13 Dec Beating ADHD, Naturally — Focus on Alternatives
I call it the September phenomenon. My practice fills with children getting ready for school, college students grabbing their last-minute prescriptions and everyone questioning whether they should refill their ADD/ADHD medicine of choice.
It is always interesting to see the diversity amongst my ADD population. Many young children and adolescents love the feeling of being “hyper-focused” and are able to accomplish massive amounts of work in a short period of time. Others stare at me, looking pale and fatigued, wanting off their medications.
Medications for ADD have come under increased scrutiny, with recent statistics showing that use of these medications has increased by 50 percent in the last six years. Abuse of Ritalin, one of the most commonly used ADHD medications is also rampant on college campuses. Research continues to debate the effectiveness of the medications for improving grades and helping students “study.”
I am always trying to help my patients understand the cause and options for treating their ADD/ADHD. While some patients do need medication, we have seen attention and hyperactivity improve with alternative regimens. Spending time educating patients about prevention of inattention and hyperactivity has proven to be effective in our practice.
ADD and ADHD are the result of neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine imbalances. The four main imbalances include high norepineprine and cortisol, dopamine dysfunction, serotonin deficiency, and insulin irregularity. Each of these imbalances are rooted in nutritional deficiencies that with correction, improve symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. Food allergies and intolerances also contribute to malabsorption of nutrients.
While my practice goal is to identify each patient’s unique ADD/ADHD type, there are general patterns that seem to be consistent for the majority of patients.
Correct Irregular Sleep Cycles
Children with inattention, as well as adolescents, need more sleep than their non-ADD counterparts. Most children require at least 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I have noticed that many children become wired at night, fighting sleep and bedtimes. Creating a calming sleep routine that is consistent helps children with ADD/ADHD relax. Reading, journaling, guided imagery tapes and yoga are great pre-bed activities. Warm baths with Epsom salts may also help.
Keep Insulin Stable
Teaching children and parents tips to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable improve inattention and hyperactivity symptoms. Many children leave their homes with a high-sugar breakfast, followed by sugary snacks and unhealthy lunches. Emphasizing the importance of protein and decreasing total sugar consumption daily to under 40 grams is critical for children with ADD/ADHD. Small servings of protein should be eaten at regular intervals. Convenient protein sources include nuts, yogurt, hummus, protein bars and protein smoothies.
Correct Nutritional Deficiencies
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