ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome is a complicated and often misunderstood condition. It is thought to affect between 3- 5% of children. It has also been estimated that ADHD is 3 or 4 times more common in boys than in girls. Generally, the ADHD child is unable to concentrate, is hyperactive to the point of being disruptive, and has poor school performance compared with intelligence.
In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases of ADHD. ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is strongly linked to diet, chemicals and food additives in processed food, especially refined sugar and carbohydrates and corn syrup. Food allergies, heavy metal toxicity and caffeine found in sodas are all aggravating. Essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency has been found in many cases.
Conventional treatment involves giving children suffering from ADHD pharmacological drugs such as stimulants. This is worrisome, as these drugs can cause psychoses, including manic-like and schizophrenic-like disorders. Congress has called for an investigation of the effects of prescribing certain stimulants to children, and certain pharmaceutical companies producing these stimulants have been the subject of class action lawsuits in recent years, as more parents are realizing that the drugs are actually making their children sick.
ADHD can be treated naturally without the use of pharmaceuticals that cause more problems than they purport to solve.
The symptoms of ADHD can be categorised into two sets of behavioural problems – symptoms of inattentiveness and symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness and it is not fully understood whether these problems are an extreme form of normal behaviour or part of a separate range of behaviour. A child who is inattentive, overly talkative, impulsive, excessively irritable and hyperactive is labelled as having ADHD. But there are three sub-types of the condition and it is useful to find out which one your child may have:
Types of ADHD
- ADHD mainly inattentive
- ADHD mainly hyperactive-impulsive
- ADHD combined
If your child has symptoms of all three behavioural problems – inattentiveness, hyperactivity or impulsiveness – they may have ADHD combined which is the commonest sub-type of ADHD. However, your child may only have symptoms of inattentiveness but not hyperactivity or impulsiveness, so they may have ADHD mainly inattentive. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit order (ADD).
Childhood ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls and this may be because disruptive behaviour, which the diagnosis may be partly based on, tends to be more prevalent with boys than girls. Girls with ADHD often have the mainly inattentive form of the condition, which may make them quiet and dreamy. Often this condition goes unnoticed. It is therefore possible that ADHD could remain undiagnosed in girls and could be more common than previously thought. The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined:
- a very short attention span
- being very easily distracted
- making careless mistakes, e.g. with school work
- appearing forget or losing things
- unable to stick at tasks which may seem time-consuming or tedious
- unable to listen to or carry out instructions
- unable to concentrate
- constantly changing an activity or task
- difficulty with organising tasks
- unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
- constantly fidgeting
- unable to settle to tasks
- excessive physical movement
- excessive talking
- being unable to wait for a turn
- acting without thinking
- interrupting conversations
- breaking any set rules
- little or no sense of danger
If your child has ADHD their symptoms usually become noticeable before the age of 7. Most diagnoses are made between the ages of 3 and 7. The most common problems caused by ADHD are underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults and problems with discipline. In some cases, ADHD can also cause related conditions, including:
Anxiety disorder – causes the child to worry and be nervous most of the time. Physical symptoms of this are rapid heartbeat, sweating and dizziness.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – defined by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures such as parents and teachers.
Conduct disorder – tendency towards highly anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, stealing, fighting, harming people, harming animals. If your child is behaving this way it is imperative to consult a registered health practitioner straight away.
Depression: – ADHD can affect mood
Sleep problems: – hyperactivity renders sleep difficult and interferes with sleep patterns
Epilepsy:- a condition of the brain which causes seizures (fits)
Tourettes’s Syndrome: – a condition of the nervous system (the nerves, brain and spinal cord) that causes involuntary movements and sounds
Learning difficulties: – around a third of children with ADHD can also suffer from dyslexia (difficulty reading and spelling words.) However it is important to remember that ADHD has no effect in intelligence
In adults the symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define, largely due to a lack of research, and it is still uncertain whether ADHD can occur in adults without it first appearing during childhood. However, it is known that symptoms of ADHD often persist from childhood into teenage years and into adulthood. Any additional, associated problems such as dyslexia or depression are also likely to carry on into adulthood. By the age of 25, an estimated 15 per cent of people diagnosed with childhood ADHD still show the full range of symptoms and 65 per cent still have some symptoms that impact on their daily lives. There is no definite list of adult symptoms and experts agree that simply applying the childhood symptoms to adults would not work. This is because the way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affects adults is very different to the way they affect children. Hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, while inattentiveness worsens due to the pressures of adult lives. Adult ADHD symptoms are much more subtle than childhood ones but the following could be experienced:
- Carelessness or lack of attention to detail
- Continually beginning new tasks before completing old ones
- Poor organisational skills
- Inability to focus or prioritise
- Continually losing or misplacing things
- Restlessness and edginess
- Difficulty keeping quiet and speaking out of turn
- Blurting responses and poor timing when speaking to others
- Often interrupting others
- Mood swings
- Irritability and a short temper
- Inability to deal with stress
- Extreme impatience
- Taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for the personal safety of others
As with ADHD in children and teenagers, ADHD in adults can appear alongside other problems or conditions and one of the commonest is depression. Other associated symptoms could include:
- Personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder (a condition that affects moods which can swing from one extreme to another)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (a condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour such as cleaning constantly)
Any problems you may have had as a child are likely to persist into adulthood which can make life extremely difficult. For example you may have difficulty finding and keeping employment, in relationship and special interactions, with drugs or with crime.
