2017.04.27 by Dr. Randy
Attention problems have become an apparent epidemic. Why are so many kids diagnosed with ADD and ADHD today? Why are so many kids routinely prescribed medication with potentially harmful side effects for these issues? The subject of attention is a huge field. I will try to summarize some of the main issues from the perspective of holistic pediatrics.
Causes of ADHD
There are many contributing causes to the epidemic of ADHD:
- Not the least of these is the expectation that children need to sit still for hours at a time at early ages doing repetitive academic tasks like worksheets. Many children will attempt to avoid these tasks by not paying attention.
- Another contributing factor implicated in the ADHD epidemic is the neurological damage caused by the onslaught of vaccines and toxic vaccine ingredients on the developing brains of small babies.
- Yet another contributing cause of ADHD is the typically deficient and harmful diet of many children that includes empty calories, high fructose corn syrup, and nutrient-deficient junk food.
- Children’s increasing exposure to television and other electronic screens may also be a factor in shorter attention spans and altered information processing. “It certainly has been shown that exposure to nature and increasing exercise foster creativity and healthy brain development.”1
Understand Your Child
Creating a learning environment that encourages a child’s strengths and talents will help to place their attention style into perspective. If parents develop an understanding of their child’s attention style and their unique personality, then they are in a better position to understand how that child will flourish.
There are several ways to understand and describe children’s learning styles:
A good place to start is temperament. Several temperament characteristics have significance for attention. One of these is the level of activity of an individual child. Some children are more active than others. This typical activity level can be described with an analog scale from low activity to high activity children. High activity characteristics can result in restlessness and fidgetiness in the classroom that teachers see as disruptive behavior.
Persistence is another category that contributes to attention. The child who is persistent, stubborn, and obstinate will tend to have better focus skills and stay on task longer. By contrast, children who are not very persistent will tend to get distracted more easily.
Finally understanding a child’s behavioral style throws light on attention. The hunter/ farmer analogy is relevant here. Some children are natural hunters. They learn best by roaming around, exploring, and discovering things on their own. These kids will appear more restless and impatient. Other children are more like farmers – patient, observant, and passive. They are able to delay gratification and learn by watching. Books by Thom Hartmann and Mel Levine describe the variation of children’s attention styles and can provide parents with a healthy perspective on ADHD.
Chinese medicine has described children as one of five typical types. An excellent book that describes this typology and its application to attention problems is Fire Child, Water Child by developmental pediatrician Stephen Cowan.
Advantages of ADHD
Attention is a tricky business. Let’s consider one example. A child who is restless, distracted, and impulsive in the classroom is often seen as problematic or pathological. When you take this same child onto the basketball court or soccer field his quick reflexes, impulsive reactions, and excellent scanning abilities provide the skills he needs for flexibility and quick responsiveness that bring approbation from coaches and fans.
Some of our most successful athletes, innovators, and entrepreneurs have unconventional attention functions.
Holistic Treatment of Attention Problems
Some children do need help to focus and attend to tasks. Several natural supplements can help brain function. For example,
- an Omega 3 fat supplement will make anyone’s brain function better by creating flexible cell membranes that allow nerves to communicate more efficiently.
- Phosphatidylserine will often help children who tend to be restless.
- And DMAE helps spacey, inattentive kids with focus control.
- Many other supplements can assist specific neurotransmitter function, and homeopathic medicines can address individual attention and behavioral symptoms as well.
Seeking the care of a holistic pediatric practitioner can provide solutions in the form of an individualized treatment plan for a child struggling with attention issues. An excellent book that describes natural supplements for attention problems is Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies by Kenneth Bock. This holistic approach can also uncover the hidden connections between neurotransmitter balance, nutritional status, food sensitivities, digestive function, and attention in our children.
2017.04.20 by Dr. Randy
We usually think of medical treatment and health advice as something we receive. Take a particular supplement or herbal formula or homeopathic medicine. This is a rather passive form of health care. Patients receive the expert advice of a practitioner and choose to either follow that advice or pursue other avenues of treatment. When someone is in distress, then seeking and taking medical advice is usually straightforward. If the goal is relief from immediate symptoms, then taking a nontoxic approach to solving them is great. We can even learn to administer some of these treatments to ourselves and be more self-sufficient.
However, achieving good health requires a much more active process. Symptoms can interfere with our clarity of mind and can disrupt our lives. Symptom relief is helpful because it can free us from suffering and allow us to pursue our life’s purpose with fewer limitations. One of our purposes can be the cultivation of optimal health. The rich soil for this cultivation takes the form of what we commonly understand as a lifestyle that is nourishing. If we establish a lifestyle that includes nourishment of the mind, body, and spirit, then we are more likely to experience happiness, fulfillment, and good health.
What are the ingredients of a nourishing lifestyle?
- Equanimity of mind fostered through meditation.
- A healthy diet comprised of natural, whole foods.
- Regular exposure to nature, plants, and the sun.
- Caring, loving relationships.
