David Hart was eight years old when he was brought to me. His problems were obvious: his face was never at peace, but was wracked by spasms; he was continually sniffing, blinking, and squinting. His eyes were red and rimmed by dark circles. Although his grades were average, he had frequent temper tantrums at school and at home.
In addition, David had a hearing problem, which seemed to increase as he grew older. He complained of a ringing in his ears, a condition called tinnitus. This had been unsuccessfully treated with decongestants and antihistamines. Sometimes he complained of having a “bug in his ear.” The slightest noise in class distracted him, since then he could no longer hear the teacher distinctly.
The routine five-day water fast in the Ecology Unit worked wonders: the mouth tic, eye-blinking, and hyperactivity disappeared. So, too, did the bags under the eyes, which are called “allergic shiners,” a frequent sign of food or chemical susceptibility.
When single foods, known not to have been significantly contaminated with chemicals, were returned to David’s diet, some of them brought on attacks of spasms and facial contortions. The worst offenders in his case were wheat, beef, corn, and blueberries, followed by haddock, cherries, peanuts, and potatoes.
Many foods, however, could be eaten without causing any symptoms, such as crab, chicken, pork, lamb, and onion. When some of these acceptable foods were given to David in their commercial, supermarket form, however, they caused grimaces, hyperactivity, eye circles, and gassiness. The boy became progressively more grouchy and twitchy after the second feeding of “normal” food, and this increased with each subsequent feeding. The avoidance of such foods paved the way for David’s recovery, and the last time I spoke to his family, he was greatly improved and doing well in school.
Like Paul Rossi, David was one of those hyperactive children whose problem was actually caused by a highly individualized reaction to the food and chemical environment, and greatly helped by avoiding those items to which he was allergic.