(Health Secrets) I will forever be grateful to my son’s pediatrician who back in 1989 examined him for what is now known as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) but was called ADD then. He told me, “The only thing wrong with your son is that he is a boy.” It was the usual scenario where because of discipline problems, the school automatically assumed that he had what was then known as ADD and needed medication. Of course, the medication recommended by the school at that time was Ritalin.
This doctor was careful to point out to me the side effects of Ritalin and tell me how some of them are quite dangerous. He emphasized that one of these side effects was stunted growth. Now some 20 years later, my son has grown into a fine young man and every now and then I say a silent thank you to that doctor because had he not had that important heart-to-heart talk with me, I would have been one of those uninformed but concerned mothers who would have consented to administering Ritalin to my son.
As with other psychological disorders, there is no standardized testing to determine if a child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the new name for what was then known as Attention Deficit Disorder. Diagnosis is made simply by observation. Is the child hyperactive? Is he impulsive? Does he become distracted easily? This is the criteria for the label of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD.
Labeling children with ADHD actually does them an injustice. It clumps them into a certain classification and ignores their individual needs. For example: Does the child have any emotional problems (what’s bothering him)? Is he merely bored in a traditional school? Does his behavior improve when he participates in activities he enjoys?
Let’s look at the complexities of 21st century life. To name just a few, we live in a society that promotes instant gratification; the divorce rate has skyrocketed, leaving many children to grow up in single-parent households; respect for authority is at an all time low; and everyday stress levels are at an all time high. Children today have a lot more to cope with than in past generations, yet traditional schools have not changed much in the last hundred years. Another very important factor to consider is that food allergies and nutritional deficiencies also result in behaviors associated with the ADHD label.
Ritalin and other amphetamine drugs such as Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse are considered to be the wonder drugs for this condition. Ritalin has gained immense popularity, with prescription use increasing by 500% in just the last few years. Yet, it is interesting to note that children who take Ritalin or any of the other ADHD drugs do not get well. The drug merely masks their symptoms, and there is no effort made to understand the symptoms or help the child develop self-motivated coping skills. In too many instances, the problems of children diagnosed with ADHD become more complex as the years go by. Taking any of these drugs very often results in the child becoming depressed, aggressive or rebellious.
A study done as far back as 1971 evaluated 83 children classified as ADD, 92% of which were given Ritalin. The study, entitled Hyperactive Children as Teenagers: A Follow-Up Study, followed diagnosed children some years later in order to determine their progress. These were the findings:
*83% of them were habitual deceivers.
*60% of them were still hyperactive. There had been no scholastic improvement, and now they were considered rebellious.
*59% had run-ins with the police
*58% were failing one or more classes.
*57% still had discipline problems in school.
*52% had destructive tendencies.
*34% had threatened to kill their parents.
*23% had been taken to the police station several times.
*15% had suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide.
Additionally, Ritalin and all the other drugs available to treat ADHD are highly addictive, and there are indications they can lead to future dependence on recreational drugs. Taking Ritalin reinforces the idea in the child’s mind that drugs are the answers to problems.
Ritalin and the other amphetamine drugs have side effects, some of which result in the actual conditions that the medication is supposed to eliminate. Listed below are just a few of its side effects:
*Loss of appetite
*Slowing of growth
*Arrested sexual development
*High blood pressure
*And interestingly enough, one of the side effects is a craving for cocaine.
Each child is unique and lumping any child into a ready-made label does him an injustice. The focus should be on the individual child’s strengths, limitations, ability to deal with stresses and learning difficulties, rather than on medicating him into conformity.
Besides addressing the child’s emotional needs, proper nutrition is key in treating children labeled as ADD/ADHD. For instance, mood swings could be the result of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Behavior patterns associated with the label could very well be the result of a vitamin and mineral deficiency and/or food insensitivities and allergies. As a side note, dark circles under the eyes is a sure sign that the child is sensitive or allergic to certain foods and the culprit is often dairy or gluten from grains.
Tests done on children with ADHD have shown they are deficient in calcium and magnesium. They may be drinking lots of milk, but they are not properly absorbing the calcium. Switching them to raw goat’s milk is a far better solution, as goat’s milk does not contain the complex proteins that stimulate allergic reactions and is digested much faster than cow’s milk. The child can also take calcium and magnesium supplements at a ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium. It is important to note that a magnesium deficiency can present itself with mental disorders.
The child should start each day with a balanced and healthy breakfast. Sugar, sweets, candies, processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, sodas and all other artificially colored beverages, should be eliminated. The diet should be a natural one centered on whole foods that includes as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible.
Certain supplements can also be beneficial:
GABA has a calming effect.
Colloidal gold relieves depression and promotes mental clarity and focus.
Fish oil from fatty fish or supplements has been shown to be extremely effective with labeled children.
Successful treatment of a child labeled as ADHD should entail using a holistic approach, focusing on the child’s individual needs, both emotionally and nutritionally.
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