Yes, ADHD Can Be Successfully Treated Without Pharmaceutical Medication

Kathryn Taketa-Wong professional pic

     Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the least understood conditions of modern society.  First recognized in 1980, it is now seen as having three main aspects:  inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  Inattention involves difficulty staying focused, wandering off task, and being disorganized.  Hyperactivity is expressed by the need to move around constantly, even in situations where it is not appropriate.  Impulsivity is where the individual is acting without thinking of the consequences, having little control over delayed gratification, interrupting others.  These behaviors are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension, but are beyond the individual’s ability to control.

      The causes of ADHD can be difficult to pin down:  brain chemicals, lack of discipline, too much TV, genetic disorder, pesticides, food additives?  In addition, studies show that a fetus exposed to alcohol and tobacco is 2.4 times more likely to develop ADHD.  Diet has also been implicated.  Adolescents with diets high in fat, refined sugar, and sodium are two times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as other kids.  Additional studies have also linked ADHD to diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development and function.

     There is also the issue of over-diagnosis.  There are at least fifty medical conditions that can mimic ADHD symptoms.  Here are a few of the main ones:  low blood sugar, food allergies, learning disorders, hypo or hyperthyroidism, adrenal imbalances, metabolic disorders, sleep problems, iron and/or vitamin deficiencies.  Without a thorough review of the other possible causes of the ADHD symptoms, a child can be put on medication unnecessarily.  That’s why when I treat a child with those symptoms, I begin by looking for underlying medical conditions to be certain we are actually dealing with ADHD.

     Sometimes, pressure to start a child on medication comes from teachers, who are struggling with a disruptive student.  This is often because the child may have trouble focusing, doing homework, or staying on task.  The all-too-typical situation is the parent then talking to a pediatrician about the situation and the doctor handing them a prescription for a stimulant medication on the spot.  This is because in ADHD, individuals tend to produce inadequate amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that help to regulate mood, attention, and focus.  They also tend to fidget a lot because the movement and stimulation cause the body to produce more dopamine and norepinephrine.  Many of them like video games because they provide constant auditory and visual stimulation.  ADHD medications provide stimulation to the brain, which is why individuals with ADHD don’t feel the constant need to fidget and move all the time.  This why stimulants can have the paradoxical effect of calming a hyperactive child. 

     While putting children on medication can make a difference for some, many parents are concerned because of the potential side effects and also because they worry about their child having to take a stimulant drug for the rest of their lives once they start on it.  The most common side effects I see in children is a decrease in appetite.  Their hunger diminishes and they tend to lose weight, so they don’t get enough nutrients for a developing body and brain.  Stimulants also increase heart rate and blood pressure and can cause problems with sleep.  Some children also get moody and irritable.  Others can experience a rebound after the medication wears off and wind up worse than they were.

     When it comes to treatment, I first look for underlying medical conditions to rule them out as the causes of the ADHD symptoms.  If testing reveals those to be normal, we then move to working with the family on a natural approach.  I have many families that come to me because their child is on an ADHD medication and they want to decrease their dose or wean their child off of it.  I have seen many children improve just with a change in the diet that moves them away from artificial flavors, dyes, preservatives, pesticides, and other chemicals.  I also may recommend certain supplements that have a similar effect on the brain as pharmaceuticals but without the side effects.

     It definitely takes a commitment from the parents, because giving medication is easier.  But the easy way isn’t necessarily the best or most healthful one.  Fortunately, when the family is dedicated to giving the natural approach enough time to work, they are usually very happy with the results.  Many have been successful in reducing the dosage of ADHD medication or weaning their child off of it altogether.

 

Being Uninformed Is Something I Never Want Happening With My Patients

Being Uninformed Is Something I Never Want Happening With My Patients

     “You mean you’re actually going to spend 45 minutes with me in an office visit?”  I hear that a lot from my new patients.  They are comparing what we do to the conventional approach to primary care, which typically consists of 15 minutes with the doctor and a prescription. 

     There is so much more to healing than taking pills that I hardly know where to start.  And that’s why my office visits are so different.  I want my patients to understand what is going on with them.  I can’t do that until I have first taken the time to carefully listen to what is on their mind and to ask them questions about it.  But what about questions that patients should be asking me?

     I am very happy that two cancer specialists have written an article that advises patients on what to ask their doctor(s).  Honestly, when patients ask me questions, it helps me be a more effective physician, because uncertainty about dosage, timing, the meaning of certain symptoms, etc., can interfere with a patient’s ability to comply with my recommendations.

