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    Researchers say Suntheanine may improve sleep quality, and works even if your child is taking stimulant medication.

    When children with ADHD can't sleep night after night, the results can be frustrating for the entire family: the poor school performance … the missed classes … the hyperactive behavior … the problems with moodiness. If only he could sleep better at night, he might be able to function better during the day! Researchers have heard your pleas, and promising new options are emerging.

    A newly published University of British Columbia study has found that giving good-tasting, chewable supplements containing Suntheanine L-theanine may help improve your child's sleep quality without significant side effects. The researchers reassuringly noted that the benefits were consistent among children regardless of whether they were also taking stimulant medication.

    Study details
    It's estimated that 25-50 percent of children and teens with ADHD experience some type of sleep problem, which could affect their performance in school as well as contribute to problems with hyperactivity and emotional issues. It's also estimated that boys are three times more likely than girls to have ADHD.

    This randomized, 10-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial , published in Alternative Medicine Review, involved 98 boys diagnosed with ADHD, ranging in age from 8-12 years. Participants consumed two chewable tablets twice daily (at breakfast and after school), with each tablet containing 100 mg. of Suntheanine, a patented form of pure L-theanine or a placebo. Their parents completed the Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire at baseline and at the end of the treatment period. In addition, the boys were monitored with an actigraph—a wristwatch-like device that records sleep activity levels and related data.

    The Actigraph watch findings indicated that boys who consumed the Suntheanine obtained significantly higher sleep percentage and sleep efficiency scores, along with a non-significant trend for less activity during sleep (defined as less time awake after sleep onset) compared to those in the placebo group.

    "These improvements were compelling and significant," commented lead researcher Michael R. Lyon, M.D., who points out that additional research is needed. "While L-theanine has been studied for its effects on stress, mood and cognition in non-ADHD subjects, this is the first report of its effects in children with ADHD. Given the importance of sleep in assisting children with attention, memory, emotion and behavior in the daytime, it warrants investigation to determine whether L-theanine's effects on sleep are long-term and whether they translate into measurable positive changes in ADHD symptoms."

    He cautions: "Some lower cost products may not contain enough of the proper form of L-theanine to be effective. We analyzed six commercially available products labeled as L-theanine, and discovered that five contained significant amounts of another compound. The safety and effectiveness of these mixtures have not been determined. Only Suntheanine contained pure L-theanine, which is why we chose to use it for this study."

    This study was conducted at the Canadian Centre for Functional Medicine in conjunction with the Food, Nutrition & Health Program at the University of British Columbia. For additional studies about Suntheanine, visit

    Media Note: For additional information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Lyon, contact Media Relations, Inc. at 612-798-7220.

    About Michael R. Lyon, BSc, MD
    Dr. Michael Lyon is a practicing physician and the Medical and Research Director for the Canadian Center for Functional Medicine located in Vancouver, B.C. A fun and interesting guy with a real zest for living, he's known by members of his local broadcast media as the 'extreme commuter' because he flies his helicopter to work.

    Dr. Lyon heads up a team of clinicians and researchers dedicated to biotechnology, nutritional and natural health product research. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Food, Nutrition and Health Program at University of British Columbia and is involved in collaborative clinical research with the University of Toronto, the McMaster University, Rutgers University and Vancouver Island University. He currently conducts and oversees research teams in the fields of obesity, diabetes and appetite regulation; childhood behavioral disorders; anxiety and insomnia.

    Tel: (612) 798-7220
    Toll Free: (800) 999-4859

  • Kids are our most precious resource. Yet, they have become a dumping ground for more than 80,000 toxic chemicals—heavy metals, food preservatives and antibiotics. There is an alarming rise in childhood asthma, allergies, immune system disorders, ADHD, obesity, and diabetes. The result is the current generation of kids may not live longer than their parents.

    Diabesity is the new term for the rise of diabetes in an overweight population. In 2010, 66 percent of adults are overweight or obese; 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight and 34 percent are at risk. By 2015, 75 percent of adults will be overweight because the overweight children of today will be the obese adults of tomorrow. Being overweight is the number one "cause" of diabetes.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is labeled a mental disorder that develops in children. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that between three percent and five percent of preschool and school-age children have ADHD. That's at least two million children in the U.S. or one in twenty kids.

    I think that's an underestimate. When I consult with parents of ADHD kids, they tell me that often at least one-third of their child's class is on Ritalin or other ADHD medication. One of my clients in New York taught an after school program for kids. Shockingly 11 of the 12 students were on Ritalin. So, I'm positive the NIH numbers are too low.

    Who Is to Blame?
    Both parents working and the increasing number of broken families have led to social disruption on a broad scale. Parents have no time to cook real meals for their children. Fast food has become the diet of choice. Kids spend much of their non-school time wired—texting, on cell phones, watching TV, playing video games and on the Internet. Physical activities are not encouraged at school or by parents because that requires more supervision that sitting over a Game Boy.

    Antibiotics and ADHD
    Antibiotics are an overlooked cause of behavioral changes in kids. Antibiotics are overused for kid's ear infections as well as colds and flus. Antibiotics can aggravate and even cause hyperactivity. They upset the stomach and intestines and their toxic by-products can irritate the brain.

