My 6-year-old is having some big feelings about school.
Today he came home from 1st grade complaining of a stomach ache. He said his pain was a 1,110 out of 10.
“Wow, that’s pretty high,” I said.
“You don’t sound very worried!” he said.
I wrapped him up in a hug. “Tell me what’s wrong, baby.”
We talked, he debriefed about his day. Some diarrhea this morning, but he ate all of his lunch and snack. No desire for dinner tonight, and lots of dramatic statements about the quality of pain. I checked his tongue and pulse. No fever, sweat or rapid heartbeat. His eyes were bright and complexion normal. This was not a stomach virus brewing, but a clear case of Liver Overacting on the Spleen. In other words, Anxious Tummy Syndrome.
After a nice hot bath (sans little sister) and some chamomile tea, he got an acupuncture treatment from me in his top bunk. I needle him the way I needle all kids: “1, 2, 3…you say go.” Once he says “go,” I insert the needle.
“That one didn’t hurt!” (He says this about each needle, as if surprised.)
Fifteen minutes later, he reported that his tummy ache was only a 5, instead of 1,110.
Not bad, with some room for improvement.
Does your child suffer from Anxious Tummy Syndrome? Here are some things you can try at home (obviously, please don’t needle your child unless you are a Licensed Acupuncturist!):
- Weak ginger, chamomile or barley tea with honey
- Rest and limited stimulation (no screens, early bedtime if possible)
- Don’t push food – aversion to food may mean your child is not digesting well, and may need rest more than food
- Avoid cold foods and ice
- Gentle parent-massage to the tummy: place one hand gently under your child’s back at the level of the navel, and the other hand over the navel. Hold, without applying any pressure, for a minute or two. Repeat as needed.
- Acupuncture, Moxibustion and/or Tui-Na from a Licensed Acupuncturist
- Talk it out: often the Tummy Trouble symptoms indicate your child is working something out, and may need extra parent support and empathetic listening
- When your child is ready to eat again, offer naturally fermented foods such as pickles or saurkraut. (Once they get used to the unusual taste, kids often love fermented foods.)
- Soak 1 c. of organic hulled barley in a glass bowl, cover with plenty of water, stir in 1 T apple cider vinegar; cover; soak 8-12 hours (overnight); drain and rinse well; cook barley in fresh water, like rice, about 45 minutes or until tender. Eat like rice or oatmeal. Barley is a Spleen tonic, and helps us recover from digestive upset.
If your child continues to have trouble, call your pediatrician. If you would like to find a Licensed Acupuncturist in your area, check acufinder.com by zip code and look for a L.Ac. with lots of experience treating children. (Or if you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can bring your child to see me.)
Photos by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., all rights reserved.