The Beginner's Guide to Natural Living
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Attention Deficit Disorder
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ADD/ADHD Article Index

See The HANDLE Institute for Neurological Repair
While a naturopathic physician will address toxicity levels and nutritional deficiencies of the brain from a biological perspective, the HANDLE approach uses a noninvasive technique to analyze deficiencies in neurological function, then provides individualized programs designed to gently stimulate repair of compromised neurological functioning. Judith Bluestone, founder and clinical director of The HANDLE Institute, is uniquely qualified for this type of work: she developed her approach from eleven years of academic study, over thirty-five years of professional practice, continuing education, and a lifetime of personal experimentation through which she overcame her own serious neurodevelopmental differences, including ongoing seizures as a child.

Bluestone developed a therapeutic approach—which she later named HANDLE (Holistic Approach to Neurodevelopment and Learning Efficiency)—as an outgrowth of her work with the Educational Psychology Services of the Health Center in Kiryat Shmonah, Israel, in 1982. She spent eleven years in Israel, where she designed therapeutic activities for at-risk young children in a crime-ridden area, teaching preschool and kindergarten teachers how to integrate the activities into the curriculum. She succeeded, where everyone else had failed, in mainstreaming the children. It was there that she developed many of the insights that were to become the HANDLE approach. In 1989, the projects she designed and supervised received Israel’s National Prize for Early Childhood Education. She moved to the United States and in 1994 founded The HANDLE Institute.

In its first two years of operation, The HANDLE Institute yielded a ninety percent success rate in those families that performed their home-implemented programs. Its approach has since been adopted by numerous practitioners around the world.

Four key concepts underpin HANDLE’s success:

1.  A comprehensive holographic understanding of how the numerous neurological systems and the brain function—independently and together, including the hierarchy of interaction between those neurological systems.

2.  An artful combination of numerous disciplines, melding Western neuroscientific research with some Eastern healing methodologies—while maintaining a nonjudgmental, client-centered approach in which behaviors are viewed as communication.

3.  An ability to observe an individual and through the observation of performance on numerous tasks presented, then come to a relatively accurate conclusion as to which neurological systems are compromised.


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4.  A neurodevelopmental/educational approach that provides the client family with an effective, individualized, non-drug program consisting of HANDLE’s therapeutic Gentle Enhancement activities, which strengthen neurological functioning without producing stress, supplemented by suggestions of ways to improve nutritional status, decrease toxic load, and generally strengthen the cellular basis of the client’s neurophysiological status.

In Chapter 4 you learned that the collection of symptoms that constitute ADD/ADHD would be better categorized as Attentional Priority Disorder, given the sensory overload that absorbs a child’s attention away from tasks or instructions. Similarly, other labels, such as autism, Tourette’s syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, and dyslexia fall under a broader category: compromised neurological systems. The HANDLE approach recognizes that each individual labeled with a medical definition has a unique set of neurological challenges; the goal of HANDLE assessments is to determine which neurological systems are compromised and then provide an individualized treatment plan designed to stimulate repair and organize the affected areas.

One of the cornerstones of HANDLE therapy is the understanding that, given the correct stimulus and the “strength” of that stimulus, the neural pathways and neurological systems—including the brain—will adapt, grow, repattern, and repair. HANDLE philosophy places emphasis on proper vestibular functioning because it is foundational to the functioning of many other neurological systems. It is not without reason that a vast majority of ADD/ADHD-labeled children also had recurrent ear infections, given that ear infections often compromise the vestibular system.

Another unique tenet of the HANDLE philosophy is that weakened neurological systems can be stimulated only so much before that system will overload and shut down. In fact, the common thread among ADD/ADHD/APD children is that they are sensory-overloaded children. Yet, when there’s an understanding of which neurological systems and subsystems are compromised, then the individual can perform specific, therapeutic activities designed to give those systems what they need to make them grow stronger, without stressing or overloading them. This principle of not stressing the systems is referred to in the HANDLE approach as Gentle Enhancement. It’s just like weightlifting: muscles need to be stressed just enough to build muscle, but go too far and the muscle may lock or tear, rather than grow.

The recommended activities are simple to perform, and require virtually no special equipment. Each person’s program is specially designed to meet his or her unique needs. There are dozens of activities designed to enhance functioning. Some of the more frequently suggested activities involve:

·  Drinking from a “crazy straw” (a straw twisted into loops).

·  Playing follow-the-leader with a flashlight.

·  Rhythmic ball bouncing.

·  Performing certain activities with the eyes closed.

·  Catching a ball.

·  Systematic face tapping.

·  Stepping through a hula hoop “maze.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking that these activities aren’t powerful—for someone with compromised neurological systems, the proper application of these and other exercises will slowly and steadily improve functionality of troubled systems. Thousands of satisfied HANDLE clients can attest to that.  Home-based therapy, involving Gentle Enhancement activities, typically requires approximately a half hour per day, preferably interspersed throughout the day. Results are often seen in as little as two weeks, with significant gains noticed in three to six months.

