How a Subtle Hormonal Imbalance can Impact Your Child's Development

Hormones have an enormous influence on a child's development, but because they're poorly understood by many doctors, they often get overlooked in terms of the role they play in a child's developmental issues.

According to Integrative Pediatrician, Dr. Katiraei of Wholistic Kids and Families, who has received highly specialized training in understanding the role of hormones, even when hormone levels appear "normal," they are not necessarily "optimal." Subtle hormonal imbalances that do not show up in routine labwork can have an enormous impact on a child's mood and behavior.

There are two areas of hormonal function that Dr. K looks at when a child is struggling behaviorally: the thyroid and adrenals.

The thyroid plays an important role in metabolism, growth and overall development. Traditional labs measure thryoid-stimulating hormone, but this alone doesn't give an accurate picture of how the thyroid is functioning. Using a specialized type of analysis called the Biology of Functions, Dr. K is able to get a much more nuanced picture of how well the thryoid is functioning.

There's a specific pattern of behaviors and issues in children whose thyroid appears normal in regular labs but is actually functioning at a sub-optimal level:

  • Emotional lability/ mood swings/ anxious
  • Intense meltdowns that seem to come out of nowhere
  • Pattern of getting "stuck" on things/ perseverating/ overthinking
  • Separation and/or anticipation anxiety
  • Highly creative
  • Have vivid dreams, often in color

Often these kids began having big tantrums and meltdowns beginning around three years old which they never "outgrew." The child is judged and the parents are blamed for his behavioral issues when the truth is that these kiddos get caught up in a hormonal storm that is out of their control.

Fortunately there is a simple and safe intervention that can help balance the thyroid: Oatstraw. It's a healing herb that is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, & B-complex and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, silica, and zinc.

If your child fits the above profile, you can buy oatstraw at your local health food store and make a tea out of it: add 2 teaspoons of the dried herb to 1 cup of hot water and allow to steep for 15 minutes or more. Add honey to sweeten. Have your child drink a cup a day. It should take 3-4 weeks to see the results. For faster results, you can purchase an herbal tincture from Wholistic Kids. Just shoot them an email and tell them you are interested in trying their thyroid tincture.

The adrenals glands produce hormones that we can't live without including cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine and DHEA. We talk a lot about "adrenal fatigue" in adults, but we rarely discuss it in kids. Sensory kids tend to have adrenals that are very sensitive and can get easily thrown off. When this happens you get a kid who is "tired but wired," whose sympathetic nervous system is overstimulated and who is experiencing adrenal fatigue.

The following are symptoms of adrenal dysfucntion in children:

  • Crabby in the morning despite a good night's sleep
  • Tired despite a good night's sleep
  • Crashes in the afternoons around 2-4pm
  • Irritable in afternoon
  • Gets a second wind around bedtime and are "wired" instead of winding down
  • Wakes up with dark circles under eyes which go away in a couple hours

The adrenals and thyroid are linked- when the adrenals are tapped out, the thyroid gland becomes overstimulated and you will start to see the symptoms of an out of balance thyroid.

To support the adrenals, you can give 1-3ml of the herb "ribes nigrum" in the morning. You can also purchase adrenal support tinctures from Wholistic Kids.

To determine whether your child has an underlying hormonal imbalance, click here.

Both my boys have subtle thyroid and adrenal imbalances which have impacted their mood, behavior and functioning. We've been supplementing with the adrenal tinctures for several months and have noticed an improvement in both their moods and energy level. Recently, my older son began taking Dr. K's thyroid tincture and we're tracking his progress. We've noticed a decrease in him getting "stuck" on things as well as fewer meltdowns.

As Dr. K says, *"When kids feel well, they act well. When they don't, they don't!" *

If your child is struggling with sensory and behavioral issues, there are likely underlying physical imbalances that are contributing to his challenges. Getting to the bottom of what those imbalances are is crucial for helping your child heal. Click here (and scroll to the bottom) for an interview with Dr. K in which he explains hormonal imbalances in more detail.

Additional articles that may be helpful:

Energy Metabolism and Sensory Processing: What You Need to Know

The Domino Effect of Poor Energy Metabolism

An Integrative Pediatrician Answers Your Questions

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm here to support you and your child.


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Hi! I'm Cameron, mom of two incredible, "differently-wired" boys who have sensory processing challenges, wife of a nerdy surfer, mindfulness practitioner and Parenting Coach with master's degrees in education and psychology.