Dear overwhelmed mother,
- Does your child have focusing, sensory, or behavioral issues?
- Do you have a child who appears to have to work very hard to stay focused on a task?
- Does he instantly stop working as soon as you leave the room?
- Does it take him a long time to complete his work?
- Does he seem lazy or unmotivated?
If these statements describe your child there is hope. Your child may be suffering from a low level of serotonin metabolism.
[I share this important post by homeschool mom Michelle Caskey from Homeschool-Your-Boys! because we both want to encourage and inspire you as you homeschool, or consider homeschooling, your children.]
Last spring, I was blessed to be able to hear some illuminating talks by Dianne Craft. Dianne has a master’s degree in special education, she’s a certified nutritional health professional, and she was a homeschool mom. She has a heart for helping kids who are often labeled as having attention and behavioral issues.
Diane has some common sense advice which might be surprising to you.
Not all of these kids need to be medicated!
Low Serotonin Metabolism = Low Ability To Focus
It takes lots of energy to stay focused on something which isn’t interesting to you. If your child’s body isn’t producing enough serotonin, his ability to focus will be greatly impaired. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is mostly manufactured in the gut (intestines.)
Serotonin metabolism’s beneficial effects help behavioral issues:
- Relaxes the mind
- Instills a sense of well-being
- Helps us handle stress
- Keeps our mind focused
- Promotes falling asleep and staying asleep through the night
- Is an antidepressant
- Helps us control impulses
- Gives us a more positive outlook on life
You can see how a lack of serotonin metabolism would put a real burden on a child’s system. Many of these kids are put on Ritalin or some other psychotropic drug in order to help with attention and behavioral issues. We are told Ritalin works by helping our bodies to release serotonin. It also has 23 side effects, some of which are quite dangerous. As of 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 5.2 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 had been given diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
My boys have never struggled with their ability to focus. In fact, I almost missed going to this talk of Dianne’s because I didn’t think I needed to hear it. Little did I know that a lack of serotonin metabolism can also cause all sorts of sensory issues as well.
Take a look at the various issues which can be caused by sensory processing problems:
Auditory Sensory Processing Symptoms:
- Sensitive to loud noises
- Dislikes being in a group
- Language was delayed
Taste Sensory Processing Symptoms:
- Food textures bother them
- Won’t eat meat
- Chews on clothing
- Very selective eater (carbivore)
- Foods can’t touch on plate
Touch Sensory Processing Symptoms:
- Clothing tags bother them
- Socks have to have soft seams
- Dislikes non-soft clothing such as jeans
Loud noises have always bothered both of my sons. They actually bother me and my husband as well! My oldest son also had a tendency to chew on the neck of his shirt, he needed me to cut the tags off of all of his shirts, and he was a carbivore. Both of my sons had struggled with several of the other issues as well. Once Dianne gave out these symptoms I was definitely listening. I thought these were character traits in my sons – I had no idea that they were symptoms for which we might be able to give them some relief.
Dianne said that she did some research as to what was going on in these kids that could cause them to have these symptoms. She came across some research done by different doctors, one of whom was Dr. Leo Galland. He attributed these and other behaviors to something called “leaky gut.” When your gut doesn’t contain the right amount of beneficial bacteria your body will not be able to metabolize as much serotonin as it should. Also, the yeast in your system can grow out of control.
Having an upset gut ecology causes the following symptoms:
Behavioral Issues of Upset Gut Ecology:
- Mood Swings
- Inconsistent performance
- Sensory Processing Issues
- Asperger’s and Autistic-like behaviors
- Memory problems (math facts, spelling, etc.)
- Inappropriate behavior such as talking loudly, getting into other people’s space, etc.
Physical Characteristics of Upset Gut Ecology:
- Canker sores
- Stomach aches
- Leg pains
- Sugar Cravings
- Food allergies – especially to dairy
- Bed Wetting
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Repeated ear infections
- Thrush, athlete’s foot, etc.
