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Surprising Ways Acupuncture Helps ADHD

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Find out how 8-year Old Alex used Acupuncture to help with his ADHD.

For over 2,500 years, acupuncture has been used in traditional East Asian medicine to treat numerous ailments and health issues.

Although many in the Western world are unfamiliar with the practice, several Americans have embraced it. In fact, many families are choosing acupuncture to help their children deal with ADHD. 

8-year Old Alex: A Success Story

When a Tampa, FL boy was diagnosed with mild to moderate ADHD, the family doctor prescribed medication.

Even though his mother didn’t feel like her son needed a drug, both her husband and her son’s teachers told her it was the best way to treat ADHD. However, after a week of her 8-year old son Alex having terrible nightmares and becoming much more sensitive and emotional than normal, she stopped the medication. 

After reading about how acupuncture can stimulate the body’s natural regulatory chemicals, she chose acupuncture to help Alex deal with ADHD. After being treated with acupuncture for a few weeks, Alex’s mother detected a noticeable difference in her son’s behavior. Her son was calmer and less restless. 

Dr. Laura Weathers, the pediatrician, and acupuncturist who treated Alex, also use it to treat patients with asthma and allergies.

Even though Weathers admitted that acupuncture may not be for everyone, she touts the lack of side effects and its potential to decrease the use of drugs to manage childhood ADHD

Benefits of Treating ADHD with Acupuncture

In the United States, pharmaceuticals have typically been used to treat ADHD. Yet these powerful and potentially addictive stimulants come with side effects, some of which can be very severe for children. 

Because the origin of ADHD is still unknown, these drugs only deal with the condition’s symptoms.

Yet they fail to address the roots of the problem. This has led many families to seek non-pharmaceutical treatments, known by some as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).  

In a 2011 study, Soon-Sang Hong and Seung-Hun Cho noted that:

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased, especially for developmental and behavioral disorders, such as ADHD. CAM is used by 60-65% of parents of children with ADHD to relieve ADHD-associated symptoms and to avoid the side effects of conventional medication. 

Hong and Cho list these Acupuncture benefits
Acupuncture is simple, inexpensive, and safe compared to some conventional treatments. 
The adverse effects of acupuncture are substantially lower than the effects (especially side effects) of drugs used to treat ADHD.
Acupuncture has been used extensively to decrease, “the severity of the core symptoms in patients with ADHD.”
Acupuncture has been shown to change brain activity, specifically in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), which is associated with certain conditions such as schizophrenia and ADHD.  

A Study from Yo San University in Los Angeles

In a study from Yo San University in Los Angeles, Michael McGuire investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating ADHD.

Published in January 2016, McGuire’s study surveys several past studies, giving a resume of their findings on acupuncture’s effectiveness for ADHD. Through his research, McGuire found that acupuncture has relatively fast and noticeable effects on hyperactivity. However, impulsive behavior and inattention also respond to the treatment, but more slowly. 

McGuire cites a study done at the Xiaoxiao Children’s Center In Milan, Italy. In that study, acupuncture was combined with Chinese massage to treat children with ADHD. This group was compared to another group who took Ritalin for ADHD. 

Although both groups received benefits from each of their therapies, acupuncture was found to be more effective in children 12 or younger.

This correlates with other research which also shows that younger children experience a larger positive patient outcome rate with acupuncture treatments for ADHD than with medication. 

The study also reveals that acupuncture is effective for reducing anxiety and improving insomnia, two symptoms common to those with ADHD. These two symptoms are the result of a higher state of arousal, commonly experienced by people with ADHD.  

Combining Acupuncture with Traditional Herbs

McGuire’s study also points out that certain traditional herbs and some amino acids can help reduce ADHD symptoms. In agreement with these findings is Dr. Harry Hong, Licensed Acupuncturist, who says,  

"Based on clinical research, both Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be used as an alternative therapy to treat ADHD. A comprehensive program including both Chinese herbs and auricular acupuncture may likely serve as a primary treatment for mild ADHD children and as an adjunct therapy for severe cases to possibly lower the dosage of medication needed and reduce the side effects."

As a result, some treatment courses combine acupuncture with traditional herbs to create an even more effective treatment for ADHD that doesn’t use medications.

Acupuncture: A Safer, Gentler Alternative for Treating ADHD

Acupuncture focuses on balance within the body and encourages homeostasis.

Because it addresses the root causes of diseases and conditions rather than symptoms, acupuncture can be more effective for treating ADHD than pharmaceutical solutions. Plus, acupuncture is safe and has few or no side effects. Lastly, with acupuncture, there is no possibility of addiction like there is with Ritalin and other powerful stimulants. 

Even though acupuncture is not a magic cure for ADHD, it is a viable treatment that helps people deal with the symptoms while reducing the need for powerful stimulants. Combined with traditional herbs, acupuncture can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD without the unwanted side effects of medications. 

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