Do Holistic Therapies For ADHD Work?

Kind mother helping her son doing homework in kitchen. Mother Helping Son With Homework At Table. Children's creativity. Portrait of smiling mother helping son with homework in kitchen at home

When put on a restricted diet devoid of additives 62 of the kids improved and 21 realized normal behaviour. In a six week trial, the children were put on a diet free of artificial foods. The parents of 150 children reported significant behavioral improvements, but they noticed when artificial colors were inserted back in their diets their behaviour worsened.

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The more food coloring they consumed, the more the undesirable behaviour lasted. A 1994 study in the North Shore Hospital-Cornell Medical Center found that by eliminating reactive foods like those with food additives and artificial colours the ADHD symptoms of irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbances and other unwanted behaviours were reduced. By using PET scans of the brain scientists have the ability to visually observe the quantity of glucose certain regions of the brain uses.

In examining the brains of individuals with ADHD, there are particular regions of the brain which show diminished utilization of sugar and diminished brain metabolism. Scientists are currently trying to find the cause of the decreased glucose metabolism in people with ADHD. Another detected neurodevelopment disorder that contributes to ADHD symptoms has been associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).


It is caused by over consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, and children with FAS are characterized by low birth weight, a diminished wisdom, and certain physical defects. Children born with FAS show the exact same hyperactivity, low impulse control, and inability to pay attention as those children diagnosed with ADHD. Many different recent observations have led researchers to conclude there’s a connection between thyroid disorder and ADHD.

It’s been observed that around 70 percent of all children with a condition called “generalized thyroid resistance” also demonstrate ADHD symptoms. Patients with thyroid resistance suffer from altered glucose uptake by cells, a characteristic that we now know impairs brain metabolism. Altered glucose uptake is connected to ADHD if that diminished brain activity happens to be in the brain areas responsible for our ability to listen and control our behaviour.

Thyroid dysfunction

It may be caused by artificial chemicals such as PCBs, phenols, and excessive histamines. A fatty acid deficiency can also be linked to thyroid dysfunction. A large section of the brain consists of fats, known as phospholipids which are derived from essential fatty acids. A variety of studies have identified an essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency in many hyperactive children. For instance, a 1995 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a correlation between low omega-3 blood sugar levels and ADHD in young boys.

EFAs play significant roles in neurotransmitter role in communicating of neurotransmitters and in proper nerve cell growth. Peter Breggin, MD, is a psychiatrist that’s been specializing in ADHD treatment for more than three decades. In his novels, Talking Back to Ritalin, (2001), and The Ritalin Fact Book, What Your Doctor Won’t inform you about Stimulant Drugs, (2002) he claims that ADHD is a disease that was fabricated from the pharmaceutical companies so as to market their drugs. He refutes the medical proof that ADHD is a neurological disease by pointing out that the study that revealed reduced attention centers in ADHD kids was faulty.


At the National Institute of Mental Health’s Conference on ADHD (1998) Dr. Breggin was encouraged to talk and was among the few critics of traditional psycho-stimulate treatment for ADHD. At the conference he pointed out that the research on brain atrophy of ADHD children involved kids that had been on psycho-stimulate medication. And, that previous studies have demonstrated that psycho-stimulate medications in actuality, causes brain atrophy. That convention, that had thirty national experts on ADHD concluded that there’s currently no conclusive evidence that indicates that ADHD is a medical disorder.

In his novels, Dr. Breggin presents clinical studies which show we have little long-term educational advantages in utilizing psycho-stimulates. And, he elaborates on the many important harmful effects of these medication. Dr. Breggin has also been involved several individual and class-action lawsuits as an expert witness against the pharmaceutical companies over wrongful deaths and ill effects from the medication prescribed for ADHD.


Traditional Western medicine (Allopathic) treatment for ADHD consistent primarily of prescribing psycho-stimulants to control the child’s behaviour. Physicians prescribe a psycho-stimulant such as Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall usually starting in a small dose (5 or 10 mg) and increase it monthly based on a decrease in the ADHD symptoms. Side-effects are tracked and drugs are usually switched if side-effects are too severe or if there’s absolutely not any noticeable difference in the child’s behaviour.

The most common medicine for ADHD is Ritalin (Methylphenidate hydrochloride). Or another brand name medication like Concerta that’s exactly the identical chemical make-up. This medication acts a central nervous system excite, which also increases production of a neuro-transmitter (dopamine), the much the exact same way as cocaine does. Side effects can vary from insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, stomach pain, weight loss, dangerously rapid heartbeat, blood pressure changes, nausea, nausea, fever, hair loss, headache, hives, joint pain, nausea, palpitations, skin inflammation, skin rash, Tourette’s syndrome, to psychotic reactions.

