Bedwetting (Enuresis) (Nocturnal enuresis)

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Continuing to wet the bed past a certain age is a common and heart-wrenching problem for all concerned but it can be seen that, so long as a holistic approach is used that takes into account what is causing the problem, it can definitely be cured

Most of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Change the name

One thing is patently obvious, and that is that this is a problem that can create a lot of anxiety it in the child and the older they get the worse they feel about it.

It is also abundantly clear that being ashamed of it does not help them stop doing it when they are asleep, it may in fact make things worse.

Consequently, it is recommended to find ways to ease some of the tension around the subject and one simple place to begin is to change the language. Words are important, it can help to drop the shameful term 'bedwetting' and instead use the medical term enuresis, properly called nocturnal enuresis, but enuresis is easy enough to remember.

Changing the name can make a significant difference, it can help get out of an embarrassed, hard-to-talk-about-it place into a more constructive mind-set that this is a well-understood medical problem and there are a number of tried and tested solutions to it that everyone needs to work through and try.


Primary causes of enuresis

The following are some primary causes of enuresis:

Natural Development

There are some simple questions that can tell us if this particular area is the one that needs the initial attention;

a) does he or she have a good level of control of those muscles we use both when we go to the toilet and when we need to hold on?

A practical way to test this is to try to stop the flow of urine once it has started but before it has finished. Most children won't be able to do this at first but can learn with a little practice. If this is clearly a weakness then simply practicing trying to stop the flow of urine before it's finished, even just twice a day, can make a rapid improvement over as little as a week is a core reason behind the enuresis is simply some delayed natural development.

b) for boys: is his foreskin too tight?

You may need to help a little boy to retract his foreskin to urinate a few times until he gets the hang of doing this himself and can then easily empty his bladder fully.

c) is he or she getting a good balance of water in and urine out during the day or is it quite erratic?

Keeping a chart of exactly how much fluid is being drunk and when it is being drunk for a few days might give some necessary insight as to why his or her natural rhythms are not getting well established. As an example of this last point, the following is copied from an online discussion with a

My son was a late bed wetter, well into his teens. We had some success with an alarm but didn't completely get on top of it.

What sorted it in the end was an appointment with a nurse who specialises in dealing with children and teenagers with incontinence issues. She was brilliant, she made him feel okay about it and not alone, and by getting him to fill in a timetable of when he was drinking and urinating for a week or two, she soon sorted the fact that my son's drinking, and thus urinating pattern, was all awry.

The program he had to follow consisted of set volumes to drink at set times of the day to change when he was drinking and increase bladder volume and control and it worked a treat - very quickly too


Food Intolerance.

A correlation has sometimes been seen between a tendency towards food allergies or intolerances and enuresis. How the one could cause the other can only be speculated on but perhaps the general aggravation of the immune system that happens with food intolerance causes some degree of inflammation in urinary tract tissues just as it can in the skin, e.g. eczema, or the bronchial tubes, e.g. asthma.

This is a tricky area, and before zeroing in on it look for other indicators of intolerance, such eczema or asthma, frequent complaints of digestive upset or such signs such as dark rings under the eyes or cracks in the corners of the mouth. If this subject needs to be explored further, read here.


Chronic Infection

For many decades, the established view on infection was black or white; you either had an infection or you didn't. In recent years, there has come an understanding that things are much more complex than that. We have many billions of micro-organisms living on us and inside us and that the right balance of this 'micro-biome' is an essential part of our health, for better or worse.

It may be wise to consider the possibility that the child with enuresis may have a low-grade bladder infection that is causing just enough inflammation and irritation to trigger an accident when the child falls deeply asleep.

The first step to explore this is a simple and inexpensive test to see if there are small numbers of white blood cells in the urine. The presence of these cells may not be at the very high levels that come with an acute bladder infection but they shouldn't normally be there and may be the sign that there is a chronic and low-grade infection pushing things along.

Sometimes we suspect it might be an issue but the only way to be sure is to practice some empirical medicine, i.e. treat for an infection and see what happens. Fortunately, we have some safe and effective herbal medicines to do this that will not do any harm to the child but, if this is the right track to be on, will be seen to be obviously helping within a week, or two at the most, These herbs, and how they may best be used in a tea-form, are described in detail in the article on urinary tract infections here.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) a potent urinary tract anti-biotic


Nerve impingement

Nerve impingement can be a major factor for some children with chronic enuresis. Perhaps the only way to be able to know for sure about this is to visit with a practitioner who is skilled in analysing and adjusting the spine and see what happens if they find that there is a problem in the alignment of the pelvis or the low back and help to correct it. One or two simple adjustments can sometimes make a dramatic difference in such cases!

If you find that you visit with a chiropractor, osteopath or some other spinal therapist and that your child improves after treatment but then reverts to the enuresis after a while then this means that you are not on the wrong track, or they would not have improved in the first place, but that you need to find some exercises that the child can do to prevent the spine getting out of alignment and the nerves getting pressed on again. This is usually to do with correcting some postural imbalance in sitting, standing or walking.

A holistic minded spinal specialist should be able to teach your child such exercises but if it is not their forte then you might find visiting someone who works in the Yoga school, or the Alexander technique, or perhaps the Feldenkrais method to get the tools he or she needs to learn to get well and stay well.


Final Thoughts

Be patient

Enuresis is a truly distressing problem for everyone concerned. Whatever you do to fix it you are going to want it to work brilliantly, and immediately! This is completely understandable but it is also the number one reason why treatments fail because even when you are on the right track and the incidence of enuresis has been reducing, just one accident can be enough to cause people to lose hope much too soon and so stop what they have been doing. Don't give up too quickly, a cure for a chronic problem will often take time.

Be holistic

It may be wise to try more than one of the above approaches at the same time. No-one ever cares if they don't know for sure what helped when the problem has been cured, and maybe it needed a combination of things. Enuresis should never be put in the too hard basket., it will get better eventually, the more you and your child can adopt a holistic, problem-solving mind-set, the sooner that time will come.

Zea mays (Corn silk) a calming, soothing urinary tract herb

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd