Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Medicated Child & Weston A. Price


Last night I watched a PBS Frontline episode called "The Medicated Child." The show covered many aspects of the unfortunate -- and most likely unnecessary -- phenomenon of prescribing antipsychotic and/or behavioral medications, such as lithium and ritalin, to children as young as 3-years-old who are diagnosed as ADHD or bipolar. Arguments were provided for both sides of the issue, but in the end it seems plain obvious that kids should absolutely not be given meds that have never been fully evaluated to be safe and effective for adolescents and infants. It is also readily apparent that drug companies could care less who they're hurting by encouraging widespread use of these potent medications. This is especially evident when Frontline reveals that drug companies suddenly became interested in testing the effects of behavioral meds on children only when the Clinton administration gave adequate monetary incentive for doing so.

But all of that is another issue having more to do with politics and ethics. A far more intriguing question that I would like to address is: why are children exhibiting behavioral abnormalties? What is the root of all this madness? Surely it's not a deficiency in meds!

When I seek to answer a question like this, I always consider nutrition and physical health to be huge contributers. And I always think of my good buddy, Weston A. Price. This man truly observed something revolutionary about the physical and mental health of primitive populations on poor diets, and it is this radical observation that I thought of immediately when I saw a particular scene in The Medicated Child:

A woman is explaining the inadequate brain activity of a young boy to his family through the use of a color-coded brainscan. One sees the boy's brain and its array of greens, oranges, yellows, and reds. Then, next to that, a "normal" brain is shown with a very different color pattern. The woman points to different areas in the boy's brain and says, "This is abnormal and indicates that there is not very much activity here." Okay, so far very interesting. Then she turns the family's attention to a part of the brain called some fancy scientific name, which is visibly smaller than a normal brain. "That's where the problem is," she tells the family, who all seem very impressed.

My question is: What the heck is so impressive about this diagnoses? Where are the answers as to why this happened in the first place? How is this a satisfying experience in the least bit?

Doctor: "Your son has an abnormal brain. Here are some meds to fix it."

Parents: "Wow, thanks, doc. You're a life saver."

Stop. Hold the phone. Why? Why is his brain abnormal? Just because? Of course not. There are simple answers that are easily overlooked by all of the "experts" because they're used to thinking about things in such a complex fashion. What if, for example, the son is nutritionally deficient? What if he needs an improved diet? While nutrition appears to be the most fundamental root cause of illness -- especially when we see these kids on Frontline eating twinkies and corn dogs and goldfish crackers -- these are questions that are never addressed by the doctors. ADHD caused by too much sugar? Naw, couldn't be! Could it be that these children need more animal fats and proteins in their diets? No way -- that stuff causes heart disease!

It seems like the further we progress scientifically, the more we forget the simple questions and answers. For example, when "experts" are asked why more and more kids are diagnosed as bipolar, the answer is unsatisfying:

Top experts offer a range of reasons. They acknowledge some of the increase is likely due to bipolar being mislabeled; some think "bipolar disorder" has become a catch-all diagnosis for kids with a range of problems. But many experts say the increase is simply because doctors are better at identifying bipolar in children today than they were 10 years ago. They believe these kids have always existed, but that doctors failed to recognize the symptoms of bipolar and called these children oppositional or diagnosed them with ADHD. Some experts also cite evidence of a genetic link behind the rise in childhood bipolar, and some even speculate that environmental factors are playing a role in triggering childhood bipolar. source

First of all, that's quite an assumption that these kinds of kids have "always existed." A quick evaluation of primitive populations will find the opposite to be true. Second, not one of these mainstream experts even speculates the cause may be related to diet. Yet, even if we are to attribute behavioral abnormalities to nutrition, we still don't get a satisfying answer. Even if we instruct families to cut out sugar and other junk foods and add more animal fats/proteins to the diet, and as a result we see dramatic shifts in a child's behavior, we still haven't answered the question of "why does the child have a smaller, more compressed brain structure than a normal brain?" And why is this phenomenon becoming more and more common? Again, we return to nutrition as the root cause, but this time let's focus on the diet the child was raised on and the diet of the parents before conception and during pregnancy. Now we're getting somewhere.

Here we return to good ol' Dr. Price. His study of primitive populations showed that, with inadequate nutrition of the parents in the prenatal period and when provided with a deficient diet postnatally (during the formative years when still growing), a child develops facial, skeletal, and dental deformities. In other words, rather than a child having a nice round face, square jaw, wide nasal passage, and all 32 teeth, the child has a narrow face, sagging cheeks, pinched nostrils, and crooked teeth. All of these changes are due to inadequate nutrition, not genetics. And with these deformities comes an overall more "squished" brain due to poor formation of the skull. This can potentially lead to poor blood flow and, thus, abnormal brain function. Children with ADHD have 3-4% less brain volume than children without ADHD.

