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Acupuncture and ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder affecting children as well as adults. The condition is very common in children and often continues to adulthood even though some of the symptoms may become lesser and lesser apparent as the individual grows.

Children with the condition are typically impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive. Impulsiveness brought about by the condition causes the child to act in a careless, inconsiderate and exceedingly rash way. The child is also inattentive such that they have problems staying focused on one activity for a long time. The child also exhibits characteristics of hyperactivity in that they are always fidgeting. Such restlessness may cause the child to move around in class during lessons because they are having a hard time staying in one place for long.

A study by Biederman J et al. (2006) found that the condition includes a number of comorbid psychiatric problems such as conduct disorder, cigarette and substance use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). If left untreated, the condition can affect the individual’s quality of life in different ways, impacting all areas of a normal life for instance, occupational and academic underachievement, motor vehicle safety, delinquency, and also cause a strain on personal relationship, Wilens T et al. (2010).

Effectively treating ADHD and actually seeing results can be tricky. Medications typically used have myriad side effects, while psychological therapies can be long, drawn out commitments with sometimes less than desirable results. Alternative, holistic solutions such as Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and functional nutrition are now becoming more mainstream due to positive outcomes. Before we delve more into how our style of medicine works for ADHD, let’s examine the causes, symptoms and conventional treatments for ADHD.

Causes of ADHD

ADHD cannot be attributed to a single cause. It is not fully understood in the medical world as to what causes occurrence of the condition in one individual and not another. However, it has been observed that there is a difference in the way dopamine is transported between nerve cells of the brain in children with ADHD. This difference in transportation of the chemical messenger is particularly prominent in areas of the brain used for learning and memory.

There are scientists who also view ADHD as a result of the changes in society in order to improve living standards to a more and more contemporary lifestyle. According to this view, the current lifestyle of the typical family involves overstimulation and a lack of exercise. These two factors when combined with changing family situations and the emphasis on achievement exerted by parents and the society can be powerful triggers.

Symptoms of ADHD

Some of the symptoms observed in patients with the condition involve mood and anxiety issues. ADHD exhibits various types of symptoms associated with anxiety which makes diagnosis of the condition problematic. The symptoms may appear as panic-like, social or generalized anxiety. According to Kessler RC et al. (2006), individuals with ADHD have twice the likelihood of developing a depressive disorder.

Faraone SV et al. (1997) found that in children, ADHD has been shown to bring out symptoms of bipolar disorder in 22% of children affected. Children with the condition are prone to careless mistakes which make them incapable of doing even tasks they are quite handy at. They are often forgetful and lose things in their possession quite easily. Such children have bouts of impulsiveness which cause disruptive behavior. These symptoms are likely to be more pronounced when the child is in a situation that presents them with a lot to process.

Western treatments of the condition

The condition is treated using a multifaceted approach that involves pharmacotherapy, psychosocial treatments and psychotherapy. The treatment is also accompanied by educational remediation in children, which according to Pelham WE Jr. et al. (1998), should be specialized with respect to the child’s difficulties.

There are a number of psychosocial techniques clinicians can use in treatment of ADHD. The approach is quite different from typical psychotherapy which seeks to deal with the core emotions. This approach teaches children applicable strategies to improve their interactions with others and also improve their academic potential – Chronis AM et al. (2006).

Medications are a main part of treating ADHD in children and adults as well. Medication is considered the main influencer in management of the core symptoms associated with ADHD at least during the first year of treatment (Hechtman L et al, 2004). Some of the common medications include stimulants, alpha agonists, and noradrenergic agents.

Acupuncture and ADHD

There has been a litany of studies carried out to investigate the effects of acupuncture on ADHD. One such study was conducted by Li S et al. (2010). The researchers were investigating the effectiveness of electro-acupuncture in combination with behavior therapy. The research study was conducted on pre-school children with ADHD. A total of 180 pre-school children were classified in three categories. Children with predominant symptoms of hyperactivity were classed together, and those predominantly inattentive were classified separately. The last category included those exhibiting both in relatively equal levels.

The treatment went on for 12 weeks and the researchers received positive results. The study showed that electro-acupuncture used together with behavior therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD.

A randomized controlled trial carried out by Hong SS and Cho SH (2011) tested the effectiveness of acupuncture for treatment of ADHD. The study consisted of two groups of 40 participants each and lasted a period of 12 weeks. One group had 12 acupuncture sessions for a period of 6 weeks. Over this period, the other group was only assessed, with no treatment administered. Assessments were carried out in 3 week intervals and showed the reduction of symptoms after acupuncture treatment. Patients were assessed and differences observed according to the Korean ADHD scale K-ADHD-RS which is adequately reliable.

In another study conducted by Tas D and Acar HV, acupuncture was administered to children to test its effectiveness in improving academic performance. The research involved a group of 40 school aged children with an average age of 11.1 years. The students took part in the study during their second term in the school year. At the end of the term, they registered improvements in various subjects such as social studies, mathematics, and language studies, leading the researchers to conclude that acupuncture did improve academic performance for children affected with ADHD among other conditions they were testing for.

More and more studies and trials are continuing to verify the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of ADHD. This alternative approach is also gaining popularity since it produces results without any of the side effects conventional methods are known for. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine also work very well as an adjunct to other therapies including psychotherapy and psychosocial treatments.

Consultations are always free. Schedule one today to learn if Boca Raton Acupuncture can help your condition.