     When it comes to informed patients, I am committed to being a leader in the field.  It is good medicine for patient and doctor alike.  Find the article here.

 

“Ugly” Fruits And Vegetables Are Coming To A Store Near You

“Ugly” Fruits And Vegetables Are Coming To A Store Near You

     I have written in previous posts about the staggering amount of food that is wasted in this country:  upwards of 40% of all the food that is produced goes uneaten, including 56% of the produce.  In a world and nation where millions of people don’t have enough to eat or are lacking in fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, this situation is heartbreaking.  It is also largely unnecessary.  Thousands of tons of perfectly good food is thrown out by grocers because of appearance.  Yet, nutritional value is not at all dependent on how the papaya or potato looks.

     There are many causes for this problem and many viable solutions up and down the food supply chain.  One of them is overcoming our insistence on “good looking” fruits and vegetables.  I don’t know why we became fixated on appearance when it is what is inside that counts, but it looks like progress is starting to be made in changing our attitudes.

     Walmart, which has become the nation’s largest grocer, with more than 4,000 produce-selling stores, made an important announcement last week.  It is going to start offering “ugly” apples in 300 stores across Florida. This builds on an ugly potato program that Walmart launched in England earlier this year.

     Food is big business for the retail giant, with groceries accounting for 56%  of sales in the company’s U.S. stores for the past three years.  And where Walmart goes, other retailers follow.  Hopefully, American consumers will come to see “ugly” fruits and vegetables as being just as valuable as their picture perfect cousins. 

     Adding thousands of tons of fresh produce to our food supply is good for our wallets, as increased supply can bring down prices.  It also helps the planet by giving us more to eat without any need for more land, more fertilizer, and more pesticides.  Get ready to eat “ugly” fruits and vegetables.  They taste just fine.  Read the article here.

Ground-Breaking Shift Creates Doctor-Patient Partnership & Saves Patients Money

Ground-Breaking Shift Creates Doctor-Patient Partnership & Saves Patients Money

     I’m excited to now have a new structure for my patients, from acupuncture to autism.  We call it Partnership For Health.  It’s a system where doctor and patient collaborate on achieving the patient’s health goals on an ongoing basis.  It allows my patients to keep getting better and to avoid sliding backwards when it comes to their health challenges.

     Having a proactive daily practice for improving your health is how we actually prevent disease.  The ground-breaking aspect is moving from being a patient OF a doctor to being a patient WITH a doctor.  It’s a shift in thinking from taking a pill to treat symptoms to finding out what’s causing them and making a commitment to your own well being.  That allows for changing what’s been going on in your body that allowed those symptoms to develop in the first place. 

      True, deep, long lasting health takes a solid plan.  It comes out of the process of combining regular office visits with personalized health goals along with the support of our office to help bring them about.  Our Partnership For Health plans are designed to accomplish all that while at the same time saving patients money on every visit and offering the lowest prices on high quality nutritional supplements. 

     To learn how this ground breaking Partnership For Health program can significantly improve the health of you and your family, please call our office to schedule a free phone consultation.  Or go to http://sacredhealingarts.info/ to schedule one online.

Kids With ADHD Learn Better If They Can Move

Kids With ADHD Learn Better If They Can Move

     The lead author of a recent study says that it may make more sense to grant kids with ADHD some leeway — not to get out of their desk constantly or distract other students, but to move around as they need to.  For the subjects diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, moving or spinning in a chair were correlated with better performance.  For kids developing typically, the response was opposite.   The more they moved, the worse they did on the task.

      The authors believe that the reason that kids ADHD move around is that it actually increases their alertness.  The slight physical movements “wake up” the nervous system in a similar way to medication, but it does so without the drugs.  We have assumed that sitting still is synonymous with thinking well, but kids with ADHD process the world differently.  As long as their movement isn’t disruptive to other students, they should be allowed to fidget or move.  Please click here or on the photo to read the article.

NEW APPROACH TO ADHD IS A NATURAL

NEW APPROACH TO ADHD IS A NATURAL

I am happy to report that studies and research are beginning to validate a natural approach to treating ADHD.  This is something that I’ve been advocating for years and is the basis of my treatment regimen when working with my pediatric patients.  The methods described in the article involve strict limits on screen time (only one to two hours a day), making sure the child is physically active (at least one hour a day), getting enough sleep (nine to 11 hours) and replacing sugared beverages with water.  Most parents don’t want their kids heavily medicated.  I am very pleased to see researchers finding that “doses of nature”, like a walk in the park, can be an effective technique to manage ADHD symptoms.  Read the article here.

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