    Antibiotics cause yeast overgrowth. They kill off good and bad bacteria so yeast leap into the vacuum created. Yeast that overgrows their territory becomes invasive. Their toxic waste products number about 178 and they irritate the intestinal lining to the point of causing a "leaky gut." Undigested food molecules and yeast toxins flow freely through a leaky gut into the blood stream causing allergic reactions.

    Dr. William Shaw at The Great Plains Laboratory finds high levels of toxic by-products of yeast and harmful bacteria in the urine samples of children with ADHD. These results indicate an overgrowth of these microorganisms in the digestive tract. Good bacteria produce digestive enzymes and certain vitamins, police harmful microorganisms when they are destroyed; a critical metabolic and defense system in the body is lost.

    Medicating Symptoms of a Bad Diet
    For many parents around the country, Ritalin has become a stipulation for their children continuing in school. Social agencies threaten: "If you don't allow us to prescribe Ritalin for your ADHD child, we may decide that you are an unfit parent. We may decide to take your child away. This drugging of children is fueled by teachers, principals, and school counselors, none of whom have medical training. Even so, medicine is not the answer. ADHD is an assumption not a proven condition.

    Ritalin Side Effects
    In The International Journal of the Addictions, Richard Scaarnati wrote, An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin. It's a shocking list of symptoms that we are creating in our children in order to force them to conform.

    • Paranoid delusions
    • Paranoid psychosis
    • Hypomanic and manic symptoms
    • Activation of psychotic symptoms
    • Toxic psychosis
    • Visual hallucinations
    • Auditory hallucinations
    • Can surpass LSD in producing bizarre experiences
    • Effects pathological thought processes
    • Extreme withdrawal
    • Terrified affect
    • Screaming
    • Aggressiveness
    • Insomnia
    • Amphetamine-like psychosis
    • Psychic dependence
    • High-abuse potential
    • Decreased REM sleep
    • When used with antidepressants one may see dangerous reactions including hypertension, seizures and hypothermia Convulsions
    • Brain damage may be seen with amphetamine abuse

    According to Dr. Peter Breggin in Talking Back to Ritalin. "Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine... have grossly harmful impacts on the brain—reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose metabolism, and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the brain."

    Robert Whitaker delivers the following wake-up call in Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (2010).

    "...the rise of juvenile bipolar illness in this country...appears in lockstep with the prescribing of stimulants for ADHD and antidepressants for depression. ¡Konce psychiatrists started putting "hyperactive" children on Ritalin, they started to see pre-pubertal children with manic symptoms. Same thing happened when psychiatrists started prescribing antidepressants to children and teenagers....the number of children and teenagers that have ended up "bipolar" after being treated with a stimulant or an antidepressant is now well over one million."

    The Failure of Our Diet
    A child sees an estimated 10,000 junk food commercials per year. Billions of dollars of advertising messages promote sugar-coated cereal, liquid candy (sodas) and empty calorie junk food. The bias in research is rampant. When the food industry funds its own research, invariably the food is declared healthy. Soy and corn, two incredibly allergenic foods, are cheap commodities subsidized by the government. They are largely genetically engineered (GMO) and have become the basic foods in the school lunch program and in the cattle industry.

    Kids Diets
    My advice is to eliminate foods that are toxic, GMO, high caloric and not nutritious. Just consider the standard kids' diet.

    • Commercial hot dogs contain carcinogenic nitrates, GMO soy, and animal waste products.
    • Diet products are sweetened with aspartame, which contains wood alcohol (causing blindness) and two powerful neurotransmitters.
    • Deep fried foods create trans fats and are carcinogenic.
    • Ketchup has more sugar than tomatoes!

    What Can You Offer Instead

    • Nitrate free hot dogs.
    • Drinks and products sweetened with stevia and xylitol.
    • Baked fried potatoes and sweet potatoes.
    • Ketchup sweetened with xylitol.
    • And introduce kids to fruits and vegetables and home cooked meals.

    Sidelining Allergies and Yeast
    Eliminate trigger foods that are allergenic and that contribute to yeast overgrowth. The foods that kids are most reactive to are the foods most craved and most frequently eaten.

    • Reduce sugar, wheat and diary. These foods fuel yeast growth in the body.
    • Substitute fruit for candy and processed foods with high concentrations of sugar.
    • Put your kid on an avoidance-and-challenge diet to find out what he's allergic to.

    The Junk Food Experiment If your child is not easily convinced he should eat a better diet, then offer him the "junk food experiment." Here's how it goes. Have him avoid all junk food and sugar for six days and on the seventh day, he can eat all he wants. Make it a Saturday so he can recover on Sunday. Kids are usually convinced to do the experiment because they get excited about the prize on day seven.

    Most kids actually feel better, sleep better and are in a better mood on days four to six. On days one to three they can be a bit gnarly and irritable as they go through withdrawal. Then on day seven they think they've hit the jackpot. They wolf down candy, ice cream, pizza, soda and cookies like they're going out of style. But it's not long before they start to feel the effects. Headaches, nausea, wooziness, sluggishness or hyper behavior are the norm. That's when kids realize on their own what these foods do to them. And they often make their own decision to cut back.

