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ADHD and coffee.

Problems:

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Valerian for hyperactive child?
From: pixel.metronet.com (Steve Standeford)
Date: Thu, 04 May 1995 22:06:45 -0600

I recently read an article that mentioned in Germany children with hyperactivity problems have been given a drug made from Valerian called Valmane that seemed to have good results.

I am wondering if a small dose of Valerian tincture would be to strong for a 3-4 year old child in one of those hyperactive episodes? And if anyone has used Valerian with children safely?

thanks,
ss


From: p_iannone.pop.com (Paul Iannone)

: I am wondering if a small dose of Valerian tincture would be to strong for a 3-4 year old child in one of those hyperactive episodes? And if anyone has used Valerian with children safely?

Valerian is a Heating herbal. Hyperactivity is overtly HOT in nature (Heat drives activity). This kind of single herbal approach is risky for these reasons. Try Peppermint, and feed less fruit and fruit juice.

--Paul || p_iannone.pop.com


From: ez049104.bullwinkle.ucdavis.edu (Max Taylor)

Weirdly enough, try coffee. My dad, a psychologist who worked with children during his career, has said coffee can actually calm hyperactive children.

[This is hearsay & anecdotal, as I personally have never given it to hyperactive children. However, I was allowed coffee from about the age of ten, apparently without adverse effect.]

Max


From: lholder.lonestar.jpl.utsa.edu (Lori M. Holder-Webb)

>Weirdly enough, try coffee.

My brother (a poster-child for ADHD if there ever was one) swears by caffeine as a palliative. He was diagnosed at about age 7, and took Ritalin until puberty, then switched to several cups of strong coffee a day. He felt that the coffee was more effective at controlling his symptoms and didn't give him the nasty kind of hangover he got from Ritalin.
LHW


From: ()

>Weirdly enough, try coffee.

well as someone with ADD, I know that they generally prescribe Ritalin ( a stimulant) to hyperactive and ADD people. People who are hyperactive or ADD process stumulants differently. High protien, low carbohydrate diets are also very beneficial. I know, I 've been following one for the last month and feel MUCH better.


From: karyn.siegel-maier.kotl.uu.ids.net

: I am wondering if a small dose of Valerian tincture would be to strong for a 3-4 year old child in one of those hyperactive episodes? And if anyone has used Valerian with children safely?

Valerian is most widely used as a sleeping aid as it has for more than 1,000 years. An important constituent of the herb is valeric acid, which research has confirmed has a sedative effect. It has also shown to balance the central nervous system. The benefit of using the herb as opposed to a precription drug is that the standardized extract (0.8%) is non-habit forming and doesn't produce grogginess upon awakening.

Valerian has been used in Germany (God, we're so slow in this country!) since the 1970's to treat children with learning disabilities, including hyperactivity, ADD, etc. In one study, 125 children were given standardized doses of valerain for a period of 2-3 weeks. After that time all the children showed significant improvement in attention span, mental performance, etc.

There is also a drug in Canada which is causing quite a storm! I believe it's called Aderol (sp?) and I'm frankly not sure of it's botanical origin. I do know that it's restricted in the country and many parents are smuggling it in! And please do yourself a favor...don't let anyone talk you into Ritalin!

You could consult an N.D. and see what they suggest. I have to warn you though, you will probably be steered to elimination diets which will turn your house upside down! But, there is solid evidence that these children benefit from diets free of additives and high in vitamins & minerals that stimulate neurotransmitters. There's an excellent institute in the south that specializes in this kind of treatment.

Here's another suggestion: I have a 13 yr old with Attention Span Defecit without hyperactivity and we've tried several routes. Believe it or not, these kids are helped a great deal by giving them stimulants! I almost fell over when the doctor said that...but it does work. You might try giving her small doses of Mountain Dew (high in cafffeine...I doubt she'll sip coffee) and see what effect it has. My son is currently taking a prescription called Cylert without side effects and it has helped dramatically. He had been in special ed all through his school years, but after tackling the issue (he's my stepson and has only been with me for 3 yrs) with diet and proper medication, he's been mainstreamed and is now entering a standard 7th grade classroom. Good luck to you....you're both in for a struggle!