To further add to the argument of poor nutrition/poor skeletal development being the cause of behavioral disorders, it's interesting to note that every single child in The Medicated Child exhibited facial deformities. Most kids had overbites, some were mouth breathers, and all had narrow faces. For a visual example, return to the top of this post and observe the child on the DVD cover.
In summary, I theorize that the root of behavioral abnormalities is:
  • Inadequate nutrition (animal fats/proteins) of parents prenatally
  • Inadequate nutrition of child postnatally, during developmental years
  • A combination of the above leads to the child's skeletal deformities, part of which is comprimised brain volume due to underdeveloped skull
  • Smaller brain volume, in addition to poor diet, leads to poor brain function and, thus, behavioral abnormalities
All of that being said, with nutritional intervention (nutrient-dense, animal food-rich diet) a child may improve and function well. If this isn't enough, other therapeutic interventions and/or medication (as a last resort) may need to be utilized. In the end, however, it all starts prior to conception with the diet of the parents. If we are to truly resolve these disorders -- and many others -- it is necessary rebuild our children's health generation by generation until we return to the legacy of optimal health left by our primitive ancestors.
For a fascinating article on facial and dental deformities, check out this article: "Is it Mental or is it Dental: Cranial and Dental Impacts on Total Health," by Raymond Silkman, DD.

13 comments:

Destroying Angel said...

Awesome! Scary and fascinating. I, too, believe strongly in my limited knowledge of Price's theories. Ties in closely with what I know of TCM and its ideas about the prenatal constitution of parents at the time of conception, as well as nutritional energetics during formative yers. Certainly there are a myriad of factors involved. I wonder what Price suggests for the growing army of those such as myself whose parents had poor nutrition and who themsleves subsequently had poor nutrition during formative years but have not been diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD? Perhaps I would have been, were I born 10 years later... I certainly have crooked teeth and perhaps a cramped brain, and I definitely think quite a bit outside the mainstream... don't know that I'd change a thing, though, if good nutrition would have meant my ending up "normal" : )

Keep up the good work - it's very valuable and appreciated!

Best wishes,

Joe

chlOe said...

I definitely know someone who was prescribed medication for ADD and got totally messed up from it. When they upped her dosage she was basically displaying symptoms of speed (because ritalin and anything related to it is pretty much speed). Most of my friends are on some kind of drug if not popping advil everyday, for, you know, those natural head aches we all get.
Hell I even took one of those ADD pills to see what it would do and I was pretty amazed - I was basically talkative, in love with everyone around me, absolutely no appetite, and ecstatic-ly optimistic to say the least. No wonder so many kids are on the stuff; and probably prefer it over heroin or any of those hard to get drugs, that aren't basically handed to them. Over time they'll be traumatized by the Christina Agulera bugs, though (and might accidentally kill their friend Kenny because of that)

But yeah, Price is the man! I still need to finish his long ass book.

Ryan Koch said...

D.A.: I didn't know that about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Interesting how that connects with Price's observations of primitive cultures, many of which prepared both the man and woman with nutritional reinforcement (special foods high in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, & K2) prior to conception and during pregnancy.

If we could somehow wake Price from his "deep sleep" underground and ask him what he thinks of those of us deformed moderns that escaped ADHD, I would love to hear what he has to say! :-)

I would say that not every person who exhibits facial deformities has glaring mental disorders. Some do some don't. Why this is case would need further study. The kids in the film had VERY apparent facial deformities (not to mention the fact that they ate junk food). Still, even if we seem mentally normal despite our facial malformation, I believe we are still a far cry from the vibrant health and pleasant, cheery dispositions of the primitives. If you ever get the chance to spend time around traditional peoples with round faces, you'll see what I mean. They're amazing specimens!

Ryan Koch said...

Chloe: We are a society on stimulants -- drugs, coffee, sugar, etc. It's certainly not surprising to hear that most young people are on some sort of mood-altering medication. I used to work with summer camp kids for a while (8-12 years old) and then with troubled teenagers in the wilderness -- it was shocking to see the amount of meds some of these kids took. It was to the extent that they didn't know who they were when the pills were tapered off.

I know several addicts, many of whom use prescribed meds as their drug of choice. Your estactic experience on ADD pills is exactly why these drugs are sought after and sold under the table. People are trying to feel "normal" or "happy" by any means possible.

And hopefully Kenny won't get killed in the midst of all this madness. ;-)

Matt Stone said...

