What causes hyperactivity? Find help and hope!Hyperactivity

by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP

Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.

Many a mother has thrown up her hands in desperation, saying, “I don’t know what to do with him (her young child). He bounces off the walls nonstop, sleeps six hours at night, and then is at it again. Help! or we’ll all be crazy!” Other people who are not as close to the situation will try to patronize her with “Oh, he’s not so bad – just really active. Put him outside to play …” Mom, however, knows the situation is so bad. She lives with it 24 hours a day, every day of the year. And often no one else will willingly tend her active child.


So why are some kids ‘hyper’? Dr. Lendon Smith in Feed Your Kids Right outlines many possible causes. He says, “About 20 to 30 percent of the population seems to be susceptible to increased activity when under stress from increased sensory stimuli (large classroom, some fluorescent light, nonionizing radiation), low blood sugar (from ingestion of sugar or allergenic food), psychogenic causes (unaccepting environment or poor support systems), and metabolic problems (lead poisoning, inadequate B complex vitamins, low calcium, low magnesium, low thyroid).” Prenatal influences can also play a part.

All of these stresses can be altered by loving parents, concerned caregivers, and cooperative school teachers without the use of prescription drugs. The challenge is to determine which factor(s) are most important for each individual child.

Food allergies, inadequate nutrition, and blood sugar problems are some of the most common causes of hyperactivity. Inadequate nutrition does not necessarily mean poor nutrition, but rather that each of us has specific nutritional requirements that are peculiar to us. I may need more of a certain nutrient than you do.

Allergies and hyperactivity

The allergy possibility can be a little tricky to work with. There are, however, some really informative books available that can be most helpful. Dr. Doris Rapp’s Allergies and the Hyperactive Child describes the usual appearance of allergic individuals as pale faced but not anemic, with swelling and black circles under their eyes. Dr. Lendon Smith adds other characteristics: being colicky as an infant; having had repeated infections, including ear infections, as infants and small children; emotional instability; and excessive ticklishness.

To determine food allergies, the elimination diet as outlined by Dr. Doris Rapp in Allergies and Your Family can be helpful. In this program certain food families are avoided (careful label reading is required) until symptoms subside or for 12 days (whichever is longest). The food is then reintroduced in controlled quantities.

The possibility of environmental allergies is also very real. Dr. Rapp explores this in her book The Impossible Child, which is well worth the read if you have a child who is acting out or is generally unwell for no apparent reason.

In working with food allergies and diet in children, I have often found it beneficial to add supplements to the daily nutritional intake. Often it seems that the child has poor digestion and assimilation (as revealed through iridology and reports of intestinal gas, diarrhoea, and constipation).

My understanding of what happens with food allergies is this. Ingested food is not broken down very well by the stomach and intestines. This allows large protein molecules rather than chelated minerals and amino acids to enter the bloodstream. The bloodstream sends out the message that there is a foreign substance in the system that needs to be destroyed. In the process of protecting the body from these foreign substances, white blood cells are ruptured, allowing the release of histamines into the blood. The liver is supposed to release anti-histamines, but in allergic people the liver is too tired from detoxifying other invading substances to produce enough anti-histamines to neutralize the histamines. The result can be typical hay fever (nose, throat, and sinus reactions) or altered emotional and mental responses to the situation. For these kids helpful herbal preparations could include digestive aids (such as papayamint), liver strengthening formulas, probiotics, and/or a digestion building formula (such as catnip and fennel liquid).

Nutrition and hyperactivity

hyperactivityMany children who are hyperactive also have nutritional deficiencies. It’s not that Mom isn’t feeding them right. Hopefully she is. It’s more that allergic children seem to have much higher requirements for some nutrients than non-allergic children. This may be from the demands of stress or from poor digestion and assimilation. At any rate, these kids usually do well with elevated dosages of B complex, pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin C, some vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium. And, yes, you might need to give your child a bit of each one to get the job done.

Along with digestive systems that seem to not work at par, these kids often have adrenal glands that don’t produce the amount of stress hormones required. The above program of vitamins and minerals can do a pretty good job of supporting these little glands that sit directly adjacent to and on top of the kidneys.

