Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is the fastest growing disorder of the past decade. Ritalin use has increased over 700% in the past five years and most of it is consumed in the United States; these figures do not include other stimulants including Adderall and Dexadrine!
Symptoms of ADD include, but are not limited to, a short attention span, inability to concentrate, inferior memory, poor problem-solving capabilities and mood swings. ADHD is the same disorder with a hyperactive element and more impulsive behavior (e.g. no fears, “living on the edge”), restlessness, impatience and temper tantrums. Most of these children are typically creative, have average or above average intelligence, but do not have good grades due to the abovementioned symptoms.
The disorder is a complex issue often linked to poor diet leading to nutritional deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, food allergies and hypoglycemia or hyperinsulinemia. Other factors may include leaky gut, birth trauma or other injury, allergies, heavy metal poisoning, and vaccine reactions.
As always, when there are health issues, the first place to start is with the diet by eliminating “non-foods” such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and hydrogenated fats. This step will remove a huge burden from the immune system, and studies now show conclusively that most of these children react to these additives.
Since hypoglycemia has long been associated with ADD/ADHD, white flour and sugar must also be removed. Once the blood sugar is stabilized, behavioral problems (including temper tantrums and mental confusion) often improve. A good multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that is high in B complex, zinc and magnesium is very important at this time. Zinc and magnesium aid thinking and concentration. Magnesium is also very calming. Together these minerals are responsible for nearly 600 chemical reactions in the body. Calcium also works to remove many heavy metals, calm the nervous system, improve sleep patterns, and quiet a hyperactive child which is why calcium and magnesium are known as nature’s tranquilizers.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), an essential fatty acid, is the most prevalent fat in the brain. It is typically low in the American diet but especially so in individuals suffering with ADD/ADHD or depression. DHA is responsible for the cerebral cortex portion of the brain that accounts for memory and reasoning. Additionally, DHA, together with vitamin A, support the eyes and these two nutrients often benefit not only ADD but dyslexia as well. Many parents find their children’s reading skills improve with the addition of cod liver oil to the diet.
Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant that provides protection for the brain, strengthens blood vessels, and may help improve blood flow to the brain as well. It has been used successfully with both children and adults.
Finally, consider the gut. Are food allergies involved? Studies show as much as a 73 percent improvement in symptoms when allergens are removed. The top suspicious foods are: sugar, wheat, dairy, corn, chocolate, eggs, soy, oranges, and nuts. An elimination diet can help identify offending foods. Is there an overgrowth of yeast due to poor diet or prescription drug use—(especially antibiotics) in the early years? Were the beneficial bacteria replaced following antibiotic use? Or instead, was the diet high in refined carbohydrates such as pizza, white bread, pasta, desserts, soft drinks, and candy thereby feeding the yeast? Finally, is there heavy metal toxicity (e.g. mercury from vaccines or amalgams, lead paint, arsenic from a treated-wood deck, copper from copper pipes, etc.)? These are areas that need to be explored if symptoms do not improve with a good diet and the use of supplements as discussed above.
Although complex, ADD/ADHD can usually be conquered without addictive drugs, through awareness, diligence to the diet, and supplementation.
Side Effects of Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall
- Psychotic Behavior
- Loss of Appetite
- Stunted Growth
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Sleep Disturbances
- Skin Disorders
- Heart Palpitations
- Abnormal Movements including Tourette’s Syndrome
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