10.19.2008

The benefits of Nature for children with ADD / ADHD

File this one under the "let's spend grant money to research the obvious" category: it seems that walking for about 20 minutes in a park, surrounded by trees and Nature, is as effective as Ritalin for managing some of the symptoms commonly classified under the "attention deficit" umbrella.
Researchers recruited 15 boys and 2 girls and walked them for 20 minutes in one of three settings, on different days: an urban park, a residential neighborhood, and a downtown area. Those who walked in the park showed significant, powerful improvements in their ability to concentrate and perform after their walk. The others did not. While these results may seem obvious to us, we can at least gain some measure of comfort in knowing that the mainstream medical community feels like "doses of nature might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool in the tool kit for managing ADHD symptoms" as Dr. Andrea Taylor, head researcher for the study, wisely commented.
Now, I might feel that a walk in the Vermont woods, as they turn from green to fiery red, might give an even better experience to nurture biophilia, provide renewal and inspiration, and calm a scattered mind. But even a manicured park can do the trick! So finding time to spend outside, away from television, houses, and buildings, is a good idea for our kids. And "nature deficit disorder" might soon be recognized as a legitimate concern. Imagine that...

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I love this article and this research. So often, people forget that technology and the mediation of our lives is something that has only come about in the last one hundred years and most intensely in the last thirty, while our brains are still stone age. Coming to nature helps us to slow down and not be distracted. It is sad to me that this option is one that many children will never learn.

jh
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guido said...

Thank you for your less sarcastic perspective! I completely agree. What really gets to me though is the fact that people use pretty powerful synthetic drugs to address the cognitive dysfunction that arises when trying to navigate this technological world with our stone-age brains...
But working with kids, helping them return to nature somehow (at least to realize that food doesn't come 'from the supermarket'), is something we all can do in our own little ways. That gives me a bit of hope at least.

amosandra said...

What does an herbalist recommend for adult adhd? I have trouble finding relevant adult info. Admittedly the internet is not the best place for my wandering mind, but gotta get the info somewhere. Got the nature thing down, and I really think adhd is not so bad, with it's creativity-idea-problem-solving-factory-full-tilt-boogey-effects, that is until I have to seriously interact with someone other than myself. The most difficult is the rampant oblivious adult add'er who has no idea nor intention of learning to live, communicate, work & cope in a way others (add & non-add) can get --- these folks are all over the place and just expect the rest of the planet to chase after and keep up. Not a responsible way to be. I don't want take the usual "cures" and should not anyway at my age. so what 's the tip of the herbal iceberg of healthier options for people like me?

guido said...

Well, I'd find an herbalist to work with locally rather than trying a bunch of different stuff. Everyone has different reactions.
That said, my (VERY GENERAL) thoughts:
- look at food and other environmental "irritants" (allergens, e.g.).
- Hawthorn berry, and also leaf + flower as a tea, maybe combined with some unripe ("milky") oat tops
- there are a range of mellowing herbs, from Scullcap to Lemon Balm that can be used in tea as well
- beyond that, some of the more potent plants (again, folks react differently) such as ginkgo, high-dose extract; rhodiola, in the 60-90 drop range.

lagorcerocks said...

Some good points here, also in the comments.

I have a few questions for you, Guido, if you don't mind. I've tried to ask them as short as possible and as constructively as possible. Please receive them as such :)

Firstly, I wonder how you see the work and concepts of Campbell-McBride (and many others before her, reaching back through Pinel all the way to Hippocrates) called GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) and which focuses on the relations between gut flora and mental health, such as ADHD, autism etc.?

I ask this question with particular reference to your post "In Defense of Gluten", which is a substance "demonised" by many. (I am not talking about the corporate, billion dollar gluten free industry here!) See for instance David Perlmutter's Grain Brain and Nora Gedgaudas's current work on brain health (such as here: http://theglutensummit.com/ )

In extension of that, my question also concerns the relations of cause/symptoms/effects. If we accept the gut-flora-brain-connection, then going for a walk or taking herbs to address a digestion problem emerging in the gut, expressing itself in the brain (or other organs), potentially falls too easily prey to the usual/cliche criticism of western medicine addressing symptoms rather than causes. This is of course terribly simplified, since "the environment" will always be a variable in an individual's health; and, so, no matter what the problem might be, getting away from electromagnetic and other high-tech biophotonic interferences, car fumes, noises, artificial lights, stressed city dwellers and so on will always be a good thing.

Having read your Wild Medicine Solution (which my partner got as part of an Evolver webinar series with you) I am also really interested in the studies you mention about the liver's (in)activity and the presence/absence of chemicals on p. 121 and your surrounding discussion of the liver generally.

In the book you do not offer further references (the only one leads to http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/cell-culture/learning-center/media-formulations/williams.html ) which doesn't help much. If you have further thoughts to offer, or some references, ideas, concept, names or suggestions to share for further study, then I would be very grateful indeed.

Those sections (bitters/liver) led me to think about the liver in a new way. There was a bit of an epiphanic moment in those pages for me, so thanks a lot for that! :)

My apologies if these questions are a little out of the blue, a little rambling and a lot do deal with in a blog comment section, but I very much hope to hear from you. In an ideal world, we'd spend a few days and go for long walks and I'd interview you (chit chat, that is) about all this and take notes and so on.

cheers!