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Case Study: Samantha

Samantha aged 6 years was brought to see me by her parents who were reaching breaking point. They described her as a total nightmare.

As a baby she had not fed well and was late attaining the usual developmental milestones for sitting, walking and talking. She did not crawl and was described as having been a bottom shuffler.

From about twenty-one months on she became hyperactive both in the home and nursery school. She was constantly noisy, easily distracted, had a poor short-term memory, was a messy eater and a tendency to be destructive.

Her early years were peppered with constant ear infections, outbreaks of eczema and asthma attacks. She had had numerous accidents which her parents attributed to the fact that she always seemed to move too quickly and was very clumsy.

On questioning the mother concerning her diet a very familiar picture appeared. Because the child is a fussy eater the mother, in despair, gives the child whatever they will eat on the basis that anything is better than nothing. Unfortunately, in this way the child dictates the menu and the mother obliges often providing endless meals of carbohydrates, snack foods and fizzy drinks.

Samantha was no exception and when her mother provided me with a list of all food and drink consumed over a two week period I eliminated 80% of the items replacing them with food and drink free of additives and low in sugars. For the next three days Samantha’s behaviour deteriorated and her parents despaired. Then remarkably on the morning of the fourth day her parents were blessed with a totally different child. Samantha had slowed down, ate her meals calmly without making a mess and was a joy to be with.

Following five treatments Samantha’s parents reported that she continued to eat without making a mess, was concentrating better at school, was well behaved, was speaking more slowly and making perfect sense. When re-tested all her neurological findings showed a marked improvement including the hearing test – tympanography – which showed a clear change.

So how can a change in diet make such a change in behaviour? The thinking behind this is that the child insidiously selects foods that are high in carbohydrates/sugars which produce burst of high levels of sugars to the brain. The brain likes this and naturally wants more. Unfortunately, this becomes like an addiction and there is concern in some quarters that this may be the forerunner to other addictive states. Recent evidence would also suggest that certain food additives e.g. aspartame may actually trigger the release of high levels of glutamate in the brain which is an excitatory neurotransmitter thereby causing a “glutamate storm”.

A question often asked is why do food additives cause problems in some children but not other? The simple answer is that the central nervous system in children up to the teenage years is still growing and maturing and if this maturation process is slowed down or halted then that brain is going to be far more susceptible to additives than a brain that is healthily maturing.

Having taken away the food stuffs that are potentially harmful and added others that are essential e.g. omega 3, the simple treatment regime that follows targets the areas of brain that are not working optimally and the child improves.

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