A mother recently asked me how I would naturally address inattentiveness (ADD) in a 14-year-old.
Like her, many of you know and love someone with this common condition and would like to try a natural approach before resorting to medications.
Symptoms of inattention, as listed in the DSM-IV, are:
- often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities;
- often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities;
- often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
- often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions);
- often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
- often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework);
- often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools);
- is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
- is often forgetful in daily activities.
Begin with diet.
Lots of ADD/ADHD children have GI issues that may include: abnormal carbohydrate digestion, esophagitis, and pancreatic dysfunction. The GI tract produces most of the brain’s serotonin and serotonin helps to stop “loop thinking.”
Since the gut is the main entrance for nutrients and the main exit point for toxins then GI issues are the first point of correction. Supplements alone are only half the story.
Proper digestion and absorption are essential to give your brain what it needs to stay on track. Furthermore, if your child’s GI tract has a problem than their brain may be receiving inflammatory markers and this increases the chance of excitability and inattention.
Make sure carb intake is controlled to avoid sugar highs and crashes, to ensure a yeast problem does not exist, and to check that all sugars are digested (especially the FODMAP ones.)
Further, the stool has to be checked to see if the consumed foods are being digested. If not then the stomach acid may need to be boosted and/or pancreatic enzymes needed.
Once this is done then focus on energy and anti-inflammation via food and supplements.
Supplements would include mitochondrial support, multivitamin, probiotics, fish oil and vitamin D3.
We have these in the office. The world of supplements is huge and overwhelming so I have done the homework for my patients. I am happy to share them with people who seek wellness.