Changing one’s diet and lifestyle, detoxifying the body and brain, adding ample nutrition and quality supplements, and numerous other actions will help repair the body and brain. However, it’s also very important to recognize that in order for the brain to function optimally, all of its neurological systems and subsystems must be able to operate effectively and carry out their designated function. This is where HANDLE can help—with lasting results. You can learn more by going to www.handle.org.

The Natural Living Lifestyle
The above is a summary—and not a comprehensive list—of the many principles advocated by those who are healthy and live the natural living lifestyle. In short, the natural living lifestyle is about you personally taking action to ensure that you and your family enjoy vibrant health—while refusing to let the government, medical doctors, insurance companies, advertising blitzes, pharmaceutical empires, and others tell you how to manage a disease. You must figure out your best health practices, on your own, through your research efforts. Discernment and discretion is required. Of course the information in this book is designed to help you on that course, but it is always up to you to truly understand the needs of your body and your family for vibrant health.

My book The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Living gives a complete overview of the lifestyle as accepted by those who practice, preach, and live it. The natural living lifestyle, as discussed in The Beginner’s Guide, is presented here in condensed form for your understanding. Also included in this chapter is specific information that relates to neurological repair.

Drink Pure Water
As mentioned earlier, the fluoride added to our water supply can cause numerous health problems. Add to that any number of biological pathogens, toxic chemicals, and heavy metal particles often found in municipal water, and it’s obvious that the water from your tap shouldn’t be trusted. Providing yourself and family with properly filtered water is important. The best options include drinking filtered water, such as store-purchased bottled water; water bottles filled at filter stations found in supermarkets; or the use of an in-home, high-quality water filter that will remove all contaminants, including fluoride. Drinking pure water that’s free of fluoride is very important—fluoride can be poisonous to our health. Custom Pure manufactures high-quality water filters that can remove fluoride. (Their products can be found at www.custompure.com.)

Stop Eating Toxic Food
Our food supply has been genetically modified, irradiated, and stripped of vital nutrition through processing. Most of what we eat is polluted with a variety of toxic chemicals, synthetic preservatives and dyes, and heavy metals. Daily intake of nutritionally stripped, devitalized, slightly toxic food on a daily basis will cause health problems, sooner or later; I call this food synthetic food. Because it’s nearly impossible to avoid this type of food when we go out to eat, it’s very important to not eat it at home. Make your kitchen a sanctuary of highly nutritious, alive, whole, organic food.

Two types of substandard foods often overlooked are dairy and sugar. Sugar robs the body of minerals and destroys the immune system. Sugar-coated cereals in the morning and soda pop in the afternoon combined with pastries and other processed food in the evening literally poisons a child. As mentioned in Chapter 5, dairy is not assimilated well by most people and in fact is an allergen to many, if not most, children. Cow dairy is for cows—not humans. Remove these two substances from your child’s diet and watch his or her health improve in no time.

Eat Organic Food
You’ll want to stock as much organically grown food in your home as possible—it is the least toxic, best-tasting, most nutrient-dense food available.

Organic farming works in harmony with nature instead of against it. It maintains and replenishes soil fertility and avoids genetic engineering and irradiation. Organic food is free of toxic and persistent pesticides and herbicides, and it is produced without sewage sludge fertilizers (which often contain extremely toxic “recycled” heavy metals and other pollutants, such as industrial waste). In addition, organics have no synthetic preservatives and additives. If an organic product is used in prepackaged food, it is usually minimally processed to maintain its integrity.

Because it’s easy to be lulled into buying the numerous prepackaged organic delights available, keep in mind that eating freshly prepared, whole food—as nature intended—is best. Most of the food you and your family eat should come from the produce section.

Shop at Natural Food Stores
If you’re serious about buying organic food and living a healthier lifestyle, you’ll want to switch from shopping at a conventional grocery store to shopping at a health food store (also known as a health food store). The reason is simple: natural food stores consciously stock products that are better for you and for the environment, and they refuse to carry most products considered by natural living standards to be unhealthy. With over 8,000 such stores nationwide today, there is sure to be one near you—just look in the Yellow Pages under “Health Food Stores,” consult the GreenPeople online database (www.greenpeople.org/healthfood.htm), or refer to the book Healthy Highways: The Road Guide to Healthy Eating (Ceres Press, 2004) by David and Nikki Goldbeck, which lists over 1,900 natural food stores and health-conscious restaurants. Natural food stores carry not only a wide selection of organic produce, but almost all the other types of products you would find at a conventional store—only these products are healthier for us and the environment.

Although some conventional grocery stores are now carrying organic produce and natural products in limited quantities, you’ll pay a higher price for them there than at the natural food store. Furthermore, the owners and management of conventional stores are often driven mainly by profits, while owners of natural food stores are motivated by both profits and a worthwhile philosophy—i.e., we should only use products that are healthy for us and the environment. Every business must make a profit to stay in business, but not necessarily at the expense of our health or the world. The success of large natural food store chains such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats have proven that a business can achieve success while remaining true to this philosophy.

