End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.

End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.

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podcast

Reversing the Irreversible: One doctor’s journey adopting a child with Cerebral Palsy that changed his approach to medicine

Reversing the Irreversible: One doctor’s journey adopting a child with Cerebral Palsy that changed his approach to medicine

Today I am really excited to bring to you an interview with Dr. Aaron Hartman. Dr. Hartman is not only a functional and integrative physician, but he is a parent of a child with Cerebral Palsy. Becoming a parent to his daughter has changed the way he practices medicine because he and his wife want to ensure that his daughter will live her best life and thrive.

This conversation feels very similar to my own story with my daughter and how we went about finding the best things for my child to thrive. It’s why I created the My Child Will Thrive podcast and website so that you and other parents could find out about all the different ways we can help our children and most importantly, that you're not alone in this journey. There's always something new we can all learn together.

Listen to my conversation with Dr. Hartman (or read the transcript below) about how his journey with his daughter changed his approach to medicine and let us know what you think!

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The Foundational Role of the Vagus Nerve

The role of the vagus nerve in neurodevelopment and the health of our children couldn’t be more important. If the vagus nerve isn’t functioning optimally there can be a cascade effect on their health and development and there will be a major block to sustained progress in many interventions you may be using. Let’s review together the foundational role of the vagus nerve in our children’s health and development.

 

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is the tenth (X) cranial nerve and is the longest nerve in the body. It originates in the brainstem and then, like its Latin name implies, it wanders through the body connecting to the organs throughout the entire body. The vagus nerve is a complex bidirectional system which means it is made up of both efferent and afferent nerves that link the brainstem to various organs.  Efferent nerves are motor nerves that carry messages from the brain to the muscles and organs. Afferent nerves are sensory nerves that carry messages from sensory receptors back to the brain.

 

What is the vagus nerve's role in the nervous system?

The vagus nerve plays a role in the part of the peripheral nervous system known as the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which is responsible for automatic or involuntary physiological response throughout the body such as heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and digestion. The ANS is made up of three parts: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Enteric Nervous System (ENS).1

The understanding of the importance of the vagus nerve continues to evolve. One of its most important functions is its role in the digestive system via the Enteric Nervous System and the body’s ability to appropriately switch between a Sympathetic nervous state (fight or flight) and a Parasympathetic nervous state (rest and digest). 

One of the areas of keen study on the vagus nerve is its role in the gut-brain axis. Digestion is a north-to-south process in the body and digestion starts in the brain. For example, if your child is struggling with switching from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state, then they will likely have chronic digestive problems as the digestive cascade will not have been appropriately triggered which will lead to downstream digestive dysfunction. 

In addition, the Enteric Nervous System is the nervous system of the digestive system. An example of the role of the vagus nerve to gut function is when the efferent vagus nerves send signals to the Enteric Nervous System which in turn send signals to the muscles of the digestive tract to initiate peristalsis (move the food along the digestive tract). If the vagus nerve is not functioning optimally this can result in several digestive challenges including but not limited to constipation.2

As the vagus nerve impacts gut function, it can result in gut dysfunction such as dysbiosis and leaky gut which in turn have been shown to have a significant impact on brain function.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of vagus nerve dysfunction in children?

  • Gastroparesis (in severe cases of vagus nerve impairment)
  • Constipation
  • Requiring constant digestive supports (enzymes)
  • Low heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Poor or overactive gag reflex
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A child that is having difficulty with toilet training
  • Speech delays 
  • Delays in walking or crawling

 

What can you do to improve vagal tone in children?

This is a tricky one. Most of the typical suggestions that work would be difficult to implement with children, although the list below includes them as it really depends on the age and development of each child. 

This list is not exhaustive and there is always debate over which methods are most effective and can really improve vagal tone and elicit positive neuroplasticity. There is evidence, however, that using a multimodal approach can have positive effects.3

  • Gargling
  • Triggering the gag reflex
  • Singing loudly
  • Coffee enemas
  • Vagal Nerve Stimulation – there are several different tools available these days that use electrical stimulation and/or vibration
  • Low level laser4

Other things we can do to help stimulate the vagus nerve:

  • Infant massage and swaddling5
  • Probiotics – in particular Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium Longum have been shown to act through the vagus nerve to lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression67
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids8

 

What to do next?

