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The ATTEND Approach: Natural Support for ADHD

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Many families are looking for more natural options to manage ADHD and attention issues (e.g., distractibility, impulsive behavior, disruptive behavior, restlessness, and hyperactivity). ATTEND is a pneumonic device to remember the six key strategies to consider.

ATTEND: Natural Support for ADHD

A | Arousal Management

Some studies suggest that ADHD symptoms may represent a dysregulation of the internal 24-hour clock (aka circadian rhythm), which controls the balance of alertness and drowsiness of our brain throughout the day and night. Over 55% of people with ADHD have sleep disturbances. Sleep is foundational for good attention and emotional regulation. Be sure to receive the appropriate amount of sleep each night. For example, kids and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

Read this article on ADHD & sleep to learn more.

T | Training the Brain

Mind-body skills can be very...

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The Future of Mental Health

by Henry Emmons, MD

We are Living with an Epidemic of Mental Health Problems

The numbers are staggering. 

The percentage of people in the US suffering from depression, anxiety, and poor focus/memory are historically high and increasing by more than 10% each decade. The rise is even faster among adolescents. If you are struggling with one of these common mental health problems, you are most definitely not alone!

Currently available treatments often don’t work well over the long term. 

Antidepressant medications still form the mainstay of treatment for depression and anxiety, while stimulants are the primary treatment for ADD. Consumers and professionals alike are realizing the limitations of conventional treatments and desperately looking for more natural, safe yet effective alternatives.

Natural approaches to mental health treatment are too often disorganized and unscientific.

There is no unified theory explaining the epidemic of disorders, either in the...

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Nourish Your Brain for Better Mental Health

Nourish Your Brain for Better Mental Health: Risk Factors for Nutrient Depletion

Did you know that specific nutritional deficiency may actually cause mental illness or exacerbate existing symptoms? This is because humans require a variety and certain level of basic vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and amino acids for proper brain function and to manufacture the necessary neurotransmitter levels (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) to maintain mental health.1,2  Without certain nutrients, it can literally be impossible for us to feel good--both mentally and physically.

You May Be Missing Key Nutrients

Even if you eat a healthy diet, your body may still be missing certain key nutrients. A lot of fruits and vegetables have less nutrition in them today compared to their counterparts grown decades ago. This is mainly due to soil depletion as modern agricultural methods continue to strip nutrients from the soil.3 Prescription medications such as antacids, antibiotics,...

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Developing Health Literacy for Kids With Mental Health Concerns

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Information is Empowering: Why Health Literacy Matters

Just like adults, children and teenagers benefit from being informed and empowered so that they can participate in important decisions regarding their health and wellness. The team here at Natural Mental Health is dedicated to enhancing “health literacy” for our readers, by providing up-to-date information that supports the development of self-care and self-regulation skills for all ages. 

Defining Health Literacy

Health literacy is set of skills people use to realize their potential in health situations. They apply these skills either to make sense of health information and services or provide health information and services to others. Anyone who needs health information and services also needs health literacy skills.

Developing Health Literacy in Teens and Kids

One way in which children and teenagers can enrich their health literacy is to read age-appropriate books that are both...

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CBD Oil for Mental Health for Kids and Teens

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

What Kids, Teens and Parents Should Know About CBD Oil for Mental Health

By now you have probably heard of the potential health benefits of the natural plant-based remedy, CBD oil. It is derived from the cannabis plant, the same plant-type that provides marijuana. Cannabis plants have actually been utilized for millennia all over the world for their healing properties.

Understandably, there is some confusion about the differences between CBD oil and marijuana products. CBD oil that is hemp-based is legal in all 50 states. On the other hand, marijuana products vary by state in terms of their legality for medical versus recreational. CBD oil and marijuana both differ in their safety and efficacy for mental health symptoms in kids, teens, and adults.

I know, it's confusing. Let’s try to sort this all out...  

The Chemical Components of CBD, Marijuana, and Hemp

The term cannabis is used to identify a genus of flowering plants in...