- Rashes, eczema
- Night terrors
The good news is that it may be quite simple to get the ecology of your child’s gut back into balance – and to greatly reduce or even eliminate the bad effects they are experiencing. Dr. Galland recommends doing this with food; however, Dianne knows that in real life, it can be hard to get these kids to be willing to eat the foods necessary to get their gut back on track.
Note: this post is a very different topic than when a child is willfully disobedient or rules the home and discipline is needed.
Still, we didn’t allow the gut/metabolic issues to become an excuse for bad behavior. Once a gut/metabolism issue is addressed, discipline challenges smooth way out for many children. Parents are wise to consistently teach/train their child that self-control is for all of life, not just when they’re feeling good.
Some (Fairly) Simple Changes Can Help Behavioral Issues:
Because of this, she suggests several supplements which will be easier to get your child to take:
1. Take Probiotics – Plant these good bacteria into your child’s gut 3 times a day for 3 months. Dianne recommends exact brands with which she has seen the best results. These probiotics are refrigerated and they are potent! Switch back and forth between 2 brands to get maximum coverage. A great second probiotic is this one because kids who can’t swallow pills can take it and the broad number of strains it contains.
2. Get Rid of Excess Yeast – Use an antifungal agent such as Grapefruit Seed Extract or Caprylic Acid for 3 months 3 times a day.
3. Reduce sugar or sugary carbs – Try to reduce sugar & carbs by increasing protein, especially at breakfast and snacks. This helps build up the adrenal gland which stabilizes our mood and gives us more energy.
Dianne explains these and several other suggestions as well in her Biology of Behavior audio CDs, which I highly recommend. She also discusses how antibiotics are useful medications… however, they do have some harmful side effects. The big problem Dianne talks about is that they upset the ecology of your child’s gut.
Because both of my sons had multiple ear infections and were on antibiotics quite a bit as babies, my husband and I decided to try Dianne’s suggestion of the Acidophilus and grapefruit seed extract three times a day. We noticed a difference in our sons within days! We were so pleased that we quickly put our sons on the rest of Dianne’s regimen as well.
Over time, we have tweaked what supplements our sons take according to what seems to work best for them. My husband and I have also started taking many of these supplements. We have noticed such a difference not only in our sons but in ourselves as well.
While some children may genuinely require medication for their behavioral issues, attention and focusing difficulties, that isn’t always the case.
We all want to help our children diminish behavioral issues to develop their greatest potential, so I encourage you to listen to what Dianne has to say and see for yourself! It’s worth making the effort to try some of the above dietary changes when you know what a positive impact it could have on your child’s behavior.
Biology of Behavior (2 audio CD’s)- $27.99
Question: Do you have a child who struggles with behavioral issues in any of these areas? Do you have any other tips you could share with parents who are dealing with these same behavioral issues?
I share this important post by homeschool mom Michelle Caskey (with her permission) because we both want to encourage and inspire you as you homeschool, or consider homeschooling, your children.
Hi, I’m Michelle. Being a mom to boys can be hard! Homeschooling boys can be even harder, but I’m here to tell you that having sons is a blessing – and it is possible to connect with them and to enjoy spending your days with them. My desire is that Homeschool-Your-Boys will be a place where parents can be inspired to teach their sons in an environment which will most engage their minds and their hearts.
Click on Michelle’s profile photo to go to Homeschool-Your-Boys! This insightful blog is a treasure trove
Deep Roots At Home now has a PODCAST! We are covering everything from vaccines, parenting topics, alternative medicine, and I give my sad testimony of past abortion. We are doing this on a trial period to see if this interests our audience. So head over today and like, share and download a few episodes! https://buff.ly/3KmTZZd
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Great points! I have a child who struggles with sensory processing issues and have found many of the tips you offered to be helpful. We also follow the Feingold program (www.feingold.org) and have seen amazing improvements in other areas as well (impulse control, tics, etc.).
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the Feingold resource, Candy! I have heard good things about them!!