- Movement of the body through walking, exercise, or moving meditation (yoga or tai chi).
These factors will counteract the many stresses of our lives, the worry, problem solving, and material concerns that occupy us. Cultivating the conditions for health will help to provide an antidote to the effects of stress and help prevent illness.
Here is a meditation for self-healing.
Let me be happy.
Let me be free from danger.
Let me be healthy.
Let me be at ease.
2017.03.05 by Dr. Randy
Communicating with children is not always the easiest task for parents. Some kids are talkative and chatty, but many are guarded and answer your questions in monosyllables. Here’s a suggestion that might get them engaged. Give them a survey a couple of times a year. Ask what interests them and where they would like to dedicate their energy. Divide these subjects into topics and ask them about each one in some detail. Have them rate their interest on a 1-10 scale. Then talk about ways to make this happen. How much time can they realistically devote to each activity? Children who are engaged in a life plan like this will soon discover they don’t really have much time to spend watching television. These discussions will help focus kids on their interests and encourage them to discover their natural affinities and talents. Explore these four areas together. Develop a plan and support children in their success at making their dreams come true.
How important are their friendships? How much time would they like to spend with friends outside of school? What activities might they do with friends?
What interests them in school? How important are academic subjects to them? Are there other activities outside of school that they might like to pursue? They could research a favorite subject or explore an area of interest at local museums or on the Internet. These discussions will become more sophisticated as children get older and start thinking about college paths and possible careers.
How important are various hobbies? How would they like to pursue them? These might include pets, a musical instrument, Legos, collections, art, ceramics, video games, making clothes, cooking, or any creative pursuits. Have a discussion about lessons, summer classes, and times to do these pursuits.
How much time would they like to devote to their sport or exercise program? Younger children might do several different activities during the week to discover their interests and talents, trying out soccer and baseball and dance or martial arts. Older children and teens will probably focus on one or two sports and commit more time to practices.
2017.01.14 by Dr. Randy
You may not have seen it yet, but it’s here. This year’s flu can be severe. This flu starts out with a severe sore throat (sometimes with bleeding) and fever with shaking chills. Other symptoms include cough, diarrhea, headache and severe body pain. There are milder versions that only include a few of these symptoms, sometimes just a cough and low grade fever. However, the adage holds true that if you think you’re going to die, it’s the flu. In general, young people with a strong and reactive immune system tend to have the more violent symptoms.
The treatment requires a change of homeopathic remedies depending on the stage of the illness. For example, it can start with a Mercurius-type cutting throat pain followed by a Bryonia-type flu with a bad headache, dry racking cough and body pains, and then turn into a Kali-bichromicum pattern of congested cough and sinus pressure.
Other measures for managing the flu include elderberry extract and a Gan Mao Ling Chinese herbal formula. Some typical formula models include Wellness Formula by Source Naturals and Cold Away by Health Concerns. These fit the first stage of the illness. At later stages, different herbal formulas for congestion and cough will be appropriate.
I usually communicate with patients on a daily basis to manage these different stages, and instead of a few weeks of protracted illness, the symptoms can resolve in 5-6 days. In any case, it’s no fun for people going through the illness.
Family members and anyone exposed to the flu can take preventives to stave off symptoms. These may include a medicinal mushroom formula to bolster immune function, colostrum or a cold-processed whey protein powder, and elderberry. If there is known exposure to the flu then the homeopathic remedy Influenzinum can be protective. And taking Wellness Formula or an equivalent anti-viral treatment can work to fight off the viral attack. Of course, everyone should be taking vitamin D in the winter to maintain a resilient and active immune system. The vitamin D dose for children is 1,000 IU per 10 pounds of body weight up to 5,000 IU. Adults can take 5,000-10,000 IU per day.
Drink fluids, stay warm, eat soups and stews in the winter. Get some exercise, meditate, do yoga. Take care of yourself this flu season and hopefully you will stay well.
2017.01.03 by Dr. Randy
Like me, you may be contemplating your resolutions and resolve at this time of year. I urge you to consider those things you value most. This will begin, no doubt, with those you hold most dear, and hopefully expand to others. In this precarious world we are all interdependent. Although our success and livelihood depends upon our own efforts, our happiness and fulfillment comes from our involvement with others. Consider your causes, your aspirations, and the fleeting nature of our lives. Try to reach beyond the petty concerns of disagreements and conflict. Hold things lightly and with humor.
You may want to begin the year by wishing everyone well. It is a time to wish for happiness, peace, safety, and health.
Many factors for these wishes are out of our hands. Acceptance of the flow of life is the best, and only, reasonable course. We can, however, do everything in our power to promote ease through the year, and through turbulent times.
We can do things to promote health. Bolster your immune system, take antioxidants, and eat a clean diet with fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. Maintain strength with regular exercise to prevent injuries. This is a simple program within everyone’s reach.
We can promote goodwill and peace in the world though many causes and our own intentions. The world needs our good wishes.
I wish you all a year of happiness, health, and a mind at ease. May your projects succeed and your life purpose be fulfilled.