Friday, May 16, 2008

Eye see some potential problems with Ritalin

Ritalin has its purpose. But Ritalin is also given to an awful lot of children. In fact, one source I found estimates that as many as 10 to 15% of all children have been placed on Ritalin at some point. Some researchers believe that children who are sleep deprived can act as if they have ADHD. And sometimes they get the diagnosis simply because they aren't behaving. Often, Ritalin is given before any behavioral, nutritional, or otherwise alternative options are considered. What that all means, potentially, is that there are many, many children out there who are at risk for what the researchers in this study discovered.

Twenty-seven female rats were divided into 3 groups; each was given a different oral dose of methylphenidate (Ritalin). Changes in eye tissue observed (at all doses, the degree of change correlated with the dose) included:
(1) degenerative changes of the corneal epithelium, the protective layer of cells on the outside of the cornea. (these changes included the appearance of apoptotic bodies, which are vesicles produced by dying cells.)
(2) increased collagen (fibrous material) production
(3) edema (fluid accumulation) around corneal cells
(4) vacuolization in cell cytoplasm (appearance of vacuoles, which help to
remove unwanted material from cells)

Interestingly, a group of Australian researchers is reporting that children diagnosed with ADHD actually respond better to fish oil than they do to Ritalin. oil can help to preserve eyesight.

I italicized the word "diagnosed" in that last paragraph, because while fish oil can help to improve the biochemical imbalance that is the foundation of ADHD, a child who is misbehaving because of poor parental boundaries including appropriate not going to change with a single pill or supplement available on the planet. It's called taking the time to be a good parent.

Kids can be snotty, they can be weird, and they can challenge your patience to the max. But when they misbehave, they're not asking for medicine. They're asking you to show them you know they are there, that they are important, and that you have the ability to set the boundaries that help them to feel safe and to be healthy. Not an easy job in this day and age, but the children in our lives owe it to us adults to have a vision for their healthy futures, and to protect their vision in the process.

Gozil R, Take G, Bahcelioglu M, Tunc E, Oktem H, Caglar G, Calguner E, Erdogan D.Dose-dependent ultrastructural changes in rat cornea after oral methylphenidate administration. Saudi Med J. 2008 Apr;29(4):498-502.

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