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.

 

When A Child’s Cough Just Won’t Go Away

When A Child’s Cough Just Won’t Go Away

     When children have a persistent cough, one of those stubborn conditions that seem to last forever, it’s only natural for parents to seek an immediate solution.  As a primary care doctor specializing in pediatrics, I understand that parental inclination.  No parent wants to see their child sick or suffering, and there are legitimate concerns about lack of sleep and long term damage.

     Coughing is a natural response to threats or irritation.  It helps get rid of everything from allergens to pollutants to microbes and mucus.  Most children who have coughs that hang on after colds or other viral infections don’t really need any treatment beyond a certain amount of patience.  Studies on OTC cough and cold medications for children show that they have not proven to be any more effective than placebos.  However, there have been many problems with side effects and overdoses.

     When a cough won’t go away, the challenge for a doctor is determining the nature of the condition.  For example, dry coughs are usually less of a concern that a wet cough.  Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing call for a visit to the doctor’s office.  At the same time, there are many times where the best response may be to just wait out the cough until it goes away on its own.

     Fortunately, as a naturopathic doctor, I have many more tools in my kit than conventional medicine provides.  If a child’s cough requires medical treatment, there is a wide assortment of herbs, homeopathics, and other natural formulas that are effective.  If the cough does not need medical treatment, I can give parents other natural remedies that soothe the child while waiting for nature to take its course.  Read the article here or click on the photo.

 

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.

Noise Can Harm Your Body And Mind

Noise Can Harm Your Body And Mind

Noise pollution is very real.  People might be surprised to learn just how many health problems are tied to excessive noise.  Underscoring the seriousness of the health hazards involved, state law provides for fines up to $10,000 a day.

The state Department of Health is the go-to agency for noise pollution.  They list all the agencies and their contact information so you can call the right place and have them do something to stop the noise.  Their excellent handbook is available online.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects, including hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.  Night time noise can create disruption in sleep patterns, which can lead in turn to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels.  The next day may be less than enjoyable due to fatigue, depressed mood, decreased alertness and lowered performance.

Noise pollution can also contribute to emotional ills such as anxiety, stress, irritability, nervousness, nausea, headache, being argumentative, low sexual interest, and even conflicts at work or with family.  If one is not sleeping well and having a hard time concentrating, and their body is constantly having to deal with stress chemicals, chances are that all kinds of problems will increase.  On top of that, the lack of perceived control over the noise intensifies the negative effects.  Children are especially susceptible to noise pollution because they have fewer life experiences and resources to help them cope. 

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SPECIAL NEEDS AND NOISE:  Children with sensory processing disorders may have typical fight or flight reactions to normal levels of noise, because the brain is not processing sound normally.  To them, the sounds seem much louder than they actually are.  This can cause meltdowns, sleep problems, difficulty focusing, and anxiety, among many other potential concerns.  To address sensory issues, I teach parents to do Qigong massage on their children and refer them for occupational therapy focusing on sensory issues.  The massage is quite effective, so if you think your child may have sensory issues, please ask me about learning Qigong massage.

 

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.

Our Locations

Downtown
Sacred Healing Arts
1188 Bishop St # 1509
Honolulu, HI 96813

North Shore
Sacred Healing Arts
62-203 Lokoea Place
Haleiwa, HI 96712

Fax: 808-792-3336

Get Directions

Get Direction on Map »