Use Potent Supplements
Of all the nutrients we require, amino acids are of particular importance because neurotransmitters—which are the chemical “language” of the brain—are created from amino acids. Neurotransmitters dictate our memory, mood, behavior, cognitive ability, and mental and emotional states. Conventional drugs prescribed for depression and other mood disorders work by exhausting current supplies of neurotransmitters—but they do not create additional neurotransmitters. To generate more neurotransmitters, and assist the brain in reaching optimum performance, amino acid intake is key. It’s important to note that amino acids require the B vitamins, especially B6, as well as magnesium, to be effective. As Billie J. Sahley, PhD, the author of Heal with Amino Acids and Nutrients (Pain & Stress Center Publications, 1991), advises, “Amino acids must be taken daily and in specific amounts for the brain to be chemically balanced.” Although taking an over-the-counter amino acid complex supplement—found at natural food stores—is sure to be helpful, to gain insight into your specific amino acid profile, visit a Naturopathic Doctor to get tested for amino acid deficiency. Once the results are reviewed, the Naturopathic Doctor will be able to order a custom blended amino acid supplement that can be taken at therapeutic levels. Therapeutic levels are much higher dosages to help correct an imbalance, whereas an over-the-counter variety is designed for maintenance levels for overall general health. Testing for amino acid deficiencies and then taking therapeutic levels of custom-blended amino acid supplements is highly recommended for anyone suffering from neurological challenges.

Most soil is depleted of many important minerals, which means that our food—even organic food—doesn’t always have optimum nutritional value. One of the best ways to help overcome this deficiency is to take supplements on a regular basis. When dealing with a health issue, such as an attention disorder or general weakness of the body, supplements can prove extremely useful. Typically, you’ll either need to shop at a natural food store to find the supplements recommended in this section or visit a natural doctor who can provide you with specific, high quality supplements (not to be confused with natural healing remedies, discussed later in this chapter). Enumerated below are five types of supplements suggested for regular intake: green super foods, including chlorella and wheatgrass; probiotics; enzymes; essential fatty acids; and amino acids.

Green Super Foods

Most natural food stores sport a “green foods” section, which makes it easy to find this type of supplement. You’ll find products such as alfalfa, barley grass, spirulina, and wild blue-green algae, as well as custom blends that contain many or all of these plants and algae. Besides offering a variety of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids in a concentrated format, they all contain chlorophyll—a unique and important plant molecule. As Paul Pitchford discusses in his book Healing with Whole Foods, chlorophyll provides numerous health benefits. It stops bacterial growth in wounds; eliminates bad breath and body odor; removes drug deposits; and counteracts all toxins, including radiation. It also acts as a blood builder and purifier, renews tissue; promotes healthful intestinal flora; activates enzymes that produce vitamins A, D, and K; reverses anemic conditions; reduces high blood pressure; strengthens the immune system; relieves nervousness; and serves as a mild diuretic.[i]

Your best bet is to consume a mixed green super food, such as Barlean’s Greens, until you learn more about the variety of super foods available. Simply mix any of these green powders into water or juice and enjoy.

Two powerful green super foods merit special mention here: chlorella and wheatgrass.

Chlorella: Chlorella contains ten to 100 times more chlorophyll than leafy green vegetables. It is grown in a controlled medium where minerals are added to optimize it for human consumption. Its small size requires centrifuge harvesting and special processing to improve the digestibility of the tough outer wall, which makes it more expensive than spirulina. However, chlorella’s cell wall binds to heavy metals, pesticides, and carcinogens such as PCBs and escorts the toxins out of the body, making it a particularly valuable supplement. Use as directed.

Wheatgrass: You can find fresh wheatgrass juice in most natural foods stores and juice bars, or you can juice at home with a special juicer. Grass from grains such as barley, wheat, oat, kamut, and rye—when harvested just before they produce a grain—is a nutritional powerhouse. (Think of how massive cows, antelope, deer, bison, elephants, and many other animals become—just from eating grass!)

In addition to being good for other mammals, grass has all the major and trace minerals humans require. Grass, in general, is packed full of vitamins (including every type of B Vitamin—even B-12), and boasts essential fatty acids, every type of essential amino acid, and more than eighty enzymes. It also provides protein in the form of polypeptides, which are assimilated faster than meat-based protein. Finally, grass is very abundant in chlorophyll, discussed above.

The sugar in wheatgrass helps to quickly deliver chlorophyll into the bloodstream. These sugars crystallize in the intestinal tract, which draws toxins out of the tissues. One ounce of wheatgrass juice can contain up to 18,000 units of betacarotene (a precursor of Vitamin A, an immune builder); it also has abundant Vitamin E (which fights cancer growth) and a large amount of Vitamin K (for proper blood clotting). Wheatgrass juice is also loaded with enzymes that help detoxify harmful substances and participate in thousands of the constant chemical changes taking place in the body.

