Hyperactivity - on the go all the time, no peace!
Hyperactivity is a diagnosis doctors don't like to make because they can't treat it. It is also called attention deficit disorder (ADD).
I like treating hyperactivity because it usually responds well to diet and supplements and EPD.
The key is to get the parents to make the diagnosis! I find that if a child walks into my surgery and I say "He's hyperactive", this is taken as an insult! (My daughters used to make the diagnosis just watching the sufferer walking up the drive!). What I find works best is to do a Conner's score. This is a very simple check list which works well in clinical practice and has been used for research purposes. If the parents do the scoring, then they make the diagnosis.
Score 0 for not at all.
Score 1 for just a little.
Score 2 for pretty much.
Score 3 for very much.
How true are the following descriptions of your child:
- Restless or overactive
- Excitable or impulsive
- Disturbs other children
- Fails to finish things
- Short attention span
- Constantly fidgeting
- Inattentive, easily distracted
- Demands must be met easily
- Easily frustrated
- Cries often and easily
- Mood changes quickly and dramatically
- Temper outbursts
- Explosive and unpredictable behaviour
A score of 15 or more suggests that hyperactivity is likely.
Hyperactivity is "migraine of the frontal lobes". Because the frontal lobes have no pain sensation, the kids don't get headaches. Their problems are those associated with the frontal lobes, namely anti-social behaviour, mood swings and general restlessness. Trying to discipline them is a waste of time. Short term memory is extremely poor and instructions "not to climb the ladder" is effectively heard as "climb the ladder" because the child forgets the "not".
The majority of hyperactive children I see are bright, blond, blue eyed boys. I am sure that when the human genome is mapped, the hyperactive tendency gene will be next to the intelligence, fair hair, blue eyes' gene! The joy of treating these children is that once sorted, they go on to shine in some field or other. I saw one little boy who excelled at the piano as soon as he was able to sit still for more than 2 minutes!
It is really important that hyperactivity is treated with the environmental approach. Today's hyperactive child grows in to tomorrow's juvenile delinquents and next year's young offender.
The starting point is The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health.
Most hyperactive children are carbohydrate addicts, see Hypoglycaemia - the full story, often food allergic and chemically sensitive as well.
All sufferers (indeed all children in my opinion) should take vitamins and minerals. After the age of 12 they can take the adult regime. Between 6 and 12 take half adult dose, proportionately less for younger children. Hyperactive children are always zinc deficient so add in zinc citrate 30 mgs at night (zinc is also a common deficiency in dyslexia). They are often thirsty which can be a sign of deficiency of essential fatty acids. Another sign of EFA deficiency is "chicken flesh skin" over the elbows and back of the upper arms.
Elimination diets are essential. I usually do a step wise progression:
- Cut out all sugar in the diet. Don't forget sweetened drinks, added sugar in cereals, cakes etc.
- Cut out all artificial colourings, flavourings, additives, E numbers, preservatives etc. This is the basis of the Feingold diet which has already helped many hyperactive children. See Feingold Diet
- Cut out all stimulants, particularly caffeine in tea, coca cola, chocolate and of course "energy drinks" such as Lucozade or Red Bull.
- It sounds mean but it often points to a problem, so cut out foods which the child has a particular liking for. For some reason Ribena (blackcurrant juice) is a common offender.
- The eventual aim is to get all children on to a Stone Age Diet. More often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
Expect a response within a week for any dietary change except in the case of wheat and dairy products. Often these cause delayed reactions and the diet must be enforced for one month.
Those children who are multiply allergic need desensitisation and my preferred technique is Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD) - how it works.
If there is no or just slight improvement with the above regime...
- Look for heavy metal poisoning: a zinc/selenium urine challenge test is best. This can be done at home and is then sent to the lab. I can send you a kit to do this.
- Do a good chemical clean up: chemical sensitivity is a common cause of hyperactivity. See Do A Good Chemical Clean-Up: chemicals make you fat and fatigued!
- Some kids are sensitive to salicylates and respond to a low salicylate diet
- Consider an anti-fungal regime: many kids seem to react in an almost allergic way to yeast in the gut. Because I do not like doing blood tests on children, I often just prescribe high dose probiotics together with a trial of an anti-fungal such as nystatin or oregano complex. See Probiotics
- Start EPD. I have a low threshold for starting EPD in hyperactivity. This is because the kids are often multiply intolerant and EPD works reliably well for them. See Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD) - how it works
Please refer to my ALLERGY section - on the left hand toolbar
- The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health
- Hypoglycaemia - the full story
- Nutritional Supplements
- Stone Age Diet - this is a diet which we all should follow
- Gut dysbiosis
- Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD) - how it works
- Do A Good Chemical Clean-Up: chemicals make you fat and fatigued!
- Ketogenic diet - the practical details
- My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds
- Feingold Diet
- Michiel Bosman MD PhD is a psychiatrist, and editor of the evidence-based mental health self-help website Open Forest This site publishes many ADHD related articles and the current page listing these articles can be viewed here - ADHD related posts on Open Forest
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