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Acupuncture for ADHD

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In the United States, ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the most common diagnosis reported among children. It is said that about 5% of girls and 10% of boys in grade school do have this disorder. Since 1991 to 1998, the drug Ritalin (methylphenidate) has been widely used on younger and younger children with about a 78% and 107% increase of use on affected boys and girls respectively during that period. This is a real concern for parents of affected children considering the very serious side effects of this drug on young kids.  This has forced parents to look for natural and safer approaches to ADHD.

The liberal use of Ritalin on children basically can be blamed on US doctors. They need to be aware that ADHD is not a uniquely US problem but it is only in the US that the primary course of treatment for this condition is the prescription of Ritalin. In terms of Ritalin, the US uses 90% of this drug. This is quite alarming since the US only comprises 5% of the global population.  Other countries have other safe approaches for ADHD. The Chinese, for example, see that a lot of ADHD “symptoms” are merely natural behaviors of normal preschool kids. These behaviors are often changed by the time the child reaches six to seven years old.  There are children who may have difficulty changing their behavior and more tests for ADHD may be conducted for them. Chinese herbal medicine and allergy desensitization are the primary medical options for ADHD children since they are considered safe and effective for young ADHD sufferers. Certain clinical studies have shown that Chinese herbal remedies as a standalone treatment for ADHD can also be an ideal way of addressing ADHD.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Based on TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), ADHD can result from the deficiency of Kidney Yin. Chinese tonic herbs like Dioscorea opposite, Acori graminei root, Polygala root, Phellodendron bark, Anemarrhena root, and Rehmannia root are often prescribed by Chinese herbalists for ADHD.  A 1987 study involving 326 children with ADHD with ages ranging from 4 to 16 were treated with a Chinese herbal remedy known as Jing Ling Extract. This herbal extract was taken by the children two times a day for three months. The treatment was able to cure about 32% of cases with a 95% rate of effectiveness. Another study done in China also using Jing Ling in pill form involved 557 children (103 female and 454 male) ages of 4 to 16 years old. This herb was taken by the children two times a day for up to half a year.  The result showed that 144 or 26% of cases had been cured with an effectiveness rate of 93%.

A 1990 random trial was done in China compared 5 to 15 mg of methylphenidate given twice a day to 20 subjects with 80 subjects taking a Chinese herbal formula for 1 to 3 months.  Of the 80 subjects using Chinese herbs, 23 of them were cured; for those who have taken methylphenidate, however, only 6 of the 20 showed an improvement of their symptoms. The effectiveness rates were 86 percent for the subjects who have used methylphenidate versus 90 percent for those given Chinese herbs.  The effectiveness rates between the two groups revealed little difference. But the one given Chinese herbs had a greater IQ rise and had lower side effects compared to the medication group.

A 1995 Chinese clinical study, found a 94% rate of effectiveness, including improved academics, improved attention and reduced hyperactivity on the group given Tiaoshen Liquor herbal tonic.  Another Chinese study performed in 1994 involved an open trial involving 66 hyperkinetic children. These children were given Yizhi syrup herbal formula. The study revealed an effectiveness rate of 85 %, including soft neurological signs and substantial improvement in academics and behavior.

Chinese herbal remedies often contain more than a single herb to boost the therapeutic benefits of the herb and minimize side effects and for ADHD, herbal formulas containing multiple herbs are often prescribed for ADHD patients.

Allergy Desensitization

There is still debate on whether ADD/ADHD cases are connected to environmental and food allergies; however, a huge collection of clinical data suggests that a connection indeed exists. Due to toxins in the environment, a lot of ADHD children suffer from a weak immune system. Environmental and food allergies and immune reaction to nutrients like amino acids and vitamins can lead to a deficiency of neurotransmitters and nervous system dysfunction. A 2003 study showed that a BioSET technique, that is composed of allergy desensitization technique, enzyme therapy, food allergy management and   neurotoxin detoxification produced remarkable results in the treatment of ADHD. BioSET and similar techniques that address immune system weakness and toxins are always availed of in the initial stage of the treatment. After the stabilization of the immune system, other complementary therapies like nutritional supplements can be more successful in resolving the deficiency of the body.

Acupuncture

More and more parents are finding acupuncture for their children to be a better form of complementary therapy for ADHD. Different types of acupuncture like laser and ear acupuncture have proven effective in treating ADHD. Auricular or ear acupuncture treats specific acupuncture points on the ear to resolve medical illnesses. Besides needles, laser, electricity or other tools that are less invasive than the needles can work well with children. Acupuncture beads can be attached on a specific acupuncture point on a child’s ear. The bead can be massaged for half a minute three times a day. A study involving this technique revealed substantial improvement in behavior of subjects.

There is a lack of systematic data about acupuncture therapy for ADHD although what is available showed that ear acupuncture for ADHD can produce great results.  More clinical studies about auricular acupuncture are needed to verify and provide definite proof of the effectiveness of ear acupuncture for the treatment of ADHD.

BioSET technique that integrates acupuncture, Chinese herbs, amino acid therapy and other nutritional supplementation, according to clinical research, can be utilized as an alternative and primary therapy for ADHD.  It can also be an adjunct therapy for medication therapy for severe types of ADHD.

Written by Valerie

April 4th, 2014 at 6:37 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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