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ADHD/ADD – Why Are Natural Solutions Important?

May 27, 2011

in Featured,News

ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are becoming an epidemic in the United States. Between 2-3% of children in the U.S. have ADHD (NIMH) and the numbers continue to rise. For this article, we will cover some basics about ADHD/ ADD, some statistics, definitions, allopathic treatments and lastly, natural solutions. We will cover the differences between ADHD and ADD shortly. For now, we ask:

Why Are Natural Solutions important?

In her 2000 JAMA article “Is US Health Really the Best in the World?”, Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, lays out some rather startling statistics which provide a foundation for change in the health care solutions we seek. Here are some of the statistics:

  • 12,000 deaths per year from unnecessary surgery
  • 7000 deaths per year from medication errors in hospitals
  • 20,000 deaths per year from other errors in hospitals
  • 80,000 deaths per year from nosocomial infections in hospitals
  • 106,000 deaths per year from nonerror, adverse effects of medications

This totals to 225,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes, meaning deaths caused by medical examination or treatment. Alarming wouldn’t you say? Now, it is not the intention to criticize or devalue our medical system in any way. This article is here to stimulate new discussions and questions concerning you and your family’s health care.

So what is Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)? The conditions are defined as a neurological inefficiency in the area of the brain that controls impulses and aids in screening sensory input. ADD/ ADHD is characterized by inattention or difficulty sustaining attention or organizing tasks; impulsivity – blurting out answers and often interrupting; and the qualifying characterization for ADHD is hyperactivity, such as, fidgeting or talking excessively. ADHD is more common in boys while ADD is more common in girls. (1)

The exact cause of ADD/ ADHD is unknown; however, there are many potential causes or contributing factors. Here is a list:

  • Neurological: dopamine deficiency (helps regulate behavior, mood, and movement)
  • Pregnancy complications, prematurity, significantly low birth weight
  • Prenatal exposure to tobacco and alcohol
  • Excessively high lead levels
  • Excessive sugar intake and food additives/ preservatives
  • Excessive TV viewing/ video games
  • Social/ environmental factors: family instability/ chaos

What are the Allopathic Solutions?

Behavioral therapy; counseling; and medication, both stimulants and non-stimulants. More alarming are the side-effects from medications prescribed for this condition. These side-effects were presented in a book entitled “ADHD Living Without Brakes” by Dr. Martin Kutscher, MD:

  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Stunted height growth
  • Tics
  • Anxiety/ OCD Symptoms
  • Personality changes: irritability and negative behaviors, increase in mania or bipolar
  • Headaches
  • Cardiac issues – sudden death if predisposed heart condition
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Dr. Kutscher also describes the risks of not medicating a child with ADD/ ADHD. He states they have a:

  • 30% risk of substance abuse
  • High risk of dropping out of H.S. or college
  • Poor self-esteem
  • High risk of car accidents

ADHDJust out of curiosity, I decided to look up the “risks” for unaffected children, or those without the diagnosis. According to the National Youth Network, 1.1 million teens between the ages of 12-17 meet the criteria for drug dependency and 1 million seek treatment for alcohol dependency. (2) The Ad Council states that 1 in 3 high school students drop out every day. (3) And according to the Centers for Disease Control, teen drivers between the ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. The CDC also reports that in 2008 nine teenagers ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. (4)

It is highly possible and likely that kids with the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD are looped into these statistics; however, it is unlikely that they account for the majority. My point here is the side effects from medication far outweigh the risks of not medicating a child. This further supports the notion of trying solutions which may be less harmful and more natural in supporting both the child and their family members.

Now that we’ve laid the framework for what ADD/ ADHD is, the potential causes, allopathic solutions, and the risks of medication I introduce the topic that there is a mind, body, spirit connection. More scientific evidence is coming out relating to this topic. What this connection refers to is that our emotional and spiritual attitude can affect us physically and vice-versa. Some of the topics I will be covering are more physical and some are to help with the emotional aspect.

An entire article can be given on dietary changes alone but here are the highlights. Common symptoms affecting children with ADD/ADHD are digestive issues such as stomach aches, loose stools, diarrhea, constipation or alternating. This is due to a “leaky gut.” What is a “leaky gut” you might ask? An analogy is like a window screen. A screen is intended to keep larger critters outside but still allow air to flow through the window. What happens with a “leaky gut” is that the “holes” in which nutrients pass through during digestion are much bigger, thereby allowing larger molecules to pass into the blood stream which should not be there. The proteins cross the intestinal barrier (or screen) into blood stream and travel to the brain where they act like opiates. This effect can result in drug-like seeking behavior or “cravings” for milk or bread. Outbursts, rages, and “zoning out” are symptoms of withdrawals. This leads into the topic of food allergens.

