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WHY OUR KIDS CRAVE CAFFEINE and WHAT THEY REALLY NEED
© copyright Hart Brent
What do Jolt, Surge, and Water Joe have in common? They are high-caffeine drinks that are the drug of choice for kids in the 90's. What makes stimulants like caffeine and tobacco so alluring to this generation, and their parents (the Starbucks Generation), is that so many individuals suffer from brains numbed by perfumes, carpets, scented detergents, fabric softeners, and room deodorizers. A toxic brain craves stimulus and caffeine will provide short term stimulation. Two other popular stimulants are prescriptions: Ritalin, the drug of choice for ADHD,and theophylline inhalers for asthma.
The pictures below illustrate the decreased blood flow to prefrontal regions and to pathways connecting these regions to the limbic system. Decreased blood flow means diminished cerebral glucose metabolism, diminished oxygen and diminished neurotransmitters. Lower levels of our natural stimulants norepinephrine and dopamine create an appetite for stimulants like caffeine in an attempt to restore blood flow (carrying nutrients like oxygen and glucose) and to restore neurotransmitter activity associated with healthy arousal and attention.
In the brain scans below, from www.amenclinic.com, the holes in the brain show areas of decreased blood flow. In a healthy brain the shape is completely filled outno holes showing decreased blood flow with its concomitant decreased oxygen, glucose and neurotransmitters. Electrical brain maps will temporarily normalize when stimulants are used but over time the abnormality will spread. Blood perfusion maps (seen below) only partially normalize with stimulants.
Healthy Arousal and ADHD
The consistent inattention and impulsive behavior seen in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)is often treated with Ritalin. As many as 2 million children in the U.S. are currently taking Ritalin, a prescription drug with cocaine-like characteristics.
Why a nervous system stimulant for hyperactivity? Because stimulants like Ritalin help to increase the controlling action of the midbrain and increase dopamine in frontal lobes that regulate attention and impulses.
Ritalin is training children to fix themselves with stimulants, but there are other choices:
Heron Herbals KAVA KAVA FORMULA dopamine
Epidemic of the post-industrial era
Before we settle for dopamine or norephinephrine stimulants to cure attention disorders, let's look at why ADHD is called the epidemic of the post-industrial era. Attention deficit is a modern problem with roots in modern chemicals, diets, and health care.
“Between 9-75% of children given phenobarbital are likely to develop hyperactivity or to have any ADHD symptoms worsened by this drug.” [from Barkley p. 174, see Resources]. Many modern chemicals (an estimated 3,750) including pharmaceuticals and perfumes can trigger porphyria, an enzyme disorder that causes neurogenic inflammation. See PORPHYRIA article.
ADHD affects somewhere between 10-15% of all school children in U.S. (1.8 to 2.7 million children). ADHD among children in U.S. is doubling every 3-4 years. Ritalin use quadruped between 1990-97. One disadvantage to using Ritalin is that it is not treating any underlying causes of ADHD, but instead relying on a stimulant intervention. Ritalin cannot heal ADHD; essential oils, herbs and nutrients can heal ADHD.
An often overlooked link to attention disorders is the role played by volatile petrochemical-based substances inhaled via the nose. The olfactory neurons are the only part of the nervous system in direct contact with the outside environment. Volatile organic compounds can disrupt the responsiveness of certain brain tissues, and create the changes seen in the brain scans on the previous page.
Porphyria (see PORPHYRIA article) can be triggered by all three of the above factors: nutritional deficiencies, infection, or pollution.
See Smart Drugs (below) for recommendations in all these categories.
The behavioral markers of ADHD may represent adaptive traits that served well, particularly for males, in paleolithic environments where rapidly shifting attention and impulsive responses would have helped in exploring potential opportunities or threats. “Driven, drifty, daring” (descriptors for dyslexics) mavericks are often good problem solvers and become successful entrepreneurs later in life. Educational strategies that are tailored to response-ready children would include: small, separate classrooms; stressing hands-on learning projects; and teachers who relate well to kinesthetic learning styles. Another prerequisite for a healthy learning environment would be eliminating all volatile neurotoxins, from scented markers to teacher's and students' perfumed shampoos. Read on to learn how volatile chemicals enter and damage the brain.
