According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 percent of children aged 4 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD. Many of these cases are prescribed Ritalin. For those of you without kids, Ritalin is a drug made up of methylphenidate which is a stimulant affecting the central nervous system.
As more and more kids are being prescribed Ritalin, more and more parents wonder: What am I giving my child? Most can agree that the number of children under 17 that are taking drugs to treat ADHD in this country is surprising. However, Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity is a real problem and parents feel a burning need to ensure the wellbeing of their children. I fervently believe that these mental health issues in children are real, and must be treated, but I would like to recommend acupuncture, herbs, and proper nutrition are safer, long lasting approaches.
While doctors will often refer to the drug as a “mild” stimulant, the fact is, Ritalin is a stimulant. While some stimulants can indeed yield positive results in adults and children, it is important to understand what’s going on physiologically, and to be aware of potentially harmful side effects. Here are some of the basics:
- Stimulants can raise heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure.
- Stimulants are often addictive.
- Stimulants can lower appetite thus compromising a child’s sense of proper nutrition.
- Prolonged use or abuse of stimulants can have mental side effects as well,
including anxiety, paranoia, and may cause aggression.
If your child is currently using Ritalin and experiencing unpleasant side effects, ask your physician about alternative treatments. As a healthcare professional, I know that first and foremost is your child’s wellbeing. Whenever using acupuncture for kids, I like to show them that it is safe by placing the needles on their parents. This eases some of the worry that children may have when it comes to needles. Any licensed acupuncturist will make sure to move slowly and adjust for a child’s comfort level. Most kids feel triumphant after undergoing the treatments and their parents proudly report a new sense of calm that has swept over their household.
Acupuncture for kids (or acupressure as an equally effective no-needle alternative), has been growing and the results are incredible. Over 150,000 kids received acupuncture treatments last year alone, and recent studies are showing that these treatments have been effective for almost two thirds of patients, according to the 2008 report published by the National Center for Health and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
I have seen these results firsthand. For the past decade of my practice I have been so inspired by the children who have come through my doors. Children who could not sit still, had no interest in studying, and who’s mood swings were off the charts. These are special, sometimes brilliant children whose hyperactivity has crippled their performance in school and put strain on their social development. Chinese medicine has provided kids and parents with a working solution that is painless, and side effect free.
Please, if you have more questions about Attention Deficit Disorder or anxiety, do ask. Because when it comes to the health of you and your children, communication is key.
Live natural. Live well,