Holistic, Alternative, and Complementary Treatment Options
Your very smart child somehow manages to lose her homework assignment while walking from the classroom to the house. She forgets to bring the right books home from school. Her teachers complain that she stares out the window too much and although she aces her tests, her daily homework scores pull down her overall grade. They describe her as a joy to have in class with a vivid imagination, and lament that “she could do so much better!” You can send her to her room to get ready for bed, and 30 minutes later find her in another part of the house intrigued by a book or a game.
Your other child doesn’t receive such glowing remarks from his teachers. He’s a sweet kid, but he just can’t sit still. He’s impulsive and he talks out of turn. He fidgets a lot and distracts the other kids. He loses his homework and forgets his books, too, but it’s easier to mistake that for defiance, especially with his growing irritability in response to what he perceives as “nagging” from parents and teachers. He just wants to go play outside. His energy seems endless.
Parents are frustrated. Kids feel conflicted. The schools are putting the pressure on. It seems like everyone is trying to steer parents into drugging their children, and with any luck, the parents will question the “need” for medication.
Although ADD and ADHD – Attention Deficit Disorder (the H stands for Hyperactivity) – are used interchangeably, they are actually two separate and distinct conditions. ADD is predominantly an overactive right brain hemisphere (with less influence offered by the left side), and ADHD is predominantly an overactive left brain hemisphere (with less influence from the right side). Those with ADD are typically shyer, more introverted, creative, and usually not hyperactive, but merely inattentive and dreamy. Those with ADHD are those who exhibit lower inhibition, and so they talk too much, can’t sit still, and seem to have an abundance of energy.
Conventional medicine ignores the functional neurological right/left brain imbalance, and instead claims that ADD and ADHD are one and the same–a genetic imbalance in neurotransmitters that must be medicated at all costs. They fail to understand (or even consider) the underlying reason for the wonky neurotransmitter levels, and they completely overlook (or flat-out deny) how our present-day lifestyle, environment, and society influence and contribute to these imbalances.
The $64,000 question: WHY?
This is the ultimate question to ask no matter which symptoms you’re facing, and tragically, it never gets addressed or even asked in a 15-minute insurance-model doctor’s visit. To ask “why?” is not in the playbook by which conventional medicine doctors operate, so it’s not even on their radar of things to think about.
Many factors can cause, contribute to, or complicate neurotransmitter and brain hemisphere imbalances.
Let’s look at a few primary ones:
- Genetics: Let’s start there, because that’s what you’ll hear first (and most often) from most doctors. Sure, there is probably a genetic predisposition. This is true for ANY condition. But what nobody told you is that YOU can influence HOW those genes express themselves. There are hundreds of thousands of individual genes, and each one of them is a little light-switch–it’s either “on” or “off”. Whether they turn on or stay off depends on how they respond to environmental stresses. They’re the bullet sitting in the chamber, but that doesn’t mean the trigger got pulled yet.
- Abnormal stress: Stress is part of life, but prolonged stress causes several different systems in the body to first try to compensate but eventually break down, especially in the brain. Chronic stress that persists dramatically alters neurotransmitter levels and the body’s ability to regulate them properly. Over time, persistent stress leads to actual degeneration (breakdown) of the brain itself.
- Blood sugar regulation problems: The brain is a small part of the body, but it uses around 20% of the body’s blood sugar! There must be enough blood sugar at all times (but not too much) and the levels have to be consistent. Current scientific research confirms the impact of irregular blood sugar on neurotransmitter levels and brain degeneration, whether a conventional medicine doctor has read those studies or not!
- Poor diet: This encompasses everything from too much sugar to not enough protein/amino acids (which serve as precursors for the major brain chemicals) or essential fats (which promote overall brain health), to vitamin/mineral deficiencies (especially B-vitamins) and toxic additives, colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, preservatives, or fillers in processed foods.
- Continued exposure to undetected food allergens: Food allergies and sensitivities can alter brain function and brain chemical production and metabolism. Progressive doctors knowledgeable of current research often remove certain foods from the diets of autistic children, and the link between food allergies/hypersensitivities and mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia are becoming very well-documented.
- Psychiatric medications themselves: These do nothing to actually identify and correct the CAUSE of the problem, nor do they actually produce more neurotransmitters. In fact, evidence is mounting that they actually tip the levels further out of balance (especially over time, with prolonged use), only compounding the existing problem. In fact, several well-researched books and articles are recognizing the fact that medications such as anti-depressants and ADD/ADHD medications are actually contributing toward mental illnesses, either immediately or later. It is also well-known that ADD/ADHD medications function essentially like cocaine and amphetamines, putting children at serious risk for substance abuse problems. Again, these studies are out there, whether or not your doctor is familiar with them.
- Everyday cumulative stress: With today’s shocking news stories headlining 24-hour news channels, fast-moving cartoons and action movies, harsh and edgy music with grating beats and hostile lyrics, fluorescent lighting (ALL of which have been shown to alter brain waves and elicit chronic low-level fight-or-flight responses throughout the body and which become hard-wired into the nervous system), it’s no wonder kids are fidgety and flighty, with the need to either follow hyperactive impulse, or withdraw from the world in a creative cocoon. The eradication of recess, tiny yards in new home subdivisions, the institution of continuous “zero-tolerance” policies, TAKS testing, Monster drinks, sugary Froot Loop cereals, and Venti-size hyper-caffeinated lattes, and ever-waning personal attention and affection from parents with ever-increasing demands in the workplace all only compound the existing problem, contributing to the “brain noise” kids feel.
…And the much less-expensive remedy (Hint: it won’t cost $64,000!)
First, let’s clear this up right now: It has nothing to do with drugs. Medications permanently alter the brain, its function, its metabolism, and its neurotransmitter levels. Medications can induce mood disorders and mental illnesses, diminish brain function, and set your child up for lifelong substance abuse problems as a teenager and/or an adult. They can also ultimately lead to movement disorders and/or various forms of dementia in older age. The safety of these drugs has NEVER been tested on children under 7 years old, either. Please, just don’t go there.
There is another way…
Dr. Lara Sweeney’s Nutritional Medicine subspecialty includes training in Functional Neurology, a state-of-the-art discipline based on TODAY’S science, not that of 50 years ago. She has extensive experience (including personal experience) with neurotransmitter and brain hemisphere imbalances, including ADD and mood disorders, and she knows firsthand how to properly recognize and effectively address the root causes of the problem.
She uses research-driven Functional Medicine protocols, driven by the most up-to-date research available and tailors them to the individual person. These include healthy dietary modification, specific supplementation appropriate for certain individual neurotransmitters, and lifestyle modification techniques to help address the underlying factors that cause altered neurotransmitter levels.
Working with Dr. Sweeney, you’ll learn:
- Why your child hasn’t been able to live up to his or her potential (Hint: it’s not oppositional defiance!)
- Why medications are often ineffective in treating ADD and ADHD (and in many cases, they make the condition worse!)
- What the real culprits are and how to address and resolve them
- Which common foods will prevent your child from getting better
- Which tasty foods and supplements usually work as well as (and often better!) than medication
- How to use this neurological variance as a gift (Hint: ADD types are often very creative and can over-focus, and ADHD types are often very physically active)
Together, we’ll create a lifestyle, menu plan, and supplement protocol you can live with, and we’ll help you discover how use this as a unique gift that your child can use throughout his or her life to his or her advantage!
Balance and “normal” ARE possible – without drugs!