These tips really do help (partially or almost totally as in the case with our youngest son), thankfully 🙂 He outgrew the food allergies and getting his gut back to healthy flora and rotating food was key! Also, Grape fruit seed and adding virgin coconut oil was extremely helpful once we cut way back on sugary foods.
Ann Blake Tracy
Someone just posted your page on my Facebook page and asked my opinion which I will give her, but because I do believe you are sincere and wanting to help I feel I should take a minute and let you know that everything you have on your page about serotonin are lies made up by Pharma to peddle antidepressant drugs. The exact opposite is true about serotonin. The hypothesis behind these drugs is totally backwards. What is low in everything you mention is NOT serotonin, but is the metabolism of serotonin – exactly what antidepressants are designed to impair, thus the name Selective Serotonin Reuptake (metabolism) Inhibitors. They inhibit the metabolism of serotonin. This exact information has been used in court to win the only case that went to court determining that two of these pills were the cause of a mass murder/suicide which wiped out the majority of one family after only two pills. The drug company expert testified that according to his research over decades that the way in which antidepressants do this would produce impulsive murder and suicide. But these are the things the public never gets to see.
I have a 500+ page book on the subject and have been testifying in cases involving this and antidepressants since 1992. This is one thing I explained in testimony to the FDA in 2004 when they put the Black Box Warnings for increased suicide on the antidepressants. http://www.drugawareness.org/dr-ann-blake-tracys-september-13-2004-to-the-fda/
If you change everywhere you say low serotonin to low serotonin metabolism your article would be correct and not propagating their BIG SEROTONIN LIE.
As for your alternative helps they all sound great! All of this can be overcome naturally. I have seen it for years. In fact here is a great movie I had the privilege of being in where we discussed exactly that. It is called The Drugging of Our Children and can be viewed in its entirety here for free: http://www.drugawareness.org/the-drugging-of-our-children/
Dear Ann Blake Tracy,
I am SO, SO glad you saw this to correct this misconception!! I will change the text and hopefully Moms (whole families) who deal with this overwhelming problem will find the truth! Thank you! 🙂 Also appreciate the links to the book and movie! it all helps us to research what we won’t likely find out at the doctor’s office!
Ann Blake Tracy, you might be interested in this post telling of the dangers of antidepressants and how turmeric is an amazing herb that does the same thing without the side effect Big Pharma sells us: https://deeprootsathome.com/evidence-no-side-effect-turmeric-beats-prozac-ibuprofen-more/ 😉
This is very good information. I will pass this on to several people. Thanks!!
I am praying the Lord will get it to those who are where I was years ago (and Michelle was)! It is so overwhelming to not know why or what to do! Love you, dear Charlotte!!!
Your prayers have been answered! I was just continuing to pray for God’s help with my oldest and here I find Him saying “leaky gut” AGAIN! Oh, his mood swings and inability to stay focused, seemingly unmotivated other than for play…it’s been hard. I’ll be looking into these things tomorrow and begin to try the probiotics and grapefruit seed extract. Thank you!
Stacy, I am praying now that the Lord leads you in the perfect way for your son! I am so glad this was helpful!
I attended Dianne Craft’s sessions at a homeschool conference years ago. Her anti fungal protocol does work-our oldest is at the point where he chooses not to eat any sugar. He does it to enhance his athletic performance, but I can see the benefits in all areas. Still has some trouble focusing but is immensely better than when he was younger. He keeps a full schedule: homeschool, work and sports and is able to do very well at all of it. I honestly didn’t think I would see that when he was younger, he couldn’t remember a direction for more than 10 seconds and was awkward at sports. He recently got promoted to shift manager at work-at age 15 and plays varsity football as a sophomore. Neither is the most important thing in life but they illustrate how healing the gut can change everything.
This post prompted me to start my daughter on the road to healing. Her issues present differently than did our son’s, but they match what is listed in the post. She’s been through counseling for depression, anxiety and OCD behaviors (at age 9!). She was doing well until our family went through the job loss and move, now is back into old patterns. I’ve been talking about getting her gut back into balance and my husband finally said to do whatever it takes. For a frugal man like him to say that, it is a dire situation.
