When I treat a child I begin by looking for underlying medical conditions to be certain we are actually dealing with ADHD.
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. These behaviors are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension, but are beyond the individual’s ability to control.
There are at least 50 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 understanding of symptoms that resemble those of ADHD, 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.
The all-too-typical situation is the parent telling a pediatrician about the situation and the doctor handing them a prescription for a stimulant medication on the spot.
Sometimes, pressure to start a child on medication comes from teachers, who are struggling with a disruptive student. 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. There can also be unwelcome side effects. The most common is a decrease in appetite. The child’s hunger diminishes, they have difficulty maintaining and gaining weight, and don’t consume enough nutrients for their 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 worsening of symptoms after the medication wears off.
Many families come to us because they want to avoid starting their child on an ADHD medication. Many others have been successful in reducing the dosage of ADHD medication or weaning their child off of it altogether. Fortunately, when a family is dedicated to giving the natural approach enough time to work, they are usually very happy with the results.
Many families 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 help with focus, attention, or hyperactivity, 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 a family is dedicated to giving the natural approach enough time to work, they are usually very happy with the results. Many families come to us because they want to avoid starting their child on an ADHD medication. Many others have been successful in reducing the dosage of ADHD medication or weaning their child off of it altogether.
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Dr. Kathryn Taketa-Wong, N.D., L.Ac. Century Square Building 1188 Bishop Street, Suite 1509 Honolulu, HI 96813