Blog

09
Sep

Homeopathy for Children with ADD and ADHD

Back to School Blues: Homeopathy for Children with ADD/ADHDHomeopathy for Children wit ADD and ADHD

I really feel for those kids who find the school day extra challenging. Restlessness, difficulty concentrating, comprehending instructions or finishing a task can affect much more than a child’s grades, sometimes leading to low self esteem, anxiety or depression.

Children with ADHD are unfairly ostracized and labeled as the ‘disruptive’ children in the classroom, when the reality is they have a disorder that prevents them from being able to regulate their attention and behaviour.  Parents too, are all too often made to feel they have done something wrong. Homeopathic treatment for ADHD offers a natural way to balance the brain chemistry behind the symptoms.

What is ADD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder affects 5-12% of school-aged children. Approximately 8-10% of males and 3-4 % of females under the age of 18 years have ADHD.

The symptoms of ADHD include being inattentive (unable to concentrate for very long or finish a task); hyperactivity (fidgety and unable to sit still); and impulsive (speaking or acting without thinking about the consequences). While most children exhibit these symptoms sometimes, children with ADHD experience them more frequently and more severely than is typically seen in people at comparable levels of development.

There is some debate about the use of the label ‘ADD or ADHD’. Medical research focuses on genetic factors and ‘chemical imbalances’ in the brain. Some suggest a more positive approach – we are all unique and there is a broad spectrum of learning styles. Proponents of this view argue that it is not necessarily ‘natural’ for kids to sit still and focus their attention in the ways that school demands, and that ADHD is perhaps over diagnosed and overmedicated. Yet others argue that a diagnosis allows for access to resources, support, and medical treatment. Many parents feel more comfortable with the medical diagnosis because it confirms that there really is ‘something wrong’ and it is not their fault. The homeopathic approach falls somewhere in the middle ground between these two ideas.

ADHD Treatment

Treatment for ADD and ADHD often involves prescription stimulant medication such as Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine and others. The drugs tend to ‘work’ in that they relieve some of the symptoms, but only as long as the drug is taken. They do not heal the root causes of the disease, and for 20-30% of children they do not work at all.

Side effects of ADHD medication such as Ritalin include insomnia, decreased appetite, restlessness, anxiety, tremors, headaches, allergic reactions, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, heart arrhythmia, increased blood pressure and even psychosis (including hallucination).  Lab and animal research studies suggest that long-term effects of Ritalin include reduced cerebral blood flow, permanent loss of brain tissue, and increased rates of depression and anxiety in adulthood.

Clearly, it makes sense to explore safer methods of treatment for ADD and ADHD to avoid the side effects of Ritalin and other stimulants, except in the most urgent cases.   Homeopathic medicines provide a viable alternative treatment for ADHD, and several double-blind studies published in medical journals have confirmed results.

Homeopathy for ADD/ADHD

For parents who want to try a natural treatment for ADHD, the homeopathic perspective falls somewhere in the middle ground. We do recognize there is an imbalance that needs to be addressed so that the individual can function to their highest potential, but we don’t view ADHD as some kind of  irreparable brain defect. Homeopaths have observed that the brain and nervous system are plastic, ie changeable, not fixed, and that we have enormous capacity to heal and even transform ourselves.  (see about homeopathy for more information)

Homeopathic treatment does not interact with medications, and can be begun while a child is taking Ritalin or other ADHD drugs.  Homeopathic treatment does not involve difficult diet plans or expensive supplements, but involves one specific remedy that is highly individualized to each child.  Homeopaths treat the specific symptom patterns that we see in each individual, so we would not prescribe the same medicine for each person based on a blanket label such as ADD or ADHD.  Homeopaths look at what makes the person unique; so in each case below the child could be presenting with all the typical ADHD symptoms, but would have some characteristic temperament traits and physical symptoms that make them unique. For example;

  • The child who is very insecure and anxious about their abilities, is quite intelligent but the anxiety gets in the way of performance. He/she may be bossy and difficult at home but sweet and compliant at school. This type may need the remedy Lycopodium.
  • A child with more serious behaviour problems such as extreme temper tantrums, who is very restless, loud, demanding and even malicious may need the remedy Tuberculinum. This type may seem to have a lot of anger from no understandable cause.
  • A jumpy, nervous child who is very restless, sensitive to noise and voices, fears attack or being falsely accused may need the remedy Zincum.
  • A child with no behavioral problems, who is very creative and intelligent, but has a great difficulty understanding what they read and an inability to follow instructions. This type needs the remedy Cornus circinatus.