    Probiotics Repopulate the intestines with billions of beneficial bacteria that will also push out the bad guys. Use lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidis and bulgarus with guaranteed two to ten billion colonies per capsule at the expiry date. Have children take them without food an hour away from meals. Probiotics are usually tasteless and can be mixed in an ounce of water if your child can't swallow capsules.

    Anti-fungal Treatment
    Use anti-fungal supplements to counteract yeast overgrowth. Dr. Leo Galland suggests either oregano oil or grapefruit seed extract. Add two drops of oregano oil to juice or food daily. This is a very small amount but sufficient for children.

    Grapefruit seed extract can be taken as a liquid or a capsule. The liquid is bitter and should be mixed into food or juice. According to Dr. Galland, you can use the equivalent of about 250 mg twice a day for a six-year-old, and double that amount for a 12-year-old. Another beneficial yeast treatment is garlic. Children can take as much as an adult. Open the capsule, and mix the contents into their food.

    My Recommendations for Children's Supplements
    Try to find the following in a multiple. You can check my website Resources link for my current supplement recommendations for kids.

    • Magnesium: 200 mg per day
    • Calcium in balance with magnesium: 200 mg per day
    • Zinc: two-five mg per day
    • Essential fatty acids: EPA and DHA: 150—200 mg per day of each
    • B vitamins in methylated form
    • Vitamin C: 200 mg per day
    • RDA of Vit A, Vit D, Vit E and trace minerals

    What's the Best Form of Supplements?
    Non chewable: Gummy vitamins stick to the teeth and can cause cavities. A liquid form of supplements is best absorbed. The sweeteners should be non-sucrose, like stevia, organic agave and xylitol.

    With or Without Ritalin
    Diet, probiotics and supplements can be initiated even if your child is taking Ritalin. However, if the Ritalin has been working, parents won't know if there is a benefit from the natural approach until the drug is temporarily discontinued, such as over a weekend or vacation. Then you can assess the effectiveness of the program. If it hasn't been working then the benefits can come within a week to a month.

    When you see a change, consult your pediatrician about reducing or eliminating Ritalin. If your child really seems to be doing well, most pediatricians should be happy to agree to a trial period without Ritalin.

    What to Expect
    Whether you're trying to eliminate asthma, allergies, immune system disorders, ADHD, obesity, and prevent diabetes my brief outline for diet, probiotics and supplements can greatly improve your children's health and behavior.

    Progress is cumulative. You may see changes within four to seven days, or it may take a month. Be patient and if you don't think this approach is enough consult a knowledgeable health professional who will look for underlying conditions such as low thyroid, heavy metal toxicity or celiac disease.

    Dr. Carolyn Dean is a medical doctor and naturopathic doctor. She has been in the forefront of the natural medicine revolution for over 30 years. Dr. Dean is the author/coauthor of 20 health books (print and eBooks). Her latest book is called Kids Health available in September 2010. Dr. Dean has a free newsletter and a valuable online wellness program called Future Health Now! at Dr. Dean is also available to assist individuals with all types of illness at any stage or degree of severity through her Telephone Wellness Consulting practice.

  • Raising children is very challenging. It is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Our children are born and suddenly we are thrust into the great adventure and challenge of rearing them. Since no one trains us how to do it, most of us fly by the seat of our pants in doing so, filled with great intentions and expectations. We love our children with a depth that is unfathomable. We do all we can for them. However, even with the deepest love and best of intentions, we invariably blunder and make mistakes along the way. Yet, we all desire children who grow to be adults filled with self-esteem, and who live a fulfilling life.

    Self-esteem is the feeling we have regarding our own intrinsic self value. A person imbued with self-esteem experiences a sense of worthiness, competence, confidence, lovability and naturally expects positive regard from others. They believe in themselves and in what they have to offer.

    Those suffering from low self-esteem view themselves in a negative light. They often feel they lack valuable attributes and experience the emotions of shame, defeat, and inadequacy. They are unsure of their contributions and generally live unfulfilled lives. A person may feel good about themselves in one area, such as in their musical abilities, but they may feel lacking in others ways, such as their social skills. That is not a lack of self-esteem, which is a more foundational attitude about one’s self that is beyond any attributes or traits. People with high self-esteem can accept that they are good in some things and not in others. They can withstand situations of failure or adversity and move on without feeling defeated because their basic sense of self is positive and strong. That is how we want our children to be.

    Our children’s self-esteem first develops during childhood in direct relation to how we genuinely feel about them and how we interact with them. Children are innocent, unformed, open and susceptible to the impressions of the world around them. We, as their primary role models are the most powerful influences in shaping their self-esteem. Every day and in countless ways our children take in, imitate and react to our interactions with them and in doing so their sense of self is formed. A child given love and praise internalizes that love and feels worthwhile. A child who is criticized and treated impatiently will feel that they are inherently bad. A child who is treated angrily will become fearful and lack confidence. A child of a depressed parent might feel it is their fault that the parent is not happy and end up feeling inadequate.

