Try These Eight Safe, Natural and Effective ADHD Treatments

Prevailing ADHD therapy is not suitable for all children.  If you are looking for natural, safe, and effective alternatives to treat (beat) ADHD, then try these 8 natural supplements readily available in most places supplements are sold.  Turning to a powerful nootropic like Ritalin is not my first choice for treating ADHD because these stimulants can have adverse effects on our children’s reward system that can have lasting effects.

Zinc

Zinc is an important cofactor to dopamine, which affects our responses to emotions and reward-seeking behavior.  Zinc deficiency is further correlated to low melatonin and serotonin which is associated with decreases in ability to process information.  Zinc is naturally occurring in certain foods and added to others.  Oysters have the highest zinc per serving of all foods, but poultry and beef account for most zinc in the American diet.  Many people do not get enough zinc in their daily diet because of our society’s eating habits.  A fun test is to drink a liquid zinc supplement and see what it tastes like.  If you are zinc deficient it will have no taste, but if you have enough zinc it will taste bitter to you.

Carnitine

Carnitine is believed to improve brain cell functioning by facilitating the burning of fatty acids, which helps brain and nerve cells to preserve their membranes.  Carnitine has been demonstrated to improve symptoms of hyperactivity and social behavior and is considered by some as a safe alternative to stimulant drugs.

Serine

Serine in a non-essential amino acid important in metabolism and is a precursor to several amino acids including tryptophan.  When administered with omega 3 fatty acids it improved ADHD symptoms significantly better than omega 3 fatty acids alone, suggesting a synergistic effect.  Phosphatidylserine also increases dopamine levels.

Glutamine

Glutamine is a precursor to the calming neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that affects mood, focus, and hyperactivity; Disruption of the glutamine-containing neurotransmission system may cause ADHD.

Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient that is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which regulates memory focus and muscle control (hyperactivity).  Acetylcholine is especially important to normal brain function.  Dr. Axe explains, “Choline is important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels and maintaining a healthy metabolism.”

Folate

Folate is a B Vitamin and low folate levels in pregnancy are linked to hyperactivity in children: People with MTHFR (methyltetrahydrofolate reductase) gene are predisposed to folate deficiency and more likely to have ADHD.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Evidence suggests high dose supplementation of B6 is as effective as Ritalin for ADHD, probably due to its role in raising serotonin levels.  Dr. Weil explains that “Vitamin B6 supports adrenal function, helps calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for key metabolic processes. Vitamin B6 acts as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.”

Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is linked to poor function of the neurotransmitters that control emotion, social reactions, hyperactivity and attention: Synergistic effect with Vitamin B6.  Literature with the National Institute of Health supports the fact that magnesium supplementation in children with ADHD improved hyperactivity.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9368236

Conclusion

If you are the parent, guardian, or an advocate for a loved one then I encourage you to begin a dialogue with your pediatrician about the safety and efficacy of these natural supplements for treating ADHD.  We all want to see our children have the best chance they can to grow into well adjusted happy adults, and ADHD can certain make that journey more difficult.  Stimulants may seem like a quick fix, but you should know that natural, safe, and effective alternatives do exist.

Toxins Lookout! How to Detox for Children

Unfortunately, our children are routinely exposed to toxins every single day in today’s world. In many cases, we have no control over the exposure, as is the case with our air and water. Here are five simple ways to help detox your children every day to keep their body healthy and functioning optimally.

Before I jump into how to detox your kids, let’s take a look at where kids are exposed to the most toxins.

COMMON TOXIN EXPOSURES FOR KIDS

Food– Just one look at typical kid cuisine will show you just how toxic it really is. From boxed dinners to fast food, kids frequently consume rancid oils, food dyes, refined flours and sugars. Foods with so little nutrition that they might as well be eating cardboard. Indeed, some ingredients are not too far removed from cardboard.

Air– On any given day, you can drive through your town or neighborhood and see someone spraying pesticides or weed killers. It’s really frustrating that these chemicals have not been banned seeing as how they cause cancer, disrupt hormones, and pose a threat to human health in general. Now, we also have to worry about massive spraying campaigns due to concern about things like Zika virus along with pesticides being sprayed on airplanes.

