Acupuncture can be a helpful tool in the struggle to deal with ADD/ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome. The often challenging symptoms for all of these disorders can cause problems at home, school, work, and in relationships. Acupuncture can help relieve the symptoms and eliminate displays — improving attention and focus, calming fidgety or hyperactive behavior and managing mood.
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes individuals to make sudden sounds and unusual movements, such as jerking the head or blurting out obscenities. The first signs are usually simple tics. These can progress to multiple, complex movements including respiratory and vocal tics. Tourette’s syndrome is more common for males than females, the ratio being 3:1. Tourette’s begins in childhood, usually between the age of 2-15 years, and is seen in all ethnic groups. The causes of Tourette’s syndrome are not clear.
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are disorders that are usually associated with one another to describe a syndrome which consists of symptoms including a lack of ability to maintain attention to a subject for a prolonged period of time (from moments to minutes), a sense of disconnectedness from the current “flow” of activities around them, an inability to follow directions, and a hard time sitting still, among other symptoms.
Although commonly linked, ADD and ADHD manifest themselves behaviorally in very different ways. People with ADD tend to be somewhat passive, and more withdrawn than their ADHD counterparts. People with ADD are more easily overwhelmed, while people with ADHD tend to be brasher and have a harder time connecting with the people around them. Both conditions can be extremely painful for the patient socially and psychologically. They too have symptoms that may begin in childhood and continue into adulthood — in fact, up to half of adults diagnosed with the disorder had it as children.
ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome are often diagnosed together, and some medical experts believe Tourette’s is directly associated with ADHD, according to the Institute for Traditional Medicine. Tourette’s syndrome tends to be more severe and more difficult to treat if it appears in combination ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While stimulants are usually prescribed for ADHD, other medications that manipulate brain neurotransmitters are typically used for Tourette’s.
Acupuncture is a wonderful ally to traditional therapies for each of these conditions. A benefit to acupuncture as a complementary therapy is that acupuncture can also help to address some of the negative side effects of some of the medications currently used to treat the disorders. Most ADD and ADHD medications are associated with some sort of side effects ranging from dizziness, sleeplessness, dry mouth, abdominal pain, changes in appetite, and other symptoms. The side effects experienced will vary from patient to patient, and each experience is unique. However, some people don’t wish to risk adverse side effects of these medications, and are choosing to use acupuncture on its own.
A study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine on the effectiveness of acupuncture on Tourette’s syndrome patients indicated that symptoms were reduced or eliminated in 73 percent of the patients treated with acupuncture therapy.
Acupuncture can help to promote healing, alleviate pain, calm spasms and ticking, bolster the immune system, and generally encourage good health in a myriad of ways. Acupuncture works with the energy force in the body and regulates the flow of that energy, and it can be an extremely effective tool in addressing behavioral disorders. Acupuncture can help to calm the impulses that make it hard for a patient to stay still. It can also work to improve concentration and bolster the immune system and energy of the patient, which can address both the sluggishness or hyperactivity commonly seen in patients with ADD/ADHD.
Enhancing the flow of energy in the body can also assist the patient to maintain a positive outlook, and can help to regulate sleep. The patient will then gain a greater benefit from the therapies available to him or her, and can help with the side effects.
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Sources: Institute for Traditional Medicine; Tourette’s Syndrome — Potential Treatments with Chinese Medicine; Subhuti Dharmananda; January 2004
Photo: Happy Child by George Hodan