    Our children absorb us deeply and develop self images, based on how we treat them, that become imprinted in their psyches for their lifetime. These imprints become the emotional blueprint of patterns of behavior that will be repeated well into their adulthood. For example, the child who felt inadequate around their parent’s depression might find a depressed mate in which their sense of inadequacy lives on. The child who was overly criticized can internalize the critical parent and feel that they never measure up. Or, they might imitate their parent and become critical of their own children or, involve themselves in relationships where they are criticized. The child who is emotionally supported and loved will grow into a loving adult who finds mutually nurturing and loving relationships that care for him as his parents did.

    Although, much of what transpires between a parent and child is not conscious, there are three important things to keep in mind in order to raise your child with self-esteem:

    Show Love
    Children need your love in order to feel worthwhile; it is the basic building block of self-esteem. Your love is a unique energy that emanates from your being into your children, nourishing them. Babies thrive on it and when it is not present they wither and become incapable of bonding with others. Your child needs love, intimacy and connection with you in order to develop self-esteem, which does not come from just feeding and clothing them. Building self-esteem is something that requires your action, energy and conscious intent.

    Unfortunately, modern life (and its stresses) does not facilitate bonding with our children. Often, two tired parents come home from work, rush to get dinner on the table and then everyone retreats into their own space. Kids are on their computers, video chatting and texting. Parents are either relaxing in front of the TV, on their own computers or catching up on chores. What is missing is the connected feeling of sharing and doing things together with your child. If your child does not bond with you daily in a solid way, he or she may fill the emotional void with friends, television, magazines, the Internet and the current culture, all of which is transient, fleeting and does not provide the solid foundation needed for self-esteem.

    Showing love means being present for your child, fully paying undivided attention to them and not becoming distracted with other things. Your child will intuitively sense your presence and feel secure. Even a stay-at-home mom who is self-involved or preoccupied will not impart secure feelings to her child.

    Presence is attention that includes care, time and unconditional love. An important way to be present is to initiate conversations with your child and take in what they say. Ask them about how they felt about what happened during their day so they can express their emotions. If something upset them don’t belittle them or make it okay by saying such things as, “Don’t be upset about Jeff teasing you. Remember ‘sticks and stones etc….’” Denying their feelings will make your child’s self-esteem diminish. Acknowledge them instead by saying such things as, “of course it hurt your feelings when Jeff teased you.”


    Here is an Eidetic Image exercise you can do to see how your child feels about himself. An Eidetic Image is a visual picture stored in the brain of all of your life experiences. It reproduces life events with clarity and exact detail and information that is not consciously available is revealed. Eidetic Imagery was first developed by Dr. Akhter Ahsen, the leading theoretician of the School of Eidetic Image psychology.

    Begin the exercise by seeing your child in your mind’s eye wherever the image spontaneously takes you. You may keep your eyes open or closed and allow the information to come to you.

    1. See your child somewhere in your house.
    2. Where is he/she?
    3. What is your child doing?
    4. Notice his/her mood, actions. What do you see?
    5. How do you feel as you see them?
    6. Look into your child’s eyes. There is a feeling or story there.
    7. What do you see?
    8. Is there anything you spontaneously feel like doing?


    Pamela, mother of a six-year-old boy, visualized her son in the family room watching TV. Upon closer examination, she saw him as feeling very sad and withdrawn. She said, “I see that something is worrying him or he is feeling badly. He had wanted something and he was told no. He has his head down and is sad. He feels like he has not been heard and that his dad and I don’t understand him. I feel very sad for him and want to hug him to make him feel better. I did not know he felt misunderstood.” When looking into his eyes, she said, “He feels that we are always so busy or distracted. We don’t know he is around or we don’t see him. His heart feels heavy. I see that he needs to share. He needs to talk to express himself, there is much to give and much to say within him and he does not feel that he has the chance or that anyone will take the time to really listen to him.

    I see that he needs people to listen and talk to him. He needs a stronger sense of bonding.”

    Once their feelings are validated, you can help your child devise useful strategies to solve their problems, and in doing so their willingness to share more things with you grows. Share stories about your own childhood and things that you did while growing up. Your stories enrich them as they learn valuable lessons from your experiences. When you are present for your child, he or she feels important and that you care; and this is fundamental to their esteem.

    Praise Your Children
    We often get caught up in repeatedly telling our children what not to do and point out their negative behaviors. “Don’t pick fights with your brother” or “How many times do I have to ask you to feed the dog?” Too much focus on their negative conduct creates a harmful self-image in your child. Try to tell them to do things in a more positive manner.

    For example, “Your brother looks up to you. He wants to be just like you. I know you can teach him how to share”. Instead of yelling to feed the dog, tell your child, “I need you to feed the dog right now. I so appreciate your help.” Being positive encourages more willing cooperation and raises self-esteem.