Water– Most cities add fluoride to their water supply because it’s believed to improve dental health but it actually causes harm, especially to growing children. Studies show that children living in areas with high fluoride exposure are at risk for low IQ, among other health issues. Not only that but chlorine is added to water to sanitize it, which is harmful to the microbiome, as it kills good gut flora. Finally, we also have to be concerned about heavy metals that are often found in water especially in places where lead pipes are used.

Everyday chemicals- From the cleaning supplies we use to our shampoo, harmful chemicals abound in most modern homes. Kids are exposed to toxins via the sheets and mattress they sleep on; the clothes they wear; the soap and toothpaste they use… you see where I’m going with this. There is not a lot of regulation when it comes to these household products and as a result, our kids have a lot to contend with.

It may seem impossible to help our kids live toxin-free, as the above list is pretty daunting. While it can be frustrating that we have so little control over some of the toxins our children are exposed to, there is plenty we can do to eliminate exposure and support their bodies!

HOW TO DETOX KIDS DAILY IN FIVE SIMPLE STEPS

FOCUS ON NUTRITION

While we can’t be sure our kids eat perfectly all the time, we can support their bodies through proper nutrition so that the occasional indulgence can be tolerated.

The best thing you can do is make sure your children eat a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, pastured eggs, raw dairy, and grass-fed meats. It’s debatable whether children need grains or if they’re even healthy at all. I personally believe that they should be limited to occasional, gluten-free, properly prepared consumption, if at all. Even more importantly, make sure your child isn’t eating food dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup or white bread (and other refined grains)!

JUICING

While a well-rounded diet is one of the best things you can provide for your kids, targeted nutrition through juicing can be incredibly helpful. Not only does juicing provide easily digested vitamins and minerals, but also you can put specific fruits and vegetables in your juice that can target specific detox mechanisms.

Here are a few things I like to include in juices:

Beets- especially good for the liver and for cleansing the blood
Cilantro- helps the body to detox heavy metals gently
Ginger- helps to fight unwanted organism and reduce pain
Turmeric- combats inflammation
Lemon- helps to detox the liver and provides enzymes that aid in digestion

I find that as long as I use several carrots and some apple, my kids not only tolerate our morning juicing routine, but they really like it!

PROMOTE GOOD GUT FLORA

The immune system resides mostly in the gut and also dictates how well your child’s body can deal with the influx of toxins they are inundated with daily. When we support the gut we support the immune system, thereby rendering the body capable of detoxifying on a regular basis.

When the gut flora is compromised, the body is less able to handle the daily assaults of our toxic world and toxins begin to build up. This can result in any number of conditions affecting so many children today including autism, asthma, eczema, ADHD, and so on.

A good probiotic can make all the difference in the world for your child’s gut health and overall ability to detox. A probiotic healed my daughter’s eczema quickly and without major diet changes! You should also incorporate lots of raw and fermented foods in your child’s diet to promote good gut flora.

LET THEM PLAY

Kids should run around barefooted and play in the sunshine every day, as much as possible. Our modern sedentary, indoor lifestyles (facilitated by long school days and video game habits) don’t do our children’s bodies any favors.

For one thing, vitamin D is necessary for our immune systems to function properly that I mentioned above as a necessity for helping children’s bodies detox. Midday sunshine is the best source of vitamin D and allowing kids to play outside and soak up as much vitamin D as possible is one great way to strengthen their bodies’ detox mechanisms.

Additionally, connecting bare feet to the earth is known as “earthing” and it helps with detox function in a number of ways. Earthing can help combat the negative effects of electromagnetic frequencies, improve organ function, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep, all of which promote detoxification.

DETOX BATHS

Finally, get your kiddos in a special bath to promote detoxification through the skin. Detox baths are an easy way to help your child’s body deal with toxins in a manageable way.

To turn an ordinary bath into a “detox bath,” there are a number of additives you can put in the water:

  • Epson salts
  • Baking soda
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bentonite clay
  • Essential oils

These ingredients not only draw out toxins but have health benefits of their own, which help to strengthen the immune system and nourish the body further promoting detoxification.
To make a detox bath, use as hot of water as your child tolerates (for my kids, that’s not very hot), and add a cup of one or two additives, along with a few drops of essential oils, if you’d like. (Make sure your child doesn’t drink the water!)

