Growing pains are cramps of the muscles of the legs and feet in children who are growing rapidly. They are the same thing as the foot and leg cramps that are sometimes suffered by adults and especially by pregnant women.
The reason fast-growing children and pregnant women get these, is because of the heavy nutritional demands of rapid growth or the rapid growth of the fetus. They have a hard time getting enough nutrients to support the growth of new tissues, especially bones. Pregnant women and fast-growing children need a diet that is extraordinarily nutritious, and they probably also need nutritional supplements.
Growing pains can be very painful. Some children will cry themselves to sleep at night because of them.
If it’s a cramp, spasm, tic, twitch, or fidget, it is most likely caused by magnesium deficiency. The most important nutritional supplement for growing pains is magnesium.
The cure—and it should be a fairly quick cure—is to give the child magnesium tablets at about half the adult dose, or what you calculate they should take based on their body weight.
Magnesium in moderate doses is absolutely harmless. Excessive amounts of magnesium may cause diarrhea, but that is the only adverse effect.
The temptation is to give a combination calcium/magnesium supplement. This may work, but cramps, spasms, tics, twitches, and fidgets normally indicate the calcium and magnesium are out of balance in the body, and what’s really needed is magnesium alone. The American diet is overbalanced on the calcium side, probably because we consume a lot of milk and dairy products, which are rich in calcium and poor in magnesium, and do not consume enough magnesium-rich foods to compensate for this imbalance. Give supplements that contain only magnesium.
If you would prefer to use dietary sources of magnesium to cure a child’s growing pains, one of the richest sources of magnesium is blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is very rich in magnesium and other minerals. Other foods that are rich in magnesium are almonds, bran, chocolate, and dark leafy greens.
I should also mention that some brands of blackstrap molasses have a much better flavor than others. The brand at my local grocery store tastes somewhat like used motor oil, compared to the higher quality brands at the health-food store and some other specialty food stores. Get the good stuff, if possible, because your child is much more likely to enjoy it.
A child will need to take about ¼ cup of blackstrap molasses per day—at least until the symptoms have subsided (plus a couple of extra days). Once the problem is cleared up, you can probably back off on the dose, giving only a couple of tablespoons a day.
EPSOM’S SALTS BATHS
It will also help to give the child hot Epsom’s Salts baths. (Epsom’s Salts are magnesium salts.)
I have seen severe growing pains—where a child was crying himself to sleep at night—cured in less than 24 hours by giving blackstrap molasses and an Epsom’s Salts bath.
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