    Praise your child for what you observe to be their authentic positive qualities. In this manner, your child will recognize his or her own unique abilities and they will feel good about themselves. Employ comments such as, “You are very kind. I see how you treat your baby brother with such love”; that allows your child to recognize their inherent lovability. Or, “You have a keen eye. I love the colors you picked for your drawing”, makes your child realize they have creative and perceptual gifts. False praise such as, “You are as good an actor as anyone trying out for the school play” when they are not, will make your child distrust you. They know when you are being disingenuous; and false compliments will only make their sense of inadequacy stronger.

    Proper Discipline
    Discipline is necessary for children to learn acceptable behaviors, cooperation with others, and self control. Too much or too little discipline is experienced as a loss by your child and injures their self-esteem. Too much discipline can make your child feel over-controlled, leading to anger, rebellion and suppression of their natural expressions. With minimal discipline your child will not learn proper ways to interact with others and can suffer from a loss of absorbing important life values. Parents who establish limits give their child a feeling of security, which enhances their self-esteem. Your child might test the limits you establish with them, but they do need those limits to grow into responsible adults.

    Establishing behavioral rules helps kids understand your expectations and develop self-control. Setting limits makes them feel safe. Some of your rules might be: no texting or TV until homework is done, and no name-calling, hitting or teasing. Help with chores is also part of teaching your child discipline and you can establish these according to their age. For example, young children can help clear the table while older children can take the garbage out.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated that in 2011, 6.4 million children — or 11 percent of American children ages 4 to 17 — had a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clinical and therapeutic experience tells us that most of the discomfort and psychological suffering of educators and therapists facing children with ADHD is inherent to their subjective interpretation of the child’s behavior, conditioned by individual experiences that sometimes do not allow them to see the child’s real needs. To prevent the child from harming themselves and others, we quickly jump to the gun: we want to ‘fix’ this immediately, and as a result these young people are frequently subjected to heavy dosing and often-risky psychopharmacological drug therapies that can have negative long-term side effects.

    What if there was an effective and non-invasive way to help?

    An unusual inspiration
    An unusual inspiration is appearing in our culture, one that takes its cue from the other end of life.

    It is presented in a new book called The Impact of Empathy—A New Approach to Working with ADHD Children, which refers to the Empathic Care of the End of Life (ECEL), a method awarded the Italian Terzani National Prize for the Medical Humanities. It has been included in numerous masters degree programs in Nursing, Psychooncology and Thanatology departments at universities in Italy and other countries, as well as in projects of Continuing Medical Education (CME) conducted in hospitals and hospices for staff training purposes.

    One of the Authors, Professor Emilia Costa, is an Italian psychiatrist who specialized in treating children with ADHD, so in a sense it was ‘normal’ for her to write this book; while her co-author, Daniela Muggia, specializes in death and dying.

    Muggia developed ECEL during her 22 years of experience with the dying. Unexpectedly, this method brings new light into the ADHD approach, uniting the fields of Tibetan Thanatology (science of death and dying), neuroscience and an understanding of quantum physics to illustrate that the state of inner peace one achieves through meditative training, has a significant effect on soothing those afflicted by confusion and anxiety, provided they are capable of absorbing this state empathically.

    How does it work?
    Similarities between those who are at the end of life and those who are at the beginning of life are striking: both are very empathic by nature, and directly experience the state of mind of those in their surroundings. Both, when suffering a discomfort, cannot verbalize it.

    So, there are two things to do:

    • Find a fresh vision unaffected by past conditioning that is able to perceive the child’s real needs that lie under the behavior. This is a complete training in ‘empathic listening’ through meditation;
    • Root our relationship with a difficult child in deep peace, which might in turn be felt empathically and recognized by the child with ADHD. He or she will feel the urge to learn how to achieve that state in an independent way, which in turn shall help them to develop coping capacity and skills for long-term self-care.

    Both things are not only very useful, but can bring great strength and peace to the moment, which can, again, be directly absorbed by the child.

    When a caregiver is trained to access and maintain a peaceful and compassionate state of mind, children can empathically ‘taste’ that same state from within. Therefore the approach described in the book—both the ECEL method, and other empathy-based techniques deriving from Jung— addresses mainly the adults (parents, teachers, caregivers), teaching them how to accomplish and maintain a state of deep inner peace, no matter what the ADHD child does.

    No chemical straitjackets, no physical containment: “just become peace yourself, no matter what, and the childrens’ repeated experience of this will enable them to not only desire, but replicate this state within themselves.” In this sense, this approach differs from many others that also use meditation with ADHD children: here, children are not directly taught meditation, they just experience empathically the fruit of it repeatedly, as a new form of non-conflictual relationship with the adults and, in some case, with the rest of their schoolmates. Sometimes, it is their first experience of true mind peace.

    The wealth of resources and scientific information available in this book is impressive: for instance, you will discover a rich offering of high-level research done on meditation results on ADHD children, a vast series of scientific studies, both pilot studies and peer-reviewed ones, conducted on a number of methods based on different meditation techniques that have been applied indirectly or directly to children with ADHD.

