Acupuncture and the Treatment of 
                        Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a variety of other psychological diagnoses are made with increasing frequency in this country at a younger and younger age. Our office is in a rather affluent area of the Silicon Valley in northern California and I have been told by teachers from the middle grades of some of the better private schools that they have classrooms where almost 1 in every 6 children is on Ritalin or some other powerful psychologically active medication. This is extremely alarming. Dr. Miller's training in pediatric acupuncture was with Julian Scott who is without doubt the world's authority on the treatment of ADD and ADHD in children using the techniques of acupuncture. Dr. Miller admits that he was skeptical that acupuncture could have any meaningful effect on such difficult diseases as these but in his experience in the clinics with Julian Scott and in his own subsequent experience in treating children, he has been amazed at the results. There is no particular disease in the language of Oriental medicine that is the equivalent of what we would call ADD or ADHD. One of the beauties of Oriental medicine is that it looks at problems from a totally different perspective that Western medicine. A Western physician looks at a child who has difficulty concentrating and who has problems in their relationships with their peers and problems in the structured setting of a classroom and it makes the diagnosis attention deficit disorder. Oriental medicine looks at the same child and sees the same behaviors but talks about the problem with a completely different language, and from this very different way of looking at the problem comes up with treatments and interventions that are often quite effective. For Oriental medicine, the body and the mind are inseparable, both part of a single package. Imbalances that in one child might lead to problems with the digestive system or the lungs can in a different child lead to problems with the mind, with the mood and with behavior. The goal is to identify and treat the imbalances and when this is done, the symptoms abate, be they symptoms in the body or symptoms in the mind. This is not just a nice theory. These techniques work. There is often a need for treatment that extends over several months, but there is tremendous gratification in watching a child change in a way that their need for Ritalin or other medications is significantly reduced or eliminated.

Acupuncture for the treatment of attention deficit disorder and other childhood diseases is remarkably safe. It is Dr. Miller's practice to leave the child on whatever medication they are on as the treatment begins and to coordinate any attempts to reduce or eliminate the medication with the physician that had originally prescribed the drugs. If a child is extremely phobic and fearful of needles, there are ways that the necessary acupuncture points can be effectively stimulated using minimal or even no needles. Even for those children who have conditions requiring months of treatment to bring about a significant improvement, the prospect of several months of acupuncture is far better than the possibility of a lifetime of medication.

For a more thorough discussion of the use of acupuncture in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, please see the book by Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow from Eastland Press:
Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children, Eastland Press, 1999