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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Kids are our most precious resource. Yet, they have become a dumping ground for more than 80,000 toxic chemicals—heavy metals, food preservatives and antibiotics. There is an alarming rise in childhood asthma, allergies, immune system disorders, ADHD, obesity, and diabetes. The result is the current generation of kids may not live longer than their parents.

    Diabesity is the new term for the rise of diabetes in an overweight population. In 2010, 66 percent of adults are overweight or obese; 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight and 34 percent are at risk. By 2015, 75 percent of adults will be overweight because the overweight children of today will be the obese adults of tomorrow. Being overweight is the number one "cause" of diabetes.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is labeled a mental disorder that develops in children. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that between three percent and five percent of preschool and school-age children have ADHD. That's at least two million children in the U.S. or one in twenty kids.

    I think that's an underestimate. When I consult with parents of ADHD kids, they tell me that often at least one-third of their child's class is on Ritalin or other ADHD medication. One of my clients in New York taught an after school program for kids. Shockingly 11 of the 12 students were on Ritalin. So, I'm positive the NIH numbers are too low.

    Who Is to Blame?
    Both parents working and the increasing number of broken families have led to social disruption on a broad scale. Parents have no time to cook real meals for their children. Fast food has become the diet of choice. Kids spend much of their non-school time wired—texting, on cell phones, watching TV, playing video games and on the Internet. Physical activities are not encouraged at school or by parents because that requires more supervision that sitting over a Game Boy.

    Antibiotics and ADHD
    Antibiotics are an overlooked cause of behavioral changes in kids. Antibiotics are overused for kid's ear infections as well as colds and flus. Antibiotics can aggravate and even cause hyperactivity. They upset the stomach and intestines and their toxic by-products can irritate the brain.

    Antibiotics cause yeast overgrowth. They kill off good and bad bacteria so yeast leap into the vacuum created. Yeast that overgrows their territory becomes invasive. Their toxic waste products number about 178 and they irritate the intestinal lining to the point of causing a "leaky gut." Undigested food molecules and yeast toxins flow freely through a leaky gut into the blood stream causing allergic reactions.

    Dr. William Shaw at The Great Plains Laboratory finds high levels of toxic by-products of yeast and harmful bacteria in the urine samples of children with ADHD. These results indicate an overgrowth of these microorganisms in the digestive tract. Good bacteria produce digestive enzymes and certain vitamins, police harmful microorganisms when they are destroyed; a critical metabolic and defense system in the body is lost.

    Medicating Symptoms of a Bad Diet
    For many parents around the country, Ritalin has become a stipulation for their children continuing in school. Social agencies threaten: "If you don't allow us to prescribe Ritalin for your ADHD child, we may decide that you are an unfit parent. We may decide to take your child away. This drugging of children is fueled by teachers, principals, and school counselors, none of whom have medical training. Even so, medicine is not the answer. ADHD is an assumption not a proven condition.

    Ritalin Side Effects
    In The International Journal of the Addictions, Richard Scaarnati wrote, An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin. It's a shocking list of symptoms that we are creating in our children in order to force them to conform.

    • Paranoid delusions
    • Paranoid psychosis
    • Hypomanic and manic symptoms
    • Activation of psychotic symptoms
    • Toxic psychosis
    • Visual hallucinations
    • Auditory hallucinations
    • Can surpass LSD in producing bizarre experiences
    • Effects pathological thought processes
    • Extreme withdrawal
    • Terrified affect
    • Screaming
    • Aggressiveness
    • Insomnia
    • Amphetamine-like psychosis
    • Psychic dependence
    • High-abuse potential
    • Decreased REM sleep
    • When used with antidepressants one may see dangerous reactions including hypertension, seizures and hypothermia Convulsions
    • Brain damage may be seen with amphetamine abuse

    According to Dr. Peter Breggin in Talking Back to Ritalin. "Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine... have grossly harmful impacts on the brain—reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose metabolism, and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the brain."

    Robert Whitaker delivers the following wake-up call in Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (2010).

    "...the rise of juvenile bipolar illness in this country...appears in lockstep with the prescribing of stimulants for ADHD and antidepressants for depression. ¡Konce psychiatrists started putting "hyperactive" children on Ritalin, they started to see pre-pubertal children with manic symptoms. Same thing happened when psychiatrists started prescribing antidepressants to children and teenagers....the number of children and teenagers that have ended up "bipolar" after being treated with a stimulant or an antidepressant is now well over one million."

    The Failure of Our Diet
    A child sees an estimated 10,000 junk food commercials per year. Billions of dollars of advertising messages promote sugar-coated cereal, liquid candy (sodas) and empty calorie junk food. The bias in research is rampant. When the food industry funds its own research, invariably the food is declared healthy. Soy and corn, two incredibly allergenic foods, are cheap commodities subsidized by the government. They are largely genetically engineered (GMO) and have become the basic foods in the school lunch program and in the cattle industry.

    Kids Diets
    My advice is to eliminate foods that are toxic, GMO, high caloric and not nutritious. Just consider the standard kids' diet.

    • Commercial hot dogs contain carcinogenic nitrates, GMO soy, and animal waste products.
    • Diet products are sweetened with aspartame, which contains wood alcohol (causing blindness) and two powerful neurotransmitters.
    • Deep fried foods create trans fats and are carcinogenic.
    • Ketchup has more sugar than tomatoes!

    What Can You Offer Instead

    • Nitrate free hot dogs.
    • Drinks and products sweetened with stevia and xylitol.
    • Baked fried potatoes and sweet potatoes.
    • Ketchup sweetened with xylitol.
    • And introduce kids to fruits and vegetables and home cooked meals.

    Sidelining Allergies and Yeast
    Eliminate trigger foods that are allergenic and that contribute to yeast overgrowth. The foods that kids are most reactive to are the foods most craved and most frequently eaten.

    • Reduce sugar, wheat and diary. These foods fuel yeast growth in the body.
    • Substitute fruit for candy and processed foods with high concentrations of sugar.
    • Put your kid on an avoidance-and-challenge diet to find out what he's allergic to.

    The Junk Food Experiment If your child is not easily convinced he should eat a better diet, then offer him the "junk food experiment." Here's how it goes. Have him avoid all junk food and sugar for six days and on the seventh day, he can eat all he wants. Make it a Saturday so he can recover on Sunday. Kids are usually convinced to do the experiment because they get excited about the prize on day seven.

    Most kids actually feel better, sleep better and are in a better mood on days four to six. On days one to three they can be a bit gnarly and irritable as they go through withdrawal. Then on day seven they think they've hit the jackpot. They wolf down candy, ice cream, pizza, soda and cookies like they're going out of style. But it's not long before they start to feel the effects. Headaches, nausea, wooziness, sluggishness or hyper behavior are the norm. That's when kids realize on their own what these foods do to them. And they often make their own decision to cut back.

    Probiotics Repopulate the intestines with billions of beneficial bacteria that will also push out the bad guys. Use lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidis and bulgarus with guaranteed two to ten billion colonies per capsule at the expiry date. Have children take them without food an hour away from meals. Probiotics are usually tasteless and can be mixed in an ounce of water if your child can't swallow capsules.

    Anti-fungal Treatment
    Use anti-fungal supplements to counteract yeast overgrowth. Dr. Leo Galland suggests either oregano oil or grapefruit seed extract. Add two drops of oregano oil to juice or food daily. This is a very small amount but sufficient for children.

    Grapefruit seed extract can be taken as a liquid or a capsule. The liquid is bitter and should be mixed into food or juice. According to Dr. Galland, you can use the equivalent of about 250 mg twice a day for a six-year-old, and double that amount for a 12-year-old. Another beneficial yeast treatment is garlic. Children can take as much as an adult. Open the capsule, and mix the contents into their food.

    My Recommendations for Children's Supplements
    Try to find the following in a multiple. You can check my website Resources link for my current supplement recommendations for kids.

    • Magnesium: 200 mg per day
    • Calcium in balance with magnesium: 200 mg per day
    • Zinc: two-five mg per day
    • Essential fatty acids: EPA and DHA: 150—200 mg per day of each
    • B vitamins in methylated form
    • Vitamin C: 200 mg per day
    • RDA of Vit A, Vit D, Vit E and trace minerals

    What's the Best Form of Supplements?
    Non chewable: Gummy vitamins stick to the teeth and can cause cavities. A liquid form of supplements is best absorbed. The sweeteners should be non-sucrose, like stevia, organic agave and xylitol.

    With or Without Ritalin
    Diet, probiotics and supplements can be initiated even if your child is taking Ritalin. However, if the Ritalin has been working, parents won't know if there is a benefit from the natural approach until the drug is temporarily discontinued, such as over a weekend or vacation. Then you can assess the effectiveness of the program. If it hasn't been working then the benefits can come within a week to a month.

    When you see a change, consult your pediatrician about reducing or eliminating Ritalin. If your child really seems to be doing well, most pediatricians should be happy to agree to a trial period without Ritalin.

    What to Expect
    Whether you're trying to eliminate asthma, allergies, immune system disorders, ADHD, obesity, and prevent diabetes my brief outline for diet, probiotics and supplements can greatly improve your children's health and behavior.

    Progress is cumulative. You may see changes within four to seven days, or it may take a month. Be patient and if you don't think this approach is enough consult a knowledgeable health professional who will look for underlying conditions such as low thyroid, heavy metal toxicity or celiac disease.

    Dr. Carolyn Dean is a medical doctor and naturopathic doctor. She has been in the forefront of the natural medicine revolution for over 30 years. Dr. Dean is the author/coauthor of 20 health books (print and eBooks). Her latest book is called Kids Health available in September 2010. Dr. Dean has a free newsletter and a valuable online wellness program called Future Health Now! at Dr. Dean is also available to assist individuals with all types of illness at any stage or degree of severity through her Telephone Wellness Consulting practice.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated that in 2011, 6.4 million children — or 11 percent of American children ages 4 to 17 — had a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clinical and therapeutic experience tells us that most of the discomfort and psychological suffering of educators and therapists facing children with ADHD is inherent to their subjective interpretation of the child’s behavior, conditioned by individual experiences that sometimes do not allow them to see the child’s real needs. To prevent the child from harming themselves and others, we quickly jump to the gun: we want to ‘fix’ this immediately, and as a result these young people are frequently subjected to heavy dosing and often-risky psychopharmacological drug therapies that can have negative long-term side effects.

    What if there was an effective and non-invasive way to help?

    An unusual inspiration
    An unusual inspiration is appearing in our culture, one that takes its cue from the other end of life.

    It is presented in a new book called The Impact of Empathy—A New Approach to Working with ADHD Children, which refers to the Empathic Care of the End of Life (ECEL), a method awarded the Italian Terzani National Prize for the Medical Humanities. It has been included in numerous masters degree programs in Nursing, Psychooncology and Thanatology departments at universities in Italy and other countries, as well as in projects of Continuing Medical Education (CME) conducted in hospitals and hospices for staff training purposes.

    One of the Authors, Professor Emilia Costa, is an Italian psychiatrist who specialized in treating children with ADHD, so in a sense it was ‘normal’ for her to write this book; while her co-author, Daniela Muggia, specializes in death and dying.

    Muggia developed ECEL during her 22 years of experience with the dying. Unexpectedly, this method brings new light into the ADHD approach, uniting the fields of Tibetan Thanatology (science of death and dying), neuroscience and an understanding of quantum physics to illustrate that the state of inner peace one achieves through meditative training, has a significant effect on soothing those afflicted by confusion and anxiety, provided they are capable of absorbing this state empathically.

    How does it work?
    Similarities between those who are at the end of life and those who are at the beginning of life are striking: both are very empathic by nature, and directly experience the state of mind of those in their surroundings. Both, when suffering a discomfort, cannot verbalize it.

    So, there are two things to do:

    • Find a fresh vision unaffected by past conditioning that is able to perceive the child’s real needs that lie under the behavior. This is a complete training in ‘empathic listening’ through meditation;
    • Root our relationship with a difficult child in deep peace, which might in turn be felt empathically and recognized by the child with ADHD. He or she will feel the urge to learn how to achieve that state in an independent way, which in turn shall help them to develop coping capacity and skills for long-term self-care.

    Both things are not only very useful, but can bring great strength and peace to the moment, which can, again, be directly absorbed by the child.

    When a caregiver is trained to access and maintain a peaceful and compassionate state of mind, children can empathically ‘taste’ that same state from within. Therefore the approach described in the book—both the ECEL method, and other empathy-based techniques deriving from Jung— addresses mainly the adults (parents, teachers, caregivers), teaching them how to accomplish and maintain a state of deep inner peace, no matter what the ADHD child does.

    No chemical straitjackets, no physical containment: “just become peace yourself, no matter what, and the childrens’ repeated experience of this will enable them to not only desire, but replicate this state within themselves.” In this sense, this approach differs from many others that also use meditation with ADHD children: here, children are not directly taught meditation, they just experience empathically the fruit of it repeatedly, as a new form of non-conflictual relationship with the adults and, in some case, with the rest of their schoolmates. Sometimes, it is their first experience of true mind peace.

    The wealth of resources and scientific information available in this book is impressive: for instance, you will discover a rich offering of high-level research done on meditation results on ADHD children, a vast series of scientific studies, both pilot studies and peer-reviewed ones, conducted on a number of methods based on different meditation techniques that have been applied indirectly or directly to children with ADHD.

    You will find what benefits were found in 2012 in 91 American schools of various kinds and levels, scattered over thirteen states, where one of the available trainings lasted from three to six months, with daily or twice-weekly sessions of ten to forty minutes each (practicing with children Mindfullness Meditation or Transcendental Meditation (TM):

    • days of absence: decreased by 25%;
    • suspension days: decreased by 38%;
    • significantly improved scores on validated attention skills tests;
    • aggressive behavior: decreased by 8%;
    • rules infraction: decreased by 50%.

    You might be surprised as well to learn that approximately 600 studies, of which more than 350 have been peer-reviewed, were conducted on TM, for example, and you will become familiar with them: in the book we explain things in a way that the reader enters the lab and understands absolutely everything.

    You will read about the ‘historical’ studies on meditation led by important neorosicentists that encouraged many more to enquire into the matter or to build pioneer meditation-based projects in schools, where the innate value of “troublemakers” is recognized, instead of perceiving them as “broken” children to be “fixed” chemically, and upon whom others merely project concepts.

    All these benefits occur without the side effects of medication, such as sleep disturbances, poor appetite, weight loss, stunted growth and mood disorders, which then need to be treated with further medication, which are often unsuitable or children, and which in the long-term are suspected of leading to a higher risk of cardiac problems and sudden death, liver damage, psychiatric disorders, as well as higher rates of delinquency in adulthood, drug use and growth retardation, as highlighted in a 2010 study sponsored by the Ministry of Health of Western Australia and many other studies.

    You will become enthusiastic about the UCLA Map Project, or the Shamatha International Project, modelled on the Human Genome Project, bringing together many researchers and scientific laboratories from all over the world, sharing their discoveries to bring together teachers and meditators from the different Buddhist schools to explore the methods and the most favorable conditions for achieving, at the present time, mastery of a basic meditative techinques involving attention, traditionally called “shamatha.”

    And when you start wondering whether and how do school systems react to all this scientific data, you will be shown amazingly inspiring projects being run throughout the world: from the Alice Project in India and several European countries, involving thousands of students, to the Quiet Time Program involving more than 200,000 students, mainly in U.S.

    All of this is supported with plenty of case stories: some tender, some amusing, all very touching and alive because they are coming straight from the real experience of both the authors’ work with young Italian ‘troublemakers’ whose lives are now endowed with a better chance of success.

    Co-authors of The Impact of Empathy

    Daniela Muggia is a Thanatologist and the winner of the prestigious Terzani Award for the Medical Humanities in 2008. For almost 30 years she studied the Tibetan tradition of death and dying with Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the ground-breaking Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. She also trained with Cesare Boni, a professor and teacher of Master classes in Thanatology, the study of death and dying, at Naples University. After more than 20 years of working with the terminally ill, she has developed the ECEL method, Empathic Care at the End of Life, one of the most popular courses taught in hospitals, hospices and for Masters degree programs at universities in Italy and other countries.

    Emilia Costa, MD, a former professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy at La Sapienza University in Rome has authored over 360 pioneering scientific publications. She studied directly with some great masters—Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli, an Italian Psychiatrist and pioneer in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, and Psychiatrist Gianfranco Tedeschi, founding member of the professional Jungian group, AIPA, in Italy. Currently, she is the Dean of a Scientific Committee of Pharmacovigilance with the organization, Hands off the Children, which works to inform teachers, parents, medical doctors and scientists about the danger of over prescription of drugs to children.

    Title: The Impact of Empathy—A New Approach to Working with ADHD Children
    Author: Emilia Costa and Daniela Muggia
    Price: $18.99 U.S.
    Publisher/Imprint: BlossomingBooks, US subsidiary of Edizioni Amrita, srl
    Format:Trade Paperback, ebook