Be aware

However, the FDA only issued a “warning” from the U.S. Additional drugs may also be prescribed such as Trazadone, to assist the child sleep through the night, or an anti-anxiety medication should they create twitches or tics (Paxil, Wellbutrin, Klonopin). Occasionally the ups and downs of these drugs causes the child to hallucinate or have”mood swings” and they’re subsequently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (getting a highly common childhood identification ) and anti-psychotic medication is prescribed (such as Depakote or Zyprexa).

There are numerous factors are leading several physicians to question the diagnosis of ADHD. First there’s the substantial side-effects of the drugs prescribed to kids. Then there’s the increasing evidence of small long-term improvement academically of pupils, and there’s the question of the standards which truly diagnoses the ADHD. When looking into the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD many are struck with the realization that 9 out of 10 children could be diagnosed with the”disease”.

Children behaviors

It seems that lots of normal childhood behaviors such as: “fails to finish schoolwork or chores”, “often dislikes and averts homework!” Or, “has difficulty awaiting turn,” are utilized to determine whether a child has ADHD. Then there’s the realization that psycho-stimulates don’t cure the cause of the behaviours, but only supply the individual with a bandage (life-long?) for the disorder. A new clinical study that measured the effectiveness of supplements when compared with traditional psycho-stimulant treatment.

Since Dr. Feingold initiated his notions of diet-related causes for hyperactive behaviour there have been a number of variations in support of a more natural diet for a cure. Dr. Feingold’s diet was called an elimination diet on account of the procedure he recommends of first removing all foods that contain artificial and natural salicylates.

Natural salicylates

Those include fruits and veggies such as almonds, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, strawberries, pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers and vinegar. Synthetic salicylates include all foods that contain artificial colors and artificial flavors, such as benzoic acid, BHA, BHT, MSG, butylene glycol, potassium bisulfate, potassium and sodium nitrate, sulfites, and tartrazines. Once a child’s behaviour is normalized, which might take four to six weeks, food items may slowly reintroduced in their diet and monitored for their effect on the child’s behaviour.

Frank Lawlis, Ph.D. in his book The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now, expands Dr. Feingold’s diet also provides specific diet recommendations for your child with ADHD. He recommends the whole family follow this type of diet to provide the child support, since the diet can be quite restrictive (see table 4-2). Dr. Lawlis says that foods with a negative influence on children’s health include: artificial colours and preservatives, processed milk and milk products, wheat products (not whole grains), sugar, oranges, grapefruits, eggs, and MSG. He also recommends a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc (significant in appropriate neurotransmitter function), vitamins C and B6 (important in immune system and metabolism function), B12 (increases energy, reduces stress, increases concentration), fish oil (contains DHA significant in brain health), protein (stimulates mental alertness), pycnogenol or grape seed extract (two herbs which increase blood circulation in the brain) and probiotic (helps restore healthy bacteria in the intestines).

Current research

Research involving the use of multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplements, herbs and removing toxins in the diet like food colorings, additives and heavy metals, all seem to have a dramatic impact on a lowering a child’s ADHD symptoms with no damaging side effect. According to this study, treatment of ADHD should progress from the least harmful course of action. Families should try to discover the cause of the problem, enabling treatment without damaging drugs. Causes of ADHD which may be treated without psycho-stimulate drugs include food allergies, nutrient deficiencies, and diet restriction intervention.

  • An evaluation with a naturopathic doctor to decide whether a food allergy exists and a dietary evaluation to ascertain whether a nutrient deficiency exists.
  • Eliminate all processed foods that contain artificial additives like aspartame, benzoic acid, BHA, BHT, MSG, butylene glycol, potassium bisulfate, potassium and sodium nitrate, sulfites, and tartrazines in the diet.
  • Eliminate natural salicylates such as almonds, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, strawberries, pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers and vinegar out of the diet.
  • Add a vitamin/mineral supplement per day, with additional B-complex (120 to 150 mgper day), vitamin C (1,000 to 2,000 mgper day), calcium (1,000 to 1,500 mgper day), magnesium (300 to 500 mgper day), zinc (20 to 30 mgper day) and selenium (100 to 200 mcgper day), and an EFA supplement containing omega-3 EFAs like in EPA fish oil capsules, or take evening primrose oil (2,000 to 3,000 mgper day in 2 doses).
  • Calming herbs like St. John’s wort, valerian or skullcap may be attempted to reduce symptoms of irritability and hyperactivity.