Mark Dennis, who teaches fitness to Kingsbury’s Middle School students, is a certified reflexologist. He authored this blog, based on his experience providing reflexology massage and nutrition advice to children with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the more common mental disorders that are known to begin in early childhood. An estimated 10 percent of all children worldwide are diagnosed with ADHD. They may exhibit inattention, impulse control issues, restless feet, frequent change of position and a marked loss of hand-eye coordination.
ADHD is best-managed symptomatically using an array of treatments, ranging from psychotherapy and behavior management to stimulant medications. When it comes to treating children with ADHD, however, no one treatment stands out as the best for everyone.
Alternative treatments, such as reflexology, offer a unique option for a child with ADHD, particularly if the parent is opposed to stimulant medications. An emerging treatment in the management of ADHD, reflexology not only alleviates symptoms but also modifies the course of this disorder. The strategic use of reflexology can alleviate attention deficit, inattentive behavior, delayed learning behaviors and excessive body movements, typical indications of ADHD.
Reflexology is a type of massage therapy that focuses on the nervous system, as well as other parts of the body. This therapy not only calms the physical body, but can help ease the mind. The Chinese first developed the art of reflexology 3,000 years ago. It continues to be the mainstay of re-balancing Qi, the life force that flows through energy channels. Used in concert with an individualized nutrition plan, reflexology can help bring a child with ADHD back to a state of balance by helping to manage the symptoms of the disorder.
Reflexology is known to stimulate the lymphatic system. It triggers a release of specific hormones, better known as endorphins, which in turn can de-stress and hence enhance well-being in the patient. The body begins to heal itself and the severity and frequency of symptoms begins to decrease. The ‘finger and thumb’ technique, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (known as the rest and digest system), could well be the future cornerstone of ADHD therapy.
A reflexologist is trained in the strategic application of pressure in specific body regions. These regions are limited to the feet, hands, face and ears, each of which correlates to a specific organ. The mechanics are fascinating! When specific nerves in the hands and the feet are stimulated, the blood supply to the relevant organs is increased and the toxin build-up in the body or organ is eliminated. This leads to a state of health and wellness.
Reflexology can also assist in relieving the ADHD manifestations of stress and anxiety. The judicious massaging of the pineal pituitary glands zones, located in the soles of the feet, can lead to a subtle increase in ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone) production. ACTH controls hyperkinetic activities that increase muscle movement.
Stimulating the child’s brain through reflexology massage can result in:
• More self-confidence
• A decrease in emotional disturbances (outbursts, depression, anxiety, etc.)
• Increased relaxation (which also helps with self-esteem and emotional disturbances)
Reflexology and other therapies alone are not a cure-all for ADHD. Nutrition plays a significant role in the severity of ADHD. Certain foods, such as those high in protein or high in omega-3 fatty acids, have been known to improve concentration. Others can amplify ADHD symptoms by increasing hyperactivity. The following dietary changes are recommended:
- INCREASE foods high in protein: turkey breast, chicken breast, fish (tuna, salmon, halibut), cheese, lean beef and tofu.
- INCREASE foods containing complex carbohydrates: potatoes, beans, chick peas, kidney beans, carrots, okra, zucchini, cucumbers, rice, lentils, wheat, oats and dairy.
- INCREASE foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: flax seeds, salmon, walnuts, sardines, shrimp, tofu, scallops and soy beans.
- AVOID foods containing simple carbohydrates (including sugar) or caffeine: soda, coffee and tea; fruit juices; syrup; white bread; white pasta; packaged cereals; cakes and candy.
Overall, the cause of ADHD is unknown, and, therefore, so is the best treatment. While ADHD is not curable, reflexology and good nutrition are excellent, natural ways to decrease the severity of ADHD symptoms. This in turn will lead to a healthier and more relaxed child.