Doctors Told to Curb Use of Ritalin in Hyperactive Children

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October 18, 2008 | 40,870 views

According to new British health guidelines, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be treated with drugs such as Ritalin only in severe cases and never when they are younger than 5.

There is widespread concern that such medication is used too freely to calm hyperactive children. The new policy is that most children with ADHD should instead be offered psychological therapy to improve their behavior, backed up by training to support their parents and teachers.

Up to 3 percent of school-age children in Britain may be affected by ADHD, but only about a third to a quarter of these would qualify as severe cases. The symptoms of ADHD include an inability to concentrate for long periods, hyperactive and restless behavior, and impulsive actions. A study just came out that found American children are three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs like Ritalin than children in Europe. This guideline urging for a cut-back in the use of Ritalin came from Britain, but it should be blasted through the offices of every pediatrician in the United States as well.

Every year there are 6 million prescriptions filled for Ritalin. U.S. pharmacists distribute five times more Ritalin than the rest of the world combined, according to Dr. Samuel Epstein’s Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC). In fact, CPC states that the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board has on two recent occasions written to U.S. officials expressing concern about the six-fold increase in Ritalin usage since 1990.

In all, 60 percent to 90 percent of U.S. kids with attention deficit disorders are prescribed this powerful drug, which amounts to 3 percent to 5 percent of U.S. children and teens on Ritalin.

The Potent Side Effects of Ritalin

Ritalin has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine, yet its effects are even more potent. Using brain imaging, scientist have found that, in pill form, Ritalin occupies more of the neural transporters responsible for the “high” experienced by addicts than smoked or injected cocaine!

By definition, Ritalin stimulates your central nervous system, leading to side effects such as:

• Increased blood pressure
• Increased heart rate
• Increased body temperature
• Increased alertness
• Suppressed appetite

When taken over a period of years, as Ritalin often is, the drug may cause even more severe health problems such as cancer. A small University of Texas study conducted in 2005 showed damage to the chromosomes of 12 children who had taken Ritalin for just three months.

The potential of Ritalin to cause cancer has been known for much longer though, as back in 1993 The National Toxicology Program released results that showed feeding mice Ritalin at levels close to those routinely prescribed to children induced liver tumors, including rare and highly malignant cancers.

Meanwhile, while researchers used to believe that Ritalin was a short-acting drug, studies have shown it has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function and may lead to stunted growth.

Ritalin is the drug prescribed most often to kids with ADHD, but there are others, with equally disturbing risks. ADHD drugs other than Ritalin have been linked to hallucinations, heart attack, stroke, increased aggressive behavior, suicide, and even sudden death!

Helping Kids Does Not Mean Giving Them Mind-Altering Drugs

Sadly, Ritalin and other drugs are the go-to treatment for behavioral issues like ADHD because it’s easy. Popping a pill takes just a few seconds a day, whereas the other treatments to help kids with symptoms of ADHD -- things like inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity -- take many weeks or months.

This is because in order to truly help children who are having trouble concentrating, are easily distracted, or who act like they are constantly feeling restless you need to address the underlying causes, not alter the child chemically.

Behavioral interventions using positive reinforcement are one of the best options for helping children with ADHD, especially if they're used alongside nutritional changes.

One study found that such interventions, which included individualized programs that emphasized positive support to reinforce behavior at home and school, were highly effective, even in young children aged 3 to 5. Specifically, children who received the intervention techniques had:

• A 17-percent decrease in aggression and a 21-percent improvement in social skills at home
• A 28-percent improvement in both categories at school
• Improvements in early literacy skills of up to three times over their baseline status

So if you are a parent of a child with ADHD please remember that this condition often improves dramatically with some natural lifestyle changes.

In my medical practice at the Natural Health Center, here’s what I recommend for kids, and adults, who suffer from ADHD:

• Increase your intake of omega-3 fat from krill oil. This is the single most important nutrient for ADHD children and adults.
• Drink only water for a beverage, taking care to avoid fruit juices, soda, and pasteurized milk.
• Restrict or eliminate all processed foods, sugars and most grains from your diet.
• Avoid processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, which may aggravate or cause   ADHD symptoms.
• Spend more time in nature.

Another important element that you can teach your children, or do right along with them, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a form of psychological acupressure that you can perform anywhere (it involves only tapping with your fingertips and repeating some positive phrases), and that would make an excellent addition to any type of behavioral therapy your child is receiving.

Most cases of ADHD will resolve naturally when you follow the recommendations above. So rather than relying on a dangerous quick-fix like Ritalin, teach your child that they can excel in life, and overcome their symptoms, by taking control of their health.

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