Many times we encounter parents who come to see us having tried a multitude of conventional strategies to improve their child’s health. These families have spent loads of their time, finances, and energy all with the same goal: to get better! They may have been to several specialists, had a few trials of different medications to reduce their symptoms, implemented drastic dietary changes, all with little or no improvements, and sometimes deleterious side effects from their medications. It can become extremely overwhelming and disheartening for the parents, who more than anything want to see their child less frustrated and doing well physically, socially, and academically.
Conventionally, the child with ADHD is thought to have a decreased ability to process neural stimuli, which may manifest in the inability to control his or her behavior. While medication may be needed to help manage symptoms, it is less often in the conventional setting that the root cause of these issues are taken into account with a goal to reduce the need for medication. In the integrative and functional medicine world, we view these symptoms as a red flag, indicating an underlying imbalance. Is there a possibility that exorphins, (opioid peptides from food proteins) could be decreasing the child’s ability to focus? Have they been thoroughly tested for food allergies? What about environmental allergens that could be contributing to fatigue? Are their levels of omega 3 fats optimal enough to sustain the health of their brain? You can see that there is much to be investigated, and often much to be gained from addressing the answers to these questions.
One particular condition that is being researched and widely debated in the medical community is pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, or “PANS”. The most current theories suggest that infection, environment, or other factors trigger a misdirected response of the immune system that creates inflammation in the brain. Children affected by PANS may present with symptoms such as OCD, motor tics, anxiety, or severe restrictive eating. These often happen “overnight”, with a very distinct presentation reported by parents. If streptococcal infection is identified as the trigger for the onset, the condition is referred to as PANDAS. After ruling out other medical issues that could cause these symptoms, parents are often left without many answers or options for treatment. Having an integrative and functional medicine approach, we look into how diet, stress, yeast overgrowth, viruses, environmental toxins, or other potential pathogens could potentially exacerbate the condition. We have also been looking into the connection with low levels of immunoglobulins. From there we are able to help create treatment plans that will provide the body with conditions needed for improvement or recovery.
Often when we encounter these families in our practice, parents express that they were never asked about any stressors, diet, or quality of sleep. What we do here at the Center stands out—we are always looking beneath the surface. How can one truly deem an intervention appropriate without first doing some detective work to get to the root of the problem? That’s why we are here. We are equipped with the latest in diagnostics and treatment from a holistic and functional medicine standpoint to meet many of these complex pediatric cases.