The stomach of a child is so made that it ejects the contents, soon after feeding, when overfed. Hence when a child vomits the mother should, in the first place, reduce the quantity, and if necessary the number too, of feedings. At the same time she should be careful about the quality of the food. Usually this precaution will be sufficient to take care of the childs stomach when he vomits.
Even a few motions need not worry the parents as it clears the childs bowels. But for repeated or persistent attacks, inspite of judicial restriction of diets, it is wise not to neglect it further and to put the child under homoeopathic treatment.
In the treatment of stomach conditions, as in any other ailments, it will be more convenient to diagnose properly if we study our cases by dividing the condition in several groups. In the following lines an attempt has been made to classify childrens indigestion, which is their very common stomach trouble, in four groups viz. (i) gastric disorders of children who are habitually constipated (Nux-v.), (ii) when the indigestion causes both purging and vomiting (Ip.), (iii)sour dyspepsia and (iv) toxaemia.
In the treatment of stomach troubles, irrespective of age and sex of the patient, the first medicines that comes to a homoeopaths mind is NUX VOMICA. This polychrest is more suitable for little babies and in the majority of cases a few doses of it will put the stomach in order; specially if the complaints are due to over-eating Ant-t., Nux.v. has nausea without vomiting (Ip.); coated tongue, bad taste (Bry.) and offensive breath.
Chilly patients, and it is also suitable if the upsets are result of an exposure to cold with or without a fluent, watery, nasal catarrh (Ars.). In chronic dyspepsia the child requiring Nux-v. feels a distress in abdomen after feeling; has indifferent appetite and ineffectual urging for stools. The child feels better after stools when the bowels are clear. Although in acute form a Nux-v. child has nausea alone and no vomiting but in the chronic form of the disease it may have periodic attacks of vomiting as well.
Three leading features of Nux-v. are chilly patients, nervous and irritable temperament and the typical constipation.
While considering the adaptability of Nux-v. a number of other medicines, mentioned in parenthesis, possessed through the physicians mind. Before describing these medicines, let us first deal with the remedies having gastric disorder in association with habitual constipation as Nux-v. belongs to that group.
CALCAREA CARBONICUM will automatically come to the mind when we think of constipation in children and more so on account of its characteristic type of constipation being the reverse of Nux-v. Both the patients are chilly and constipated but one requiring Nux-v. feels relief when the bowels are emptied while the other requiring Calcarea feels better as long as the bowels remain inert.
It has intolerance of milk, sour vomiting; clay colored, putty-like stools; repugnance to warm foods and drinks; and to cold drinks. But to derive full benefits from this wonderful drug the constitutional symptoms of the child should receive the first consideration. It is suitable for rachitic children with open fontanelles (Cal-p.); big bellies, fair complexion and easy sweating, specially on the back of head during sleep. The Calcarea children are fond of eating earth and many other undigestible substances. We use it in the 200th or even higher potencies.
We cannot think of Calcarea carb. without giving a thought to Calcarea phos. but as it has affinity to gastro-intestinal troubles its turn will come a little later. Let us now pass to ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM which has a good reputation in stomach upset of children in association with constipation. It has hard faecal lumps mixed with liquid stools, or the child may have constipation alternating with diarrhoea.
The child is irritable, fretful, ill-tempered; does not like to the touched or even looked at; rather heavier than normal weight; has intolerance of milk, especially mothers milk which he vomits soon after nursing in curdled lumps (Aeth.) and thereafter refuses to suck again, prefers the bottle. Diminished appetite; thick, milk-white coating over the whole tongue; lips cracked in corners and well marked toxaemia (Bell.); suitable in summer complaints of children (Bry.). These are some of its guiding symptoms.
We have now one more medicine to complete the Nux-v. group. This child is also a chilly patient like Nux-v. and Calcarea but its type of constipation is quite different from them. The child has to strain much for stools but yet the stools after protruding out a little again recede back. Thus we come to SILICIA which has some similarity with Ant-c. Silicia child too has an aversion to mothers milk which he refuses to take and if he does he vomits. This type of children thrives well on diets other than milk.
The Silicia vomiting is not of curdled milk as in Ant-c. The child requiring Silicia is seldom, if ever, of normal size and weight; it is always underweight while the Ant-c. child is always over-weight. Silicia acts better in high potencies.
To enter into the diarrhoetic group from the causative one it is better to pass through PULSATILLA which naturally comes next to Silicia having a close resemblance to it. Pulsatilla has no constipation, on the other hand, it may have occasional diarrhoea with the stools changing every time; no two stools are alike. The diarrhoea is always resulted from indiscretion in diets and probably from fatty or rich foods.
The tongue and the whole mouth are dry and yet the child has no desire to drink. It is suitable to nervous and mild type of children who frequently get digestive upsets with night aggravations. In contrast with Silicia it acts better in lower potencies; 12th or still lower.
