Friday, July 19, 2019

ADHD and Ayurveda

“Ok bye Mom”. [Why is the bus so crowded today? Do I talk to the person next to me? Did mom really mean what she said yesterday? Did I carry my colored pencils today? I loved that chocolate cake yesterday..I can have that once I go back home. Is mom and dad going to get separated? Will I be able to learn math today? Ok whatever. I hate math. I love softball. I am going to watch Star Wars today. Ok so I have great imaginations but I often get yelled at. I like to do things at my own pace. So, people have problem with that. But I can build those LEGO pieces in minutes with great focus].
Racing thoughts, all thoughts at the same time without any sequence or occasion. This is an example of what happens in an ADHD kids’ brain. They constantly think unrelated things either alone or simply in the middle of a conversation. Too many ideas at a time. They cannot think steady. They are often like wanderers. Thus, this leads to the forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and difficulties with prioritizing tasks.
This overthinking makes them away from the rest of the world. But this does not make them less intelligent. Some ADHD Children have creative and active ADHD brain. Often, we mistaken their high-power energy with some disease like ADD or ADHD. As parents, we do not approve of such behavior. We quickly want an easy solution to stop that hyper energy. In doing so we are further punishing them and damaging their natural brains with highly chemical stimulants which is not good for them in the long run. As parents we want shortcuts, something which can stop our kids’ behavior immediately and focus their attention on studies. 

Dr. Thomas Brown author of Attention Deficit Disorder, suggests ADD effects the executive functions of the brain, “getting started, shifting focus, making an effort, being persistent, being organized, managing time, managing frustration, and retrieving things from memory”, can all be compromised when suffering from ADD.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that 5 percent of American Children have ADHD. However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number at more than double the APA’s number. The CDC says that 11 percent of American children ages 4 to 17, have attention disorder. This is a growing problem with 3 million US cases per year.
ADHD evaluations driven mainly by Parents, not Educators, Says CDC Report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 65 percent of the time, a family member is the one who first has concerns about a child's behavior, according to a survey of households with children ages  0 to 17.

What is ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless and almost constantly active.

• Have a hard time paying attention.
• Daydream a lot.
• Do not seem to listen.
• Are easily distracted from schoolwork or play.
• Forget things.
• Are in constant motion or unable to stay seated.

Causes of ADHD:
Heredity is the most common cause of ADHD. Other risk factors for ADHD have to do with factors that can influence brain development and functioning such as exposure to toxic substances in the developing fetus and acquired brain injury due to trauma or disease.

Treatment for ADHD with Modern Science.
Some Common Stimulants for ADHD:

Most families prefer stimulant medications.
Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzedi)
Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Side effects and disadvantages of Stimulant Medications:
According to a study reported by the American College Of Neuropsychopharmacology, long-term use of the popular ADHD drug Ritalin can potentially result in serious brain injury.
Chemically similar to cocaine, the short-term side effects of Ritalin include “nervousness, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headache, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and psychosis.” It was thought that Ritalin had limited long-term effects, but a past study recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed this not to be the case.
Another study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that Ritalin causes physical changes in neurons in reward regions of mouse brains and these effects were similar to the long-term side effects of cocaine. When placed together, the three studies implied that the long-term side effects of Ritalin include both the onset of clinical depression and potential brain injury to the frontal lobes.

However, with increased awareness of natural treatments, People have realized the importance of natural treatment. Natural treatments do not have side effects. It takes a lot of time and effort but it does work.

Ayurveda on ADHD
The inability to keep a steady thought stream or focus, is described in the Caraka Samhita as one of twenty main blocks of Vata in the body.  In chapter  XXVIII  verse 198, The Caraka Samhita states, “ If vyana-vayu is occluded by prana-vayu, then there will be loss of all the senses, and there will loss of memory as well as strength". (ref.
Ayurveda believes in overall health of an individual which means that just not the mind which needs attention but, the mind, body and soul. For example, when you are diagnosed with ADHD by your Physiatrist and if later you decide to go to an Ayurvedic doctor, both these doctors would have a different viewpoint regarding this disease. While your allopathic doctor might prescribe you Retaline or any medicine which is common to most ADHD person. Your Ayurvedic doctor might not even use the term as ADHD and start with diagnosing your physical body and your mental condition this is because according to Ayurveda, mind and body are connected and thus if any one of these got affected is because the other got ignored. Hence, the Ayurvedic doctor will provide natural herbs and good diet which is according to your dosha. These herbs come with no side effects. It comes with only positive effects on the mind and body and soul.

Knowing Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (The Doshas):

Vata governs Movement and Communication.
Pitta oversees Digestion and Transformation.
Kapha provides Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication.

