There are about 5 questions that I get asked all of the time. How to naturally help children with ADD/ADHD is one of them. And it is one that is near and dear to my heart. It is what got me started on my journey towards nutrition! (If you haven't already read my story, check out my About Me page.)
So I wanted to compile the information into one article for everyone who is looking to avoid those nasty, dangerous medications for their children and give them a future! Share this information with anyone you know.
Even children who are not medically diagnosed as having ADD/ADHD are likely not living to their potential if they are consuming certain foods. I am saddened when I see children suffering from the effects of those foods and parents believing their child is naturally that way. I have seen the difference it makes in our lives and it is my passion to help others find this information as well.
This is in no way a lengthy, extensive post, but it is some information to get you started.
Before we get into the ways to help this problem, I'd like to make sure we're all clear on the dangers of the doctor-prescribed "treatment" for ADD/ADHD. If you ever watch the news, you know that children behind episodes of violence, such as school shootings, are either on or withdrawing from these mind-altering drugs.
Can Prozac Cause Kids To Kill? A Canadian Judge Has Ruled It Can A Winnipeg judge’s ruling that a teenage boy murdered his friend because of the effects of Prozac will not be appealed, confirming an apparent North American first and reviving debate around the widespread prescription of anti-depressants to young people.
Justice Robert Heinrichs concluded the 15-year-old boy was under the influence of the medication when he thrust a nine-inch kitchen knife into the chest of Seth Ottenbreit, a close friend. http://www.cchrint.org/2011/12/07/can-prozac-cause-kids-to-kill-a-canadian-judge-has-ruled-it-can/
Stories of antidepressant use linked to violence rampages http://ssristories.com/index.php
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that common side effects from the drugs are sleeplessness (for which a doctor might also prescribe sleeping pills) headaches and stomachaches, decreased appetite, and a long list of much more frightening (yet rarer) side effects, including feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless, and new or worsening depression. But Pessler’s study indicates that up to two-thirds or two of the three million children currently medicated for ADHD may not need medication at all. “With all children, we should start with diet research,” Pessler said. (This is definitely one article you'll want to read in its entirety!) http://civileats.com/2011/03/25/adhd-it%E2%80%99s-the-food-stupid/#more-11570
But the final straw on antidepressants for children is this review by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) of 24 different studies on the suicide risks of giving children antidepressants. This analysis found:
Children and adolescents treated with antidepressants are nearly twice as likely to develop suicidality—suicidal thinking and behaviour—as similar children treated with placebo.
“There are three things to consider: the risk, the benefit, and the alternatives. The benefits of antidepressants over placebo in children are not clinically significant. On the other hand, the placebo response is substantial. That means that one should be able to obtain the same benefits with just about any treatment. So why choose one that may increase the risk of suicide?”
And even if these children do not act out in violence while on or withdrawing from these medications, they will be largely exposed to chronic depression for the rest of their lives. According to an article from Dr. Mercola, at least 70% of people that take psychiatric drugs will suffer from chronic depression as a result of those drugs. This proves that the way these drugs alter the brain is likely to be permanent damage.
Most of the information surrounding ADHD is related to consumption of artificial food dyes, sweeteners, and preservatives. Those were the first things our family cut out and saw a substantial difference within a few days. They were hard to get away from at first, but we persevered and it was worth it. These ingredients chemically alter children's brains the same way the lead in gasoline does, so it's definitely a good thing to do whether our children are sensitive to them or not.
Why Do One In Ten Kids Have ADHD? http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/11/27/why-do-one-in-ten-kids-in-the-us-have-adhd.aspx
Natural Remedies for ADHD This article discusses the research behind the link between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity. It also discusses how children with improper gut function and Candida are more susceptible to ADHD, which exemplifies the importance of not just cutting out food dyes but transitioning to a healthy diet overall. http://www.naturalnews.com/032275_ADHD_natural_remedies.html
Another major contributing factor to childhood attention, focus, and learning problems is a gluten sensitivity. This is likely in many children, even those who do not test positive for gluten allergy because most gluten sensitivity problems are from an IgA or IgG gluten intolerance, not the IgE that doctors test for. IgA and IgG gluten intolerance is caused by a damaged gastrointestinal system that is common in children today as a result of things like antibiotics, sugar, chlorine (swimming pools, bathing in/drinking chlorinated water, etc.), c-section, infant formula, etc.