Thanks for the encouraging information!! It blesses me to read your blog, like having a cup of tea with a well read friend whose warmth and grace come through all she says and does ?.
Oh, my heart goes out to you, your husband and daughter. I am praying now for direction and guidance from the Lord Jesus. He does hear our cries and I’m asking him to give your daughter a breakthrough. Maybe this will be a part of it, praise God! Bless you all 🙂
The other day I spent time on my knees on behalf of our 11 year old son. Trying to sort out what is what. What is will and something else – that inner focus struggle. I came upon your article on FB and the list of symptoms/traits described him almost to the “t”. I want to start implementing the probiotics and grape seed. Do the bottle indicate the amount to give? I cannot purchase the Biology of BEhavor right now. No funds here at our little home school house. But I will say our other son who is 13, Isaac. He has a stroke in utero and finding Dianne Craft was a blessing for many of her other resources. We have used her brain integration therapy, right brain math cards, and this year her spelling method is the answer to our prayers. Our pediatric Stroke Surivor has been set free from anxiety and overcoming more and move everyday. Praise be to God. But currently needing to get my younger one on the supplements and praying for help for this boy who is EVER so smart but struggles with focus, etc… Thank you.
Oh, Leah, my heart goes out to you! I have goosebumps right now 🙂 How like our dear Lord to gently lead us when we cry out to Him!! Makes me think of Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Dear Mother, I’m praying for you and trust that the Lord will continue to guide you and both your sons in paths that will bring Him glory! Oh the wonderful heart you have as a praying mother!
On dosage, I think it is in the post. She states, “3 times a day for three months.” I’m sure you can go longer than that, but that would be time to evaluate. We went longer than the 3 months – 4 years – but we rotated between 2 probiotics to change up the strains.
I hope that helps 🙂
Thank you Jacqueline. You are such a blessing. And thank you so much for the prayers. God is so incredibly faithful. He has done such a mighty work. We ask for wisdom, and as He promises, He will give it. I stand in awe, how it was just days ago, I was indeed knowing there was “more” to my son, but not sure what. Then he led me to your post. And I am just so grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
i’ve been on a hunt for serotonin support for several months now, so thought i’d also mention a few others i’ve come across. SAMe is a supplement that can help serotonin production. i also read somewhere that water helps the body produce serotonin, & i gotta say — i’ve really found that to be true (almost more than a few other things i do, like a BOAT load of probiotics, the SAMe, & no sugar [not even natural sugar in fruit; nada]). on the days i drink more water, i feel SO much better the next day. my brain & my body. it’s pretty shocking.
thanks so much for sharing. would love to read a “part 2” sometime! 🙂
I’m intrigued by what you have to say; however, I haven’t found enough suggestions for possible solutions. You mentioned two probiotics, but there is a link to only one. That one is only for children 12 and older. The Grapefruit Seed Extract and the Caprylic Acid also seem as if they are intended for someone older since they come in capsule or gel caps. Also, upon reading another reader’s comments, I’m a little confused. She mentioned the metabolism of serotonin rather than serotonin production. Which one should be the focus? I’m not entirely sure of the difference. Are the above suggestions for increasing the production of serotonin or for increasing the metabolism of serotonin? Thanks!
Tara, Michelle’s post is general information pointing to more content in Diane’s book. I would go to the book for specifics on the probiotics she recommends. Thanks!
I look forward to trying these things. I want to also add that for my adhd kids caffeine pills have provided a great support, similar to stimulant like Ritilin but a much healthier and safer option. We use Prolab Advanced Caffeine which is comprised of natural plant extracts like green coffee bean and white tea.
Gaba Calm together with caffeine has miraculously improved my moody grumpy sons outlook.
THANK YOU for adding that here! Praise God for His good gifts and that they are helping your son, Summer!
Tina at Mommynificent
That’s really helpful information! Thanks for sharing it at Booknificent Thursday!
thx for all the great information, so very helpful
Glad to be of service, Lenora!!