The most common of these pesky proteins include casein found milk in dairy products, gluten in wheat products, and soy which is in many processed food products. How would you know if your child is Allergic? The Gold Standard is with elimination type diets. You will be able to determine based on the child’s reaction once the food is reintroduced. A nutritionist can help but there are plenty of books and online resources. My personal favorite is Pamela Compart’s Kid-Friendly Cookbook. Other known culprits of food-based allergens are eggs, corn, and nuts. Surprisingly, a less known however significant allergen is Salicylates (aspirin). Research shows 10-25% kids have allergies!!! Yikes!

Say “No” to antibiotics unless ABSOLUTELY, 100%, necessary! They deplete ALL bacteria (good and bad) and promote the overgrowth of yeast and Candida which is common in children with these conditions. Other biggies to say “No” to are food additives, sweeteners, and preservatives such as phenols found in perfumes, natural flavorings, corn syrup, synthetic/ artificial colors/ flavorings; processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, and corn syrup. Sodas are a big “no-no” because they contain phosphates which deplete essential minerals in our bodies. Lastly, icky preservatives. Say yes to salt and NO to sodium preservatives; research shows preservatives alter a person’s DNA (the template for life). “Geez Louise”, you must be thinking….

What Can I Give My Child, for Goodness Sakes?!

  • Drinks: H2O, 100% pure juice (not sweetened) can be diluted, herbal teas, sparkling water (add pure juice for flavoring)
  • Probiotics- promote good intestinal bacteria growth
  • Essential fatty Acids: fish oils/ omega 3’s important to have EPA/DHA ratio for metabolism (Nordic Naturals is a good brand); Breast milk for babies: Can’t say enough for this good, natural stuff!
  • Go organic whenever possible; Support Farmer’s Markets
  • Good resource for food stuff: www.ewg.org (Environmental Working Group)

Sleep…as our society progresses, the days become longer for both children and adults. Enough could not be said to ensure adequate sleep. How much is enough you ask? Preschoolers need about 12-13 hours, kids between preschoolers and preteens need 10-12 hours; preteens need 9-10; and teens need 10 hours per night. If bedtime is a challenge, create nightly rituals such as reading a book, singing lullabies, cuddle time, etc. You must be firm.

Kids have energy…and lots of it! They must burn it off with play and exercise. Exercise is a must for these kids even though they may resist because exercising requires focus and attention. Research shows competitive sports are beneficial for kids with ADHD because it teaches cooperation and focus. Family exercise such as tennis, running, bike rides, etc. are fantastic. The most important thing is make it fun! The more fun it is, the easier it is to engage them.

Other Goodies to be considered for Natural Solutions for children with ADD/ ADHD:

  • Minimize Electronic Entertainment: video games, T.V. time, etc. These activities train the brain to think in shorter intervals…i.e. Inattention!
  • Kids Yoga, TaiChi, QiGong, Meditation: calms the mind; teaches discipline and structure
  • Be fully engaged:
  • Do homework with them
  • Show them you’re interested in what they’re doing
  • Use Guided Imagery exercises with them

Benefits of Chiropractic Health Care

The last topic I will be covering is the benefits of Chiropractic Health Care. The most important, life-sustaining organ of your body is the Nerve System (NS). As I mentioned in the beginning, ADHD is a condition that is strongly attributable to NS dysfunction. The NS communicates the message of health and function between the brain and every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and system in the body.

Chiropractic is a natural form of health care that helps people get well, stay well, and live well—without drugs or surgery—because it focuses on the health and function of your Central Nervous System. Just like having one’s “vitals” checked, it’s equally as important to have one’s nerve system checked because EVERYTHING is controlled by this life-giving organ!

A lot of information has been covered here and it is my hope that you see there are natural solutions which produce successful results and we can help. Chiropractic from the Heart is A Total Wellness Center for Children and Adults embracing a vision of infinite self-healing potential.

Services offered include Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic, Craniosacral Therapy, Therapeutic Massage, Trager Approach, Vinyasa Yoga Classes and many more health classes. Experience Wellness Care through Specialized Chiropractic Care, Natural Healing Arts, and Education.

Call Today 408.600.1188. Get Well, Stay Well, and Live Well.

Supported ADD/ ADHD Resources
1. Dr. Pamela Compart, The Kid-Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook
2. Dr. Jay Gordon, The ADD and ADHD Cure
3. www.adhdchild.org
4. www.ewg.org “The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.”

Cited Sources:
1. www.adhdchild.org
2. www.nationalyouth.com/substanceabuse.html
3. www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=34
4. www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

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