Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a condition causing recurrent attacks of intense nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and sometimes headaches or migraines. Attacks can last from a few hours to several days at a time. The condition is more prevalent among children, and seems to occur less frequently in adults. Many children will grow out of the condition once they reach adulthood. CVS is debilitating, and can be dangerous if dehydration occurs.

A person suffering from CVS typically has pale skin, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, but some patients will also experience diarrhoea, headaches, migraines and light sensitivity.

The cause of CVS is largely a mystery, but there do seem to be some common themes amongst those who suffer with CVS. While the cause is elusive, common triggers for CVS episodes include overexertion, fatigue, hormonal changes around a woman’s menstrual cycle, infections, lack of sleep, temperature extremes, alcohol consumption, allergies, extended periods without eating, and certain foods. Some of the food triggers associated with migraines such as chocolate, cheese and monosodium glutamate, are also considered triggers for CVS.

There are no tests to specifically confirm CVS, rather the diagnosis is based on ruling out other possible causes of the vomiting or abdominal symptoms. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is believed to be a class of migraine.

Similar to migraines CVS has four stages.

Symptom free phase – no symptoms appear to be present between episodes.
Prodromal phase – nausea appears with or without abdominal pain. This phase can last a few minutes to several hours.
Vomiting phase – nausea and vomiting can be violent. There is an inability to eat, drink or take medicines without vomiting. Drowsiness, exhaustion, and dehydration may occur.
Recovery phase – after the vomiting stops and skin colour, vitality and appetite returns.

 

What can be done?

The medical management of CVS often involves avoidance of triggers, symptomatic relief such as the use of medications to reduce nausea, stop vomiting and maintain hydration. Pharmaceuticals may be used also to prevent future episodes if attacks occur greater than once per month. Medications may include tricyclic antidepressants, beta blockers, antihistamines, anticonvulsants and sometimes antibiotics. These medications can be helpful in some cases in the short term, but often come with side effects such as fatigue, drowsiness and are not ideal for the quality of life or long-term use.

Naturopathic care acknowledges that CVS has many and varied potential causes, that no two people are alike, and as such, there is not a one size fits all medicine. In saying that, there is some good evidence for certain nutrients and herbs for this condition and these may be considered where relevant. For example, the cell’s ability to generate energy is considered to be a mechanism which may be affected in CVS. This is similar to what can happen with migraines and there is some evidence that coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine may be useful in addressing this cause and alleviating symptoms. Your naturopath may consider these as part of your treatment if indicated as part of the whole picture of your health. Naturopathic support options may also include stress management, emotional wellness practices and the use of herbal and nutritional formulas suited to your needs.

CVS is a challenging condition to live with and a potentially complex condition to treat, however, naturopathy offers the opportunity to manage the symptoms, treat potential underlying causes holistically, and reduce the need for medication which may have detrimental side effects with long-term use.

Is bread for you?

Bread is the staple of the west. We have toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and sometimes even bread with dinner. But is all this bread doing us any good?

There are several problems with eating too much bread. This first is linked to wheat – a grain that is high in gluten and reactive to a lot of people. Wheat has become problematic for us because it is far too refined and we eat far too much of it. 99.9% of bread consumed is made from flour that is highly refined and bleached, which then makes it low in nutrition. Even wholemeal bread is made from white flour with bran added back in, so although a little healthier than white bread it does not do us much good.

Then comes the issue of the fast rise loaf of bread. Commercial bakeries use lots of yeast that causes the bread to rise in under 30 minutes. As well as the fact that yeasts can disrupt our digestive systems and lead to fungal overgrowths, rising a loaf of bread in this fashion does not allow the proteins to be broken down. Traditionally bread was risen over 6-12 + hours using a sourdough method. In naturally fermented sourdough bread the proteins have begun to be digested and nutrients are released so you can better utilize them.

Sourdough Bread

Traditional sourdough bread

Some people may cope with small amounts of organic, wholegrain wheat sourdough bread, although better alternatives are breads that are made with spelt, kamut (khorasan) or rye flours. Beware of the ‘sourdough’ bread you find at the supermarket and regular bakeries – they are most likely yeasted bread with a little bit of culture or sour flavouring added in.

If you’re very sensitive you may need to avoid gluten, which even spelt, kamut and rye contains. I do not recommend eating gluten free bread however as it is highly refined and usually has lots of additives to make it taste like ‘real’ bread. Unfortunately if you are gluten sensitive then eliminating bread is the best way to go.

If bread is something that you love, eat it, but use the following rules:

  • Only eat organic, traditionally leavened sourdough bread
  • Eat bread a maximum of once per day, 5 days a week
  • Buy bread that is made with wholegrain flour
  • Opt for spelt, kamut or rye breads over wheat
  • If you have digestive issues then see a naturopath to check if bread is right for you.

Katherine Maslen

Principal Naturopath
Bachelor of Naturopathy

Chiropractic Helps Get Babies Back On Track After Falls.

Posted by Naturopath Katherine Maslen

I wanted to share my experience with one of our chiropractors recently. My daughter, Luna, is 10 months old and had her first ever bad fall a couple of weeks ago.  To my horror she stood up on the edge of the bed and fell backwards and hit her head hard on the tiled floor. This was terrifying. As is common when babies take a hard head knock (especially on the base of the skull) she started to projectile vomit and needed to be taken to emergency to get checked out.

Thankfully after a few hours of observation we were sent home and Luna was given the all clear. The next morning I noticed that Luna had lost her balance – she was taking quite a few steps before and standing a lot, and suddenly she seemed to lose her balance just getting from sitting to crawling.

Naturally – the first thing I did was make an appointment with our chiropractor Dr. Tressa. Luna has been seeing Dr. Tressa since she was born and I had heard lots of positive stories about her treatment of babies with similar issues. On examination Dr. Tressa found that there were a few areas that were blocked up, most likely due to her fall. She gave Luna some super gentle treatment and said to give it 24 hours before I may notice any changes. The next day I immediately noticed improvements – for the first time since the fall Luna could stand up. She was still a bit wobbly but over the course of the next few days (and another treatment) she was back to her old self.

Luna is now walking everywhere! When your child goes backwards in their developmental milestones it is really worrying and I am so pleased that chiropractic could help her. Every now and again you’ll see some bad press about chiropractic for children but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In my experience, chiropractic is a safe, gentle and effective treatment for babies and children.

Thank you Dr. Tressa!