Symptom vs Cause
The CDC defines ADHD as:
One of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
The World Federation of ADHD International Consensus Statement says this:
ADHD is more common in males and occurs in 5.9 % of youth and 2.5 % of adults. It has been found in studies from Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and North America.
In regards to the diagnosis, the World Federation of ADHD International Consensus says:
The main features of the diagnosis are:
The diagnosis requires: 1) the presence of developmentally inappropriate levels of hyperactive-impulsive and/or inattentive symptoms for at least 6 months; 2) symptoms occurring in different settings (e.g., home and school); 3) symptoms that cause impairments in living; 4) some of the symptoms and impairments first occurred in early to mid-childhood; and 4) no other disorder better explains the symptoms. … The clinical presentation of ADHD can be described as primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive-impulsive, or combined, depending on the nature of their symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Meta-analyses indicate that inattention is more strongly associated with academic impairment, low self-esteem, negative occupational outcomes, and lower overall adaptive functioning. Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are associated with peer rejection, aggression, risky driving behaviors, and accidental injuries. Patterns of associated disorders also differ between the dimensions
Going further, the CDC lists the symptoms of ADHD as:
A child with ADHD might:
- daydream a lot
- forget or lose things a lot
- squirm or fidget
- talk too much
- make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
- have a hard time resisting temptation
- have trouble taking turns
- have difficulty getting along with others
A lot of these symptoms of ADHD are behavioral in nature. The problem comes when we take ADHD–or ADD, anxiety disorders, or anything else of the sort–as the cause. Here at The Wellness Way, we view the body as a finely-tuned Swiss Watch. Your being unable to tell the time is a symptom of the watch not working, but that doesn’t mean the watch not working is the root cause. These “disorders” work the same way–if there’s not something that can be changed or fixed, it’s not the root cause.
The Medication Problem
According to the FDA website,
FDA-approved medications [for ADHD] currently on the market have been tested for safety and effectiveness in clinical trials of children 6 and older. But once a drug has been approved and is on the market, FDA is now asking for clinical trials with participants of children as young as 4 and 5.
We know ADHD medications are being prescribed for younger children, and we think it’s essential that the data from clinical studies reflect the safety and effectiveness for this age group,” Farchione adds.
This sounds fine until you start to dig in deeper to what these medications are and can do.
Under “warnings” on a document about Adderall from the FDA, the following are listed along with other adverse effects:
Serious Cardiovascular Events
Sudden Death and Pre-existing Structural Cardiac Abnormalities or Other Serious Heart Problems
Sudden death has been reported in association with CNS stimulant treatment at usual doses in children and adolescents with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems. Although some structural heart problems alone may carry an increased risk of sudden death, stimulant products generally should not be used in children or adolescents with known structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, or other serious cardiac problems that may place them at increased vulnerability to the sympathomimetic effects of a stimulant drug (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Sudden deaths, stroke, and myocardial infarction have been reported in adults taking stimulant drugs at usual doses for ADHD. Although the role of stimulants in these adult cases is also unknown, adults have a greater likelihood than children of having serious structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, or other serious cardiac problems. Adults with such abnormalities should also generally not be treated with stimulant drugs (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Administration of stimulants may exacerbate symptoms of behavior disturbance and thought disorder in patients with pre-existing psychotic disorder.
Treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms, e.g., hallucinations, delusional thinking, or mania in children and adolescents without prior history of psychotic illness or mania can be caused by stimulants at usual doses. If such symptoms occur, consideration should be given to a possible causal role of the stimulant, and discontinuation of treatment may be appropriate. In a pooled analysis of multiple short-term, placebo-controlled studies, such symptoms occurred in about 0.1% (4 patients with events out of 3482 exposed to methylphenidate or amphetamine for several weeks at usual doses) of stimulant-treated patients compared to 0 in placebo-treated patients.
Long-Term Suppression of Growth
What do these medications do? For all intents and purposes, they’re sedatives. They bring down the hyperactivity in your body–ADHD and ADD–and in your brain–anxiety.
Not only that, but these medications are also appetite suppressants, meaning the kids don’t feel hungry and, therefore, don’t eat as much. A lot of people with ADHD, ADD, and anxiety already have problems with their appetite, and these medications only make that worse. This often leads to the parents, in desperation, saying something along the lines of “you have to eat–I’ll get you anything you want, if you’ll eat it.”
What’s the problem with that?
The Fuel Determines the Performance
There’s a difference between the way a carpenter addresses things and the way a fireman does. Here at The Wellness Way, we take the carpenter approach–fixing the body so it is healthy and safe to live in. A lot–if not all–of the symptoms for ADHD are behavior-oriented. When it comes to children, there are a lot of things that can lead to “misbehavior” and anxiety. Most of them come down to the way the body is functioning.
