By Jesame Geldenhuys
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood behavioural disorder that can be difficult to diagnose and even trickier to understand. It results in hyperactivity, attention deficits and disinhibition of behaviour. According to Chiquita Vosloo, a registered homeopath in Port Elizabeth, “it is the most over-diagnosed condition in South Africa.” “In my practice of 12 years, I have only had 3 true ADD/ADHD children. This country can’t have our kids on ADHD medication indefinitely,” says Vosloo.
The chemical medication that is administered to people that suffer from ADHD, such as Ritalin and Concerta, can have adverse effects and therefore the need to correctly manage the condition is crucial. Those interested in a zero-chemical approach have tried homeopaths, herbalists and nutrition to try healthily control the disorder. Patrys De Klerk, resident of Grahamstown, recently turned to homeopathy as a matter of necessity and urgency when it came to a tipping point for her son, Julius. “Julius was born with ADHD along with severe allergies. He was on Ritalin for many years and it worked extremely well for his concentration at school, but one day he suddenly started showing bad side-effects; he got Tourette syndrome, his OCD got worse, he had a complete lack of appetite and depression. It got so bad that I had to immediately change his clothes from cotton to polyester. It was such a mystery as to why his body unexpectedly reacted to it like that but I definitely think it was something to do with a sudden allergic reaction towards the Ritalin medication.”
The link between hyperactivity and food sensitivity seems to be another factor most recognized in children showing signs of ADHD. Studies have shown that most hyperactive children are more likely to have food allergies or intolerance towards salicylates. After trying a few times again, unsuccessfully, to manage Julius’ ADHD with Ritalin, De Klerk had to find something else to help him. “I turned to homeopathic medicine,” she said.
After going through the correct channels and a range of blood-tests, a homeopath in Port Elizabeth was able to begin their shift into a natural direction. Homeopathic medicine is very specific on the individual and a homeopath will prescribe remedies depending on the person’s context. Their practice is unique in the way that these remedies are characterised by the similar nature of the medicine to the illness. “Homeopaths believe you are designed perfectly- give your body what it needs and you will function properly,” said Vosloo.
Diet and nutrition has been seen as central for combating ADHD as naturally as possible. Food for the Brain is an online website that aims to advocate the link between nutrition and mental health. According to their research there are four main nutrition approaches that also work for managing ADHD; balancing blood sugar, vitamins and minerals, increasing Omega-3 Fat and avoiding allergy food. De Klerk has experienced the benefit of improving nutrition first hand when balancing Julius’ ADHD and severe allergies, “Diet is extremely important, maybe even the most important, when dealing with ADHD. Since going to a homeopath I am so aware of all the food we eat, I think your diet is 80-90% of your health,” said De Klerk.
Increasing Omega-3 fat is one of the most important nutritional decisions to make when managing ADHD. Omega-3s are hugely important and beneficial for individuals with ADHD because of their deficient of these essential fats. Food for the Brain states that “their need is higher, their absorption is poor, or they are unable to convert these fats well into EPA and DHA… which are important for brain function.”
“We have been designed to eat large amounts of Omega-3, such as fish. ADHD children need EPA for healthy brain function,” said Vosloo. EPA is particularly important for individuals with ADHD because it is needed to counter the inflammatory properties of excess omega-6 which we consume in our diets.
Homeopathy involves a holistic approach that combines a lot of different natural realms to reinforce a stronger bodily system. It is entirely specific to an individual and the context of their condition and therefore a natural approach towards ADHD is simply a personal choice. “I can’t say the homeopathic way is the right way and I can’t say the conventional chemical use is the right way. All I can say is that it depends on what you want and what’s best for the individual,” explains De Klerk.
“It’s been three weeks now that Julius is on homeopathic medicine and has changed his diet. He has been off Ritalin for a while now and since he’s been going to the homeopath he’s doing well and feeling much better than before,” she said.
For more information on nutritional solutions for ADHD check out the evidence data base and action recommendations on Food for the Brain. http://www.foodforthebrain.org/