Written by Lisa Moane, Holistic Nutritionist & Food Scientist, www.holistichealthbylisamoane.com.au
One of the pieces of advice that I love dishing out to parents, and their kids, is to have more baths!
But these are no ordinary baths, and the reason I prescribe baths is usually not the reason people think of!
In my practice as a Nutritionist, I specialise in children. My greatest passion is helping children with behavioural issues. There are many, many ways that what your child eats affects their behaviour. One of these reasons is salicylate intolerance.
Salicylates are natural chemicals in many healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Lots of children struggle when they eat these foods because a biochemical process in their body called sulphation isn’t working very well. That means that every time they eat foods high in salicylates they get symptoms such as hyperactivity, aggression and sleeping disturbances. Another tell-tale sign that a child isn’t tolerating salicylates well is red cheeks, red eyes and bed wetting. These children are generally advised to go on a low salicylate diet, which is one of the hardest and least sustainable diets to do, as it cuts out so many fruits and vegetables! I much prefer to focus on getting to the root cause of why the child has such an issue with this perfectly natural compound.
These children aren’t managing the process of sulphation very well. Sulphation is basically adding sulphur to something. Sulphation isn’t working well because these children are usually low in an enzyme called phenol sulfotransferase (PST). This enzyme adds sulphur to salicylates to help break them down. PST is made in the gut, and the body uses it to detoxify compounds like salicylates. Without enough of this enzyme, some children can’t detoxify the salicylates and get the symptoms mentioned above. To over-come this, children need to temporarily reduce their salicylate intake, but at the same time improve their sulphation systems. Children with autism are particularly at risk of having low PST levels.
The most fun way to improve sulphation in children is to bathe in Epsom salts. The chemical name for Epsom salts is magnesium sulphate. The sulphate part of the molecule is absorbed through the skin and this is an effective way to increase sulphate levels. This is a great advantage for children who reject supplements orally, such as many children with autism. Sulphate isn’t actually very well absorbed through the gut.
Lots of parents also notice that after swimming lessons, their child’s behaviour escalates. This can be due to the chlorine exposure. This effect is because the body uses the same sulphation pathway to detoxify chlorine, as to handle salicylate. If you notice this in your children, make sure they have an Epsom salt bath after swimming lessons.
Other great reasons to make Epsom salt baths a part of your child’s evening ritual are to improve, liver detoxification, improve digestion, increase resistance to bad bacteria in the gut, and to help balance neurotransmitters.
As you can see, when I prescribe an Epsom salt bath as part of a treatment protocol, it is often for the sulphate part of magnesium sulphate, rather than the magnesium part. The great added benefit of The Salt Box product is the addition of essential oils to calm your child’s nervous system and get their body ready for a good night sleep.