The most controversial drugs on the market are those prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These are used by children and tied for first place with antidepressants, but they have questionable benefits and serious risks. It is controversial when medicating children with ADHD as there is no laboratory test or objective method to determine which children actually do have ADHD.
Many children may be labeled by their parents, teachers and even by a mental health professional, by displayed symptoms that could actually be attributed to other causes. Being easily distracted, squirming and fidgeting are seen in virtually all children at some point and another, and may be better dealt with by lifestyle changes and psychotherapy rather than those powerful stimulant drugs. Parents need to carefully weigh the benefits versus the risks of giving their children these drugs.
Some drug companies actually advertise their treatments as helping to improve homework time, but the evidence indicates that children with ADHD experience acute and prolonged academic impairment and underachievement including marked difficulty with completing homework.
A study was conducted with two groups of children. One group was given a stimulant drug and another received behavioral therapy. There were no significant improvements in homework completion or accuracy of the drug treatment group, compared to placebo. However, the behavioral therapy led to children finishing up to 13% more homework problems and increased their accuracy by 8%.
The expectation of the benefits from using ADHD drugs is greater than they should be. People who assume that giving a child with ADHD drug treatment will make the symptoms disappear, but the research reveals that such expectations may be unrealistic. There are also side effects of ADHD drugs. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews study found methylphenidate is associated with an increased risk of sleep problems and appetite loss. Those taking this drug had a 29% increased risk of experiencing a non-serious adverse event with the most common being sleep problems and decreased appetite. These children had a 60% greater risk for trouble sleeping and a 266% greater risk for decreased appetite. It was also found that stimulant medications such as Ritalin might harm children’s sleep.
These drugs may have a calming effect on the children but research found that children taking stimulant drugs:
- Took longer to fall asleep than others
- Had shorter sleep duration
- Had worse sleep efficiency
ADHD is on the rise and many factors are likely involved, including poor nutrition and environmental toxins. Those children with higher levels of the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Pesticide exposure, including pyrethroids, has also been linked to ADHD.
Exercise may help to improve schoolwork and other symptoms in children with ADHD. Research found that kids who engaged in a regular physical activity program had an improvement in executive control, which is the ability to maintain focus, working memory and cognitive flexibility. It is known the executive functioning is often impaired in children with ADHD.
Some factors in addition to exercise therapy are:
- Having too much sugar.
- An unhealthy gut.
- Animal-sourced omega-3 deficiency.
- Food additives and GMO ingredients.
Other factors to help ADHD symptoms are to clear your house of dangerous pesticides, limit exposure to radiofrequency microwave radiation, avoid commercial washing detergent and cleaning products, spend more time in nature and investigate sensory therapy and emotional wellness tools.
Wouldn’t you rather have your child using these natural tools in lieu of taking drugs that might be dangerous to them and have side effects? I think any parents would rather go with the natural form of treating their child’s ADHD. Remember, they could also be misdiagnosed for this condition, so why take a chance on giving them drugs!
Dr Fredda Branyon