(Please note this information is provided for illustration only and is not intended as medical advice – these examples are oversimplified and would not , on their own, lead to an accurate prescription.)

These descriptions are but a few of hundreds of possible pictures, and they need to be prescribed by a qualified Homeopath.

It is interesting to note that treatment is based on the symptom picture presented by the patient, regardless of their diagnosis.  Many children have some ADHD-like symptoms, but are not diagnosed with ADHD. These children would still benefit from individualized homeopathic treatment.  Proper diagnosis, however, and testing for ADHD is recommended.

In my clinic, I have seen restless children become calmer and more focused after taking a homeopathic remedy;  I have seen fearful and aggressive children become less afraid and more affectionate,  and I have also treated adults with ADHD .

Research

Conventional medicine tends to dismiss homeopathy as ‘unproven’ or new and untested, despite hundreds of published research studies and 200 years of clinical observations all over the world.  Homeopathy is often misunderstood or considered a blanket term for any product out there calling itself a ‘natural cure’. Classical homeopathy is a complex system of medicine that requires 3-4 years of training and years of clinical experience to master. It was developed by German physicians and spread throughout Europe following its success in treating cholera epidemics in the 1800’s. To learn more about how it works see about homeopathy.

Dr Edward Hallowell, MD, who has written several books on the subject of ADHD, urges parents and doctors to “open your eyes to the possibility of homeopathic medicine, not only for treating ADHD, but also for treating a number of emotional and learning problems, as well as some behavioural problems like anger outbursts and bedwetting. It is not hocus-pocus. Homeopaths have produced a respectable scientific literature that deserves greater public and professional attention.”

A recent article by Dana Ullman, referenced below, gives extensive reviews of several studies confirming the benefits of homeopathic treatment for ADHD.  One of the most well known studies was published in 2005 in the respected European Journal of Pediatrics. It included two studies: a clinical observation study followed by a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial. These studies concluded that homeopathy has positive effects in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Testing for ADHD

If you or your child’s teachers want to arrange testing for ADHD you can you can obtain a referral to a health professional practicing in this field through your family doctor, your child’s teacher, an Employee Assistance Counselor, or through professional associations for doctors, psychologists or social workers. If an “official” diagnosis is required to access special services within the school system, ADHD tests by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist would ensure the most comprehensive treatment following assessment.

References:

Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):e1270-7. Epub 2010 May 17.

Frei, H, Everts R, von Ammon K, Kaufmann F, Walther D, Hsu-Schmitz SF, Collenberg M, Fuhrer K, Hassink R, Steinlin M, Thurneysen A. Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. Eur J Pediatr., July 27,2005,164:758-767.

Frei, H, and Thurneysen, A. Treatment for Hyperactive Children: Homeopathy and Methylphenidate Compared in a Family Setting, British Homeopathic Journal, October 2001,90:183-188.

Long –term effects of Ritalin- Changes in Brain Development

http://ritalinsideeffects.net/

The Effects of Long-term Ritalin (Methylphenidate) Use http://www.neurosoup.com/pdf/effects_of_longterm_ritalin_use.pdf

Ullman, D. Homeopathic Alternatives for Children with ADHD. HuffingtonPost. 05/19/2011.

Vedantam S. Debate over Drugs for ADHD Reignites, Washington Post. March 27, 2009.

Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, MSW, and Robert Ullman, ND, Ritalin Free Kids: Safe and Effective Homeopathic Medicine for ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems, Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press, 1996

 

ADHD Support and Resources in Ottawa

This website gives a comprehensive listing of resources and services in Ottawa:

http://www.ementalhealth.ca/ottawa/en/_Attention_Deficit_Disorders_ADDADHD_a1_b27.html

 

 

 

About Gaela Nelson

1 Comment for this entry

Ryan Mitchell Boch
March 31st, 2012 on 10:03 pm

Hi I just started An ADD Ottawa group on Facebook I am just beginning to research resources here in Ottawa. If you like please feel free to join the group. I am interested in helping ADD adults and children because I have personally struggled a lot in my life and often felt like I was alone without help/resources/support. I think its great that you promote homeopathic treatment of ADD I think Ritalin and these other drugs are terrible.

warm regards,
Ryan Mitchell Boch