Attention Deficit Disorder

By the age of six, Jason had been labeled with Attention Deficit Disorder. By eight, he was having trouble in school both academically and socially. The other kids didn’t understand his overly aggressive behavior and were irritated by his repeated outbursts. Teachers were frustrated by his lack of concentration and his inability to stay on task. At home, impulsive and aggressive behaviour resulted in many sibling squabbles and his parents were at their wits end as to how to get through to their child. The school was pressuring Jason’s parents to pursue drug therapy for their son. His parents thought ‘we aren’t comfortable with giving our child drugs to suppress his behavior, but we have to do something to help him function better.’

That was the point that they sought naturopathic medical care. Naturopathic doctors are primary care physicians with full medical training plus extensive expertise in natural medicines. The first step in Jason’s treatment was a thorough evaluation of his mental, emotional and physical state. Next, the doctor looked carefully at his medical history to assess whether there were events that could have contributed to creating an imbalance in Jason’s body that might cause behavioral problems. Then a program was embarked upon to remove any underlying causes of those problems. A homeopathic remedy was given, which immediately resulted in fewer angry outbursts and a more mature approach to problem solving. Jason was then tested for food allergies, which in his case were numerous. His parents observed marked behavioural improvements within weeks of avoiding these specific foods. Any slip-ups (which the doctor called “food experiments”) increased Jason’s irritability and impulsivity dramatically. Other nutritional supplements were recommended and a program was done to correct a dangerous intestinal imbalance caused by repeated use of antibiotics. Within three months of treatment, Jason’s parents felt that they had their son back and the teachers were reporting steady improvements. Not only were his parents thrilled with Jason’s turn around, they felt good that they had dealt with the underlying causes of their child’s problems without having to use drugs to suppress those problems.

Children are being treated with drugs for what we label Attention Deficit Disorder at an alarming rate. The number of children on drugs for ADHD has increased dramatically. In some schools, 30% of the boys are on Ritalin-type drugs. As Jason’s case illustrates, naturopathic doctors attempt to address the cause of problems in a holistic manner. Potential physical factors that can contribute to ADD are:

  • Food allergies – finding and eliminating an individual’s food allergies substantially helps a significant percentage of children with ADD. These kids very often have a history of repeated ear infections, tonsillitis and other allergic symptoms.
  • Yeast overgrowth from repeated use of antibiotics – intestinal yeast creates 80 known toxins, including alcohol, which can impair mental functioning.
  • Blood sugar imbalances – low blood sugar (ironically the result of high sugar diets) can cause symptoms identical to those we label ADHD.
  • Heavy metal toxicity – mercury fillings, lead exposure and more can affect cognitive functioning
  • Nutritional deficiencies – essential fatty acids, iron and other minerals are often lacking

Many children have received long-term benefits from addressing these and other issues under the care of naturopathic physicians. Each child deserves to be treated as an individual and given the chance to improve their health in a real and lasting way.

For more information on Attention Deficit Disorder or naturopathic pediatric care, contact Dr. Deidre Macdonald on (250) 897-0235.

Children’s Health – Naturally

Parents all want the best for their children. At no time is this more true than when kids are suffering with health problems. There are many options for parents to help their kids be as healthy as possible.

Ear Infections are a common but distressing illness in children. Once the standard of care, doctors now discourage the use of antibiotics. The Cochrane Review of medical research states that only about 6% of children benefit from taking antibiotics (over just waiting it out) while about 6% of children have serious side effects from them. So what is a parent to do? It is important to address the underlying cause of recurrent ear infections. Often, there is excess mucous and congestion which creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. We can “drain the swamp” by eliminating food allergies and promoting good lymphatic drainage during colds. Natural medicines to boost the immune system are also helpful during ear infections.

Bladder infections can be a problem while children are in the process of learning good hygiene. These painful infections can often be be treated with safe natural medicines like d-mannose and cranberry. If antibiotics have to be used, it is essential to repair the intestinal bacterial lining by taking a high quality probiotic formula for a few weeks after treatment.

Allergies to dust, pollen, moulds and pets can be a source of allergic symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and eyes and itchy eyes or throat. There are painless testing techniques, as well as scratch testing, to determine the source of problems. Herbal anti-histamines like nettles and quercitin not only help diminish symptoms, they are also nutritious. Allergy desensitization techniques have evolved from the days of weekly shots and now include oral techniques like Sublingual Immunotherapy.

Eczema can often be very successfully treated when we address the underlying cause and then correct it. Research and experience has shown a strong link between eczema and digestive concerns. By identifying and eliminating food allergies, restoring optimal intestinal flora and providing medical oils most children’s eczema will resolve nicely, without the endless cycle of topical steroids.

Digestive concerns – Nothing is worse than a 2 year old with constipation! Their willfulness is legendary. Taking laxatives long term is not advised, so what else can a parent do to prevent constipation and subsequent painful stools? Again, we have to search for the underlying cause of the problem. The first place to begin is to determine when the problem started, rule out anatomical abnormalities, then identify and eliminate food allergies. We often incorporate safer, natural stool softeners in the early phase of treatment as well as probiotics.

ADHD – Parents want so much to help their children be successful in school but are often wary of the side effects of the Ritalin class of medications for ADHD. What else can be done to improve concentration and learning? The brain is an organ that is affected by nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, and toxic exposure just like any other organ. Behavioural strategies work better when the brain is properly fueled with excellent nutrition and key nutritional and herbal supplements. Every child is treated according to their unique situation, but Bacopa, zinc and iron are promising aids to children’s brain and nervous system function. Specific customized homeopathic prescriptions are also a wonderful tool for unlocking a child’s full potential.

While most naturopathic physicians can prescribe prescription medications for each of these health issues, we prefer to educate parents about their full range of treatment options and endeavor to treat the underlying cause of problems rather than just mask symptoms with medications.

Dr. Deidre Macdonald is a licensed naturopathic physician who has been treating families with naturopathic medicine in downtown Courtenay for 15 years. Contact her office at (250) 897-0235 or via this website.