Natural Treatment for ADHD
Four Ideas to Improve Focus and Attention
Approximately 3-5% of us experience Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is characterized by attention difficulties and hyperactivity among children, who may have behavioural issues and poor grades in school. But attention deficits are not isolated to young people. Research is beginning to show that many of us have at least a few characteristics common to the diagnosis of ADHD. Forgetfulness, difficulty meeting responsibilities and remaining organized might be clues that you have it.
It might surprise you to learn that inflammation – a medical buzz term these days – is commonly found in individuals with attention and hyperactivity issues. Chronic inflammation affects moods by altering brain and hormone chemistry. The root causes of inflammation such as infections, allergies or hypersensitivities should be investigated as part of the healthcare practitioner's standard evaluation. Food sensitivities, for example, are a common cause of attention disorders and hyperactivity in children.
Speaking of food, we all want our children to eat more fruits and veggies, but recent research has found that each tenfold increase in urinary pesticide concentration in children was associated with a 55 to 72 percent increase in the odds of expressing ADHD. The solution? Go organic!
And, hopefully you are already well-versed when it comes to DHA and EPA from fish oil. This is what I affectionately refer to as brain juice. Taking 1-2 teaspoons daily will supply the brain and nervous system with the support it needs to stay focused.
Sleep is crucial to optimal mental function, and unfortunately children with ADHD often experience difficulty sleeping along with frequent sleep interruption.
Another natural and very effective approach to these and other common problems related to ADHD may come from supplementation with an amino acid called L-Theanine. The form proven safe and most effective is Suntheanine which is derived from a natural fermentation process that mimics the l-theanine naturally found in green tea. The effects of Suntheanine on sleep quality in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has demonstrated it induces better sleep quality overall.
Studies suggest Suntheanine can help reduce ADHD hyperactivity by promoting a sense of calmness and focused relaxation by enhancing the release of dopamine and by increasing brain alpha waves – the brain waves associated with a focused relaxation.
Researchers believe that chewing gum may increase the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention. More oxygen can keep people alert and improve their reflexes. A study in the British Journal of Psychology reports gum may have benefits for memory and attention. Two groups of 20 people were put to a test of memory. Each listened to a 30-minute recording that included a sequence of numbers. After listening, the participants were asked to remember the sequence, but only one group chewed gum. The gum chewers had higher accuracy rates and faster reaction times than the non-gum chewers! Those chewing gum also maintained focus longer during the exercise. But keep in mind that children should avoid chemicals, colours, artificial flavour, and artificial sweetener like aspartame. My personal favourite gum is PurGum for all of those reasons.
Also, there is exciting research around the heart–brain connection when it comes to focus and relaxation. Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart!
These heart signals have a significant effect on brain function. They influence emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
There is a way to teach children to gain better command of these heart signals using a neat device called an “emWave”. In essence the emWave is a type of bio-feedback device created by the doctors and scientists at the Heart Math Institute which works to measure heart rate variability and coherence by simply attaching it to the ear lobe.
During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions such as attention and focus. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. This helps explain why we may often act impulsively and unwisely when we’re under stress. The heart’s input to the brain during inattentive or negative states also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes – actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of that state.
In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect: facilitating cognitive function and reinforcing positive feelings, emotional stability, and better attention and focus.
This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.
If this sounds like something that interests you, take a peek online at www.hearthmath.com
My bottom line: take fish oil, supplement with Suntheanine, chew more gum (make it pur gum), and try heart-focused mindfulness strategies to help improve focus, dust off the mental clutter, and sharpen your mind!