There’s hope for hyperactivity
December 8, 2005
Editor’s note: Summit Daily News provides the Rocky Mountain Remedies section for health care providers who advertise in the health section; it is a venue for them to share personal and professional viewpoints and tips.Chinese medicine is based on the premise that all life occurs within the cycle of nature. Things within this framework are connected and mutually dependent upon each other. When the elements of nature (fire, earth, metal, water and wood) are in balance, life is harmonious and good health persists.Disharmony occurs when one or more of nature’s elements fall out of balance. The children around us need help in finding balance and harmony in their bodies and lives. Today there is much written about Attention Deficit Disorder and the numerous other behavioral and learning disorders affecting our culture’s young generation. These diagnoses have risen dramatically throughout recent years, and many children are taking prescription medication as the primary solution to the problem. These children are being labeled, and their life course is being set for them at often very young ages. This course can be directly and positively affected through natural health care including nutrition, lifestyle and Chinese herbs and acupuncture. In Chinese medicine, pediatric hyperactivity, which includes most behavioral and learning disorders, is diagnosed as an imbalance in the energy of the heart and spleen systems. The heart system houses the mind and the spirit. If the spirit is healthy, then the mind and emotions are calm and clear. If the spirit is agitated, then the body and mind are restless. In natural medicine the body, mind, and spirit are all interrelated. Physical symptoms seen in children may include bed-wetting, restless sleep, vivid dreaming, sleepwalking, allergies, sugar and carbohydrate cravings, eczema, hives, headaches, sinusitis, constipation, diarrhea, teeth grinding, indigestion and fatigue. One of the most effective, but often overlooked, methods health care practitioners can use to address an imbalance in a patient is nutrition. We simply need to make more informed, healthier choices for both our children and ourselves. A good place to start is the intake of sugar. Sweets have taken over healthy nutrition for our children. Children are consistently and ironically rewarded with candy for good behavior. The availability of sugar does our children’s mental and physical well-being a huge disservice. Most people do not realize that a single can of soda contains nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar is added to most processed kids’ foods including fruit-flavored yogurts, cereal bars, pizza and spaghetti sauce, and macaroni and cheese. Sugar depletes the body of essential minerals, including calcium, zinc, and magnesium and B vitamins. These minerals and B vitamins play a significant role in the healthy functioning of children’s (and adults’) nervous systems. When levels of vitamin B are deficient, stress is placed on the adrenal glands, which are essential to the body’s ability to deal with stress. This ability to respond when under stress is known as the “fight or flight” response. When our bodies are consistently exposed to stress, then our adrenals must work overtime and exhaustion can occur. When children are deficient in B vitamins they tend to be fatigued, emotionally more sensitive and more adversely affected by stress. However, elimination of sugar, although an essential step in treating behavioral and learning problems, may not solve the whole problem alone. Essential fatty acids also are necessary for proper neurological function. Essential fatty acids act as building blocks for all cell membranes, including nerve cells. They produce substances called prostagladins which play an important role in relaying messages along nerve pathways and are believed to be important in understanding and treating behavioral disorders. A lack of healthy fats may result in improper nerve function and transmission of information to the brain. Improper nerve function is one of the primary physiological reasons that we have learning and behavioral problems today. It is important to include healthy fats, such as flax, cod liver, borage, safflower, sesame and primrose oils, for optimum health. Meanwhile, people should avoid synthetic fats including all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids. These unhealthy fats are found in most peanut butter, many cooking oils, margarine and shortening. There is hope in finding more harmony in your child’s life. This approach takes more effort and creativity than simply taking a daily medication. When addressing pediatric hyperactivity, it is essential that the parent contact and work directly with a qualified practitioner. For more information, call (970) 547-9415.