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What You Need to Know About Caffeine

By Henry Emmons, MD

“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.

I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.

I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...

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Adaptogens and Nervines for Resilience in Body and Mind

 By Tim Culbert, MD

Adaptogens and nervines can support resilience in body and mind. These substances are generally well-tolerated and can help your system adapt more skillfully when faced with stress. 

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are typically plant-derived substances that work to balance your body and mind. You may also hear them called “adaptogenic herbs.” These substances can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional stress; and can also exert a normalizing effect on bodily processes.

Adaptogens Can Help

  • Increase blood flow in the central nervous system.
  • Increase the release of helpful brain chemicals such as nerve growth factor and BDNF.
  • Modulate brain waves.
  • Support neuroplasticity.
  • Boost the production of neurotransmitters.
  • Prevent cell damage.
  • Eliminate toxins.
  • Balance the stress response of the adrenal system.
  • Quiet the mind and body.

Common Adaptogens

  • Ginseng.
    • American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) can help...
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Natural Approaches to Help Kids with Impulsive Behavior

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Impulsivity, or acting without thinking, can be a real problem for kids (and yes, for adults too).

What does impulsivity look like? When it happens once in a while, it can look like everyday kid behavior. When it happens a lot, though, it looks like what it actually is: Trouble with self-control. Impulsivity doesn’t appear the same way in every child. And the behaviors can change as kids get older. 

When kids are impulsive, they might:

  • Do silly or inappropriate things to get attention.
  • Have trouble following rules consistently.
  • Be aggressive toward other kids (hitting, kicking, or biting is common in young kids).
  • Have trouble waiting their turn in games and conversation.
  • Grab things from people or push in line.
  • Overreact to frustration, disappointment, mistakes, and criticism.
  • Want to have the last word and the first turn.
  • Not understand how their words or behavior affect other people.
  • Not understand the consequences of their actions....
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Natural Remedies for ADHD

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Are US Kids Worse Off?

11% of US children have an ADHD diagnosis. In France, the prevalence of an ADHD diagnosis is 0.5%. Part of this spread has to do with the US health care system's practice of readily pathologizing children's behaviors. Many behaviors may just be normal developmental variations or reflect behaviors brought on by stress, trauma, learning style issues, chaotic family situations, inadequate educational environments, or suboptimal lifestyle practices. 

Kids Are Not to Blame

There are many reasons for the difference in ADHD rates between kids in the US and France. One key reason has to do with the US mental health care system. 

Over the past few decades, psychiatry has become more biologically-based causing pharmaceutical companies and the field of psychiatry to focus almost exclusively on the "neurotransmitter deficiency model" of mental illness. For example, biologically...

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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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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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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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