At the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in Morristown we are often asked to help youngsters who have been diagnosed with ADHD symptoms. Common symptoms associated with ADHD include difficulty concentrating, behavioral disruption, aggressive behavior, learning and communication delay, inability to organize thoughts and activities, and other behaviors that make life challenging for the child, their teachers and their families. Conventional treatments include counseling and medications. Sometimes these interventions are effective but often they do not work well for many children. The use of medications such as Ritalin and other stimulants may help some children to focus better and tamp down their disruptive behavior. For many others these medications don’t work well and have serious side-effects. Parents with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and have these behavioral and learning problems often feel discouraged and anxious to find other therapies that will help their child. Acupuncture has become one of the new treatments for these children. Acupuncture has a long history of effectively treating anxiety, nervousness, disruptive behavior and inability to concentrate. Long before the diagnosis of ADHD was recognized, acupuncture has been used to treat children with these problems. For reasons not fully clear, the number of children with these symptoms and ADHD diagnosis has skyrocket in the last 20 years. Possibly due to dietary factors such as increased sugar and artificial ingredients, over-stimulation by digital media like smart phones and video games, lack of family time when both parents are working, ADHD has become a national health crisis affecting children, schools and families. The treatment options are very limited.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture effectively treats the “Shen” or Spirit which controls our emotional and mental or cognitive balance. When healthy the Qi or vital energy that nourishes the Spirit will create a young person who is exuberant, has a healthy curiosity, is eager to learn and whose behavior is developmentally appropriate. When the Qi is out of balance or weak due to some of the causes listed above, the Shen can get over-stimulated and over-active and does not allow the child to rest or focus. Simple tasks become difficult, the child is constantly distracted and healthy behavior like playing, eating meals, learning and listening becomes very difficult. This is not the fault of the child because their brain and nervous symptom are disrupted.
Our young patients here at the Acupuncture Center get treated with very thin needles that are placed in acupuncture points relating to the functions of the brain, the nervous system and the emotional center or the Heart. These points may be in the outer ear, the wrist, the lower legs, the neck or top of the head. Most kids enjoy the treatment and visibly relax after we insert the acupuncture needles. For kids who are fearful or ultra-sensitive we will use cold laser treatment on the same points. We often recommend a series of acupuncture treatment at the rate of twice weekly and we closely follow the response. Parents often tell us that their child is much more relaxed, communicative, and focused with better behavior after acupuncture. We often recommend dietary changes particularly the elimination or reduction of sugar and all artificial ingredients and specific nutrients such as fish oil, B complex and some amino acids to bolster the child’s neurological health.