Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Strategies for Treating Kids with ADHD

According to The New York Times, "as many as two-thirds of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have used some form of alternative treatment" in an effort to avoid stimulant drugs. The most common of these strategies involve dietary changes. So far the results are mixed. A trial of St. John's Wart showed that this herbal supplement performed the same as its placebo. Data on sugar is similarly inconclusive. While parents often believe that sugar can exacerbate their child's symptoms, no conclusive evidence has corroborated this. There is more hope for omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish-oil supplements. A review published last year in Pediatric Clinics of North America concluded that a “growing body of evidence” supported the use of such supplements for children with ADHD.

Since the research for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to treat ADHD is still in its infancy, finding a physician who is willing to explore options is crucial when embarking upon this path. For a list of pediatricians who offer alternative treatments, contact the Integrative Pediatrics Council at

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Inspiration for Locavores

If you're at all interested in the movement to eat locally-grown food, you've no doubt heard of Barbara Kingsolver's new memoir/exposé Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which recently came out in paperback. Kingsolver touches upon poignant themes that echo arguments made by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser -- basically, that the way Americans produce and consume food is setting the stage for dire consequences. But Kingsolver goes beyond intellectual arguments that underscore the importance of health and environmental concerns and zeros in on a new consideration: taste.

After reading the first few chapters I felt as though I'd never truly tasted a stalk of asparagus since my supply most likely came to me many, many days after it was severed from the stalk. Part of me became anxious to transform my meager yard into a vegetable farm, the other felt shame in the recognition that I could never pull it off. The bottom line: that extra stop at the farmer's market that I've avoided adding to my semiweekly supermarket trips suddenly seems a small effort for such large gains.