How Inhaled Chemicals Damage the Brain
We have no physical barrier in our nose and throat to block substances we inhale from entering the brain. Especially petrochemical based, fat soluble hydrocarbons, like perfumes can dissolve in the membranes of nasal nerves and translocate by solvent transport directly to the brain. A direct pathway has been demonstrated from the oropharynx (at back of throat) to the brain. The olfactory system links to the limbic system (including hippocampus and hypothalamus), the focal point in the brain where the immune, nervous and endocrine systems interact. Inhaled toxins lead to release of a flood of excitatory neurotransmitters that damage neighboring cells, disrupting blood flow and neuroactivity, and thinning grey matter (as seen on page 1 ) in those with learning problems/ADHD.
A child who wears clothes freshly laundered in Tide and Bounce, and who drinks one 12 oz. coke has created low blood sugar in the brain coupled with depleted dopamine and brain lipids; in other words, an attention/learning challenge.
Nutritional interventions can restore essential fatty acids and stabilize blood sugar. See page 5: Nutrients that have proven helpful with ADHD. Large amounts of DHA and arachadonic acid (AA) are required during early development and for proper function of neurotransmitters. The brain is 60% fat. Infant formulas do not contain DHA or AA, the most prevalent polyunsaturated fatty acids making up more than one-third of brain fatty acids. Fatty acid profiles are available from Body Bio, see Resources page.
Damage to the brain tissues from inhaled chemicals is caused by three responses occurring in the brain:
excitatory amino acids: e.g. glutamate excites nerve cells to death
fight or flight stress hormones: i.e. cortisol and epinephrine
No one's brain can learn under these three compounded stressors; lost is the ability to concentrate, retain or sort information.
Protocol for treatment of excitotoxin exposure follows on p. 6. If you can stop the brain numbing effects of inhaled chemicals soon after exposure, then you can minimize the long-term damage that leads to learning problems.
What Brain Scans Can Tell Us
An often overlooked link to attention disorders is the role played by volatile petrochemical-based substances inhaled via the nose. The olfactory neurons are the only part of the nervous system in direct contact with the outside environment. Volatile organic compounds can disrupt the responsiveness of certain brain tissues, and create the changes seen in the brain scans of those with attention disorders (ADHD), multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) or depression. The damage to the brain can be seen in PET (positron emission tomography) or SPECT (single photon emission computerized tomography) scans that show patterns of decreased blood flow from random thinning of grey matter - a pattern shared with cocaine abuse. Photos on page 1 show the frontal and temporal lobe damage shared by ADHD, MCS and depression. Damage also shows on encephalograms. All the patient has to do is sniff perfumes and their evoked potentials - EEGs - become wildly abnormal. The P300 wave of the QEEG (quantitative EEG) is the best way to measure the ability of the person to formulate a thought and measure the results electrically. The brain scans of those with chemical illness or attention disorders show the same gaps in grey matter and abnormal P300 wave. Both groups complain they cannot concentrate, retain or sort information. Electrical brain maps will temporarily normalize when stimulants are used but over time the abnormality will spread.
Truly Killer Scents
How could ubiquitous perfumes be as toxic to our brains as cocaine and not be regulated as such? We continue to purchase the products. Money rules. Ninety-five percent of chemicals used as fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum including benzene and aldehydes. Only 15% of perfume ingredients have been tested for human toxicity. Many perfume ingredients have been identified by the EPA as hazardous waste disposal chemicals. We are constantly bombarded by toxic scents: fabric softeners, detergents, shampoos, aftershaves, car and room deodorizers. Formaldehyde that outgasses from carpets, cleaning products, plywood is a recognized neurotoxin.
Too Many Frames Per Second
Several parts of the brain work together to hold and coordinate information. Brain scans by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (FMRI) shown below reveal how within 11 seconds the brain relays information from the lower back associated with sight and sound to the frontal lobe where the image is stored. Frontal lobes are damaged in those with ADHD, MCS and depression.