And when we have to deal with gastric upsets accompanied by diarrhoea IPECAC gets our first consideration. It has nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. In gastric disorders it occupies a place only next to Nux-v. It has some definite characteristics to determine its application. Nausea, deadly nausea is the supermost trouble of Ipecac patients, vomiting comes next. Nausea continues even after vomiting. The tongue is clean; thirst well marked, and if diarrhoea is present the stools are green and watery. The stomach troubles of Ipecac are often due to over eating like Nux-
ARSENIC ALBUM comes under Ipecac group as many of its symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and thirst are common to both. In Arsenic gastric disorders debility, exhaustion and prostration are pre-dominant factors. Severe gastralgia in consequence of chilling of the stomach is often an accompanying feature of Arsenicum. Restlessness and intense thirst are the other two leading features of this drug. But due to profound debility and rapid exhaustion the restlessness, though present, may not be prominent as to attract the physicians notice; nay it may even be difficult to detect at times.
Sometimes the Arsenic thirst though very intense, may equally put the physician off. Usually in the burning thirst the child very frequently drinks in small sips just to keep the mouth moist. But water aggravates the neuralgic pain, and causes vomiting immediately after drinking. Hence the Arsenic kid sometimes refrains from drinking, although he has intense thirst. But if you can recognise the Arsenic cry revealing the childs fear and anguishness you will never be off the track. The little suffering creature finds relief, if any, only from warmth and so he desires to keep himself covered, and desires warm foods (but to drink cold and ice-cold water).
CALCAREA PHOSPHORICA has a greater claim to have a place next to Calc-c. but for reasons explained before we have put it under the Ipecac group. It is suitable for rachitic and anaemic children with open fontanelles and flabby but sunken abdomen. Flatulent dyspepsia during dentition. Remember that Calc-phos. children have always a history of mal-nutrition and progressive emaciation. In diarrhoea the stools are greenish, slimy and offensive; sputtering out with great deal of wind.
AETHUSA is notorious for its vomiting of curdled milk in large lumps. But it is equally beneficial in vomiting of milk in its liquid form when other symptoms agree. It has great intolerance of milk which is forcefully ejected soon after taking it; followed by great exhaustion causing the child to sleep. He wakes up hungry and wants to nurse but only vomits again.
Thus the poor miniature form of human being becomes hungry, nurses for gratification, ejects the milk suddenly, becomes exhausted and lastly falls asleep. The lumps of curdled milk are sometimes so large that the child is choked by them. It is suitable in summer troubles of teething children. Its gastric disorders always leave on the childs upper lip a well defined mark known as linea nasalis.
VALERIANA is another drug having vomiting of curdled milk in large lumps; the childs stools too contain a similar substance. The child vomits immediately after nursing. It is more useful if the history reveals the origin of the trouble from nursing the child when the mother was angry.
MAGNESIA CARBONICUM is another medicine with intolerance of milk and sour vomiting. It has lienteric stools, usually white, putty- like.
The other two medicines that should have been placed under Aethusa group are Calc-c. and Ant-c.
SULPHUR acts well to complete these cases. It follows Aeth. well. Morning diarrhoea, unhealthy skin, and dislike to bath are some of its leading features.
BELLADONNA, though itself is not a medicine for indigestion, acts like a magic if toxaemia predominates in association with fever and convulsion. Throbbing headache with red face will further confirm its application.
These are the drugs frequently indicated in childrens indigestion; but to complete this chapter we have to deal with a few other complaints attributable to the stomach.
Flatulence is one of these troubles and LYCOPODIUM, CARBO-VEG, and CHINA will cover this condition. Lyco. acts well when it is associated with constipation, excessive accumulation of wind in the lower abdomen, on close observation it will be found that the flatus is really incarcerated in a small pocket or in several such pockets in the intestine; loud rumbling in abdomen and 4 to 8 p.m. aggravation.
Carbo-veg. will be useful if the flatulence is associated with diarrhoea; upper abdomen is more bloated, the flatus being incarcerated in the stomach. China too has diarrhoea accompanied by flatulence, but where China is indicated the whole abdomen, upper as well as lower, is bloated with flatus. The child is anaemic either from malaria or from prolonged drainage; lienteric stools and diarrhoea immediately after eating.
Anorexia is another trouble for which the parents often consult a physician. The real cause of this trouble should be ascertained by careful and thorough examination of child and drugs should be selected accordingly. As anorexia in children is usually connected with inactivity of the liver functions LYCOPODIUM will be found again the most frequently indicated remedy. Lyco. has good appetite but still the child feels bloated after a few mouthfuls; its satiety is usually associated with constipation, deposits of urates on diaper and irritable mood on waking from sleep.
CHINA will be the medicine for impaired appetite when it is associated with anaemia from chronic diarrhoea or malaria. CHININUM ARS. acts like a tonic in anorexia with considerable weakness and emaciation after some acute disease such as typhoid or influenza. During the summer when every thing is dry except the body which perspires so freely, and every one, irrespective of age, indulges in cold drinks we find a counterpart of it in BRYONIA.
