Biomedical Interventions:

If your child has a mental health diagnosis, you are probably wondering what else you can do to reduce their symptoms.  You may not be comfortable medicating them at a young age or you may just feel in your heart that there is something else at the root of their condition.  You are right!  Even if you are choosing traditional medical treatments, you may also find great benefits in diet changes or supplements.  There are many things that you can do to optimize their health.  It may seem strange that I am lumping all the alternative treatments for so many diagnoses together, however, all of these treatments target the fundamentals of brain health. 

If you chose to use any alternative or biomedical treatment with your child, consult a physician. Get testing done to check for nutritional deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, and genetic factors that could effect your child's metabolism of vitamins.  Many supplements are beneficial if your child has deficiencies; however, many can also be toxic in large doses.  Please use caution when introducing supplements!  Introduce them slowly and one at a time.  Watch for side effects and discontinue if you are seeing negative effects.  

*I am not a doctor and I am not advising anyone to use a specific supplement.  I have compiled a list of commonly recommended biomedical interventions and provided links to find more information about each one. Please consult with your doctor before starting anything new.

Finding the Right Balance 

When I was a child, we had a swimming pool.  My parents gave me the job of keeping it clean.  I would vacuum it daily, but most of the time it still had a greenish tint with murky water.  Finally, we brought a water sample to the pool supply store. They put it into a machine that tested it and calculated exactly how much acid, base, or chlorine that we needed to put in.  This calculation was based on the chemical makeup and volume of our exact pool.  We left the store with the chemicals and a recipe of what to put into the water.  It was like a magic trick! Within seconds of the chemicals hitting the water it started to clear.  Within minutes they were sucked into the filter and circulated through- leaving us with sparking clear water.  

 

I guess that watching that magic trick made a big impact on me because it is always the analogy that I think of when I'm trying to heal my children. Clean out the dirt first. Get the balance of nutrients right and then they will sparkle and shine.

Diet- Diet changes seem to be the hardest to incorporate into everyday living, but in many cases it is the thing that will make the most improvements in your child’s life.  Since this is such a huge key in fixing so many underlying conditions, I have made diet into its own section.

Heal the Gut-  The over use of antibiotics and the changes in the way we store and process food has caused the good bacteria in the gut to diminish.  The gut is referred to as “our second brain,” because the health of the gut directly correlates to the health of the brain.  For thousands of years, humans fermented foods in order to preserve them.  Only recently, we have a diet full of chemical preservatives that provides no natural probiotics.  The best way to get these is through eating fermented foods; however, this is not always possible.  Adding a probiotic to your child’s daily supplements is a great way to start to healing the gut.

Eliminate Yeast Over Growth (candida)-  Ask your doctor to check for yeast overgrowth.  Your doctor may prescribe medication to kill the yeast.  (Die off that results from this medicine can cause a flare up of behavioral symptoms in the beginning).  There are also natural ways to combat yeast overgrowth.  First of all, stop feeding the yeast with a diet high in sugar and processed starches.  This is very difficult with children who are used to sugary treats, but it is essential in treating Candida.  Next, you need to restore your child’s good bacteria in the gut to naturally control the yeast.

Dr. Nancy O'Hara sums up the core biomedical interventions. This is a must watch for anyone wanting to treat their child's symptoms naturally...

Detox- 

Many people ask me why these disorders are on the rise so significantly.  I believe that pollution and exposure to chemicals are the greatest contributing factors to the sudden increase.  About forty percent of the population has a MTHFR gene mutation.  This mutation makes the methylation cycle less effective; therefore, the body does not detoxify as effectively.  These toxins accumulate in the body and cause the increase in cancer, autoimmune disorders, allergies, and mental health conditions.  People have had this difference in the way that they detoxify for thousands of years.  It is only recently that it has started to impact our health so profoundly.  This is due to the increase in pollution and chemicals in our air, soil, water, and food supply.  Avoiding chemicals whenever possible is important, however it is impossible to do so in our current world.  That makes detox an important part of treating the whole child.

  • Epsom salt baths-  This is one of the simplest things you can do to detox gently.  Put 1 cup of Epsom salts in your child’s nightly bath and allow them to soak for about 15 minutes.  This will help to pull out toxins slowly and safely.

  • Infrared Sauna- This is a special type of sauna that gives off far-infrared light wave radiation or (FIR).  There are a lot of claims to medical benefits from Infrared saunas, including detox. Do your research to see if this is something you are comfortable doing.

  • Clay Baths-  Bentonite clay is a pure clay that will help pull toxins out though the pours. Simply mix up the clay powder with water and take a bath in it.  This is messy but your kids will love it.

  • NAC - N-acetyl cysteine is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine that helps the body synthesize glutathione, a key component in detoxification.

  • Glutathiamine - Glutathione is a combination of three building blocks of protein or amino acids — cysteine, glycine, and glutamine.  The sulfur (SH) chemical groups it contains acts like a magnet and attracts all of the free radicals and toxins like mercury and other heavy metals.  Your body produces its own glutathione and it is normally recycled in the body, except when the toxic load is too much.

  • Activated Charcoal- Periodic use of activated charcoal can help the body detox from the die off effects of antibiotics or anti yeast medication.  It needs to be taken with plenty of water and cannot be given within 3 hours of a supplement or medication.   

