The following article is adapted from Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. The author is the Director of Homeopathic Educational Services and President of the Foundation for Homeopathic Educational Research.
When treating hyperactive patients, conventional physicians most often prescribe Ritalin (methylphenidate), an amphetamine-like drug. It is ironic that physicians would give this drug to individuals who are overly active; one would think it would make the children even more active. Yet, we know that Ritalin has an opposite effect on such youngsters. Using the same medical principle, homeopathic treatment has proven effective for many youngsters with clinical hyperactivity.
Physicians refer to the “paradoxical action” of drugs as an explanation for the effectiveness of Ritalin. But paradoxical action is just another name for the homeopathic “law of similars.” The drug does not further relax children who are already calm — it only calms those who are hyperactive. It is because the action of Ritalin would actually be expected to increase hyperactivity that it can treat it effectively.
Although Ritalin is generally useful in temporarily relieving hyperactivity, it is a powerful drug that has possible side-effects including nervousness, insomnia, reduced appetite, weight loss, retarded growth, stomachaches, skin rashes, headaches and hallucinations. Further, it is largely unknown what long-term effects these drugs have on the fragile bodies of children.
Professional homeopaths first interview the child in detail to discover the totality of physical, emotional and mental symptoms. They then refer to a toxicology text which outlines specific physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that various substances cause in overdose. Homeopaths seek to select the substance that would cause similar symptoms to those the person has. Highly diluted, specially prepared doses of that substance are administered.
There are several homeopathic medicines that might be determined appropriate for hyperactivity. To give the reader a sense of two of these common types, a comparison of Argenticum nitricum and Arsenicum will be helpful. Children who need Argenticum nitricum can easily transmit energy. They are ridden with anxiety, hurry, and worry, and experience anticipation about performing, whether it be for an examination or a school play. They have difficulty fixing their attention, and often try to explain themselves and their behavior. They are master rationalizers, though most of their explanations are irrational (some people may call their explanations “creative”). Physically, they may look older than they are. They tend to walk faster than others. Another characteristic is craving sugar, even though some of their physical or psychological symptoms may manifest soon after ingesting it. They do not seem to need as much clothing as others, and are usually aggravated by warmth. They may be troubled by gas and stomach pains.
A different profile is seen for those children who need Arsenicum. They tend to have a driving restlessness, and can be very anxious about something specific or just things in general. They are prone to anticipate that something bad may happen. Whenever possible, they avoid being alone. They are possessive and fastidious. They may try to play with many of their toys at once to keep them from others. In general, their desires are greater than their needs and this is expressed in them having ever changing and expanding desires. They can have a fussy meticulousness which may manifest in being very orderly or in doing things just the “right way.”
Partly due to their hyperactivity, children who need Arsenicum experience stages of exhaustion and weakness. They are hypersensitive to odors, touch, and noise. They may get physical or psychological symptoms from milk, wheat, sugar, or ice cream. They are easily chilled, and exposure to cold may bring on a cold, cough or headache; they are better from most forms of heat. They tend to be thirsty, yet may prefer to drink only sips at a time. These children sometimes have exacerbations of symptoms during the night which interrupt their sleep.
Properly selected and administered homeopathic medicine can be a godsend for hyperactive children. It can help them slow down, relax, and feel more internally secure. Homeopathy can also strengthen their constitution so that they feel stronger and less ill, giving them a better overall sense of well-being.