Natural Ways to Nourish Young Minds, Bodies, & Spirits
by Dr. Holly German, N.D.
In 2006 an estimated 4.5 million children were diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). Whether or not the diagnosis truly fits, many of these kids have symptoms of restlessness, hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity that are beyond what is expected in most healthy children. This is a frustrating situation for parents and children that are often avoidable with the right tools in hand.
The first step towards greater health is removing the cause. Chemical exposure through the air, food, water, and medications can wreak havoc on a child’s developing nervous system. There are some easy ways to reduce exposure to toxins.
- Food and Drink: Choose organic foods as often as possible. Avoid foods with chemicals like MSG, and dyes, which can stimulate the nervous system. Also avoid high mercury fish such as tuna. Drink purified water from glass or stainless steel bottles.
- Get outside! Outdoor air quality is cleaner than indoor air and connecting with earth energy is an essential way to calm the nervous energy. Place plants throughout the house especially in your child’s room to improve indoor air quality. Spider plants, peace plants, and ivy are just a few that have been proven to improve indoor air quality.
- Remove your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in pesticide residues.
- If you do choose to vaccinate your child, be sure to avoid vaccines with thimerosal (a mercury containing preservative).
- Keep it movin’! In addition to being a great outlet for energy, exercise moves lymph and encourages the release of toxins. Your child should be having at least 1 bowel movement a day to ensure the release of toxins from their body.
Food is medicine. Consuming a balanced spectrum of vegetables/fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins (like wild salmon and nuts), and healthy fats (avocados, coconut oil) is the best way to provide all the essential brain nourishing nutrients. Gut inflammation can effect production of “happy” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as well as prevent absorption of important nutrients. Be on the look out for food sensitivities that can cause inflammation in the gut. Common food sensitivities are wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, and soy. Individualized testing may be helpful to reveal food sensitivities and neurotransmitter imbalances. Processed foods such as sugar, white flour, and white rice referred to as simple “carbs”, are known to exacerbate AD/HD symptoms. These foods cause swings in blood sugar, which can affect mood and behavior. Avoiding these foods while consuming plenty of protein (especially with breakfast) is the best way to keep blood sugar balanced.
Beyond the basics: There are an abundance of natural treatments to help kids feel balanced and focused. Seek naturopathic care for advice on how to most effectively and safely use these treatments. Calming Herbs can be used in the form of teas or tinctures (liquid extractions). Some kid friendly herbs include Gotu Kola, Catnip, Chamomile, Avena (milky oats), and Passionflower.
Supplements like B vitamins, calming amino acids (i.e. Gaba), magnesium, fish oils, and iron may also be helpful but should be used only under the recommendation of an expert.
Homeopathic medicines like Chamomile, Arsenicum a., and Aconite may be effective and are very safe.
Dr. Holly German, N.D. practices at the Santa Cruz Naturopathic Medical Center in downtown Santa Cruz. Partnering with parents and children to create a comprehensive and sustainable treatment plan, she uses specialized lab testing to look for hidden illness causes such as heavy metals, neurotransmitter imbalance, and food sensitivities. Dr. German offers a free 15-minute consultation to give you a chance to learn more about Naturopathic Medicine and see if it’s a good fit for you.