  • B-12 supplements and injections – Many children with mental health issues have B-12 deficiencies.  Methylcobalamin, or methyl B-12, is an active form of B-12 and supports healthy brain function.  It is also essential in the methalation cycle which helps your body eliminate toxins from the body.

  • Chelation- This may be considered if blood tests show high levels of heavy metals and minerals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, and calcium.  The treatment is a chemical process in which a synthetic solution—EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)—is injected into the bloodstream to remove heavy metals and/or minerals from the body. Chelation therapy is controversial and unproved.  It is expensive and you will pay out of pocket. Please research this thoroughly before considering.

Common Vitamins and Supplements 

Vitamin A:

How can it help?  Vitamin A is essential for eye, skin, and bone health as well as boosting immunity.  It is found in many common fruits and vegetables, but for those kids with a restrictive diet, it may be necessary to supplement. Some children on the spectrum who frequently look sideways using their peripheral vision have seen a reduction in this behavior from supplementing vitamin A. 

Can it hurt ?  It can be dangerous at very high levels.

Vitamin C:

How can it help?  It reduces oxidants and balances dopamine levels.  It is involved in the balance of amino acids, and in the formation of L-carnitine which in turn helps to metabolize fatty acids. Vitamin C also modulates immunity and helps with constipation.

Can it hurt ?  Yes, if it is given in very large doses, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and more.  

Zinc:  

How can it help?  Low zinc levels can impair digestion, the methylation process, and the immune response.  A deficiency can lead to high levels of copper, which can be a neurotoxin.  Zinc supplements can help increase children's willingness to eat a wider range of foods.  Zinc and copper must be in proper balance for the body to detoxify efficiently.  

Can it hurt ?  Too much zinc can cause vomiting, nausea, and flu like symptoms.  You can get zinc poisoning at high levels, which can cause jaundice and liver damage. 

Calcium:

How can it help?  Children who have a very limited diet may be deficient in calcium. Children with gastro-intestinal issues may have poor absorption of calcium making them deficient as well. Calcium has a calming effect on some children. 

Can it hurt ?  Very large doses have been linked to heart attacks and strokes in older people. 

Vitamin D:

How can it help?  Vitamin D comes from the sun and is only found in trace amounts in foods.  This is yet another reason to get kids outside to play every day. Vitamin D helps to boost and modulate immunity.  Children with auto-immune issues can especially benefit from this supplement.   When shopping for this, you want to look for D-3.   

Can it hurt ?  It can be dangerous at very high levels.

Cod Liver Oil (A,D, and DHA):

How can it help?  Many of our children are deficient in vitamins A, D, and DHA.  Cod Liver Oil contains all 3.  There is some evidence that it also boosts immunity.  

Can it hurt ?  Very large doses have been linked to heart attacks and strokes in older people. 

Vitamin E:

How can it help?  Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It increases the power of methl B-12, helps to preserve cysteine and glutathione, and boosts immunity.

Can it hurt ? At very high doses, it can effect the body's ability to clot blood. 

Essential Fatty Acids  (DHA):

How can it help?  Children with mental health issues usually have low levels of EFAs.  The body uses EFAs to build cell membranes which allow nutrients in and get toxins out.  EFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties.  Studies have shown that EFA supplements decrease ADHD symptoms.  

Can it hurt ?  It can cause bowel upset at high doses.

Magnesium:

How can it help?  Magnesium is deficient in many children with behavioral, cognitive, and mood disorders.  It is known to have a calming effect and can help with ADHD, depression, anxiety, and tics.  It assists in the part of the methylation process that involves neurotransmitters and hormone metabolism.(Magnesium is recommended to be given with calcium and B-6)  

Can it hurt ?  It may cause diarrhea and some children can get more hyperactive on the supplement.  

Probiotics:

How can it help?  Probiotics help to restore good bacteria in the gut.  Gut issues are root cause of many medical and psychological problems.  Probiotics are a key component to healing the gut.  It is also very helpful in treating candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, intestinal problems, and nutrient malabsorption.  It is essential that children who have taken antibiotics take a good probiotic.  

Can it hurt ?  Probiotics  may cause a rapid yeast die off and can in return cause an increase in psychological symptoms. 

Essential Oils:

Here is a link to a beginners guide that may be helpful.  

Some basic information on essential oils...

The idea of using essential oils as medicine may be too out there for some people.  You may just think it's for dancing hippies who like to douse themselves in patchouli. However, essential oils have been used for thousands of years.  In fact oils were the primary medicine used by many of our ancestors.  There have been some scientific studies which have shown effectiveness to many aliments.  People use them for improving attention, depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.

 

The oils are made from highly concentrated flowers, bark, seeds, leaves, and roots.  They are from naturally occurring substances and have few side effects when infused or properly diluted before applying to the skin. Some of the oils are "hot oils" and will burn your child if put directly on the skin.  These oils must be used in a diffuser or diluted in a carrier oil.  Most people do not recommend children ingesting oils.  Do your research on the oils and even consult with a professional concerning proper use before you start.

 

I don't use oils exclusively for healing, but I infuse lavender in the evening or roll on some diluted focus or calming oils on my boys before school.  I can't say for sure how much they help, but my children enjoy the scents and it at least has a placebo effect.  If they are worried about a test or can't sleep, oils are something that I can do for them so they feel better.