It has every thing dry, the lips are dry, the tongue is dry, the whole mouth is dry, even the stools are dry and burnt; no desire to eat, great longing for drinks in large quantities at a time and easy perspiration. Thus we find Bryonia as the most appropriate similia for loss of appetite during summer. In other seasons the symptom “drinks much and eats little” will remind us of SULPHUR. CALC. and NUX-V are the other two drugs frequently indicated in anorexia of children.
Well, now for bulimy. CINA is far and away the most frequently indicated medicine for this condition. The Cina child is hungry at meals, between meals and immediately after meals as well as soon as after vomiting. In short he is hungry all the time and even after a full meal he would like to have something more to eat. While the parent narrates the story of the childs peculiar appetite the physician finds out his medicine from a look at the childs face, as this wonderful polychrest is full of prominent objective symptom.
Firstly the child is irritable; weeps pitifully; wants to be carried which does not give any relief; does not like to be touched or to be looked at (Ant-cr.); and secondly boring the finger into the nose, or playing with the finger-tips; rubbing the nose on the nurses shoulder or on the pillow; one cheek red while the other pale; the peculiar vacant look with dilated pupils and glassy sclera; dark rings under the eyes, all these symptoms can be seen from casual glance at the child. Does there still remain any need to ascertain whether the child grinds his teeth during sleep?.
Our next choice will be GRAPHITES which has abnormal appetite. But this child is hungry at meals only and he becomes impatient when the meal time comes; he cannot wait any longer; any further delay upsets him. The Graphites children are fat and constipated; the stools are small balls bound together with mucus. Unhealthy skin and they will have some skin eruptions or eczema oozing out a honey-like substances. Deep cracks behind the ears and chronic blepharitis, or eczema on the edge of eyelids; falling of eye- lashes. These are the symptoms to determine the application of this drug.
CALCAREA CARB. has some similarity with Graphites constitution and has also inordinate hunger; but it is not difficult to distinguish the constitutions.
LYCOPODIUM has a good appetite and yet the child does not gain any weight. These children usually suffer from some hepatic or pulmonary affections. Sallow complexion and constipation.
PHOSPHORUS child has an empty sensation in abdomen and hence the child wants to eat something all the time. The pain in stomach is relieved from eating, especially cold drinks and foods. The child is tall and shoulder; of fair complexion, anaemic with periodical digestive upsets.
Both Calc-c and Graph. are suitable for fat children; Lyco. for children of normal size and weight; rather a bit below than above; and Phosphorus child is slender and decidedly of subnormal weight. All these four drugs have habitual constipation, but each of a different type. Now we shall pass on to the remedies having good, rather abnormal appetite with progressive emaciation.
We shall take up NATRUM MUR first as both the appetite and emaciation under this drug are, though well marked, yet of lesser degree than the other two described hereafter. In the text we have “Loosing flesh all along though the child living well.” The emaciation is well marked on the neck and thence extends downwards. The child is constipated and is liable to summer complaints. He has a definite desire for salt and salty foods and an equally marked dislike to bread; well marked thirst. Irritable temper, weeps at trifles and finds no relief from consolation which, on the contrary, makes him furious.
Next we shall take up ABROTANUM which has ravenous hunger with constant emaciation, even to actual marasmus. The atrophy is more marked on the legs with an upward tendency (reverse of Nat-m.). The child has constipation but alternated with diarrhoea of lienteric stools. The face is wrinkled and the skin flabby, hanging loose in foods. It acts better in high potencies, 200th and above.
IODIUM is suitable for scrofulous children, rather brunettes than blondes, voracious appetite, great emaciation and profound debility. The child wants to eat all the time as if he is born to eat only. During and after meals the child becomes fresh, keen, lively and buoyant. Any delay in feeding will make him anxious and worried. Amelioration of all ailments and great relief from eating is most marked in this drug and this is the only reliable symptom of this medicine. In addition you may find achyle stools.
PSORINUM child becomes hungry in the middle of the night, must have something to eat before he can sleep again.
SULPHUR has hunger in the vicinity of 11 a.m. It may be required as an intercurrent remedy along with any of the above drugs.
For indigestion during hot weather think of Aeth., Ant-c., Bry., and Puls.
For indigestion from an exposure to cold think of Ars., Nux-v.
For indigestion from over-eating think of Nux-v., Ip., and Ant-
For flatulent dyspepsia think of Carb-v., Arg-n., Cal-p.
For aggravation from sugar give Arg-n.
For acute milk aggravation Aethusa is the first possibility, next comes Lac-can., and Lac defl.
Remember:- Arsenicum vomiting as soon as water reaches the stomach.
Phosphorus vomiting as soon as water becomes warm in the stomach which may take 5 to 10 minutes.
Ignatia stomach is hysterical which means that plain and simplest foods bring digestive upsets and yet the child can digest well most undigestible things. So do not disbelieve the mothers story when she says that mixed-milk or barley-water upsets the childs stomach but he thrives well on bread or rice.