When someone eats an allergen, their immune system puts energy toward fighting it off as though it were a foreign, toxic substance.
The body acts a lot like a clean-up crew after a natural disaster. There are engineers that know what the place looked like before the disaster swept through and how to return it to that state, general managers that can differentiate between debris that could maybe be used to rebuild, and then the volunteers who don’t live anywhere nearby, but are there to move materials and debris around. The volunteers move rubble from the middle of streets and lots where it is causing problems. They take it to the general managers and engineers who sort the materials into what’s useful and what’s not—what’s body tissue, and what’s a foreign invader. These two then create a catalogue of what is useful, and what should be scrapped—or, in other words, what’s necessary body tissue, and what it should create antibodies to fight. This takes a lot of energy.
When the body comes into contact with toxins, it’s a very good thing that the body responds this way. When what the body views as “toxins,” though, are foods and substances we eat just about every day in an attempt to give our body the fuel it needs to work properly, we are only working against the body and burning more energy than necessary. When the immune system demands that much more energy, it’s energy the body can’t put toward other things.
When the body comes into contact with toxins, they are drawn into fat cells to keep them in place while this response is sparked. This causes inflammation, which is the number one source of bodily ailments. This goes beyond swelling and aches and pains and hyperactivity. Inflammation is also linked to things like depression and anxiety that, at first, you’d think have nothing to do with each other.
What are some of these things the body reads as foreign invaders? Sugar, allergies, food dyes, GMOs, and–oftentimes–dairy.
According to the USDA:
We consume large amounts of sugar. The average American eats (or drinks) 34 teaspoons of sugars a day, which is equal to 500+ calories. This averages more than 100 pounds of sugars per person each year. Sugar intake has drastically increased over the last century. In 1822, the average American ate in 5 days the amount of sugar found in one of today’s 12-ounce sodas. Now, we eat that much every 7 hours!
We all know the idea of a sugar high–when you take in a large amount of sugar, you have a lot more energy than normal. Kids naturally have a lot of energy–and, very often, boys show that outwardly more than girls, leading to the statistic that ADHD and ADD shows up in boys more often than girls. Does this mean girls don’t have as much energy as boys, or that sugar doesn’t affect them as much? No–they just burn it differently; focusing it inward rather than outward, leading to an overactive mind–anxiety.
Kids need to run and play and burn that energy, but what do we do? We give them a bowl of sugary cereal before school, and then tell them to sit still for eight hours straight. This doesn’t help rein in the naturally high level of energy already in the body.
If kids have these “disorders,” they’re not misbehaving–they’re communicating something within them isn’t as it should be, and they don’t know how to handle it. Maybe they have aches or pains, maybe they have a gut infection, maybe there’s something else going on. Sugar in general, but especially refined sugar, doesn’t help any of these situations in the least.
What can we do?
Get your child’s allergies tested, and then cut those foods out entirely. Cut sugar–especially refined sugar–from their diet to benefit their whole body, and their gut in particular. Cut dairy, food dyes, GMOs, and keep an eye out for the dirty dozen. Do your entire family a favor, and cut these from everyone’s diets, not just your kids’.
Don’t Let School Get in the Way of Learning
Every child is different, and every child learns differently. Work with your child’s teacher to figure out ways to help your child burn energy as they learn. Have them trace figure eights on their desk with their fingers, crossing the middle of their body to fire neuron connections to both sides of their brain. They can also do other non-disruptive things with their hands while the teacher is talking. Have them draw doodles about what the teacher is talking about on a scrap piece of paper–pictures of DNA and planets, pyramids and palaces, flags or adventurers. Draw six apples over ten apples when learning about fractions and decimals, or draw a cake pan with a remaining four slices, and then six friends all enjoying their own piece.
If the child doesn’t like to draw, work with them on how to take notes, or encourage them to write short stories about what they’re learning. Connect what they’re doing to burn energy and keep their hands moving to what they’re learning.
They could also have a long piece of yarn or string that they wind around their hand, and then unwind, and wind around the other.
Kids are meant to have energy, and are meant to use and burn it. Let’s stop punishing and medicating their natural state of existence in ways that could spark heart problems or other “psychotic disorder”s, and start helping them see their differences and energy as good things–and using them.
The Structure Determines the House
One of the things your child’s “disorder” may be telling you is that something in their structure is out of alignment. If your child is in pain–even if they don’t know it–that will often lower their mental capacity and tolerance for dealing with other things that are going on. If your child’s body is out of alignment, it can be hindering their nervous system and keeping it from growing properly. Your body is like a Swiss Watch–just because the symptom is appearing in a certain way or area, doesn’t mean that’s the cause. A different gear could very well be the one that’s out of place.
Studies have shown that regular chiropractic adjustments help improve ADHD symptoms in children.
To get your child’s allergies tested or get adjusted, contact a Wellness Way Clinic today.