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ADD Drug Linked To Weight Loss

Q. My 10-year-old granddaughter has ADHD. She has been prescribed Concerta and Ritalin and takes both pills every morning.
At a birthday party for her cousin recently, my wife and I noticed that our granddaughter’s pants looked three sizes too large. She was constantly pulling them up.
I asked my daughter about this and she said the medicines have affected the girl’s appetite and are also causing sleeping problems. She just nibbles and picks at her food, so her mother gives her vitamins.
She is short for her age and extremely thin. I am concerned about her health. Is there any other treatment for this condition?
A. Concerta is a long-acting form of Ritalin. Both drugs contain the ingredient methylphenidate. Combining them might increase the risk of side effects.
Parents often report that their children have less appetite and may lose weight while they are taking Ritalin. Youngsters may also complain of stomachaches, insomnia, irritability and jitters. Some children develop tics while on the drug.
Edward Hallowell, MD, discusses nutrition-based treatment of ADD/ADHD in his new book, Delivered from Distraction (Ballantine Books). He suggests that up to 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful for this condition.
Q. What advice can you offer for chronic constipation? I am 55 and in excellent health, but the calcium supplements and Fosamax I take for bone strength are causing severe constipation.
I had a colonoscopy last fall and the doctor said that I could take milk of magnesia as often as needed. I hate to rely on it all the time, though. I usually need two or three doses to get relief.
I have read about bran muffins in your column. Could you please give me more information? I would like to use natural interventions if possible.
A. A surprising number of medications can contribute to constipation. Calcium, Fosamax, Detrol, Effexor, Lipitor and Zyprexa are just a few of the medicines that can affect the digestive tract.
Too much milk of magnesia may overload your system with magnesium and lead to diarrhea. Excess magnesium is dangerous for people with reduced kidney function.
We are sending you our Guide to Constipation containing the recipe for bran muffins and ten tips for staying regular. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ The People’s Pharmacy®, No. GG-30, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
An easy constipation remedy is a mixture of one cup coarse bran, one cup applesauce and three quarters cup prune juice. Take one or two tablespoons a day with lots of water.
Q. How can I discard old medicines safely? My mother passed away last year and I took her prescriptions to my local pharmacy. They wouldn’t take them. I don’t want to flush them down the toilet as I have heard that this could contaminate the water supply.
A. You have identified a big problem. Most pharmacies do not have a special means for getting rid of old pills. Some have a “gourmet trash” service that will collect old bottles so that patient privacy is not compromised.
Perhaps you could put all the pills in one container and take them to your municipal dump as household toxic waste. That way they won’t get into the water supply.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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