    You will find what benefits were found in 2012 in 91 American schools of various kinds and levels, scattered over thirteen states, where one of the available trainings lasted from three to six months, with daily or twice-weekly sessions of ten to forty minutes each (practicing with children Mindfullness Meditation or Transcendental Meditation (TM):

    • days of absence: decreased by 25%;
    • suspension days: decreased by 38%;
    • significantly improved scores on validated attention skills tests;
    • aggressive behavior: decreased by 8%;
    • rules infraction: decreased by 50%.

    You might be surprised as well to learn that approximately 600 studies, of which more than 350 have been peer-reviewed, were conducted on TM, for example, and you will become familiar with them: in the book we explain things in a way that the reader enters the lab and understands absolutely everything.

    You will read about the ‘historical’ studies on meditation led by important neorosicentists that encouraged many more to enquire into the matter or to build pioneer meditation-based projects in schools, where the innate value of “troublemakers” is recognized, instead of perceiving them as “broken” children to be “fixed” chemically, and upon whom others merely project concepts.

    All these benefits occur without the side effects of medication, such as sleep disturbances, poor appetite, weight loss, stunted growth and mood disorders, which then need to be treated with further medication, which are often unsuitable or children, and which in the long-term are suspected of leading to a higher risk of cardiac problems and sudden death, liver damage, psychiatric disorders, as well as higher rates of delinquency in adulthood, drug use and growth retardation, as highlighted in a 2010 study sponsored by the Ministry of Health of Western Australia and many other studies.

    You will become enthusiastic about the UCLA Map Project, or the Shamatha International Project, modelled on the Human Genome Project, bringing together many researchers and scientific laboratories from all over the world, sharing their discoveries to bring together teachers and meditators from the different Buddhist schools to explore the methods and the most favorable conditions for achieving, at the present time, mastery of a basic meditative techinques involving attention, traditionally called “shamatha.”

    And when you start wondering whether and how do school systems react to all this scientific data, you will be shown amazingly inspiring projects being run throughout the world: from the Alice Project in India and several European countries, involving thousands of students, to the Quiet Time Program involving more than 200,000 students, mainly in U.S.

    All of this is supported with plenty of case stories: some tender, some amusing, all very touching and alive because they are coming straight from the real experience of both the authors’ work with young Italian ‘troublemakers’ whose lives are now endowed with a better chance of success.

    Co-authors of The Impact of Empathy

    Daniela Muggia is a Thanatologist and the winner of the prestigious Terzani Award for the Medical Humanities in 2008. For almost 30 years she studied the Tibetan tradition of death and dying with Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the ground-breaking Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. She also trained with Cesare Boni, a professor and teacher of Master classes in Thanatology, the study of death and dying, at Naples University. After more than 20 years of working with the terminally ill, she has developed the ECEL method, Empathic Care at the End of Life, one of the most popular courses taught in hospitals, hospices and for Masters degree programs at universities in Italy and other countries.

    Emilia Costa, MD, a former professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy at La Sapienza University in Rome has authored over 360 pioneering scientific publications. She studied directly with some great masters—Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli, an Italian Psychiatrist and pioneer in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, and Psychiatrist Gianfranco Tedeschi, founding member of the professional Jungian group, AIPA, in Italy. Currently, she is the Dean of a Scientific Committee of Pharmacovigilance with the organization, Hands off the Children, which works to inform teachers, parents, medical doctors and scientists about the danger of over prescription of drugs to children.

    Title: The Impact of Empathy—A New Approach to Working with ADHD Children
    Author: Emilia Costa and Daniela Muggia
    Price: $18.99 U.S.
    Publisher/Imprint: BlossomingBooks, US subsidiary of Edizioni Amrita, srl
    Format:Trade Paperback, ebook

  • IN 2009, the centers for disease control reported that fewer than 10 percent of U.S. high school students are eating the combined recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. Also in 2009, a study was released that found that supplementation with multivitamins during the first years of life may reduce the risk of allergic disease at school age. Two years earlier, an international study lasting 12 months reported that even in well-nourished school-aged children, fortification with multiple micronutrients can result in improvements in verbal learning and memory.

    At least on its face, there is a good case to be made for vitamin and mineral supplementation for children and adolescents. Research increasingly is showing that the diet and everyday environmental factors during the first three to five years of life can have important consequences in the areas of mental health, educational performance and the ability to interact socially. Similarly, early nutrition helps to determine whether the child will grow up obese, develop diabetes or suffer from heart disease in later life. In adolescents, nutritional support improves concentration and other aspects of performance and behavior.

    Infant nutrition is a harder case and not as clear-cut. It long has been known that an infant’s diet is important for mental development. On the one hand, the mother’s eating habits, especially consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, and overall health during pregnancy may contribute greatly to her child’s health and even determine her child’s risks for major diseases in adulthood. On the other hand, it is difficult to intervene nutritionally at just the right level during the first six months of life. In part this is because it is easy with infants to go beyond the accepted tolerable upper limit of intake for certain nutrients, especially vitamins A and folic acid and the mineral zinc. The one fortification that most researchers would agree is justified is an increased intake of the omega-3 fatty acids.

