COLUMN: Addressing ADHD in children
The diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is done via thorough examination and assessments. There may be a genetic predisposition to the condition and boys are affected more often than girls.
Children with ADHD have a greater susceptibility to developing anxiety, depression and addictions. Pharmaceutical prescriptions such as stimulants or antidepressants have side effects such as sleep problems, loss of appetite, mood swings, adolescent medication abuse, and suicidal risk. Naturopathic medicine provides treatment alternatives for children with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- difficulty paying attention, distracted easily
- increased attention when focusing on enjoyable tasks
- cannot sit still when required to, frequent fidgeting
- talking non-stop, difficulty being quiet, interrupting others
- impulsive behaviour
- lack of adequate judgment before acting
- appears not to listen when spoken to directly
- disorganization, frequently misplacing things
- cannot finish projects or schoolwork, missing details
- poor memory and concentration
- frequently switching between activities, easily bored
- constantly moving, must touch everything
- frequent daydreaming
- difficulty processing information quickly and accurately
- inability to follow instructions
- very impatient, do not like to wait their turn
- show emotions without restraint
- act without regard for consequences
Initial treatment for ADHD with a naturopathic doctor utilizes blood testing to determine any underlying conditions, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and specific food intolerances. Homeopathic medicine and counseling are beneficial in making a positive change in the mental/emotional state of the child as well as their outlook on life. Herbal medicines also have a long history of use in relaxing the mind and relieving stress.
Many children are sensitive to preservatives and foods that quickly convert to glucose in the blood, as is evident in their change in behaviour. These include food additives such as BHA, BHT, salicylates, artificial colourings and flavourings. A diet high in sugar (candy, cookies, cake, chocolate milk,) caffeine (cola, coffee, chocolate), refined carbohydrates (including white bread, soda pop, chips, chocolate bars and candy) and trans fat (including margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oil, and fast food) is also particularly unhealthy.
Naturopathic medicine takes into account sleep habits, dreams, appetite, spare time activities, likes and dislikes, family dynamics, personality traits, mood fluctuations, skin conditions, and pain such as headaches. In addition, my degree in psychology is beneficial when counseling both the child and parents.
As a naturopathic doctor, I have treated numerous children with many different types of mental/emotional problems and behaviour disorders with amazing results. Naturopathic medicine addresses underlying factors in ADHD and individualized treatment including nutrient supplementation, lifestyle and dietary changes, homeopathy and botanical medicine can greatly benefit a child’s behaviour and produce a lasting positive impact in their lives and improved their whole family dynamics.
Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a Licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. She opened her practice in the Norwich Medical Centre this past summer. If you'd like to have more information on naturopathic medicine, please visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca