Addressing the Cause of Hyperactivity
When I study Nutrition and Mental Health, I discover that children who tend to be hyperactive are not necessarily ADD/ADHD. Before getting a diagnosis, several other conditions whose symptoms mimic ADD should be ruled out. If you know any child who has difficulty concentrating, learning, or staying focused, you may want to try and identify the root cause before looking to drug therapy. Below are some examples of conditions that may present the same or similar symptoms as hyperactivity.
Hypoglycemia is a condition of blood sugar metabolism which if prolonged can lead to adult onset diabetes. * Hypoglycemia is a condition which exists in part because of the refinement of grains and sugar. If the food we eat raises our blood sugar too quickly, as is the case with many refined foods, our body needs to compensate for the spike in blood sugar. If this is happening every day for a long period of time, the body is eventually unable to maintain blood sugar. Symptoms of low blood sugar include irritability, restlessness, and an inability to focus and concentrate for a long period of time.
Food Allergies and intolerances: When we are intolerant to a food, the body produces an inflammatory response which results in various symptoms. Studies have been done that show aggressive behavior and extreme difficulty co-operating with authority figures when the allergic food is introduced. Common food allergies are wheat/gluten, sugar, corn, soy, dairy, chocolate. Here is what Carolee Bateson ND said about hyperactivity: “With hyperactivity, elimination of allergens (both food and chemical) in the diet and the addition of plant enzyme therapy is a vital step.”
Heavy metal toxicity can occur from exposure to drinking water in homes with old lead pipes, aluminum in cookware and baked goods. Children are more susceptible to heavy metal toxicity if they are not getting enough minerals from their food, namely from poor farming methods and digestive weakness. Elson Haas MD in his book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” states, “Several studies have shown a relationship between lead levels and learning defects, including daydreaming, being easily frustrated or distracted, a decreased ability to follow instruction or a low persistence in leaning, and general excitability and hyperactivity.”
Children tend to think it is their fault that they cannot concentrate; their teachers may punish them for being disobedient in class. With the addition of some simple nutritional supplements, the removal of allergenic foods and a diet made especially for their case, much of the behavioral problems go away. While I am not discouraging parents from making the choice to follow sound psychiatric advice, I do suggest ruling out nutritional causes before administering a lifelong treatment of medication.
*Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine 2nd edition, Michael T. Murray, N.D. & Joseph E. Pizzorno, Prima Publishing 1998, California.
Allergies: Diseases in Disguise, Carolee Bateson D.C., N.D., Alive Books 2002, British Columbia.