Archive for March, 2011

March 16, 2011

ADHD – diet vs. drugs

A study was released in the Februray 5 issue of the Lancet regarding the use of dietary modification to address the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in school-aged children instead of pharmaceutical drugs.  The study employed an elimination-diet approach, where children were first allowed a very diverse diet and then slowly tapered down to an extremely low-allergenic or anti-inflammatory diet of rice, turkey, pears, lettuce and water.

The conclusion – in 64% of the children the symptoms of inattention, fidgeting, lack of concentration and temper-tantrums completely resolved.  In an NPR interview with the study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser, she commented on the teachers and doctors of the children in the study saying: “In fact, they were flabbergasted… After the diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior.”

This study is a significant milestone in the efforts for treatment of ADHD.  Many children and parents struggle with the challenging reality of experiencing the symptoms of the disorder on a daily basis.  Although in some cases pharmaceutical medications are required to manage the disorder it is incredible to think over half of the children suffering from ADHD can be cured with simple diet changes!

The elimination diet is just the beginning.  What the conclusion of this study implies is that the symptoms of ADHD are the signs of hypersensitivity to certain foods.  Once those foods are eliminated, the child can return to a more “normal” diet and may eventually even be able to re-integrate the eliminated foods back into his or her diet after a period of elimination.

At the end of Dr. Pelsser’s interview she commented on the application of these findings: “We have got good news — that food is the main cause of ADHD,” she says. “We’ve got bad news — that we have to train physicians to monitor this procedure because it cannot be done by a physician who is not trained.”

But there is a good news addendum – there are, in fact, physicians already trained to monitor disease from a food-based perspective!  Naturopathic doctors receive a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less. (See my post what does your doctor know about nutrition for more on this.)

If you, or someone you know may suffer from the symptoms of ADHD, contact your local naturopath for support in the process of healing and to help assess whether dietary modifications may be just what the doctor ordered!


Dr. R

March 11, 2011

Alternative approaches to pediatric fevers

In January, the New York Times posted a review on OTC pediatric medicines entitled Lifting a Veil of Fear to See the Benefits of Child Fever – specifically discussing medications directed toward pediatric fever.  The conclusion of the study – most liquid OTC pediatric medicines are not closely regulated to have accurate dosage… meaning, the recommended doses and the markings on the medicine droppers are often not properly calibrated.  In addition, there is further discussion regarding the benefits and risks of childhood fever.

Fevers are an indication that the immune system is healthily at work and there are some fevers that are productive and beneficial.  It is important – especially in the pediatric population – to contact your primary healthcare provider for supervision of a fever.  But often, it will behoove the body to support a fever and utilize it rather than to suppress.

One popular naturopathic approach to supporting the body’s natural defenses when fighting a cold or the flu (often characterized by fever) is to employ a “warming sock treatment” outlined below:


1 pair white cotton socks

1 pair thick wool socks


Warm bath or warm foot bath


1.     Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water.  Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip.

2.     Warm your feet first.  This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first.  Soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes or taking a warm bath for 5-10 minutes can accomplish warming.

3.     Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

4.     Place cold wet socks on feet.  Cover with thick wool socks.  Go directly to bed.  Avoid getting chilled.

5.     Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

Effects of the warming sock treatment:

This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat.  It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.  This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.

This is never a replacement for consultation from a professional healthcare provider, but next time you are inclined to reach for an OTC med when your child has a fever, contact your local naturopath and see if the warming sock treatment might be a beneficial option or perhaps the use of herbal medicine or homeopathic medicine to address your child’s health from a holistic approach.


Dr. R