Although it is a nutritional powerhouse, the most unique aspect of fresh wheatgrass juice is probably its “aliveness.” This “liquid sunshine” abounds with an electromagnetic “life force” (sometimes referred to in Eastern philosophies as “prana,” “chi,” or “qi” energy). When the concentrated energy of wheatgrass enters the body, it has a profound healing affect on everything it contacts. Freshly picked vegetables, especially leafy greens, have this energy as well, but it’s so concentrated in fresh wheatgrass juice that you can feel it as soon as you drink it.

For health maintenance, one to two ounces of wheatgrass juice on a regular basis (often taken in “shots”) is plenty; four or more ounces a day is recommended for adults during cleansing or when overcoming health challenges. A word of warning: Reduce consumption of this powerful detoxification agent if you begin to feel ill due to the detoxification process (too many toxins may be simultaneously flooding your system).

Generally, wheatgrass juice is taken on an empty stomach at least half an hour before a meal. You can find it at your local juice bar or natural food store; or for around $200, you can buy a wheatgrass juicer (note that this appliance is different from a vegetable juicer). Venders who offer wheatgrass juice can usually sell you trays of the grass for home juicing.

Probiotics

“Probiotic,” derived from the Greek “for life,” is a term used to describe the friendly bacteria and fungi that inhabit our large and small intestines. At least 400 different species of microflora live in the human gastrointestinal tract. There are billions of these microbes, amounting to approximately three pounds per adult! Two of the most important of these bacteria are acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus), which inhabit the small intestine, and bifidus (Bifidobacterium bifidum), which inhabit the large intestine. Proper levels of these important probiotics help to keep pathogenic bacteria (e.g., candida) in check.

All of our organs are of course, important, but when you are seeking to improve your overall health, the intestine requires your attention first. If it doesn’t function properly, it undermines the ability of all other organs to work optimally. Daily supplementation of acidophilus and bifidus is important because they are easily destroyed by factors such as antibiotics and other prescription drugs, stress, a diet high in meat or fats, and poor diet in general. In fact, if antibiotics have been routinely used, then taking probiotic supplements is highly recommended to help bring the flora back into balance and reverse candida symptoms. Probiotics can be found in the supplements section of health food stores, and the Bio-K brand is a particularly excellent supplement.

Enzymes

Enzymes are considered the “sparks of life.” Even with appropriate levels of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, water, and other nutrients, without enzymes, life ceases to exist. For this reason, enzymes are sometimes loftily described as possessing “life force energy.” (Appropriately, unlike many vitamin and mineral supplements, enzymes cannot be made from synthetic sources.) These energized protein molecules play a necessary role in virtually all biochemical activities. They are required to digest food and to repair cells, tissues, and organs. In fact, they regulate and govern all living cells in plants and animals, and are responsible for providing the energy for all biochemical reactions that occur in nature. Fruit ripening, seeds sprouting, flowers blooming, and people healing—all are examples of enzymatic activity.        

There are three major enzymatic classifications: metabolic, digestive, and those obtained from food. Metabolic and digestive enzymes are produced in the body, but food enzymes are not—they only come from plant food. Processing or cooking food above 112 degrees destroys food enzymes. Therefore, to ensure proper digestion of food and metabolic activity, it is helpful to consume enzyme supplements to assist in the proper assimilation of the nutrients required for healing.

Essential Fatty Acids

Flaxseed oil and fish oil are good sources for essential fatty acids, the basic building blocks of fats. Essential fatty acids are needed for normal cell structure and function—yet our bodies don’t manufacture them. Both types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, are required for proper functioning of nerve cells and cell membrane walls (the number describes the place of the first double bond in these polyunsaturated fatty acids).        

All our cells are enveloped by a membrane composed mostly of essential fatty acid compounds called phospholipids, which play a major role in determining the integrity and fluidity of the membranes. The type of fat we consume determines the type of phospholipid in the cell membrane. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated as SAD) lacks adequate amounts of essential fatty acids. Instead, it’s high in animal fats, which contain elevated levels of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and trans-fatty acids. (Trans-fatty acids are also formed by chemical extraction or high-heat processing and hydrogenation of unsaturated plant oils.) The result of this lopsided fat intake: our cells have the wrong ratio of fatty acids. This imbalance leads to cell membranes with less than optimal amounts of fluid, impairing their ability to perform their primary function: acting as a selective barrier that regulates the passage of nutrients and wastes in and out of the cell.

Furthermore, and very importantly, essential fatty acids build the myelin sheath around the neurons in the brain—and the thicker the sheath, the faster the transmission of information. Therefore, daily supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for anyone challenged with neurological dysfunction, including an attention disorder. Fish oil derived from cold-water species such as salmon and mackerel is a source of these fatty acids. (It is sold in natural food stores and comes in liquid and pill forms.) An excellent source for fatty acids is flaxseed oil. Because of its unique flavor, it can be taken directly by the tablespoon full or poured on food after it’s been cooked (heat destroys the oil’s helpful properties). Flaxseed oil complements many dishes, such as baked potatoes, salads, stir-fry dishes, and burritos. Barlean’s Flax Oil (found at natural food stores) is thought by some to be one of the best-tasting flax oils available. Pour it on your food everyday.