Perception and memory require coordinated efforts of different parts of the brain. This intra-brain communication is disrupted and delayed in those with attention disorders. “Too many frames per second” is a common complaint of those with attention/learning disorders. Computers that intentionally slow down the presentation of information have proven successful learning tools for ADHD. Ideally, the learning environment would be tailored to allow for kinesthetic learning without exposure to volatile scents. As described below, essential oils, entering the brain via the olfactory pathway, can heal and improve brain function.
Nutrients that have proven helpful with ADHD
Use muscle testing, O-ring testing or energy scanning to select remedies and dosages.
Essential fatty acidsto restore cerebral membranes
fish oil (EPA/DHA) with EPO (gamma linolenic acid) Omega Combination by Efamol
Magnesium is nature's relaxantminimum of 200 mg per day to counteract excitotoxins
ginko to increase circulation to brain
bilberry improves brain sorting function
pycnogenol acts as antioxidant in brain to counteract free radicals/excitotoxins
Vitamin Ethe best brain antioxidant 200 to 2,000 I.U. per day to quench free radicals
B vitamins especially B3, B6, B12 folate to nourish nerve tissues
Multi-vitamin containing chromium and vanadium to maintain stable blood sugar to fuel brain
Increase protein & eliminate white sugar to maintain steady blood sugar fuel to brain
Treating Exposure to Excitotoxins
The sensation experienced after exposure to excitotoxins may resemble fight or flightan inability to concentrate, retain or sort information. The paleolithic body was not designed to do math problems while running away from the saber toothed tiger, but rather to mobilize reserves of energy for flight. The modern body responds to inhaled chemicals with a fight or flight response, and if this response runs unchecked, brain damage ensues.
Chemical Exposures (see Resources: books) illustrates the pattern of excitation followed by withdrawal as an isolated event and then as overlapping events as occurs in the real world.
It is the "hyper" response that causes the brain numbing results; the widhdrawal creates the craving for caffeine or other stimulants. Nutritional and homeopathic ways to treat excitotoxin exposure are described next.
All products in blue or purple can be ordered from this website. Print out order form and mail with payment.
Use muscle testing, O-ring testing or energy scanning/dousing to select remedies and dosages.
After Excitotoxin Exposure:
Smart DrugsEssential Oils, Nutrients and Herbs
To clear volatile compounds:
A V O I D all exposures - one molecule rekindles reaction
To soothe frontal brain depression:
To soothe allergies:
To treat infections:
Treating the Emotional Aspects of ADHD with Flower Essences
Flower essences are homeopathics designed to restore emotional equilibrium by reminding you of your balanced place. Flower essences can return you to your emotional center. Dosages vary from 5 drops hourly to 10 drops once a day, depending on severity of symptoms. There is no toxicity associated with flower essences, they are pure energy in water. You dilute 5 drops from the stock bottle (which contains alcohol as a preservative) into a 1 oz. dropper bottle filled with good quality (not tap) water.
Directions for uses of essential oils:
Use muscle testing, O-ring testing, or energy scanning/dousing to determine remedies and dosage.
To take internally:
dosage of 1-5 drops in teaspoon of honey or in gel cap with olive oil taken before meals with warm water
inhale deeply without touching oil to nostrils or will burn, especially the birch oil
add 3-10 drops to each palmful of shampoo before spread on head, lather in as usual
steam diffusers are better than candles because they don't cook the oils
add 5-20 drops of oil to a tablespoon of milk or vodka and add to bath water after tub is filled
Fatty acid analysis available from: Body Bio, Patricia & Ed Kane 888-320-8338
Neurotoxicity screening available from: Raymond Singer, Ph.D. (505) 466-1100
ADHD web site:
Video demos showing severe neurologic reactions to air pollutants (carpets, school air) available from:
Anderson Laboratories, Inc., PO Box 323, W. Hartford, VT 05084
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by Russell Barkley, M.D.
Chemical Exposures: Low Levels/High Stakes by Ashford & Miller
Eat Right for Your Type by Peter D'Adamo
Energetics of Western Herbs, 2 vols. by Peter Holmes
Healthy Homes, Healthy Kids by Shoemaker & Vitale
Help for the Hyperactive Child
Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard to Raise Child by William Crook
The Impossible Child
Is This Your Child? By Doris Rapp
The Neurotoxicity Guidebook by Raymond Singer (see above)
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