Can Taping Beads Behind the Ears Help with Attention Deficit Disorder?

A few doctors are experimenting with a non-drug treatment from ancient Chinese medicine for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.

The treatment involves taping a small metal bead covered in gold or silver behind a child’s ear. When the adhesive wears off, the doctor or parent replaces the bead so that it is in the right spot at all times. In some cases the child or his parents massage the bead several times a day for thirty seconds to provide even more “pressure” on the sensitive point.

“Medication can help the ADHD child in everyday life. He or she may be better able to control some of the behavior problems that have led to trouble with parents and siblings. But it takes time to undo the frustration, blame, and anger that may have gone on for so long. Both parents and children may need special help to develop techniques for managing the patterns of behavior. In such cases, mental health professionals can counsel the child and the family, helping them to develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.” National Institute of Mental Health

The slight pressure from the bead seems to help some children with Attention Deficit Disorder become calmer and more focused.

Most of the children in “bead therapy” take conventional drugs for their disorder, but yet they still have problems managing their symptoms. So far there are only a few experiments of “bead therapy,” but results are promising. There would have to be many more scientific studies printed in recognized medical journals before “bead therapy” could become a mainstream treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder.

Dr. Michael O. Smith of Lincoln Hospital in Bronx , New York , was one of the first people to experiment with bead therapy for children whose ADHD symptoms could not be controlled by medicine alone. In 2000, sixty children aged six to 12 years were divided into two groups and matched for age, medication and sex. Group One had bead therapy for three weeks and a placebo treatment for the second three weeks. Group Two did the opposite. Then teachers, parents and children were questioned about results. The study was flawed in that children and parents knew when children had beads and when they did not. Researchers could only study seventeen children correctly evaluated by teachers. Nevertheless, teachers reported six out of 17 improved with beads, and only one in seventeen improved with the placebo.

A residential school for boys with serious behavioral problems tested beads on thirteen boys, in a study suggested by Dr. Smith. Nearly all the boys improved with the beads.

Dr. Neil Sonenklar, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond , VA , found that three of seven patients using bead therapy improved. The only drawback he found was soreness behind the ears.

Chinese acupressure goes back over 4,000 years. The idea behind acupressure is that energy or Chi must flow through the body in a harmonious way in order for a person to feel healthy. There are important places or “points” on a human body that a doctor can massage to stimulate the flow of Chi. With acupuncture, the doctor sticks needles into the points.

Attention Deficit Disorder, in Chinese medicine, means that the spirit of the person has become too active and restless. Because a person’s spirit resides in his heart, someone with ADHD probably has an overheated heart. The idea is to stimulate pressure points so that the heart cools down by receiving more fluids.

Most children do not respond well to needles. Nevertheless, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, a foremost expert on alternative medicine, about one-third of children’s pain clinics are using acupuncture successfully. Dr. Weil, a graduate of Harvard Medical School , is Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Dr. Weil says that currently there are no effective herbal remedies for Attention Deficit Disorder.

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder or CHADD is the main support group for the disorder. In CHADD reports about alternative therapies, parents are advised to stay with conventional medicines and treatments and avoid controversial ones. Alternative remedies for ADHD like yeast therapy, anti-motion sickness medicine, chiropractic care, dietary supplements, vision training and others looked promising at first, but did not hold up under controlled scientific studies.