Yeah, kids are pretty screwed up these days. The medical industry takes it pretty hard for prescribing meds to young children. I think the majority simply feels that doctors are forcing pills down these kids' throats for profit. What the mainstream doesn't seem to get (and they must be blind), is that kids are not the same as the were a generation or two ago, especially when it comes to neurological/behavioral abnormalities. Of course, drugs are no answer. They never are. Never do they get to the core of the problem, and I know Ryan knows what that is.

Jake of Flagstaff said...

Great argument, I am currently writing a presentation on generation readings that this will immensely help. Anyway I had a friend a few years back who had sever ADD, one of the curious things about his cause was he was almost normal before taking his twice a day medication. But after taking it he was a totally different person!
I wonder if the medications had a counter affect; if so this would explain our society’s constant wants, and incapability to be satisfied.
Either way orthodox western medicine is not the path to regeneration, “for a cured patient does not pay.”

“A society’s health is not based on the richest or the most affluent induviduals, but the poorest and weakest” - Frederick Douglas

We have become a society of individual dictators, losing the ability to help or be helped. We rise ourselves by stepping on others, therefore razing society.

The ultimate historical remembrance is not a name or memory of a person or group, but the legacy of societical progress. For the individual does little in moving mountains.

May you Grok in Fullness
Jake of Flagstaff

Ryan Koch said...

Hey Jake,

There is no doubt that certain medications are addictive and over-prescribed. ADD drugs can be lumped in this category. If you read Chloe's and my comments above you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.

I agree that orthodox medicine is no means to regeneration. It's one hell of a band aid, though. I believe that we as a society need to first recognize the degeneration of health as Weston Price did. Then we must acknowledge that there is such a thing as optimal health -- which is the example left to us by the primitives. Finally, we must shift our way of thinking from "patching things up" to regeneration of optimal human health.

Nice quote. Very true.

We do tend to isolate and ignore the bigger picture in our culture. I agree with that, sir!

Thanks for the comments!

Aggie said...

Great post.

As a mom, I can say that when it comes to the health of your own children, people often behave irrationally. When told your child is sick, most Americans run panicked into the arms of the pahrma/med industry.

They can be very bullying and intimidating. If you challenge the norm in any way -- don't want to use formula, have concerns about vaccines -- they basically call you a bad parent.

Also, I think it is easier to believe in an "illness" that can be fixed with a pill than to call into question our entire society's emphasis on the profit motive that has led to toxic environments, poisoned water, very little maternity support and therefore an over reliance on formula rife with HFC and soy, garbage for food endorsed by the USDA and served at school etc. that lead to ill-health, mental and physical.

I wrote a post about Dr. Paula Bass, a psychologist who addresses nutritionally problems in her patients:

http://www.nourishdc.com/?p=183

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Aggie,

I agree with you 100%. It's a sad culture we live in where parents that revert to time-tested methods of raising children are seen as neglectful. Good for you for thinking for yourself and doing what you feel is right.

I really liked your post on Dr. Paula Bass -- sounds like an intelligent person!

Anonymous said...

My sister is on a mediterranian diet forced on by her husband. They're both german and live in Germany.
My sisters first born child is a boy and is now turning 13 and still wets not only the bed at night, but sometimes just lets it go in puplic.
He is intelligent but can't pay attention in school. He was fed cereal (sometimes without milk) growing up, or bread. She ran from doctor to doctor and been given multiple pills and other 'test' pills to stop the "ADD" and bed wetting...nothing helps. He is however on an ADD pill, and has been for years now, with after school sessions and playing soccer and other sports he seemed to have lost his "ADD"...but still wets himself.
The skin around his eyes is blood shot, he looks "old" for his age, very pale and is the smallest and shortest boy in his class.
He goes to bed exhausted and immediately falls asleep. They restrict his water consumption now to 'help' the bed wetting.

My sister (eating 15 years of nothing but grains every day) has joints in a condition of a 80 year old . Broken down tissue, back pain with cracked discs, severe knee and wrist pain, hair loss (male pattern baldness), brittle nails, adult acne, herpes outbreaks, digestive problems taht were thought to be caused by her uterus, so they took that out and the list of little things goes on. She is 44 years old.

And this is what you get when you feed on grains and sugar.

Physical Therapy Supplies said...

I'm in this category described in the blog post. Now, a study led by a scientific team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center provides some of the first data on this subject, And why would a diabetic add sugars or fruits to a carb food??? Come on!
I wonder what Price suggests for the growing army of those such as myself whose parents had poor nutrition and who themsleves subsequently had poor nutrition during formative years but have not been diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD?
This is so interesting and use full blog this good inform. Because is very common in the medical device industry.

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The Medicated Child," which the in the number of children being diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders and prescribed medications that be tested in children.
Based on the children that I have encountered in my work. The topic of one-size-fits-all treatment should exist in something so serious as medicine.

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