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CBD Oil and Cannabis for ADHD

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

 

The Potential Benefits of CBD Oil and Cannabis for ADHD

The only clear thing we know is that more research is needed to truly understand what benefits, if any, CBD may pose in ADHD management. The same holds true for cannabis. We know that's not helpful for most folks searching for relief from ADHD symptoms. If your physician has recommended CBD oil for ADD/ADHD, then see below for common dosing suggestions and what the science says about both CBD oil and cannabis.

CBD Oil Dosage for ADD/ADHD

A physician may recommend CBD oil as a preventative tool for ADD/ADHD. It may help to manage acute symptom flare ups, but the preventative maintenance is likely most important. Similar to a dietary supplement or medication, it may work best to establish a baseline concentration in the system.

A trusted, high quality, full spectrum CBD oil could be taken daily in the form of tinctures or gel capsules. The ingredients in...

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Transition from Summer to School [Like a Boss]

 

By Anastasia Sullwold Ristau, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

Clinical Supervisor of all youth Intensive Outpatient Programs within PrairieCare Medical Group


 

This time of year is one transition after another. Changing from summer to school schedules requires big transitions with sleep, meals, and even how we organize our days or brains. Transitions are change, and more often than not, change is HARD.

And change is inevitable and unavoidable.

I’m challenging myself and all of you, dear readers, to face these times of change like a boss. That means a mental framework that allows us to keep our eyes on the bigger picture; to embrace all that comes with both the knowns and unknowns rampant in times of transition. Let's trust that internally we have more mastery and ownership over this parenting thing than we might believe in the moment. 

We’ve got this!

To help us move more smoothly from summer to school, we can use the 5 Square Prepare ...

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ADHD & Sleep: Using Melatonin to Reset Circadian Rhythm (Part 3)

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

[Read Part 1 of this series for more on melatonin and its relationship with ADHD.]

First: Is Melatonin Safe? 

I've found melatonin to be quite helpful for kids and teens with ADHD for both sleep onset and sleep maintenance issues. However, some concerns have popped up about kids and teens using melatonin for long periods of time (more than 6 months) or at high-doses. However, little has been substantiated through research studies. 

A recent systematic review of 13 RCTs assessed the safety and efficacy of melatonin for pediatric patients with ND disorders (e.g, ADHD and Autism). Studies included a total of 632 children who took either regular melatonin or controlled release melatonin. The review found that:

  • Kids who took the melatonin fell asleep faster and slept longer compared to those given a placebo pill (Abdelgadir).
  • No major side effect concerns were apparent in any of the studies.

Second: How Should You Use...

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ADHD & Sleep: The Whole Family Approach to Reset Circadian Rhythm (Part 2)

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Good [and bad] Sleep Is Contagious 

Creating a culture of healthy sleep in a household requires a “whole family” behavioral approach to sleep. That means you'll need everyone in your home to opt-in to healthy sleep hygiene practices.

  • Sleep hygiene refers to sleep practices (I call them routines and rituals) that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
  • Sleep routines and rituals are done at the same time and sequence each night as a way of winding down and giving your mind and body time and cues to move into a more calm and quiet mode to ease the transition into sleep.

No matter if your family consists of just you, twelve cats, or lots of humans, you'll want to consider all the beings and environmental influences that can be optimized for sleep. Short-term assists like melatonin can be helpful, but it's really the establishment of healthy sleep practices that bring the lasting benefits. 

Some of the...

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ADHD & Sleep: Problems with Melatonin & Circadian Rhythm (Part 1)

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

The Connection Between ADHD and Sleep 

Many of the same brain regions that regulate sleep and arousal also control attention. You've likely felt that firsthand when trying to focus on a task after a rough night of [no] sleep. It's a losing battle.

The relationship between ADHD and sleep is becoming more clear as new research has identified that:

  • Between 55 and 75% of kids and adults with ADHD also suffer from sleep related issues.
  • Even just a little sleep deprivation can lead to mental fog, inefficiencies, and can mimic the symptoms of ADHD.
  • The symptoms of insomnia and ADHD may be related to the dysregulation of the 24-hour clock (AKA your circadian rhythm). 

Though not always done in usual care, it's vital that sleep issues are explored in any child, teen, or adult with complaints of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity. If you're a patient or parent who can relate, don't be shy to bring up the topic of sleep with your...

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