The Science of Sustainability

Having a Cuppa

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The only two fail-safe ways I found to treat my symptoms of ADD and focus clearly have been exercise and drinking Yerba Mate tea.

Coming up at NightLife, Guayaki will be hosting a tasting of their Yerba Mate tea. Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a small evergreen tree of the holly family found in the forests of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Yerba mate is packed with nutrition – 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and antioxidants as well as caffeine. Its function as a stimulant paired with its balancing nutrition makes it a great substitute for coffee. There are six commonly used stimulants globally: Yerba mate, coffee, kola nut, cocoa and guarana. I have loved seeing this product become more readily available in San Francisco as Yerba mate has been one of my staples for years. It was recommended by my doctor to wean myself off of Ritalin.

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at sixteen and was put on Ritalin for treatment. ADD is one of the only recognized neurological mapped learning disorders. Research links ADD with a strong neurobiological basis affecting the frontal lobe as well as dopamine transporters. Heredity is the leading cause for ADD and is the reason I have it. My brother was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) just before me. The disorder is also seen on both sides of my family. Smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to ADD in offspring. Symptoms of ADD can be seen as inattention, hyperactivity, and distractibility. Research theories believe those with ADD show high restlessness and hyperactivity because it helps them increase dopamine levels in order to sustain mental functioning. Stimulant medications like Ritalin are successful for treating the symptoms of ADD because they provide the boost needed to focus. Stimulants act as a focusing and calming panacea for the symptoms.

I took Ritalin for five years. It got me through high school and my first year of college and I came to hate it. With Ritalin, I knew when it was in my system and when it was not and the transition was jarring. If I took it too late at night, I would be up all night. As a stimulant, Ritalin is also an appetite suppressant and after years of sleepless nights and very little appetite, I wanted another way to treat my ADD.

I tried various vitamins and combinations of food. The only two fail-safe ways I found to treat symptoms and focus clearly have been exercise and drinking Yerba Mate tea. Both give the same effect of clearing my mind enough to be lucid and focused for a few hours. I often walk everywhere and drink Yerba Mate tea several times a day. ADD isn't limited to the childhood years as most people believe but if you do have the disorder you learn to work with it and find ways to compensate. From my experience from many trials and errors, a walk or a cuppa usually provide enough of a boost in order to concentrate.

If you are interested in learning more about Attention Deficit Disorder, my bible growing up was CHADD (Children & Adults with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) newsletters. They now can be found online.

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Cat

About the Author ()

Cathleen (Cat) is the former Special Projects Manager at California Academy of Sciences and worked in the public programs division. Before working at the Academy, Cat got her start as an intern at Lindsay Wildlife Museum for four years and worked with animals ranging from snakes and hawks to foxes and bobcats. She has a deep curiosity about the natural world and native California wildlife.
  • http://www.oaklandzoo.org amy gotliffe

    Can't wait to try some this thursday. Thanks, Cat!