Amino Acids

If you were to somehow remove all the water and fat from the body, seventy-five percent of what remained would be amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Essential amino acids come from our diet or supplementation, and nonessential amino acids are created in the body. However, when the diet is poor (as explained in the previous chapter), then even nonessential amino acids may not be fully available.

Among the many the amino acids that the body uses are alanine, arginine, asparagines, carnitine, cystine, glutamine, glycine, lysine, proline, taurine, and tryptophan. Deficiencies in any of these or other amino acids may contribute to a number of health issues, such as neurological problems (e.g., attention and behavioral disorders), cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, hypertension, insomnia, metal retardation, poor immunity, seizures, and growth failure.

Detoxification
As you learned in the previous chapter, synthetic toxic chemicals, dangerous heavy metals, artificial growth hormones, and any number of other pathogens easily enter our bodies. The continual intake of these highly toxic substances on a regular basis can overwhelm the body and brain, thereby adversely affecting overall health and neurological functioning. When the body is overloaded with these poisons, the detoxifying organs, such as the liver, kidney, and skin, are compromised. Further, a deficit of amino acids, particularly cysteine—a natural detoxifier that binds to heavy metals so they can be removed from the body—inhibits natural detoxification. When this happens, the immune system is weakened, other systems don’t function properly, and disease and/or neurological dysfunction can occur. Therefore, in addition to changing one’s diet and removing other sources of toxic intake, it’s very important to remove stored toxins from the body and the brain. This process is called detoxification.

Detoxification should be directed toward the body as a whole as well as the brain specifically, particularly with respect to heavy metals. Detoxifying the body will help augment overall health, while detoxifying the brain will assist in improving neurological functioning. According to the studies and parents of Generation Rescue (www.generationrescue.org), autistic symptoms of hundreds of children disappeared after they were detoxified of mercury and other heavy metals. Because toxic heavy metals impair neurological function, of course it makes sense to remove them so that neurological function can improve.

There are a number of options available to help the body detoxify, including supplementation with chlorella and wheatgrass juice, colon cleansing, applying castor oil packs, working up a sweat or sitting in a sauna, and eating foods that naturally detoxify. For heavy metal detoxification (especially of the brain), chelation (pronounced key-lay-shun) therapy is frequently used. Although most of these methods of detoxification can be done at home, if neurological dysfunction is present then it’s very important to get tested for heavy metal toxicity to discover exactly which metals must be removed. Then follow a course of detoxification prescribed by an experienced health care practitioner.

Heavy Metal Testing
The first step to comprehensive detoxification—particularly of heavy metals—is to find a qualified health care professional to run a variety of tests. (A hair analysis test is one of several types of tests available to determine toxic load.) You can choose a naturopathic physician (find one at www.naturopathic.org), or a medical doctor who practices natural medicine. It’s very important to spend some time researching several health care practitioners to assess their level of expertise in both testing for toxic load and administering a successful program for detoxification (and in particular, removal of heavy metals)—the removal of heavy metals can cause problems if not done correctly. Once you’re satisfied that the practitioner is qualified in testing and detoxification, undergo all recommended tests so that the best understanding of the situation will be available to you both.

If heavy metal toxicity is indicated, your health care practitioner may recommend chelation therapy, discussed in a moment. A naturopathic physician may additionally recommend a number of other treatments, including the use of herbs, dietary changes, and homeopathic remedies, to name a few. You can supplement the detoxification process by using any of the methods listed below. Chelation therapy is discussed last as it’s an aggressive medical treatment.

Of particular note is that a person may have heavy metal toxicity, including mercury toxicity, yet the test may not show it. This is because the detoxification function has been so impaired in the individual that even the test—which relies on the detox abilities of the body—will produce a false negative. For more information on this essential information, please read the analysis by Rashid Buttar, DO, which is reprinted in the Appendix.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Pure, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has been used successfully for thousands of years to cleanse and purify the body of toxins. Organic apple cider vinegar contains numerous vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals, especially potassium, which aids in the cleansing and healing process. Potassium is the “mineral of youthfulness,” keeping the arteries flexible and resilient. Its primary functions are ensuring the tissues of the body remain healthy, soft, and pliable, and helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Our bodies are meant to be self-cleansing, self-correcting, self-repairing, and self-healing. With potassium—the master mineral—toxic poisons are literally placed “in solution” so they can be flushed out of the body.

Numerous books have been written about the wonders of apple cider vinegar. Drinking a couple teaspoons a day, straight or mixed in with juice or water, will be of great benefit. Just be sure to get pure, organic, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s Apple Cider (found at natural food stores)—the highly processed varieties do not have these health benefits.