Also--your daughter is very young. Please consult with a naturopath before giving her valerian.


From: amaclir.unibase.unibase.com (Aine Maclir)

>well as someone with ADD, I know that the generally prescribe Ritalin ( a stimulant) to hyperactive and ADD people. People who are hyperactive or ADD process stumulants differently. High protien, low carbohydrate diets are also very beneficial. I know, I 've been following one for the last month and feel MUCH better.

Actually, despite popular belief, dietary changes have only limited benefits in treating ADD. You will probably find that eventually, that it no longer works as well as it does now. And it's not that we process stimulants differently.

ADD is a neurological disorder and that has been proven by medical research. The frontal areas of the brain that are responsible for impulse control and concentration don't function adequately. We simply lack the ability to process certain chemicals properly that stimulate these parts of the brain.

What Ritalin and other stimulant drugs do is stimulate those parts of the brain so that they process these chemicals and function better. That's why stimulants appear to calm us down...they stimulate the parts of the brain that help us to control our motor activities and help us to concentrate. We are then able to control impulse, delay gratification, and control our thought patterns. Most of the time our thoughts are racing through our heads so fast, we can't focus on any one thing at a time, unless we are hyperfocusing (an unusual component of ADD...when we find something that interests us and holds our attention longer than most things, no one can distract us from it...ie.: someone can say something to me while I'm on the computer and I will actually verbally respond, but later I won't recall any of it...this drives my family and friends crazy).

I also seriously question the use of caffeine for ADD. While it is a readily available drug without a prescription, it is still a drug and like all drugs, it has side effects. The most obvious is extreme physical addiction and the withdrawal from it can be very painful...severe migraine headaches. It can also cause hypertension after prolonged use. I have heard of one college student who has used a high intake of caffeine to deal with his ADD, but can no longer take it because of high blood pressure. So it's probably not a good idea to use high amounts of caffeine as a long-term treatment for ADD. While many people are opposed to the use of Ritalin, it is at least closely monitored by the prescribing physician (in most cases) until a proper dosage is established, and regularly thereafter.

The other thing that concerns me is that the original query was involving a 3 or 4-yr-old child. There was no mention of a doctor finding this child to be clinically hyperactive. My oldest child appeared to be hyperactive to me at the same age. This child had 2 speeds...sound asleep and fast forward! There was nothing in between! To add to the sheer exaustion of living with her during this time, I was pregnant with my second daughter. But our doctor explained to me that this was normal for that age because the centers of the brain involved in motor control, impulse control, attention span and concentration have not matured enough yet to slow them down or for them to focus on anything long enough to sit still. This child is now 12 and has always been a straight A+ student and has made the top level of the honor roll (which she has been eligible for since grade 4) 2 years in a row and is performing at that level again this year. This is while maintaining an active social life and extra-curricular activities. She has never displayed any sign of having ADD and grew out of her "hyperactive" behaviour within a year of its beginning.

ADD with hyperactivity (or ADHD, as it's commonly referred to now) is indicated primarily by hyperactivity that is inappropriate for the age of the child. Usually, this cannot be determined until age 5 or when the child begins kindergarten. Motor control and attention problems will likely be observed by the child's teacher and monitored throughout kindergarten. If there is no noticeable improvement by the end of that year, it's time to consult a doctor or psychologist about assessing the child for ADD or ADHD. It also has to be understood that ADD and ADHD do not have hyperactivity present in the same degree in everyone that has these disorders (sometimes not at all, but it is usually more common and of a greater degree with boys) and it's not the only characteristic of the disorder. You also have to consider things like attention span, high-risk behaviours (not understanding the dangers of certain actions, like playing with matches or the wrongness of things like stealing) and the ability to delay gratification (put off things that are enjoyable), which are all naturally lacking at age 3-4 years and simply the result of physiological immaturity. Some children can be unbelievably active at that age, so it's not the time to be concerned about ADD.

