Both of my children were born with a faint blue vein on the bridge of their noses, and like any sufficiently paranoid mother, I would squint and study it trying to figure out what it could possibly be… a bruise, a birth mark, something else? For years in the Chinese medicine community I heard whisperings of this blue vein being a reliable diagnostic tool for predicting a sensitivity to sugar. I took note, and have used this as a good excuse to limit sweets in my children’s diets.
This weekend at a pediatric acupuncture seminar with Raven Lang, the blue vein finally got a name: “Sugar Bug,” or in Japanese, “Kanmushi,” a syndrome in Japanese medicine. Sugar Bug babies may cry more, have more issues with sleep, and – my personal favorite – shriek. These children have a propensity to more temper tantrums and potentially attention and hyperactivity issues when they get older if proper care is not taken to divert this tendency along the way.
Why a Sugar Bug occurs is unclear, but my theory is that it has to do with the quality of gut flora (or digestive qi or energy) we inherit from our parents at the time of birth. (Stay tuned for a future post on how to bequeath healthy gut flora to your future children!). In Chinese medicine, the digestion system (Spleen energy) and the nervous system (Liver energy) are interdependent, so it would stand to reason that a Sugar Bug child with sensitive digestion would also have a sensitive nervous system.
Regardless of the ‘why’, the presence of a Sugar Bug on your beautiful baby is not a reason to panic. The faint blue mark is barely visible to others, and can be a major blessing in disguise…
If you see a blue vein, don’t panic!
This diagnostic sign is much like a curvy road sign. It warns you to drive ahead with caution to prevent an accident. The Sugar Bug also provides us with some convenient street sign warnings – that most parents should follow anyway!
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugar (especially processed candy, cakes, and other sweets), but also monitor ‘natural’ sweets like honey, maple syrup, agave and even fruit. Fruit juice is just as sugary as a candy bar and should be avoided. Foods that quickly turn into sugar in the body such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes should be consumed only in moderation.
- Create clear boundaries and routines for a Sugar Bug baby/child. These children should have consistent rhythm to their day with meals, snacks, bath, and bed time occurring like clockwork as much as possible. Sugar Bug babies should not stay up late or skip naps.
- Mellow out – Sugar Bug kids do not need extra stimulation, so limit the amount of beeping toys, flashing lights, TV shows, loud parties, and other overwhelming stimuli that he/she is exposed to.
- Load up on nutrients – A nutrient dense diet is essential for Sugar Bug babies. Essential fatty acids from fish (in our house we use this fermented cod liver oil), B vitamins, amino acids, and zinc are all important brain foods that will reduce the propensity for ADD/ADHD down the road. Whenever possible provide these nutrients from real food. Here are some tricks on getting the kids to take fermented cod liver oil.
- Tune in – Make a mental note when your child has challenges. If melt-downs tend to follow a particular food, skip it for awhile. If he/she seems to be getting cranky in the afternoons, make bedtime earlier. Around the age of 4 or 5 most blue veins on the nose bridge will fade, but your child may still be sensitive to sugar and over-stimulation.
- Get preventative care – Find a good pediatric acupuncturist that can work with your child monthly to monitor and treat any minor imbalances that may arise in order to prevent bigger issues down the road. Practicing preventative care is great advice for any parent. Don’t think of the Sugar Bug an omen of doom, just your baby’s way of making sure you keep your parenting skills sharp and promote health down the road.