Encourage your kiddo to soak until the water is cool or at least for 20 minutes. With a few toys, it’s pretty easy to get kids to play in the bath for a while!

USE WHAT WORKS

No doubt, our kids come into contact with more toxins than most of us would like. Instead of fretting about it, get proactive! You can use the above tips, which are all geared towards activities kids like doing anyways.

Use what works for your child and make it fun! Serve juice up in a cute stainless steel cup with a stainless steel straw, make frequent outdoor activities a regular occurrence, and incorporate things they like into their detox routine. With just a little effort, you can make a big impact on your child’s toxin burden and overall health!

(This is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your physician for a detox program appropriate for your children and family.)

Powerful Food-Medicine for the Heart

 

Nearly half of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States can be prevented by improving diet according to new research presented at an American Heart Association knowledge sharing event. Researchers claim that 400,000 deaths are due to lack of healthy foods in our diets and/or over-representing unhealthy foods in our personal eating habits.

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.”

– Dr. Ann Wigmore, N.D.

Researchers showed, “Low intake of healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits combined with higher intake of unhealthy dietary components, such as salt and trans-fat, is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UnitedStates,” said Ashkan Afshin, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Sc.D., lead study author and acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. 

The American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of eating a healthy dietary pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and limited in fatty or processed red meat. The association also suggests limiting sugary soft drinks, salt (sodium), saturated and trans fats.

As a pediatrician seeking to optimize health and push patients into feeling great, I would further suggest a quality multivitamin and liquid probiotic.

SOURCES:

http://newsroom.heart.org/news/unhealthy-diets-linked-to-more-than-400-000-cardiovascular-deaths?preview=ef83

Use Your Past to Pave Your Future

The road to Hell is wide and paved with good intentions. I can’t remember when I first heard this old adage, but the other night it rang loudly in my mind. The evening I had envisioned – a wholesome, relaxing homemade dinner with the children and filled with interesting conversations about their day followed by the stimulating intellectual discourse resulting from homework spanning six different grade levels — was doomed from the start. At first undaunted by an unexpected dinner-time soccer practice, my serenity quickly eroded with an upcoming social studies test, forgotten books at school, and the icing on the cake: the 6 p.m. announcement that an assignment requiring copious amounts of yet-to-be-purchased craft materials was due the next day. As I lay my head on the pillow hours later and a few Domino pizzas delivered to quickly feed the troops, my mind finally had time to catch up to my body. I took stock in the evening. What happened?

We’ve all experienced the disappointment when best-laid plans go awry. For those of us for whom this scenario seems to repeat itself in one form or another every day, it is critical that we pause to examine how we approach the maelstrom.

On this particular evening I thought back to my grandparents, recalling and yearning for the simplicity of times past. After all, they had it so easy, didn’t they? Well, no. My grandmother suffered from heart disease. While she did not have to build an Egyptian pyramid out of spaghetti at 10 p.m., the simpler life I imagine she had didn’t save her from chronic disease either.

Knowing I have a genetic risk of cardiovascular disease – and my life seems infinitely more complicated than my grandma’s in the 1950s – I realized in bed that night that I could look to my grandmother’s example and lay down my pavers differently. I can choose a path that will lead to a healthy heart and a happy life, while modeling a family culture handed down from earlier generations.  We cannot eliminate the stressors from our lives but we can navigate our potholes better.

Be real as a parent and simply roll with it. Once in a while a pizza night is in order. Stress is omnipresent, but we choose whether or not to let this get the best of us. Just as we model healthy behaviors in other aspects of our lives, our children look to us to show them the best way to weather the turbulence. Breathe, make the best of a trying situation and show your kids how
to have fun regardless. Remember kids have an easier time making fun than adults do – they will automatically fall behind your lighthearted leadership.

Practice mindfulness. This is not an esoteric ideal – it is the simple practice of being aware of one’s surroundings rather than letting life pass by cloaked in the distractions of daily life. Research indicates that mindfulness may reduce the risk of heart disease, improve psychological well-being, and reduce visits to the hospital. Yet in a 2010 Harvard study of 2,250 volunteers the subjects’ minds wandered an average of 46.9% of their waking time while engaged in a variety of activities. Find a moment for being quiet each day, and train yourself to put down the screen when eating a meal or waiting in a line. Mindfulness can also be learned through relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.