If you want to learn more about the role of the vagus nerve and the gut brain axis, I encourage you to watch the free expert interview replays on The Anxiety Summit 5 with Dr. Navaz Habib, the author of the book Activate Your Vagus Nerve: Unleash Your Body's Natural Ability to Heal  and the interview with Dr. Datis Kharazzian, author of Why Isn’t My Brain Working.

I hope this introduction to the importance of the vagus nerve has been helpful. Take the next step and watch the expert interviews by signing up here.

Holistic Parenting: Parenting Healthy Brains and Bodies in a Changing World

Holistic Parenting: Parenting Healthy Brains and Bodies in a Changing World

I’m sure you’ve heard the words “holistic parenting” and “inflammation”, but do we really know what they mean? I know I have spent so much time learning about the ins and outs of my child’s health, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why I love bringing on guests to the My Child Will Thrive Podcast who can help us learn about the world of holistic health and wellness without feeling totally stuck in the process.

So I’m excited to share with you today the knowledge and the amazing energy that emulates from Dr. Madiha Saeed. Dr. Saeed takes us through holistic parenting, inflammation in our children’s health and how our children make decisions (and how we can help them make BETTER ones!) We also talked about her new book, “The Holistic Rx for Kids,” that just came out. Dr. Saeed is a joy to learn from and I can’t wait for you to hear her episode today!

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Using Music to Optimize Your Child’s Brain

Using music to optimize your child’s brain

As parents, we’re all looking for the best therapies for our kids. Whether it’s finding the best doctor to work with, finding ways to improve development of their brain or digging into what small changes might help with regulating emotions and the autonomic nervous system (along with many more.) I started the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit as a way for parents to learn from practitioners all over the world with different modalities that might spark some light for your child.

One modality that is enjoyed by adults and children alike is music. That’s why I brought on Alex Doman who is the founder of Advanced Brain Technologies and The Listening Program. Alex’s family has been working in this field for generations and he is passionate about using music to heal your child’s brain. In this interview that I’m sharing with you from the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit, Alex explains to us the power of sound to shape the brain, to shape emotion, to influence learning and behavior.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Alex Doman!

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Photobiomodulation: The Secret Weapon to Speed Healing and Recovery at a Cellular Level

Photobiomodulation: The Secret Weapon to Speed Healing and Recovery at a Cellular Level

As a parent of a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder, I was often overwhelmed by the options for therapies, tests and protocols that we should consider. It can be unnerving and have us question which path we should take for our child. Part of the process of determining the right path is being educated on these options. Having trusted practitioners to explain these therapies is crucial to our understanding of what to do next.

Photobiomodulation–low level laser therapy is one of the options to consider (and definitely one of my favorites) but it often brings up concerns about safety and questions about how it can truly help with brain function. This is why I reached out to Dr. Brandon Crawford to interview him for the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. Dr. Crawford is an expert in the field and is able to explain the use of Low Level Lasers in neurodevelopmental disorders and how this might be a good fit for your child too.

I decided I wanted to share this interview from the summit with the My Child Will Thrive Podcast listeners which is why I’ve released the full interview from the summit on the podcast this week, too.

If you’d like to learn more about the summit and sign up for complimentary access to all the interviews, head over to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit.

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The Power of FUN Sensory Training

The Power of FUN Sensory Training

When we work with our kids, it often feels like just that…work! When I come across an example of how we can get results without all the challenges that so many treatments and therapies entail I want to know more. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a person that developed his own simple and fun neuro rehab training program that can help you and your child with sensory processing, brain speed and other symptoms associated with autism and ADHD. On this episode of the My Child Will Thrive Podcast my guest, Trent McEntire, shares some of his favorite success stories that show you just how simple and effective this rehab program can be leveraging the power of neuroplasticity. The stories were so encouraging and heartwarming – make sure you listen right to the end to hear about them.

If you’re interested in learning more about brain speed and the power of neuroplasticity, I know you’ll enjoy this episode with Trent!

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