Blood sugar and hyperactivity

Low blood sugar also affects many allergic kids. This is one place where the tension-fatigue syndrome comes into play. Sugar is ingested and the pancreas sends out the message that insulin is required, but because the pancreas is feeling worn out (possibly from too much sugar being ingested over the years in the form of infant formula, sugar in infant vitamins and prescriptions, too much fruit juice, candy-coated cereals, and general junk food) it misses the mark and produces too much insulin, which causes the blood sugar to nose dive. The poor child has no energy reserve left and no stress hormones to cope with the situation, so he runs on ‘kinetic’ energy or gets moody and irritable and then falls into a deep sleep, unable to be wakened by even the most intense attempt. This seems to explain why so many allergic kids also have problems with wetting the bed. Allergic children who fit into this category run into such low blood sugar during the night that the reasoning and socially aware part of the brain doesn’t have enough glucose to alert the child to ‘Your bladder is full. Mom will get mad if you wet the bed.’ Instead the lower ‘animal’ brain takes over and simply instructs the body with ‘Your bladder is full. Empty it.’ These kids will usually not recall being gotten out of bed and walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night, even though they used the toilet effectively and had their eyes open through the whole event.

The obvious thing to do with these children is limit their refined sugar intake. A diet loaded with complex carbohydrates is best: lots of vegetables, nuts, whole grain products, some fruit, and proteins, with frequent snacks throughout the day. Children with blood sugar problems need to eat every two hours, and they must have a bedtime snack. It is critical that this snack be nutritious enough to carry the child through the night. Cake, cookies, ice cream, soft drinks, and candy certainly do not belong in the bedtime snack category. Better choices for bedtime snacks include protein; half a chicken sandwich or a small smoothie that has good quality protein powder in it are a couple of easy things to try.

Support for the pancreas may also be beneficial for these children. Herbs like licorice (extract) combined with black walnut (extract) and hawthorn (extract) can help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Along with the supplements mentioned earlier, chromium can be added, as it helps the body in its quest for stable blood sugar.

Herbal support

During this period of experimenting to find out what the cause of the problem is, some other herbs may be helpful. Nervine herb combinations containing natural B complex and natural minerals, like Stress-J, can help to slow a child down and also help him to sleep. Lobelia, in extract form, is also an excellent nervine which can even act to help stop allergic asthma attacks and help control nervousness. There are many other herbs that can be helpful. These are just a few that I have seen good results with.

There IS hope for the family of a hyperactive child, without resorting to powerful drugs. Addressing possible food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, and blood sugar problems can make a big difference in the lives of these children and those around them.

If you are having challenges with your child or just don’t know where to begin making improvements and would like some help, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available. I also invite you to like us on facebook and visit our other websites:
FB: Cobblestone Health

Products mentioned in this article:

Traditional UsesNature's Sunshine Products (Canada)Nature's Sunshine Products (USA)
digestive aidsPapaya MintPapaya Mint
liver supportLIV-JLIV-J
probioticsSunshine Heroes BifidophilusSunshine Heroes Probiotic Power
liver & digestion supportCatnip & Fennel ExtractCatnip & Fennel
nerves/stress supportMethyl B-12 PlusMethyl B-12 Complete, Liquid
nerves/stress supportPantothenic AcidPantothenic Acid
immune supportZinc & Vitamin C LozengesZinc Lozenge
brain nutrientsVitamin E with SeleniumVitamin E Complete with Selenium
calciumLiquid CalciumLiquid Calcium
Vitamin D3Vitamin D3Vitamin D3
blood sugar balanceLicorice Extract
Hawthorn Berries Extract is available through the Sunshine Direct program
(contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for instructions)
or by special order from Cobblestone Health
judith@cobblestonehealth.com or 403-850-5503).
Licorice Root Extract
Hawthorn Berries Extract
Lobelia Extract
Lobelia Essence

Rapp, Doris J. Allergies and the Hyperactive Child. Simon & Schuster. New York, 1979.

Rapp, Doris J. Allergies and Your Family. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 1984.

Rapp, Doris J. The Impossible Child. Practical Allergy Research Foundation. Buffalo, N.Y., 1986.

Smith, Lendon. Feed Your Kids Right. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 1979.

Tenney, Louise. Today’s Herbal Health. Woodland Books. Provo, Utah, 1982.

Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).

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