Vata: Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and movement of thought across the mind. Located in the brain, head, throat, heart and respiratory organs.
Pitta: Pitta represents the energy of transformation and is therefore closely aligned with the fire element. Pitta is closely related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.
Kapha: Kapha governs moistening and liquefying of the food in the initial stages of digestion. Located in the upper part of the stomach. Governs lubrication of the heart and lungs. Governs calmness, happiness and stability. 

Tips for Balancing Vata:
Vata imbalance typically begins in the digestive tract, where vata has accumulated as a result of a vata-aggravating diet or lifestyle. This might involve eating foods that are dry, rough, or difficult to digest. This in turn increases vata and can lead to dry conditions like constipation or dry skin.

In order to manage ADHD symptoms, one needs to follow these vata balancing diet. 
To keep Vata in balance, favor the sweet, sour and salty tastes and avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods.
• Give fresh food to your child. A big NO to frozen foods, processed foods, and foods with preservatives.
• Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, most whole grains are good for Vata but no refined flour like all purpose flour which is difficult to digest. Milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils and lean meats are good for Vata.

You can take your Dosha quiz here 

I am not an expert, I would suggest you to go to these sites and get the maximum information on balancing your Doshas and also consult a good Ayurvedic doctor for treatment.

There are certain foods that you need to avoid irrespective of whether you are on Allopathy, homeopathy, and or Ayurvedic medication/treatment for ADHD. Maintaining good healthy diet goes a long way in managing ADHD.  Avoid certain foods that are unhealthy for a person with ADHD. There is no use of treating with medications of any kind if you keep eating unhealthy food and ruin your system. 

1. Sugar: Today sugar is in everything that you eat. American families start their day with cereal, baked foods like muffins, donuts which are sugar based. Of course, there are healthy ones too like eggs, bacon, ham etc. However, replacing sugar with honey or maple syrup is a better option than refined sugar. Sugar is definitely not good for the ADHD brain. It can fluctuate your energy levels and indirectly affects your focus. It is not the cause of ADHD however, It can trigger ADHD symptoms. 

2. Caffeine and Soft drinks: Caffeine can also interact negatively with stimulant medication. In fact, most Doctors advice ADHD kids to stay away from caffeine and aerated drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant; it enhances dopamine and increases focus and alertness. However, people should also know that this alertness is temporary, it wears off after some time and you may feel restless once it wears off. Kids who drink coke and other aerated drinks, enjoy the drink and feel alert, however, it is temporary after some time they might go into anxiety or restless since suddenly there is a increase and then decrease in dopamine level. It is better to cut off aerated drinks and coffee from your diet.

3. Technology fasting: Yes, there can be something like technology fasting, especially for ADHD kids. Today most kids are glued to their cell phones texting or playing games. Too must exposure to electronics agitates their nervous system. Decide on a particular day and let your kids take a break from all the technology (I know it is difficult but reward them for this) Give rest to their senses for a day. Let them know you would also sacrifice watching TV for a day. It works! This helps to give rest to our senses and also cleanse the mind. Electronics gadgets like Xbox, iPhone, iPad, stimulates the senses, and is toxic to the mind. Time out the devices for your kids. They would not listen but as parents we need to be strict on such rules for it is going to benefit our kids. Also do not let them sleep with their phones or iPad, let them charge their electronics in some other room. Schedule strict time-outs for technology.

4. Unhealthy food:
Red Dye: European Union has required warning labels on foods with artificial dyes stating that they may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. especially Red Dye #4).
When an influential study combined synthetic food dyes with the preservative sodium benzoate, it found increased hyperactivity. You might find sodium benzoate in carbonated drinks, salad dressings, and condiments. Other chemical preservatives to look for are:
  butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  sodium nitrate
  tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
You can experiment by avoiding these additives one at a time and seeing if it impacts your behavior. (ref.
Some children may also be sensitive to Wheat, milk, peanuts, eggs, treenuts, and soy. It is however, very important to diagnose your child’s sensitivities and allergies with a good doctor. 

5. Enroll your child in some Sports Activities:
This is important for a hyperactive kid as ADHD kids needs to release their energies in the right direction. hence, enroll them in some sports that they like. basketball, softball, swimming all are good releasing your energy but also improves overall health of the child.

Be patient with your child when giving alternative treatment because alternative treatment takes time and cooperation from the entire family. Just remember to not let your child feel he is compromising too much on things. Give them the best alternative, spend time with them. Give them lot of positive strokes and assure him/her that the alternate plans are working very well.

Today most people are adopting Yoga and Ayurveda as an alternative therapy for ADHD. According to Ayurveda, ADHD can be cured with ayurvedic diet, tonic herbs, control of senses and devotion. 

1 comment:

  1. We just learned my daughter has ADD. She’s a freshman. Writing papers is tough for her. Miraculously, we found INK. The dark theme and option to work offline are a winning pair.