Over the past few years, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have become hot topics in the media. Although some people argue that they are a fictional condition pharmaceutical companies use to make money, as a doctor, I believe that ADD/ADHD deserves medical attention. But there are non-prescription treatments available.
To help the general public better understand this condition and the power of homeopathic remedies, I like to share Katie’s story.
Katie was an active seven-year-old girl with flaming red hair and lots of freckles. Her mother brought her to my office because her teacher was complaining that Katie was hitting other students and wouldn’t stay in her chair during reading time. The teacher told Katie’s mother to take Katie to a doctor to get medication for ADD. Her mother wanted to see if anything else could be done; she didn’t like the idea of using amphetamines to calm her little girl.
During our exam, we discovered that Katie seemed to act up when she was anxious. She was started on supplements, including fish oil, choline and phosphatidyl serine, which help treat anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and can calm children. We also changed her diet so she ate only organic foods, specifically fresh fruit, vegetables, organic eggs and meats.
Two weeks later, Katie was a changed little girl. She was sleeping better, and her teachers thought she had been put on medication.
Understanding ADD and ADHD
How, exactly, did the above homeopathic method change Katie’s life? To understand the answer to that question, we first need to understand more about ADD.
There are two pieces of information every person should have about ADD/ADHD:
- ADD and ADHD are not illnesses; they are, rather, a set of symptoms.
- ADD is normal for infants. The immature brain is unable to focus well. If it did, we would expect young children to sit quietly for long periods of time. We understand that young children need stimulation to grow and develop, as well as to stay occupied.
As children grow, most develop the ability to focus. Some, however, develop the ability more slowly than others or not at all. This condition has come to be known as ADD or ADHD. Children with ADD are often referred to as “easily distractible” while those who cannot sit still are labeled as ADHD.
Traditional treatments for ADD/ADHD
Often, ADD/ADHD is treated by stimulating the brain with amphetamines. Although these stimulants affect the area of the brain that initiates focus, they are also toxic to nerves because they have the ability to stimulate nerve cells until they exhaust their energy reserves and die. In some cases, these stimulants impair growth and maturity, as well as inhibit the normal development of attention span, leading to adults with attention deficit problems. For these reasons, I often agree with parents who hesitate to medicate their children to treat ADD/ADHD. Instead, I advocate a holistic approach.
The homeopathic approach to ADD/ADHD
Treating ADD/ADHD holistically is a multi-step process. To start, completely avoid the toxins contributing to the situation. Since it’s difficult to know which toxins might be to blame, I suggest avoiding them all. Common toxins include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugar/corn sugar/syrup/sweetener
- Artificial coloring
- Allergenic foods (milk, wheat, GMO foods, etc.)
Once a child is toxin-free, it’s time to make sure he or she is properly nourished. A diet of natural and organic foods is best. Once a baseline diet is put in place, I work with the parent to supplement specifically for attention. Usually, these supplements include choline, inositol, cod liver oil and phosphatidyl serine, which help to naturally calm the brain.
Re-train your child’s brain
The next, and arguably most difficult, step is what I call training. Despite these dietary changes, the brain will continue to follow familiar patterns until it is redirected. To help this process along, I recommend the following tactics:
- Encourage a regular bedtime.
- Limit “screen time” (computer, video and handheld games, television, movies, etc.) to one hour per day.
- Incorporate calming supplements into the daily routine by mixing a tablespoon of lecithin in a cup of juice three times each day. Three tablespoons of brewer’s yeast per day might also do the trick.
There are many training programs to help with the homeopathic process; the key is to pick the one your child best responds to. For families who don’t have access to a biofeedback specialist, I recommend the book A Charlotte Mason Education. This book and others, like Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten by Dr. David Perlmutter, explain how to help children learn to concentrate with methods that can be used easily at home or in the classroom. Although training guides outline the do’s and don’ts for successful brain training, I often remind parents that passive entertainment doesn’t help the brain find focus. For this reason, encourage your child to read and participate in active games and activities for constructive entertainment.
Never lose hope
My last piece of advice for parents and teachers of children with ADD/ADHD is to follow their gut and never lose hope. If you don’t feel that medication is the best route of treatment for your child, consider holistic treatment. I’ve seen the homeopathic method work for countless attention deficit children, and it can work for your child, too.