In my Gluten eBook, I detail documented research on the link between gluten sensitivity and learning problems like dyslexia. Click here to get the book.
As you may notice from studying it further, children with abnormal gut health tend to be more susceptible to these symptoms. Consequently, I highly recommend strengthening a child's gut who displays these symptoms. This includes cutting out processed foods and over-the-counter and prescription drugs; and consuming probiotics daily. Restoring gut health takes a while but is the key to overall health for a lifetime!
Some children may not respond to just those things if their gut has been badly damaged. In those cases, I highly recommend the GAPS diet/protocol designed by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. She cured her son's autism with this major gut-healing protocol and explains it all very thoroughly in her book, Gut & Psychology Syndrome. Check the link for it on the left side of this website for more information.
Essential Fatty acids from Fish/Cod liver oil
American diets are high in vegetable oils and low in good, healthy "brain fats" like butter, whole milk, nuts, avocados, coconut oil and olive oil. Because vegetable oils contain an improper ratio of omega 6's to omega 3's, they easily cause a deficiency of essential fatty acids. If a mother's diet during pregnancy is high in these omega 6's, the baby's growing brain is likely to not receive essential fatty acids needed for proper brain development. This is one of the main causes of ADHD. In fact, studies reveal that levels of omega-3s in the plasma and red blood cells of children with ADHD are lower than in kids who don't have the disorder.
In a study analyzing the effects of Ritalin, Concerta, and fish oil on children's ADD/ADHD symptoms, they found that fish oils were more effective. (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA400011)
For this reason, I strongly recommend fish/cod liver oil for children with ADD/ADHD symptoms. Carlson's and Nordic Naturals are popular brands. My personal favorite is fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures.
Sugar Consumption (Refined sugars including cane sugar, cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.)
In my article regarding depression and other mental illness, I list some research from the '60's that found hypoglycemia (resulting mostly from consumption of sugary, caffeinated beverages) has a major impact on our mental health. For more on that, go here for my article. The brain is the only part of our body that cannot function with glucose so when we consume a lot of sugar, our blood sugar goes up very fast and then comes down very fast, leaving our brain temporarily starved for the fuel it needs to function.
The topic of sugar consumption is highly debated on the topic of ADD/ADHD, but we know from research that sugar relates to ADD/ADHD in other ways as well:
--Sugar depletes the body of essential nutrients, many of which are required for mental health, including focus and attention. The most common nutrients depleted by sugar consumption are B vitamins and magnesium.
--Researchers discovered that people who consumed more calories from sugar than they could burn off, many subconsciously fidgeted in the body's efforts to burn off those excess sugar calories.
--Sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut, leading to imbalanced gut health as described above.
Other factors to consider in the case of ADD/ADHD include food allergies, mineral deficiencies, and the Feingold diet. These things are discussed further in the article shared above (http://civileats.com/2011/03/25/adhd-it%E2%80%99s-the-food-stupid/#more-11570)
And a little info on preventing future possibilities of it. . . Results of this study revealed a strong predictive relationship between perinatal Pitocin use and subsequent childhood ADHD (ADHD occurred in 67 percent in cases with Pitocin and in 35 percent of cases without. The study concludes that further study is warranted. In my book, this is one of many good reasons to avoid Pitocin. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21527574
Finally, I would like to add the newest breakthrough in treating more severe cases of ADHD, autism, and even schizophrenia. The GAPS protcol refers to the Gut And Psychology Syndrome as defined by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. Dr. McBride discovered the link between gut health and mental health and used this research to reverse her son's autism. I have personally heard many testimonies of close friends that have used this protocol successfully. I highly recommend it. Because it can be a difficult diet to follow, I recommend that those who discover the things listed above do not work to dive into this protocol.
I hope this information blesses your family to the glory of God!