A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet indicated that in at least two thirds of all ADHD cases, food sensitivities were the cause. Pause for a moment and think of what this means – 64 per cent of the children out there being dosed with toxic pharmaceutical drugs to treat ADHD simply don’t need them. This number is monumental. In the U.S. alone, that represents an estimated 5 million children. Food additives that may increase hyperactive behaviour include:
- Sodium benzoate
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow)
- D&C Yellow No. 10 (quinoline yellow)
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine)
- FD&C Red No.40 (allura red)
Hyperactivity can be caused by underlying conditions such as learning difficulties, an unstable home life, food allergies, leaky gut syndrome, excessive sugar ingestion, heavy metal toxicity or even the need for glasses. Caffeine is also known to be a cause, as well as environmental factors. Chemical stimuli in the environment such as perfumes and cigarette smoke can also be triggers, as well as a poor immune system, sometimes as the result of vaccinations. Congenital problems and birth injuries can also have an impact.
- Vetiver is probably the best choice of oil for helping with ADHD. It is a calming essential oil. It has grounding, stress-relieving and nervous tension-alleviating properties. This oil helps balance your mood and also promotes sleep. A 2001 study by Dr. Terry Friedman found that smelling vetiver essential oil improved the performance of children with ADD and ADHD by 100 percent.
- Other useful oils are:
- Lavender (calming and good for all-round relaxation, as well as helpful for insomnia)
- Chamomile – Roman and German (calming and soothing)
- Mandarin (for anxiety and insomnia)
- Petitgrain (for nervous tension, anxiety and stress)
- Frankincense has been shown to go through the blood-brain barrier and promote brain balance on multiple levels.
You can disperse the aromas of the essential oils into the air by either using it in an oil burner or diluting a few drops in water and spraying it from a bottle. To add to bath water, put 5 drops in 1 tsp. of carrier oil such as grape seed oil and disperse the mixture into a bath.
To ensure positive results, always check that the essential oil is a 100% pure plant distillation and that it comes from a reputable source.
Owing to the principles behind homeopathy it is essential you see a licensed practitioner to receive your own personalised prescription.
Here are some remedies that your practitioner may suggest:
- Aconite (for sleep problems)
- Arnica montana (when unable to settle down)
- Arsenicum album (for restlessness)
- Linden flower (before bedtime)
- Chamomile (for the nervous system)
- Red clover (liver detoxification)
- Milk Thistle (liver detoxification)
- Lemon balm
- St John’s Wort
- Passion flower
- American ginseng
Herbs can be administered either as tinctures or teas.
Reflexology works on the nervous and endocrine systems to help encourage a state of calmness and balance. Reflex points to work on are pituitary, pancreas, adrenals, ascending/transverse colon, liver and entire spine. Find your closest reflexology practitioner here.
Flower essence therapy
The combination of the different flowers depends on the child’s symptoms and emotional conditions, but the following include some of the Bach Flower essences that can help treat particular symptoms of ADHD:
- Aspen – nervousness, anxiety, fears coming from an unknown origin
- Cherry Plum – irrational thoughts and impulses combined with the fear of losing control
- Chestnut bud – failure to learn from past mistakes and experiences
- Chicory – self-absorption and argumentativeness
- Clematis – dreaminess, a feeling of not being grounded in physical reality, lack of interest in the present day
- Heather – excessive talkativeness, fear of being alone
- Impatiens – irritability, impatience
- Mimulus – shyness, self-consciousness, fear of familiar things
- Mustard – mood swings
- Scleranthus – indecisiveness
- Vervain – stubbornness and determination to do things one’s own way
- White chestnut – persistent worries and unwanted thoughts
Brain Gym is a program of 26 physical movements that enhance learning & performance in all areas.