This guest article is by a naturopathic physician in Portland, Oregon USA, who specializes in mental health treatment for children and adults using naturopathy. Following is a summary and link of a podcast about the use of holistic/alternative medicine for the treatment of ADHD.
Addressing Mental Health Issues From a Holistic Perspective
Krista Tricarico, ND. www.openmindmedicine.com
Holistic approaches for adults and children can be used in conjunction with psychiatric medication, but unlike pharmaceuticals, holistic mental health treatments usually have the “side effect” of improved physical health and a richer emotional experience. Rather than suppressing or covering up symptoms with a drug, the goal of treatment is to address underlying causes and work towards integration and balance.
As a naturopathic physician, my goal is to support the wisdom of the body and mind and facilitate an individual’s inherent ability to heal. Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s) are licensed primary care physicians who have attended a four-year, postgraduate-level naturopathic medical school and are clinically trained in the art and science of natural therapies. In addition to conventional diagnosis, laboratory testing and pharmaceutical medications, the scope of naturopathic medicine includes nutrition, counseling, homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical therapies, and mind-body approaches. Training in naturopathic medicine does encompass the same basic bio-medical sciences as conventional medical training, but the approach to health and disease differs considerably. It is the philosophy of naturopathy that clearly differentiates this medicine and directs how we approach each patient.
Some patients see me primarily for counseling, and people with this focus are welcomed. Others are either interested in a blend of counseling and naturopathic approaches or seek care strictly for holistic medical support. A young person’s treatment needs and interests also change over time, so I meet a patient where they are at this moment. My counseling approach has a strong emphasis on self-awareness and mindfulness. Self-observation coupled with an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance allows for conscious insight and more freedom in the responses to the stresses and challenges a young person faces daily. Mindfulness-based therapies are a particularly effective approach for depression, anxiety and addiction issues, and can lead to increased clarity and a sense of contentment.
Homeopathy is a gentle yet powerful system of healing based on the principle of “like cures like.” People have observed since ancient times that a substance that causes an illness or symptom can, in very small doses, cure the same problem by stimulating the body’s intrinsic healing ability. Through an in-depth interview, I strive to understand a child’s unique physical, mental and emotional experiences and, after careful study, select the appropriate remedy. Homeopathy offers a safe and elegant treatment that is a natural complement to counseling and can be used alongside conventional medications and other naturopathic treatments. As a truly holistic and individualized form of medicine, it is particularly well-suited to psychological and psychiatric concerns. Although identifying the effective remedy can sometimes require patience and perseverance, the results of successful homeopathic treatment are profound and long-lasting.
Restoring Digestive Health
Blood Sugar Balancing
The sugar in our blood is called glucose, and this is the primary fuel for our bodies. Being one of the most sensitive and demanding organs, our brains require a constant supply of this glucose to perform its never-ending functions. A healthy body is able to regulate the blood sugar to provide a consistent energy source for the brain; unfortunately, this function is commonly impaired. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the body can’t sustain constant glucose levels and can be a causative factor in attention and behavior issues, anxiety, panic attacks, rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, insomnia and addiction. Elevated blood sugar over time not only leads to diabetes, heart disease and obesity but also mood and behavior disturbances, decreased mental functioning and dementia. Many psychiatric medications put people at additional risk for blood sugar problems only exacerbating this problem. Balancing your blood sugar is an important component of disease prevention and general health and will also support your mood, energy, metabolism and mental functioning.
Amino Acid Therapy
For more information on amino acid therapy, visit www.neuroassist.com.
Our hormones are produced and controlled by our endocrine glands and include chemical messengers such as thyroid hormone, cortisol from the adrenals, insulin from the pancreas, and estrogen, progesterone and testosterone from the reproductive organs. As parents of adolescents who are entering puberty know, hormonal change has a profound effect on behavior. Imbalances or disturbances in any of these interconnected systems can alter the way our brain functions. For example, thyroid dysfunction is an often-overlooked, underlying cause of depression, anxiety, poor memory and fatigue, and PMS is a well-recognized cause of mood swings, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Helping the body regain its delicate hormonal balance can have far-reaching effects for the mind.
Detoxification / Heavy Metal Chelation
Mind / Body Treatments
Mind/body treatments engage the power of your mind in your own process of healing. I use therapies such as breath work, meditation, memory reintegration, relaxation strategies, and Emotional Freedom Technique (www.emofree.com) to help patients move towards a state of awareness and peace. Reflecting on and connecting with one’s own spirituality can also be an effective stress-management tool. Learning to consciously calm the mind and relax the body has a powerful effect on our neurotransmitters, hormones and immune system, and ultimately our health and sense of well-being.
Dr. Krista, www.openmindmedicine.com
Foods that support brain and mental health
- Walnuts, almonds, other nuts and seeds
- Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, trout
- Ground flaxseed
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables – eat the rainbow
- 70% cacao and higher dark chocolate
- Green tea (stone ground from whole tea leaves)
- Berries: acai, blueberry, cranberry, blackberry
Herbs and other alternatives that support brain and mental health
- Fish, cod liver or krill oil (if you could only have one thing, this would be it)
- L-theanine or kava kava for calming and reducing anxiety
- Turmeric, curry and other antioxidants
- B-complex vitamins
- Light therapy, for improved mood and energy
Substances that are bad for brain health
- Artificial food coloring
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugars: cane sugar, soft drinks, corn syrup
- Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated fats and trans fats (fried foods). Saturated fats are fine, it’s the hydrogenated and trans fats that are bad. I actually highly recommend organic coconut oil
- Nicotine, THC, all other controlled substances
Integrative Management of ADHD – What the Evidence Suggests
By Richard Balon, MD | January 6, 2011
The use of complementary and alternative medicine treatments by children and adults with ADHD is the rule rather than the exception…more than half of parents who have children with ADHD treat their child’s symptoms with vitamins, dietary changes, and expressive therapies—but only a small minority tell their doctor. And roughly 8 out of 10 patients who use these treatments regard them as their primary therapy.