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Melinda Leeson, DOM, HMC
7029 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite A.
Sarasota, FL 34231
phone: (941) 926-9082
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INTEGRATED MEDICAL APPROACH TO CHILDHOOD LEARNING AND BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Children who are having difficulty at home or at school really suffer. Their academic disabilities put them behind the school's learning schedule, so they are under constant pressure to perform and catch up to their peers. Their awareness of their difficulty hampers relationships, indirectly lowering self-esteem, resulting in even more frustration and sense of isolation from others.
WHAT DOES CHINESE MEDICINE HAVE TO OFFER THESE CHILDREN?
Chinese medicine evaluates childhood learning and behavioral difficulties as particular patterns of disharmony that arise as a result of “excess” (too much of some influence) or “deficiency” (too little energy). These basic conditions are additionally individualized according to environmental conditions such as heat, cold, dampness or phlegm, or combinations thereof.
These elements strongly affect children because their bodies are undeveloped and therefore susceptible to malfunction. Poor digestion slows the absorption and distribution of nutrients to the rest of the body, which means less Qi and blood circulating. According to Chinese Medicine, Qi is the motive energy or vital force that organizes and energizes all physiological, mental, and emotional functions in the human body. Blood transports nutrients and wastes through the various body systems, moistening and revitalizing all the tissues as it circulates. Deficient Qi and blood (i.e. too little fuel, or damaged fuel circulation) is the basis of pediatric learning disorders such as autism and attention deficit (ADD), as well as hyperactivity patterns. If the digestion isn't working properly, the lungs, heart and brain receive insufficient energy to function as they should. Thus, the child is unable to concentrate, absorb or retain new information. When Qi is deficient, nourishment to the heart is also withheld, and the child becomes restless and fidgety. When either “cold” or “heat” is present, the malfunction is compounded, and the child's difficulty interacting with his/her environment escalates exponentially.
In an overheated state, the child's interstitial fluids are exhausted and unable to lubricate and cool his/her body and brain. The heat rises, scorching the heart Qi, and the child becomes restless and irritable. Western Medicine identifies this pattern as hyperactivity. These children will have a red face, volatile tempers, and cannot sit still. Their sleep is restless, and they tend to wake early. They are thirsty and frequently constipated. Due to their inability to relax or play calmly, they have difficulty making friends.
Causes for heat retained in the body are varied. The most common sources are what Chinese Medicine calls “lingering pathogenic factors.” A pathogen can linger after a high fever due to a viral or bacterial invasion. A bad reaction to vaccinations can also leave pathogenic heat in the body for long periods of time. Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and H influenza B (HIB) vaccinations are the most commonly documented sources for this type of retained heat. Spicy or greasy, fried foods, too much fruit juice, or foods containing food colorings and preservatives are often implicated, as well as heat transferred from the mother during pregnancy.
Heat can also derive from depleted kidney energy. This can be the result of
genetic/constitutional weakness or an over-stimulating environment where the child has insufficient resources to keep up with the level of activity. These children are generally thin and high-strung. Their restlessness and emotional tension is much worse when they become tired or overexcited. They may complain of additional deficiency/heat symptoms such as insomnia, ringing in the ears, palpitations, possible nighttime bedwetting, or low back and knee pain.
“Cold” states are usually the result of difficulty digesting cold-natured foods. Such items as cow's milk, iced drinks, ice cream, and excess raw foods slow down the metabolism and distribution of nutrients. Basic body and brain functions become sluggish and deficient. Some foods, especially those manufactured with sugar, have a dampening effect on digestion. The child complains of a heavy sensation (woolly headed), poor attention span, memory difficulties, and severe lack of energy. Appetite and thirst decline, and bowel movements become loose.
If an overheated child's digestion becomes “damp,” especially as a result of a diet rich in dairy, refined sugar, peanuts or peanut butter, or wheat, the combination of heat plus damp will produce a pattern of disharmony that Chinese Medicine identifies as “phlegm” or “phlegm-heat.” These children demonstrate aggravated heat signs, such as frequent anger/frustration and restlessness with more destructive behaviors, plus signs of phlegm, such as mental cloudiness, poor concentration, possible nausea , nasal or respiratory congestion, and an oppressive sensation in the chest. Often, they suffer from food allergies.
In a minority of cases, childhood learning and behavior disorders are the result of neurological dysfunction. Sometimes western medication is necessary and helpful as the child's brain and nervous system learn to reroute or repair circuitry, which is still under development. The process of nourishment and repair, however, must have a properly functioning energy source, as well as uninterrupted circulation. It is in these functions that Traditional Chinese Medicine offers the best hope for these children. Herbal formulas suited to each child's particular pattern of disharmony as well as careful and sustained dietary choices can ensure the fastest and easiest repair of damaged neurological circuitry. Long term use of drugs such as Ritalin, Adderal, or Methylphenidate tend to weaken digestive as well as kidney Qi, thus depleting essential resources for adaptation and growth.
A Chinese Herbal Formula can regulate and strengthen the flow of “Qi” and “blood” throughout the child's maturing body, ensuring adequate supplies of nourishment and oxygenated blood for maximum lung, heart and brain function. Some diet changes can assist this process and remove obstacles to long-term progress.
WHAT DOES CLASSICAL HOMEOPATHY HAVE TO OFFER THESE CHILDREN?
Classical Homeopathy uses a single diluted natural substance to restore communication with all parts of the child's DNA structure including mental and emotional self-talk. A homeopathic physician takes as many hours of time as needed to more deeply understand each child as a unique individual. The child's world-view, feelings, dreams and strategies for coping in his/her environment all become important diagnostic indicators determining the one remedy each child needs in order to grow and flourish.
Take Billy, for example. He is a tall, good looking boy with a pale face that flushes red when he becomes overexcited. When he is overtired, he becomes “hyper”, running around like the “energizer bunny” out of control. He has frequent nosebleeds and a tremendous thirst for cold drinks. It is difficult for him to fall asleep at night, and he often wakes with nightmares. Sometimes he complains of achy knees. Most often he complains that he can't remember instructions or homework assignments.
From the point of view of Chinese medicine, these symptoms point to a heart and kidney deficiency, which may be corrected with an herbal formula such as Heavenly Emperor's Tea.
Billy has other qualities which uniquely describe his nature. He is very open and likable, making friends easily. He becomes anxious if left alone. He has a long list of fears that plague his dreams - ghosts, robbers, earthquakes, monsters that will destroy him in the dark of the night. He admits that his worse fear is that something bad will happen to his mother or father. When asked to name his favorite food, he enthusiastically replies: “chocolate and fish fingers!” He was given the homeopathic remedy - Phosphorus - in addition to his Chinese herbal formula. Over the next three months, Billy improved in every aspect. Now he comes home from school singing “Good grades, fearless nights at last!”
If your child is having difficulty, I recommend making an appointment for a complete psychological as well as a special education evaluation. These specialists can identify the exact nature of your child's learning problems as well as arrive at an understanding of his/her most self-affirming coping mechanisms. Behavioral modification, herbal and dietary support, and the correct homeopathic remedy can safely help your child succeed in every facet of life.
If you would like to make an appointment for a homeopathic evaluation, please call the clinic at (941) 926 9082
Melinda Leeson, DOM. (Doctor of Oriental Medicine), HMC (homeopathic physician)
7029 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite A. Sarasota, FL 34231 Telephone: 926-9082
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