“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ) and attention deficit disorder ( ADD ) are neurological and behavior-related conditions that cause difficulty in concentrating, impulsiveness, and excessive energy.” ~ Dr. Josh Axe
Discussing ADD and ADHD is difficult on many levels.
First, school-age children are the primary demographic affected by ADD and ADHD. When we understand what the treatment regimen often entails (which we’ll discuss shortly), it’s clear why many people – including health professionals and parents – are troubled.
Second, ADD and ADHD are almost certainly over-diagnosed. Regardless of what the pharmaceutical industry and mental health professionals would have us believe, the scientific and research consensus is clear: Doctors are too quick to diagnose people – especially kids – with attention-deficit disorder.
Third, in discussing ADD/ADHD, we are wandering into the unknown – and the stakes couldn’t be higher. We’re talking about our mental development and functioning and, more importantly, that of our precious children.
In short, ADD and ADHD are serious conditions. Treatment, which usually includes the use of potent stimulant medications (e.g., Adderall and Ritalin), is nothing to take lightly.
This writer did not take this assignment lightly, either.
That said, we’re going to discuss the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of ADD and ADHD.
What is ADD/ADHD?
All people with ADD or ADHD have difficulty maintaining concentration. For these individuals, it’s very burdensome to direct and sustain their attention – especially on mundane tasks.
The “H” in ADHD means hyperactivity, or “constantly active and sometimes disruptive behavior, occurring primarily in children.” ADHD has an average onset age of 7. Per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD affects 9 percent of children between ages 13-18 and over 4 percent of adults.
What causes ADD/ADHD?
According to Dr. Joshua Axe, diet is a significant factor in the development of ADD/ADHD. Axe lists “(refined) sugar, artificial sweeteners, (chemical) food additives, nutritional deficiencies, preservatives and food allergies” as all potential causes of ADD/ADHD.
Therefore, it behooves us to consider what we’re putting into ours and our children’s mouths.
Environmental factors and genetics may also play a role. It is thought that ADHD is more directly related to genetics than ADD.
How is ADD/ADHD diagnosed?
Per WebMD, there is no individual test that can accurately diagnose ADD or ADHD. Doctors, per accepted diagnostic guidelines, should consider several factors, among them:
“- Interviews with the parent’s, relatives, teachers, or other adults
– Personally watching the child or adult
– Questionnaires or rating scales that measure symptoms of ADHD
– Psychological tests”
(The above information is worth keeping in mind!)
Traditionally, physicians prescribe stimulants (amphetamines) as part of the treatment regimen for ADD/ADHD. By far, the most commonly-prescribed drugs are Adderall and Ritalin.
The strength of these prescription drugs – especially when it comes to children – is where many people take issue.
WebMD cites the following as “common” side effects of Ritalin: fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia, dry mouth, nausea, head pain, loss of appetite, nervousness, over-stimulation, and abdominal pain.
For Adderall: insomnia, mood swings, nausea, anxiety, loss of appetite, nervousness, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Given the severe side effects of amphetamines, it’s worthwhile to consider natural alternatives to ADD and ADHD.
Here are five natural remedies for ADD/ADHD that have shown promise:
ADD/ADHD, as with many other psychological conditions, are caused by a deficient balance of neurotransmitters.
B-vitamins, especially B6 and B12, assist in the formation of GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.
GABA is the brain’s “hit the brakes” chemical. Individuals with ADD and ADHD often deal with information overload – a byproduct of too much brain activity. B-vitamins may help in this regard.
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements assist in the manufacture of brain chemicals acetylcholine, GABA, glutamate, and dopamine.
Omega-3 supplements have been shown to benefit ADHD patients. The EPA and DHA – two types of essential fats – found in fish oil supplements are vital for proper brain function.
Because of DHA’s effect on the brain’s “learning” neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, supplementing with fish oil may help ADD/ADHD patients more easily stay on task and absorb new information.
As mentioned, GABA is the brain’s “hit the brakes” chemical. It makes sense, then, to supplement this amino acid.
The main issue with GABA supplements is that many fail to cross the blood-brain barrier, which may negate much of its intended effects. However, certain supplements – including Picamilon and Phenibut – do penetrate the BB barrier.
Calcium, magnesium, and zinc are vital to the production of serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.
Here’s a rhyme to commit to memory:
“Taking my Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc are so important for helping me think.”
Dopamine and glutamate are essential learning chemicals, while serotonin and GABA help to relax the brain and nervous system. A balance of inhibitory (“brake”) and exhibitory (“gas”) brain chemicals are essential for relaxed focus and the processing of information!
Over 90 percent of the body’s mood-soothing serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria which enable the all-important communication between brain and body.
While beyond the scope of this article, suffice to say that scientists are just now recognizing the importance of probiotics and brain development and proper function.
If you take away nothing else from this article, please let it be the following:
– Understand the importance of correctly diagnosing ADD/ADHD.
– Consider getting a second opinion.
– (Please!) give the natural stuff a shot before heading to the drug store.