Colon Cleansing
Cleaning the colon is one of the most important things we can do to achieve vibrant health (it is particularly beneficial for adults). Richard Anderson, ND, NMD, in his book Cleanse and Purify Thyself (Christobe Publishing, 2000), notes that the colon will become clogged after years of poor dietary choices; because of this buildup, disease will almost invariably manifest.

According to Anderson, when we eat poorly on a continual basis (or the wrong foods on an occasional basis), the intestines react by secreting a protective mucoid layer to prevent the absorption of toxins. This protective mechanism was designed for the occasional ingestion of bad or rotten food, not for the daily abuse that the Standard American Diet places on our digestive system. When we eat incorrectly on occasion, the pancreatic juices will strip the mucoid layer off within a few days; but a daily barrage of overly processed and chemically laden foods creates a buildup of the stuff (called fecal mucoid matter)—and that causes problems.

After years of eating a poor diet we will accumulate this mucoid matter (which often causes a bulging of the gut in older adults). As a result, food moves more slowly through the intestines, nutrients aren’t well absorbed, moisture is decreased, worms and parasites colonize, unfriendly bacteria thrive, free radicals form, toxins can’t be properly eliminated, and consequently, various diseases of the intestine may appear. Fecal mucoid matter buildup results in fermentation, putrification (rotting), and stagnant pus pockets filled with various poisons and harmful bacteria (hence the foul smells when gas is passed). Or disease can manifest anywhere in the body. The late Bernard Jensen, PhD, observed that “every tissue of the body is fed by the blood, which is supplied by the bowel. When the bowel is dirty, the blood is dirty, and so on to the organs and tissues. It is the bowel that invariably has to be cared for before any effective healing can take place” (italics mine).[ii]

If you understand this one concept—that most degenerative disease originates from a dirty colon (and the wrong diet)—you’ll understand more about the cause of degenerative disease than most of the Western medical community (which advocates drugs to manage such symptoms, and surgery to cut out affected parts).

One major problem with a dirty colon is that it becomes an excellent breeding ground for parasites, worms, and unfriendly bacteria. When the colon is a cesspool of these organisms, they steal our valuable nutrients and live off them. Some worms get lodged into the fecal mucoid matter so deeply that even strong herbs won’t kill them.

Disease almost always originates in the colon (excepting toxic overload due to vaccinations or outright chemical contamination). When the colon is overloaded with toxins on a regular basis, those toxins seep into the bloodstream and lymph, eventually settling into weaker areas of the body. The body deliberately stores toxins in fat cells for to keep them away from the rest of the body, but when too much builds up in one area, cancer or other serious diseases can develop. The name of the disease depends upon where the poisons settle: in women, for instance, one of the largest areas of fat is found in breast tissue—which is why breast cancer is so prevalent. Cleansing your colon isn’t that difficult, but it does require some effort. Typically, it involves taking herbs to break up the fecal matter, consuming bentonite clay to absorb toxins, consuming psyllium husk to pull dislodged fecal matter out of the intestines, taking mineral supplements to replace lost minerals, and doing an enema or visiting a colon hydrotherapist to irrigate and remove toxins from the colon. Since colon cleansing is more important for adults than children, it’s beyond the scope of this book to give a full breakdown of the process. For exact instructions on how to cleanse the colon, please refer to any of these three excellent sources of information: Chapter 7 of my book The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Living (available at www.thenaturalguide.com), Richard Anderson’s Arise and Shine program (www.ariseandshine.com), or Richard Schulz’s “incurables” cleansing program (www.herbdoc.com).

Chelation Therapy
Chelation therapy is the preferred method of removing heavy metals—such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic—from the body and brain. Chelation therapy uses one or more substances that have the ability to bind to a toxic metal and help escort it out of the body. There are three ways of taking a chelating agent: transdermally (through the skin), orally, and intravenously (though an intravenous drip, or IV).

Although any substance that binds to a toxin and escorts it out of the body can be considered a chelating agent (e.g., chlorella or wheatgrass juice), typically chelation therapy refers to the use of a few substances designed specifically for heavy metal detoxification. The most popular are EDTA, DMSA, and DMPS. EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid)—a synthetic amino acid used since the 1940’s to remove lead from children—is a common chelating agent used primarily for eliminating lead, and secondarily for other heavy metals such as cadmium and arsenic. DMSA (meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid) has been used since the 1950’s to remove heavy metals. DMPS (dimercaptopropanesulfonate) is specifically designed to remove mercury. There are conflicting reports as to the effectiveness and safety of DMSA and DMPS; however, both are considered more effective for mercury removal than EDTA.

Oral chelation works more slowly than intravenous or transdermal chelation. However, it’s less expensive, and if the cost of the other methods is prohibitive, it’s better to begin chelation orally than not to do it at all. That said, the best way to administer chelation therapy is through the skin (transdermally), according to the American Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology’s onetime Vice Chairman Rashid Buttar, DO, and the parents of formerly autistic children of Generation Rescue (www.generationrescue.org). Specifically, Buttar and Generation Rescue’s members recommend, and have had great success with, the transdermal application of DMPS. For more information on this method of chelation therapy, please visit www.drbuttar.com (TD-DMPS stands for transdermal DMPS).

