What’s Up With ADHD and Coffee?

September 07, 2011

Recently there have been many articles resulting from the story of a mom who gives her 7-yr-old regular doses of coffee twice daily to calm him down. The articles are divided between two opinions: that coffee helps reduce ADHD symptoms, vs that of doctors who feel medication is preferable. Who is right? Parents of children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) often find themselves in a dilemma - having to deal with their child’s hyperactivity and impulsivity while feeling uncomfortable dosing him or her with pharmaceuticals. Christie Haskell did what many people are doing now to find answers - she turned to the Internet. From the information gleaned there, she developed a plan for her son in which twice every day, he gets four ounces of coffee, delivered consistently like medicine doses. What she noticed was amazing. Suddenly her son was able to sit down and focus on homework; he no longer overreacts in a tantrum when asked to pick up toys. Her son likes the coffee and says that it calms him down. When Haskell blogged about her experience, many other parents responded with similar stories. Clearly these parents are onto something. The question is: how much coffee can developing children safely consume on a regular basis? Doctors object because of this, saying that coffee isn’t good for kids. They prefer to use drugs which aren’t addictive. But they don’t mention the unpleasant side effects of these drugs. Many children have consumed coffee since the ages of six or seven, and not all show signs of addiction or problems with withdrawal. In fact, many children drink more or as much caffeine in Coke or Pepsi drinks, which carry the added problem of sugar. If coffee is sweetened with a natural sweetener such as stevia, coffee would seem to be the smarter choice. At least it’s full of antioxidants and other healthy compounds. Another consideration is the marketing and availability of energy drinks, which children drink and which impacts them much more seriously than does coffee. So there you go. Do we use a natural substance that makes both child and parent happy, or use a pharmaceutical which can lead to further problems down the road?



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