ADHD/ADD Epidemic: What Every Parent Must Know

Diagnoses for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have rapidly increased in the past 30 years, especially in the United States. The U.S. has 5 times more cases of ADHD than any other country in the world. However, controversial diagnostic methods and treatment procedures have prompted many parents, teachers and medical practitioners to question their validity. Though the diagnosis may provide initial relief, the social stigma, medical costs and drug side effects can be detrimental.

It is now common for preschool age children to be placed on highly potent medications such as Ritalin. Ritalin is a Schedule II central nervous system stimulant, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a label reserved for the most dangerous and addictive drugs which can be prescribed legally. Ritalin's ® side effects range from insomnia to seizures, or even death. Matthew Smith was diagnosed with ADHD as a 7 year old. He was 14 on March 21, 2000 when he collapsed while skateboarding outside with his cousins and soon died. An autopsy by Dr. Dragovich, then the chief pathologist in the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, revealed heart complications due to over-use of methylphenidate, the scientific name for Ritalin. There are no blood tests or brain scans which proved Matthew had ADHD. Such tests do not exist. ADHD is diagnosed through second-hand reports from teachers and school administrators. Matthew's fidgety behavior was enough to convince medical practitioners that a drug with frightening similarities to cocaine would help him be a better student. After thousands of dollars spent on Ritalin and years of child psychologists, Matthew's behavior never improved and his heart conditioned worsened.

Cases such as Matthew's are very rare, and it would have been near impossible for the Royal Oak medical community to predict such a terrible outcome. Doctors and teachers thought they were helping Matthew, but the truth is they were masking the symptoms of another problem which was never discovered. Take the case of Brandon, a little boy from Australia who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 4. By 2004, at the age of 12, he was on Dexamphetamine for ADHD and tranquilizers to stabilize his mood. Frustrated with their inability to help their son, Brandon's parents took him off the medications. After a series of doctor and psychologist visits they discovered that Brandon had learning and hearing difficulties. Brandon's disruptive behavior was a message to his parents that he needed help, not that he had an attention deficit disorder.

As Martin Whitely, ADHD policy expert and member of the Legislative Assembly in the Parliament of Western Australia, writes, children with ADHD symptoms “can be difficult to control in a classroom and in many cases are more compliant” when on Ritalin, but “there is absolutely no scientifically valid evidence” that these children learn faster or that the root of the problem is ever addressed.

We need to change the conversation from how can we subdue unruly and disruptive children in the classroom to how can we effectively help our children learn and grow. Fortunately, there are many simple lifestyle changes we can make, and many health professionals who can advise us along this path. A resolution is more easily found by removing dietary or environmental factors, than adding more chemicals and complication to the mix.

Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Estrogen Dominance & Hormone Balancing

I. Lisa's Story
II. The Importance of Hormone Balancing
III. The Estrogen/Progesterone Relationship
IV. Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
V. How does Estrogen Dominance Develop?
VI. Estrogen Dominance Testing
VII. How to Correct Hormonal Imbalances
VIII. Lisa's Resolution
IX. Links to Helpful Information
X. A Call to Action

I. Lisa's Story
Lisa is a hard-working woman who has dedicated her life to the service of others. A speech therapist who owns her own business, she is constantly busy improving her language therapy techniques as well as managing the finances of a small business. Ever since puberty, however, she has struggled with migraines. These persistent and enduring migraines always seem to worsen at the onset of her period, often leaving her completely debilitated. She has taken the usual litany of migraine medicines such as Imitrex and Topamex, but the medicine often left her feeling dizzy with rebound headaches, or fatigued. Frustrated with the migraines dictating Lisa's ability to live her life, and the Imitrex which with its undesired side effects, Lisa began to research alternative and holistic solutions to her migraines. Lisa's battle with migraines had a direct and immediate impact on the life choices she made. She was ready to be the author of her own life, and eradicate migraines at their root.

II. The Importance of Hormone Balancing
How we feel and our quality of life is very dependent on the delicate balance of three essential functions:

1. Reproductive hormones (the body's masters of ceremony)
2. Adrenal glands (the body's alarm system)
3. Thyroid gland (the body's furnace)

This newsletter addresses the relationship of two key reproductive hormones – progesterone and estrogen – and the influence of estrogen dominance on our health. We will explain how and why these hormones serve as our body's “masters of ceremony.” For our full-length article on estrogen dominance, please click here.

III. The Estrogen/Progesterone Relationship
Estrogen and progesterone play essential roles in the body, and understanding these roles is an important step in maintaining and renewing hormonal balance.

Estrogen: developmental catalyst and stimulant, primarily of female characteristics
Progesterone: multi-purpose hormonal building block, prevents estrogen dominance

Estrogen and progesterone are needed in the system to work as members of a team, and as oppositional forces. It is important that balance is maintained between the two.

IV. Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
High levels of estrogen become an issue when they are unopposed by adequate levels of progesterone. The following problems can arise when the relationship becomes exceedingly off-balance:

1. The only known cause of endometrial cancer is due to excess estrogen
2. Increased risk of breast cancer
3. Loss of bone mass
4. Increased risk of autoimmune disorders such as lupus
5. Fibrocystic breasts
6. Uterine fibroids
7. Depression and irritability
8. PMS symptoms such as cramping and bloating
9. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats
10. Decreased sex drive
11. Increased body hair and thinning of scalp hair
12. Migraine headaches
13. Impaired thyroid function, including Grave’s disease
14. Increased body fat
15. Increased blood clotting
15. Impaired blood sugar control
16. Endometriosis
17. Policystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
18. Low Thyroid Function

V. How does Estrogen Dominance Develop?
Though estrogen dominance occurs naturally with age, there are three additional contributing factors:

1. pharmaceutical: synthetically produced hormones.
    Examples: Birth control pills, Hormone Replacement Therapy.
2. xenoestrogens: chemically-based estrogens found in a modernized environment.
    Examples: B.P.A. (bisphenol-A) found in plastic bottles and can linings.
3. phytoestrogens: naturally-occurring estrogen found in plants and plant derivatives.
    Examples: Soy products and the lignans in flax seed products.

VI. Estrogen Dominance Testing
Most doctors only test for estrogen and rarely assess progesterone levels or the relationship between the two, leaving patients without real solutions. This is why Ann Arbor Holistic Health offers a comprehensive saliva test. Saliva testing measures hormones in tissues that are biologically active, or “fractionated.” Saliva tests are done at home and consist of various samples taken at different times during one full day. Since our hormone levels fluctuate during the day, this method is a more accurate representation of the true estrogen-progesterone relationship. Additionally, saliva testing also measures testosterone levels and the stress hormone cortisol, offering a more comprehensive view of our overall hormonal health. Ann Arbor Holistic Health recommends this simple and cost effective test.

VII. How to Correct Hormonal Imbalances
Most doctors prescribe pharmaceutical hormones for issues related to menstrual irregularities, gynecological problems, and premenopausal or menopausal symptoms. Due to the pharmaceutical hormones' side effects and implications with estrogen dominance, many women, holistic practitioners, and doctors are turning to changes in lifestyle and diet, as well as bio-identical hormones.  It is crucial that you find a health practitioner who understands how to incorporate a variety of treatments that work for your needs.

VIII. Lisa's Resolution
After consulting the appropriate health care provider, Lisa removed xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens from her home environment and diet. She began taking progesterone and nutrient supplements, and soon noted a drastic improvement in her overall health. She has been migraine-free ever since.