If you or your child has neurological challenges and/or behavioral issues, there is a strong probability that heavy metal poisoning may be part of the cause. If autistic behavior is exhibited, then mercury poisoning should be suspected and chelation therapy is strongly advised. Of particular note is that mercury may not show up in a heavy metal test—the impaired detoxification mechanism in the body will prevent the mercury from being discharged during the assessment. This is an extremely important point that cannot be overemphasized, and therefore it would be wise to review the work of Rashid Buttar—reprinted in the Appendix—if you have any questions about the relationship between impaired detox function and false negatives on heavy metal tests.

Any type of chelation therapy will require the guidance of an experienced health care professional. For chelation therapy resources, please visit www.generationrescue.com, look online, using a Web search engine (search for “chelation therapy,” plus your city), or talk with your doctor.

Exercise
Physical exercise not only strengthens muscles and overall health, but also activates the lymph system, which is partly responsible for detoxification. Additionally, coordinated movement helps organize and strengthen neurological systems and pathways. Martial arts or yoga, which incorporate repetitive, coordinated movements, are excellent choices for children suffering from neurological challenges. If their health allows, children can exercise to the point of perspiration—but of course they should never “overdo” it. Speak to a health care provider before your child begins any exercise program.

Visit a Naturopathic Doctor for Biological Repair
As mentioned earlier, the central tenet of conventional medicine is that symptoms/ailments must be managed with drugs. Natural medicine, on the other hand, seeks to understand why the symptoms appeared in the first place; the practitioner then works with the patient to correct the cause(s) of those symptoms.

In the case of ADD/ADHD-diagnosed children—and others suffering from neurological challenges—visiting a naturopathic physician can be invaluable. Through detoxification, nutrition therapy, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies, this type of natural doctor will work to ensure that body and brain are operating at optimal levels.

Because you may be unfamiliar with natural physicians’ educational background and approach, what follows is an overview of what these doctors do—and why they’re qualified to work with ADD/ADHD-diagnosed children.

Naturopathic physicians (NDs) treat “the whole person,” taking into account the body-mind-spirit interconnection and the individual needs of the patient. Spending up to ninety minutes for an initial visit and an average of forty-five minutes for follow-up exams, the naturopath asks numerous questions, performs a detailed physical exam, thoroughly investigates symptoms and complaints, explains treatment options, and includes the patient in choosing a treatment plan.

Naturopathic physicians are primary care providers (family physicians) and, like an MD or other conventional doctor, an ND will often use a number of laboratory procedures, as well as a physical exam, to make a diagnosis. Additionally, nutritional status, metabolic function, and toxic load are frequently considered in reaching a diagnosis and treatment decisions.

The naturopathic doctor may “prescribe” noninvasive therapies such as lifestyle or behavior modification and relaxation techniques. Spinal manipulation, massage therapy, therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, detoxification, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and psychological counseling may also be included in treatment. In some states where naturopathic physicians are licensed, naturopaths may also perform minor outpatient surgery and prescribe medication. When prudent, an ND will refer patients to a specialist for a definitive diagnosis and advice.

The first two years of naturopathic school are very similar to conventional medical school, requiring coursework in anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, neurology, radiology, minor surgery, microbiology, obstetrics, immunology, gynecology, pharmacology, pediatrics, dermatology, clinical laboratory, and physical diagnosis, among other areas of study. The second two years focus on clinical skills: NDs receive training in a wide range of natural therapeutics such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, acupuncture, physiotherapy, and clinical nutrition.

Because coursework in natural therapeutics is added to a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors receive significantly more hours of classroom education in these areas than do graduates of many leading medical schools. Students also complete a clinical internship consisting of 1,500 hours treating patients under the supervision of licensed naturopathic and conventional medical physicians in an outpatient setting. As you can see, credentialed naturopathic physicians are highly educated doctors who have a profound understanding of the body and mind—and what is required for vibrant health.

Although practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture are also options for primary care, one of most important reasons to visit a naturopathic physician is his or her ability to run a variety of toxic load tests and amino acid deficiency tests, among other assessments, to check for toxic load and metabolic function. Once this information is at hand, the naturopath can holistically treat ill health and/or poor neurological function with a customized detoxification plan (which may include chelation therapy), a nutritional supplement plan (which may include amino acid supplementation), lifestyle recommendations (such as the removal of dairy and sugar from the diet), and natural remedies (herbs and homeopathic remedies). Visiting a naturopathic physician, or a medical doctor who practices natural medicine, is highly recommended.

To find a qualified naturopath, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s web site at www.naturopathic.org and chose a naturopath from their database.

Use Natural Healing Remedies
Natural healing remedies offer relatively nontoxic methods for strengthening and building the immune system, bodily systems, and overall neurological functioning.

