I think it's manageable, and the trial is so very very important. And, there is still that possibility that the two aren't linked. While I don't keep a food journal, and I should, we do know some culprits like red sauces that tend to cause her indigestion/heart burn, and we limit those.

Julie, it's worth trying the peppermint. Be sure to check out the link to the University of Maryland's site. They discuss the use of peppermint for children as well as some precautions when using it with medications like Prilosec. I hate Will is still struggling.