Be active every day. What will it take? Getting up a little earlier? Running (literally) the kids to school? Putting exercise time on the calendar? Exercise elevates mood, improves stamina, boosts the immune system, and reduces the risk of heart disease and depression among many other benefits. A little self-discipline will go a long way to ensure good health and vitality down the
road.

Build a strong and resilient body.  Eat a healthful diet with a variety of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Complement your healthy diet with nutritional supplements. The four I keep by my toothbrush are a whole food multivitamin (which I take in the morning) and a probiotic supplement, vitamin D, and fish oil caplets (which I take at night).

Go to bed! Eight hours every night is still what the doctor orders. We don’t allow our preschoolers to run around all night long, so why do we allow ourselves? Be the example. Go to bed each night when your body starts to feel tired. You will wake more refreshed, look younger and stay healthier.

Meeting the endless but very real daily needs of our families doesn’t require us to rush around in a whirling dervish. Stop. Look. Listen. Your past can show you the new pavers you can lay to create a healthier path for you and your family.

Thanks, Grandma.

Heart Health Starts on Day One

For centuries, the month of February has been associated with affairs of the heart – first with a pagan Roman fertility celebration on February 15 and later with the advent of St. Valentine’s Day on February 14. No one knows the true identity of the Valentine that lent his or her name to the holiday we know today, and stories explaining the origin of Valentine’s Day are as varied as the sentiments in a bag of candy hearts. But the indelible icon representing Valentine’s Day has remained constant – the heart.

Today, Valentine’s Day celebrations often revolve around decadent dinners and toothsome classroom treats. Chocolate truffles and cupcakes with mile-high frosting take center stage as we celebrate the love in our hearts. What if we instead used this opportunity to pay homage to the organ itself? To use Valentine’s Day as an annual opportunity to assess our heart-healthy habits (even as we’re biting into that cupcake)?

Although it is the leading cause of death in America, few realize that heart disease begins to develop at birth – perhaps even in utero. Anatomical changes in the heart and arteries that will strongly predispose a child to future cardiovascular disease and/or stroke have been observed as early as age 5. But like any of life’s challenges that face our children, there are things we can do to help mitigate the risk of a heart attack or stroke later in life. Making positive changes to a child’s diet, environment, and lifestyle can diminish their genetic predisposition to heart disease.

  • Get rid of Bisphenol-A (BPA) plastics, which are known hormone disruptors and may lead to heart disease and obesity. Purge your kitchen of old water bottles (or even some newer ones that still contain BPA). Use glass food storage and lunch containers wherever possible, and use wax wrappers rather than plastic baggies.
  • Don’t overlook school meals. Kids consume about 40% of calories at school, so make sure healthy choices are available. Send a healthy, appealing home-packed lunch. Shop for ingredients together and allow your child to pack his or her own lunch, choosing between the healthy options that you’ve purchased together. Your child is more likely to eat a lunch that he or she has made.
  • Get the family moving. Sure it is great to bike ride or hike together, but it is also important to instill heart-healthy habits into a child’s daily routine. Take the stairs. Park at the far edge of the parking lot. Walk to school or the store. Wherever life presents a convenient-yet-less physical option, opt out!
  • Slow down! Nearly one in five American meals is eaten in the car, where it is difficult to offer freshly prepared lean meats or veggies. In one study of eighteen developed countries, the United States had the highest obesity rate yet was near the bottom in the average amount of time spent eating each day.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Whole ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, and dairy are usually found around the sides of the store, whereas processed foods are generally found within.
  • Visit farmers’ markets for local, seasonal produce. Even many northern cities offer indoor markets during the winter. The selection won’t be as vast as a grocery store importing plums from South America, but the items that are available will be tasty and nutritious, and will have had a far smaller environmental impact.
  • Our heart is a muscle that never stops and needs the right nutrients to function properly. You may remember that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and provides all the energy. Here is a list of supplements that help this little engine work: magnesium, CoQ10, vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, carnitine and ribose.

Valentine’s Day evolved from a ceremony of fertility to one of love, or from primal to interpersonal connection. Let’s take it one step further this year and make our child’s environment full of love. Embrace them as you always do and add healthy eating, supportive supplements and an increased awareness of toxins.