    Starting children off on the right foot
    It is clear that Americans have been losing the earliest of nutritional battles. For instance, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in children. Estimates are that 25 percent of children in the U.S. are overweight and an additional 11 percent are obese. This is cause for concern given that children who are obese at age 4 have a 20 percent risk of being obese in adulthood. If they continue to be overweight as adolescents, they have an 80 percent chance of being overweight or obese as adults.

    With obesity comes diabetes. According to Dr. Lori Laffel, head of the pediatric unit at Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center. “Over the years, we always saw an occasional child with type 2 [diabetes]. It was a handful a year.” That was before the 1990s, when overweight parents began to bring in their similarly large children with type 2 diabetes. In that decade, the number of children with so-called “adult” diabetes increased approximately 500 percent, and the rate has doubled again since then. Similar increases are reported at other institutions. Regarding this type of diabetes in children, Dr. Phillip Lee, head of pediatric endocrinology at UCLA, says, “we just didn’t see it. Now referrals of type 2 are almost 50 percent of our diabetes cases.” Diabetes and pre-diabetes (also called Syndrome X or the metabolic syndrome) ominously are linked to not just obesity, but hypertension, cardiovascular disease and yet other conditions.

    Before considering supplements as a solution to childhood nutritional problems, two issues need to be tackled. First, there is the problem of diet. Especially sugar in the diet. Keep in mind that sweetened drinks, not just sodas, but the sugared 10 percent juice drinks, have almost totally displaced water in the lives of modern American children.

    Food nutritionists at Cornell University during a two-month study found that children do not reduce how much food they eat at meals to match the number of calories they consume in sweetened drinks. Instead, the more sweetened drinks they consume, the greater their daily caloric intake and the greater their weight gain. According to David Levitsky, this survey of 30 children aged 6–12 supports previous findings that excessive sweetened drink consumption adversely affects nutrition and promotes obesity in school-age children. For the purposes of this study, sweetened drinks included fizzy drinks, fruit punch, and bottled tea or drinks made from fruit-flavored powders, such as grape and lemonade. According to the study, children who drank more than 16 ounces a day of sweetened drinks consumed four ounces less milk than children who avoided sweetened drinks. Their diets supplied 20 percent less phosphorus, 19 per cent less protein and magnesium, 16 percent less calcium and 10 percent less vitamin a plus less zinc even though these children also took in 244 more calories a day from these beverages. The ingestion of sweetened drinks led to the consumption of only 2 ounces less solid food, although such drinks routinely displaced milk.

    Second, and on the other side of the energy equation, children now exercise less than in previous generations. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, 22.6 percent of American children (aged 9–13) do not engage in any free-time activity. Nearly two-thirds of these children do not participate in any organized physical activity during their non-school hours.

    Nutrient recommendations for children
    Multivitamin—mineral supplementation for children does not need to involve heroic amounts of nutrients. In fact, trials exhibiting success in already supposedly well-nourished children often have involved daily vitamin-mineral supplementation at only roughly 50 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for 3 to 14 months versus placebo. Depending on the study, benefits have been demonstrated in the areas of attention- concentration, verbal learning and memory, non-verbal intelligence and overall behavior. The impact is especially noticeable in children with antisocial and delinquency traits, but benefits routinely have been found, as well as, in children and teens supposedly beyond any need for nutritional intervention. A major recent review of 20 randomized placebo-controlled trials concluded, “multiple micronutrient supplementation may be associated with a marginal increase in fluid intelligence and academic performance in healthy school children but not with crystallized intelligence.”

    Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) tables have been developed by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board and are available from various sites on the Internet. Here is one of these resources:

    2010 Dietary Guidelines Brochure

    Inasmuch as the tables are copyrighted, they cannot be reproduced here. The main points to keep in mind are these: first, supplementation does not need to be at high levels to deliver benefits. Many or even most successful trials supplemented only on the order of 50 percent of suggested daily intakes. Second, the suggested intakes of nutrients vary with age, body size, sex and activity. Let’s take vitamin B1 (thiamin) as an example of how age and sex can influence requirements. Children 1–3 years old require 0.5 Mg/day, 4–8 years require 0.6 Mg/day, boys 9–13 years require 0.9 and boys 14–18 require 1.2 Mg/day, this last being also the typically required adult male intake level. Girls aged 9–13 years also have a recommendation of 0.9 Mg/day, but only 1.0 Mg/day at ages 14–18 years and then 1.1 Mg/day at age 19 and older. Parents need not slavishly adhere to nutrient tables. The point is to find a general and broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement that supplies roughly 50–100 percent of nutrients for the age of the child. Just “being in the ballpark” usually is good enough.

    Nutrient recommendations for teenagers
    From the perspective of an adult, most teenagers are eating machines. As with children, at the present time teenagers are likely to consume predominantly “empty” calories. Most American teens do not take vitamins and even among those who do take supplements, several micronutrients usually are consumed at inadequate levels. In one study, more than one-third of adolescents had dietary intakes of vitamins A and E, calcium, and zinc that were less than 75 percent of the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance. Recommendations here are as with children: find a general and broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement that supplies roughly 50–100 percent of recommended nutrients for the age, gender and activity level of the adolescent in question.

    Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    Besides the recent disturbing trends towards obesity and diabetes in children and adolescents, the most significant concern in American children may be the incidence of ADD/ ADHD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD affects approximately 2 million American children or approximately 3 to 5 percent of the school-age population and is about four times more common in boys than in girls. ADHA usually becomes apparent at about age 3. Symptoms include inattention, inability to concentrate, failure to listen when spoken to, hyperactivity, squirming, talking out of turn, impulsiveness, disruptive behavior, sleep problems, and poor learning ability.

    A number of nutritional scientists argue that ADHD is a birth defect caused by deficiencies of maternal DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) during pregnancy and while nursing, and the virtual absence of DHA and AA (arachidonic acid) in infant formulas. DHA in particular is required to support fetal visual acuity, neurological and brain development in the womb and in early life. As a point of information, AA is a long-chain omega-6 fatty acid found primarily in meat and eggs, whereas the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaeonoic acid) and DHA are found primarily in the fat of cold-water fish. A related omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in flax and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and in eggs from hens raised on grass or special diets instead of grains. Even meat and butter from animals raised on grass (rare in the U.S. today) may provide substantial amounts of ALA.

    ADD/ADHD is highly controversial. At a consensus development panel conducted by the National Institutes of Health on ADHD in November 1998, it was reported, “we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction. Further research to establish the validity of the disorder continues to be a problem. This is not unique to ADHD, but applies as well to most psychiatric disorders...” Some doctors report various brain metabolic imbalances, but these, too, are controversial.

    There was a 2.5-fold increase in the prevalence of methylphenidate (Ritalin) treatment of youths with ADD between 1990 and 1995 in the United States. In all, approximately 2.8 percent (or 1.5 million) of U.S. youths aged 5 to 18 were receiving this medication in mid-1995. Data for treatment rates in the U.S. is inconsistent. One Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article published in 1998 estimated that 3–6 percent of the school-aged population is being treated with psychotropic drugs, mostly stimulants. Noteworthy is the fact that a U.K. review from 2004 found that in that country in 1999 the rate of treatment for ADD in boys was 5.3 Per 1,000 boys—that is, one tenth the rate of the U.S.! This suggests that there is either some terrible environmental flaw present in the U.S. or some terrible error in diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in this country.

    There also is the issue of treatment. In animals, exposure to Ritalin (methylphenidate) during developmental stages damages the personality. According to William Carlezon of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, a primary researcher in this area, “rats exposed to Ritalin as juveniles showed large increases in learned-helplessness behavior during adulthood, suggesting a tendency toward depression.”

    Obviously, the implications of the above are serious, and even more so when it is realized that ADD/ADHD stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, work only for the first few months of treatment.

    At most, the good effects may last 14 months. Moreover, the FDA in 2009 actually had to urge caution in interpreting a study linking stimulants to increased risk for sudden death in children.

    Food additives and colors long have been suspected of inducing ADHD in susceptible individuals. Diets that eliminate such food adulterants sometimes have proved to be wildly successful, reducing symptoms in the range of 78 percent in comparison with controls. This was a diet of containing only rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water for five weeks. When restricted foods were added back to the diet, there was a relapse rate of 63 percent. Especially pernicious may be food colors and sodium benzoate.

    Finally, there are some safe and practical suggestions for supplementation that may help. Chief among these is supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. German scientists found a beneficial effect with a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc consumption on attentional, behavioral, and emotional problems of children and adolescents. Some trials indicate that even zinc supplementation by itself may be beneficial if a particular protocol is followed.

    The supplement alpha-lipoic acid has been used successfully in a study at UCLA to improve the symptoms of adult ADHD sufferers. Inasmuch as lipoic acid improves blood sugar regulation and the utilization of glucose by the brain, this suggests a prediabetes link to ADHD. Barry Sears has written that contradictory results with regard to omega-3 supplementation may be expected because some studies tend not to control dietary intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates (sugar and starch), and do not provide their study groups with sufficiently high doses of DHA and/or EPA. For whatever reason, almost no attention has been paid to the insulin resistance aspect of ADHD, yet ADHD is highly prevalent among obese patients and highest in those with extreme obesity. A recent European review found that empirically based evidence suggests that obese patients referred to obesity clinics may present with higher than expected prevalence of ADHD and all reviewed studies indicate that subjects with ADHD are heavier than expected. One common causal mechanism linking ADHD and excessive weight is a disruption in the “reward” receptors of the brain based on the chemical dopamine. Recent work shows that the excessive consumption of sugars actually alters brain receptors such that individuals in the future feel the need— based on lasting changes in brain physiology and chemistry— to eat sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

    Concluding Thoughts
    Children and adolescents often can benefit from nutritional supplementation. For most, a simple multivitamin and mineral supplement providing 50 to 100 percent of the currently suggested daily intake of vitamins and minerals may be enough. For others, especially those who are performing below par in terms of attention, memory, verbal functioning and emotional balance, additional omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc, perhaps alpha-lipoic acid, may be in order. Reducing the consumption of sugars and other refined carbohydrates and increasing physical activity almost always is a good practice, as well.