A bed-wetting problem frustrates parents and children alike. A good night's sleep gets regularly interrupted by the need to change sheets and clothes. While doctors can offer prescription medicines that may offer relief of bed-wetting, there is a natural approach to help a child overcome bed-wetting. Nutritional supplements and herbs can help your child have a dry bed day after day.
Causes of Bed-Wetting
Medically known as "enuresis," bed-wetting is common among young children. Doctors define bed-wetting as a lack of control of urination that occurs frequently and involuntarily. In some cases, the child does not wake up even after wetting the bed.
For young children, usually under age 5, the bladder's size causes the child to wet the bed. Her bladder is simply too small to hold the amount of urine produced during the night. As the child's body grows, this type of bed-wetting is outgrown. For some children, however, the tendency to wet the bed persists into the elementary school years and, infrequently, the teen years.
According to a study published in Journal of Urology, about 50 percent of children lack sufficient levels of the hormone ADH. In most people, the body produces ADH during the night to suppress kidney activity. In children who lack enough ADH, the kidneys continue producing urine at the normal rate. These children sleep heavily enough that they do not feel the "need to go" sensation.
A bladder infection may cause scarring that prevents the bladder from holding urine at night. Urinary tract infections can cause bed-wetting, especially if a child begins to wet the bed after age 5. Frequent urination during both day and night can signal juvenile diabetes. Before beginning the supplements outlined here, have a doctor determine if there is an underlying medical cause for your child's bed-wetting.
Occasionally wetting the bed is a normal occurrence for children who have recently become potty trained. These types of accidents shouldn't be confused with true bed-wetting that persists for many months or years and truly cannot be controlled by the child. The likelihood of being a bed-wetter seems to run in families. Statistically, one of every five 5-year-old children wets the bed regularly. Among 10-year-olds, one in 20 wets the bed. This number drops to one of every 100 15-year-olds. If bed-wetting continues into adulthood, it is likely caused by a sleep disorder.
Use these recommendations to guide your choice of supplements to help control your child's bed-wetting. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you want to give your child.
Take "free-form amino acid complex" according to the label directions. This supplement will strengthen the bladder muscle.
A daily supplement of 750 mg calcium and 175 mg magnesium helps control the bladder spasms that may trigger bed- wetting episodes.
No more than 5,000 IU of vitamin A daily regulates bladder-muscle functions. Vitamin E (300 IU) and cod liver oil taken according to label directions can help normal bladder function as well.
Zinc--less than 10 mg daily--will encourage proper bladder function and boost the immune system. This lessens the chance of urinary tract or bladder infections.
How Diet Affects Bed-Wetting
Doctors have observed that certain B vitamins affect bed-wetting. Foods high in B2 and B5 seem most helpful. Why these vitamins play a role in bed-wetting is not known, but increasing the amounts of B vitamins in your child's diet can only be beneficial. Foods high in B2 include mushrooms, yogurt, spinach, cow's milk and beef tenderloin. Foods rich in B5 include sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yogurt, yellow corn, broccoli, eggs and strawberries. Choose a children's multivitamin that contains all of the B vitamins, especially B2 and B5.
The substance glutamate plays a role in the body's startle response. This startle response could cause some nighttime bed-wetting. To reduce glutamate from the diet and possibly lessen your child's bed-wetting, avoid red meat, pepperoni pizza, pureed tomatoes, cheese, and foods or drinks that contain aspartame.
Limit your child's liquid intake for the last 30 minutes before bed, but don't try to limit her fluids during the day. While this approach is well-intentioned, it can result in dehydration.
Chinese Herbs for Bed-Wetting
Chinese medicine offers an herbal treatment called Shut the Sluice Pill. When used along with other techniques and supplements, this herbal combination can help end your child's bed-wetting. Made with wild yam and containing chemicals that act on the bladder, Shut the Sluice Pill decreases the urge to urinate during night and day. This allows the child to have more control over when he goes. Of course, parents will need to encourage frequent daytime trips to the restroom. Shut the Sluice Pill is marketed as Sang Piao Xiao and Firm Vessel. It can be purchased from natural food stores or from herbalists practicing traditional Chinese medicine.