I have serious reservations about giving a 10-yr-old coffee (I don't think you could get it into them without loads of sugar, in which case, why bother...it will likely do more harm than good anyway), which will induce a caffeine addiction stronger than the addiction most smokers have to nicotine. Should the child need to cease caffeine intake due to hypertension in early adult life, the withdrawal would be agonizing and there would be little in the way of alternatives available when they are needed most (the college and early career years)...no responsible doctor would prescribe Ritalin or other stimulants to a patient with hypertension.

I think it is irresponsible to recommend the same treatment for a child of 3-4 years, especially if it has not been determined by a professional that ADD is present. There is a huge difference between a 4-yr-old child and a 10-yr-old that goes far beyond physical size. The differences in physical, chemical and mental development are worlds apart. To simply say that it had no adverse affects from drinking it starting at age 10 is no reason for this parent to try it and I would strongly advise against it.

I also have very strong reservations about administering valerian to a child of this age for hyperactivity whether diagnosed by a qualified professional or not. Valerian is a very strong sedative and can produce symptoms of poisoning in large doses or with extended use, according to The Herb Book by John Lust (the dosage given is most likely an adult dose). It should only be taken twice a day and for no longer than 2 to 3 weeks at a time. Clinical hyperactivity such as is involved in ADHD is a chronic condition and requires long-term treatment. And while valerian may decrease gross motor activity, it will not likely help with concentration or coordination of fine motor skills (drawing & printing), and may actually hinder them. So valerian is probably not appropriate for hyperactivity resulting from ADHD.

I would recommend instead that the parent making the original query consult a physician, the ADD support newsgroup, CH.A.D.D., and the local library and learn more about ADD and hyperactivity in general and whether or not they need be concerned at this point. There are also some behavioural modification techniques involved in treating ADD that may be beneficial in dealing with smaller children, whether or not they prove to have an attention-deficit disorder.

I'm not knocking natural remedies and I use them whenever possible, but I do not believe in shunning modern medicine either. It has its place, despite some of its shortcomings. I try to find a balance between the two in caring for my children and myself. I don't believe that any herb, especially the more potent sedative ones, should be administered indiscriminately to young children. And I can't think of any reason, except in extremely rare cases, to administer a sedative to a child.

While people might be inclined to say that caffeine is a natural substance, so is the nicotine in tobacco, but we all know how hazardous smoking is to our health. Just as nature gives us medicines, it also gives us poisons and it isn't always easy to recognize the difference, as many herbs have the potential to be both depending upon the amounts used and the physiology of the person taking them.

I have sought out many solutions for my ADD and so far, Ritalin has been the only one that has helped me satisfactorily. People may think a lot of bad things about this drug, but when given the choice between living the rest of my life like the first 31 years that were filled with failure, depression and despair, I'd rather be on Ritalin. It's not a perfect solution, nor does it work for everyone with ADD, but for me it's far better than having no solution at all.


From: p_iannone.pop.com (Paul Iannone)

Aine Maclir <amaclir.unibase.unibase.com> wrote:
: ADD is a neurological disorder and that has been proven by medical research. The frontal areas of the brain that are responsible for impulse control and concentration don't function adequately. We simply lack the ability to process certain chemicals properly that stimulate these parts of the brain.

ADD is indeed a disorder, but this 'proven' research hasn't specified a cause, so it can hardly be called a diagnosis. When there are clouds in the sky, the sun doesn't shine. Did it go out? Apparently. Noticing that the frontal brain is disharmonized, and then prescribing amphetamines is about as crude as you can get. The idea that Ritalin isn't a stimulant is ridiculous. The idea that it is safer than caffeine further distorts the issue.

'Works' is not cure.

--Paul || p_iannone.pop.com



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