In recent years, even people who would not consider themselves natural lifestyle advocates have turned to natural healing remedies, particularly herbs. One especially well-known herb is ginkgo biloba, which is known to help brain function because it increases blood flow to the brain. Echinacea, another popular herb, helps “jump start” the immune system. Many manufacturers create blended herbal supplements designed for certain ailments or functional support.

Less widely known among the general public is energetic medicine. Energetic medicine works by stimulating a response in the body’s electrodynamic field. It encompasses traditional Chinese medical remedies, such as acupuncture; flower essences, which assist in improving mental and emotional well-being; and homeopathic remedies, which help bodily systems heal. (See this chapter’s “Homeopathy” section for more information.)

These natural healing remedies can be found at natural food stores and may be prescribed by natural doctors. Depending upon the ailment, any variety of herbs, homeopathic remedies, and flower essences may be of benefit.

An excellent resource for specific natural remedies is Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Avery, 2000), by James F. Balch, MD, and Phyllis A. Balch, available at most natural food stores. Although personnel at natural food stores can’t “prescribe” supplements for health conditions, they can tell you which remedies provide functional support for certain bodily systems. Many natural food stores also offer a searchable computer database of remedies for specific ailments. Finally, an excellent resource for information is a natural doctor, such as a naturopathic physician.  

Homeopathy[iii]
Homeopathy is well-established and respected in Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany, India, and many other countries. It is not yet well known in the United States but is gaining popularity because of its high success rate in helping people, especially those who cannot be assisted by conventional medicine. Conventional medicine may deem a particular condition incurable—but that is not a factor in determining whether the homeopathic approach can help.

Homeopathy is often an effective treatment for people who have chronic diseases, long-term physical or emotional problems, or recurring illnesses. After taking the correct homeopathic remedy, patients feel greater well-being and even happiness—for homeopathic care goes far deeper than most other treatments.         

Homeopathy was developed by German physician and chemist Samuel Hahnemann in the early 1800’s. Through numerous experiments, he furthered the theory of “The Law of Similars”—meaning that a substance in small doses can alleviate symptoms similar to those it causes at higher doses. He ascertained that the microdose of a substance would stimulate the body’s immune system to heal whatever pattern of symptoms would be found if the body was given a large dose of the same substance. This principle is also known as “likes cure likes”—it is the first cornerstone of homeopathy.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by a detailed process of repeated dilution and shaking, which makes them capable of stimulating the body’s own defense system. The shaking, or “succussion,” is the second cornerstone of homeopathy.

Although the molecules of the original substance may be gone, the process of dilution and succussion leave something behind—an imprint of the molecules’ energy pattern, their “essence”—that gives the new, post-succession substance a healing charge. Scientists who accept the potential benefits of homeopathy suggest several theories to explain how the highly diluted remedies may act. Using recent developments in quantum physics, they have proposed that electromagnetic energy in the medicines may interact with the body on some level.

Nonetheless, homeopathic medicine works in a way that is not entirely understood or recognized by some in modern allopathic medical science. This is not cause to dismiss it (especially given homeopathy’s track record of success). Magnets exerted their force long before science could explain the mechanism. Physicists are still trying to explain gravity and the nature of matter and continue to discover new phenomena that challenge once intractable ways of seeing the world. We are all familiar with energy forms, such as electromagnetic radiation and subatomic particles, that were once invisible and immeasurable—and that, despite scientific advances, continue to elude our full understanding.

Like other natural health practitioners, homeopaths appreciate the body’s intelligence and know that it produces symptoms for a reason. In most cases, homeopaths consider everything that is going on in the patient’s life rather than merely observing isolated symptoms. The patient complaining of headaches may also suffer from depression, insecurity, low energy, and a long list of other conditions. These issues may stem from the same underlying cause; if so, addressing that cause will enable the patient’s varied problems to heal.

During a lengthy initial appointment (usually about ninety minutes) the homeopath will explore the patient’s complaints. Then appropriate remedies, made from plants, minerals, and other natural substances, are prescribed. Sometimes a remedy is given in a single dose and allowed to work over a period of time. In other instances, an initial dose is given, followed by repeated doses over a period of hours, days, or weeks. In any case, homeopaths recognize the importance of intervening as little as possible.

Use of homeopathic remedies can never harm the body. Even if they don’t seem to work, they will not hurt. An experienced practitioner can help you use them in a way that won’t spoil the curative action of the potencies.

Additional Alternative Therapies

There are plenty of alternative therapies that can help improve health and/or neurological functioning. However, such therapies should be in addition to, and not instead of, the therapies and suggestions above. Some of the more advanced alternative therapies you may want to consider include traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, biofeedback, craniosacral therapy, and already available specially blended supplements for ADD/ADHD-diagnosed children, such as “Calms Forte for Kids” (found at natural food stores). Additional alternative therapies for neurological dysfunction can be found on the “Links” page on the HANDLE Web site (www.handle.org).



[i] Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002), 188–189.

[ii] Richard Anderson, Cleanse & Purify Thyself (Medford, OR: Christobe Publishing, 2000), 10.