The rate of Ritalin use in the United States is at least five times higher than in the rest of the world, according to federal studies. But concerns about side effects have prompted many parents to look elsewhere: as many as two-thirds of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have used some form of alternative treatment.
The epidemic proportions of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, diagnosis are gaining widespread attention from parents, educators, physicians, and other healthcare providers. Many people are seriously questioning the possibility of overdiagnosis. This issue was raised in an informative cover article in Newsweek magazine. “ADHD has become America’s No. 1 childhood psychiatric disorder…. Since 1990, Dr. Daniel Safer of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine calculates, the number of kids taking Ritalin has grown two and a half times. Among today’s 38 million children at the ages of five to fourteen, he reports, 2.5 million take it regularly. This is, beyond question, an American phenomenon.
The drugs have been life-changing for many children, but nearly one-third experience dangerous side effects. A report in The Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2001 found that for over 10 percent, the effects could be severe — including decreased appetite and weight loss, insomnia, abdominal pain and personality changes.
Second, add omega-3 and omega-6 supplements to your child’s diet. Two types of fatty acids are considered essential to brain development. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids cannot be synthesized in the body, and must be obtained from the diet. The omega-6 fatty acids are distributed evenly in most tissues and easily obtained through food sources commonly found in the American diet, but omega-3 fatty acids are concentrated in a few tissues including the brain. Because of their relative scarceness in the American diet, many children – perhaps the majority of children today – are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Learning specialists now believe Omega-3 oil, specifically fish oil, is probably the single most important nutrient for a child with ADHD to take. A review last year in the journal Pediatric Clinics of North America concluded that a “growing body of evidence” supported the use of such supplements for children.
Comments From Dr. Esposito
This story strikes a strong passion of mine: minimizing the over-drugging of our children. Four years ago I went into my examination room to evaluate a new patient. There sat an eight year old boy named Ryan, who had been on Ritalin for years. He had recently graduated from Ritalin to two adult anti-depressants. That was not a typo. He was an eight year old boy on two different antidepressants. The diganosis and the treatment had gone unchallenged since a reputable veteran of psychiatry in the area recommended the psychotropic cocktail.
It was shocking to see a young child be subjected to such brain damaging toxins without any mention of lifestyle or nutritional modifications by his doctor. After reading a classic book called Your Drug May Be Your Problem by Peter Breggin, MD and David Cohen, MD I began a mission to keep children’s brains from being permanently damaged by these drugs.
The book explains exactly how these drugs can permanently change the receptors in the brain which will interfere with the normal transmission and reaction to brain chemicals. The brain can become literally dependent on these mind altering drugs due to the potential for permanent damages to the receptors in the brain.
In a recent article I wrote about children and antidepressants, I discussed the psychosocial as well as psychotic behaviors that have become common in children on these medications. Most young children who start on drugs such as Ritalin, which is a Class 2 Narcotic, graduate to antidepressants.
Before I provide some general guidelines, I want you to understand I truly believe that in certain rare instances these medications may be needed to allow someone to cope with themselves and society. However, I beg to differ that 2.5 million young children need to be on Ritalin.
Here are points to consider:
1. Many children with ADHD or other mood disorders suffer from chronic food allergies. The most common allergies are dairy and wheat. Eliminating these two categories of food for one month will provide good insight as to a potential allergy. When eliminating foods, such as wheat and dairy, it is important to understand that the food has to be eliminated 100%. If dairy is the food you are eliminating you would have to eliminate all cheese, milk, yogurt, coffee creamer or any food that has the slightest amount of dairy. Other common food allergies are corn, soy, peanuts and eggs.
2. Many children have been exposed to an abuse of antibiotics (more than one round in an eigtheen month period of time) which causes major dysfunction in the digestive system. The intestines are normally lined with approximately five pounds of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria help the body absorb nutrients, support the immune system and even create vitamins. The antibiotics kill the harmful bacteria causing the infection but unfortunately, it also kills all the normal, beneficial bacteria. After ten years of testing the intestines of children, I have found that approximately 30% have a candida (yeast) infection in their gut. These yeast release over 100 different toxins causing a multitude of health problems. I highly recommend completing a specialized stool analysis, called a Microbiology, to check for these hidden infections.
3. Children need to eliminate ALL soda and simple sugars. No exceptions to this rule if you want to keep your children from needing these mind altering drugs. Sugar causes hormone imbalances, immune weaknesses, inflammation and many other health concerns.
4. Clinical research has shown that certain spinal misalignments that occur in an infant during the birth process can cause excessive stress to the nervous system. When the infant is being delivered the skull can become misaligned and fixed in an abnormal position, causing harmful pressure on the stem of the brain. This pressure has been shown by research to cause SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) as well as conditions such as ADHD.
I once presented a lecture on ADHD and spinal misalignments at a clinic in Bloomington, IL. One of the attendees of the workshop was the Dean of Psychology at Illinois State University. After my talk, the professor proceeded to challenge me on all the points I presented during my talk. When the talk was over, we spent two hours discussing my presentation! We decided at that moment to do a graduate study on spinal misalignments and ADHD. The professor confessed that he was doing the study solely to prove me wrong. After the study was over, the professor stated that the results showed performing chiropractic adjustments to reduce the spinal misalgnments had a positive effect on ADHD. He recommend we put on a larger scale study.
The most common misalignment that can be associated with ADHD is called an “AS Occiput”. To find a doctor that specializes in finding and correcting this structural misalignment click here.
There are a number of additional factors that should be addressed in regards to ADHD. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful.
It is important to simply apply logic when dealing with the health problems of your children. A child should have adequate water, fresh vegetables, daily exercise, quality sleep and all the love and affection they can receive. If they are missing these factors and you haven’t addressed the points mentioned above, than it is not time to pull out the prescription pad.