It is the time of year to start thinking about going “back to school.” Those three words can conjure up long lists of supplies that need to be purchased for kids. But more important than supplies, what is on your list of things to ensure your child is healthy and gets the most out of the school year?
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed Wisconsin parents and found that 1 in 10 children had been diagnosed by a health care provider with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That ranked Wisconsin 15th highest in the nation for prevalence of ADHD diagnosis in kids.
ADHD is characterized by the inability to sit still, focus, pay attention and finish a task, making school quite a challenge. Often, ADHD is treated with methylphenidate drugs such as Ritalin, which are psychostimulants. The most common side effects of these medications include decreased appetite, stomach pain, headaches and sleeplessness. In some cases, medication is the best avenue for children; in other cases, there might be more natural options.
Is ADHD really to blame?
Dr. Andrew Weil recommends that parents first rule out other reasons that could lead to children failing to follow through or keep on task. For example, a child may be conveying a hearing or visual problem, allergies, or depression. It is also important to rule out a learning disability or possible boredom in a talented child.
Diet also plays a role in a child’s behavior. A Cornell University study found that sensitivity to dairy, wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, eggs, chocolate, peanuts, artificial food coloring and preservatives can manifest with symptoms similar to ADHD. Other dietary considerations include iron, zinc and magnesium: Having a deficiency in these minerals has been shown to exacerbate ADHD symptoms. On the other hand, regular exercise can decrease symptoms of ADHD. Exercise on a regular basis raises norepinephrine and dopamine; these induce a naturally calming effect and increase one’s ability to focus.
How acupuncture can help
If your child has ADHD and you’re looking for a natural treatment to support a healthy diet and exercise regimen, consider acupuncture.
When a child is able to touch and see how thin an acupuncture needle is, any fear is often replaced with curiosity. Depending on the child’s age, children can benefit from acupuncture point stimulation by either needle insertion or with a needleless technique of rubbing and tapping various points.
One way in which acupuncture helps treat ADHD symptoms is by releasing endorphins and dopamine, similar to regular exercise and appropriate mineral levels. Acupuncture also boosts children’s immune, digestive and respiratory systems.
Whether your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, is a little hyperactive, frequently catches colds and the flu, or has a sensitive digestive system, consider using acupuncture as a safe, drug-free way to get ready for the big school year ahead.