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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Natural Solutions for the Distracted Child

Sep 30, 2019 04:11PM ● By Zach Davey

by Dr. Ruth Rodriguez

Attention deficit disorder diagnoses among children continue to rise every year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly 6.1 million American children in 2016 were diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a 38.6 percent increase since 2003. There is not a test to diagnose an attention disorder (with or without hyperactivity), in fact, many other problems, such as sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. Many of these can result in behavioral problems at school.

Emotional Health

To determine the source of your child’s behavioral issues, start by considering emotional health factors including self-esteem and peer relationships. Some children process negative emotions while others may internalize them as traumas resulting in behavioral issues. Children experiencing bullying or peer alienation also may act out or withdraw. Seeking help from a qualified behavioral therapist may be beneficial.

Avoid Toxins

Examine the daily intake of food, water, and vitamins that your child consumes. Toxin exposure can result from exposure to pesticides, hormones and chemicals which can be ingested or applied topically in body care products. It is possible a child’s body will recognize some of these chemicals as foreign substances. The body may not process and remove these substances completely and instead turn it into a hormone (estrogen most commonly) which can lead to difficulty concentrating, nervousness or increased movement.

In addition, a child’s mental and physical health may also be affected by a developing and growing body whose metabolism is adapting and changing to the demand that chemicals and toxin loads put on their bodies. Choose organic food when possible or opt for foods on the Clean Fifteen list. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list each year which highlights the fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides on the Dirty Dozen, as well as the best conventional choices on the Clean Fifteen. EWG also provides ingredient information for body products in their Skin Deep Guide. (

Avoid Food Coloring and Preservatives

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain food coloring and preservatives may increase hyperactive behavior in some children. Avoid foods and drinks with sodium benzoate (carbonated drinks, salad dressings, fruit juice products), FD&C Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow: breadcrumbs, cereals, candy, icing, soft drinks), D&C Yellow No. 10 (quinoline yellow: juices, sorbets, smoked haddock), FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine: pickles, cereal, granola bars, yogurt), and FD&C Red No 40 (allura red: soft drinks, medications, gelatin desserts, ice cream).

Avoid Potential Allergens

Food sensitivities and allergies can often result in symptoms associated with attention disorders. You can experiment by avoiding common trigger foods and ingredients including: chemical additives/preservatives such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) often found in potato chips, chewing gum, dry cake mixes, cereal, butter, and instant mashed potatoes; food containing salicylates, a chemical occurring naturally in plants such as berries, apples, grapes, tomatoes and more and often found in many pain medications; as well as milk, eggs, chocolate, and food containing dairy or gluten.

Herbs and Supplements

It is best to have a doctor’s supervision when adding herbs and supplements. A doctor can order a blood test to measure current levels of a nutrient to determine if there is a deficiency. Consider supplementing with zinc, L-carnitine, vitamin B-6, and magnesium. Plant-based remedies such as ashwagandha, frankincense, vetiver, sandalwood, and lavender can help concentration and decrease hyperactivity and nervousness symptoms. Increase their fruit and vegetable intake, limit junk food, and encourage more water consumption daily. Supplementing with omega 3 supports brain health and incorporating a low-carbohydrate, gluten-free diet can improve gut health leading to a reduction in behavioral issues.

Spend Time Outside

Spending just 20 minutes outside can benefit children and improve their concentration. Look for activities that immerse them in a green and natural setting.

To make the best choice for your family, find a holistic pediatrician, ask questions and become informed on the optimal solution for your child. Parents are the best health advocate for their child and are the gatekeeper for what their child eats and takes internally for the majority of a child’s young life.

Dr. Ruth Rodriguez is a board-certified osteopathic pediatrician with over 24 years of experience using both traditional, western medicine and natural holistic remedies for children. She offers consultations and telemedicine. For more information, call or text 321-427-6538 or visit

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