Natural Ways to Help ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become increasingly prevalent among the population of U.S. children.  Nearly 5 and a half million….that’s 5 and a half million children have been diagnosed with this disorder and half of them are taking medication.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a Clinical Psychologist and have seen children first hand who definitely have attentional problems and cannot focus.  Some children are extremely hyperactive which leads to not only problems in school and with socializing but also leads to family problems and puts them at risk for injuries and other health issues.  But, do we really take the time to evaluate what could be causing these problems and how we can solve them without the use of drugs?

The production of the drugs to treat children with ADHD has increased an alarming 2000% in a short period of time and more than half of the medications are prescribed by pediatricians, not specialists, and many times with the Dr’s not even seeing the children or doing a thorough evaluation.  Below is a list of many of the drugs that are being prescribed for ADHD.

  • Adderall and Adderall XR
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Focalin and Focalin XR
  • Metadate CD and Metadate ER
  • Methylin and Methylin ER
  • Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA
  • Vyvanse
  • Daytrana
  • Quillivant XR
  • Elavil
  • Norpramin
  • Pamelor
  • Tofranil 
  • Catapres
  • Duraclon
  • Kapvay
  • Nexiclon
  • Tenex
  • Wellbutrin
  • Strattera
  • Intuniv

While a handful of children do benefit from the medications, many also experience side effects such as weight and appetite changes, insomnia, drastic mood swings, personality changes and nervous tics.  Many of these medications also have a high risk for abuse.  And will the long-term effects be worth the quick fix that the medication is providing?

What I would challenge parents to do is to first try natural ways of decreasing the behavioral issues and improving the attention in their children before they start giving them mind altering medications.  What do you have to lose?  For one month try these alternative approaches and see if there is a change.  You may be surprised that not only does their behavior and attention improve but their health in general improves including less sickness and colds.

First, cut out all refined sugar, artificial colors and preservatives, and processed flours.  Yes, this will be difficult.  Especially with children and the age of fast food and junk food.  But do you want your kid to “fit in” or be “happy” with sugary rewards and treats and then pump them full of medicine or do you want them to feel good and be healthy and happy with small sacrifices and no medications?  High fructose corn syrup found in many foods has been shown to spike blood sugar and alter ones metabolism.  Artificial food colorings and pesticides have been shown to be linked to ADHD.

sugarprocessed-foodsfood_label1

Second, replace high-sugar foods with high-protein, nutrient-dense foods.  High carbohydrate diets that most American children eat have been linked to the epidemic of ADHD in our country.  Instead of a greasy bag of chips, let your child have a handful of almonds or almond butter with an apple.  Feed them seeds and nuts rather than crackers.  Cut up fruits and vegetables to munch on rather than going for drive-thru french fries.  Teach them that leafy greens and vegetables will help them feel better and candy bars, while they may taste good, will lead to problems.  Many children have food allergies to dairy, wheat or other substances that may be causing the behavioral reactions and they don’t even know it.

nutshighproteinhigh-protein-snacks-10-pg-full

Third, stop the over use of video games, television, and computer games.  Teach them to get outside and engage in physical activity.  Life and school are demanding on children.  They need an outlet and to be able to engage in rigorous physical activity.  Vegging in front of the television for long periods of time will actually make them more fidgety and stimulated later on.  Try living a week, or even a weekend, with no electronic devises.  You may find that you really enjoy it too, along with your children.  Try playing card games and board games for 30 minutes rather than playing a video game or watching a 30 minute show.  Do things as a family and breathe in the fresh air outside.

Teen-video-game-addiction-signs1cutting the line of gamepad by big scissor

We as a society live fast paced lives and then want fast solutions to problems.  A pill may be easy to take and you may be lucky and get quick results but in the long run are these drugs doing more harm than good?  Wouldn’t you like to find natural solutions to help your children?

Here are some other things to think about.  Did you know that schools get more money when children are labeled and put on medications.  So, is it a coincidence that there has been an alarming increase in the labeling of children in schools?

Did you know that if a child takes a psycho-stimulant drug like those prescribed for ADHD after the age of 12 they are ineligible for military service?

Did you know that parents on welfare can receive additional funds for every child that they have labeled and drugged?  That puts low-income parents in a bind when the financial rewards are greater by keeping their children labeled and drugged.

Did you know that certain support groups to help families with “disabled” children are being supported financially by pharmaceutical companies?  Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

One mother whose son died after being on Ritalin for seven years had a very valid point.  If one child dies from a toy, that toy is recalled, but if 186 children die in 10 years from a prescribed medication, nothing happens.  Profit for big companies wins out over our welfare again.

Something to think about.

-Kristen
Choosing healthy living over dying 🙂

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