Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity (1 of 2)


 Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are generally defined as a persistent pattern of inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity with impulsiveness that regularly interferes with life at home, at school, or socially. Theories abound, but clearly defined causes of these disorders have not been established. Each sufferer is unique and each has found relief in different therapeutic approaches from taking stimulant and anti-depression drugs, to diet & nutrition control to biofeedback.


Ritalin (methylphenidate) is one of the commonly prescribed drugs used to treat ADD / ADHD. When it is effective, it is very useful as the child/adult appears to be able to concentrate better and the hyperactive child is able to calm down.

If it plays such a beneficial role in our children's and family life, why should there be an outcry against Ritalin ?

    • In spite of apparent improvement in concentration and behavior, studies have shown that there is no significant improvement in long-term academic performance, delinquent performance, or poor emotional adjustment. (Weiss, 1975).
    • Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a class 2 controlled substance and thus is listed in the same category as cocaine, codeine, morphine, and amphetamines. In fact, Ritalin is being sold on the black market as a form of speed.
    • Class 2 drugs can be addictive and cause some individuals to develop tolerance. This means 5 or 10 milligrams might be enough now, but as time passes, they may need larger and larger doses to produce the same effect.
    • Some of its potential side effects are: nervousness and insomnia, anorexia and nausea, blood pressure fluctuations, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, abdominal pain, dermatitis and other skin rashes, growth retardation, motor tics, and depression.
    • Addictive drugs cause withdrawal symptoms when they are not taken on a regular basis. If Ritalin is stopped too quickly, or sometimes even if it is gradually decreased and stopped, it is possible that it can cause fatigue, disturbed sleep, depression, Tourette's Syndrome, psychosis, or suicide.
    • Ritalin does not appear to have any long term therapeutic value. With possibilities of wrong diagnosis, poor follow-up and potentially harmful side effects, concerned parents are looking toward safer choices. A non-profit organization Parents Against Ritalin has been set up to help educate parents and the public.

NEVER stop taking Ritalin or other drugs without first consulting your doctor. If you feel that Ritalin is not for you or your child, get yourself educated, and if necessary, bring the information to your physician. There are excellent resources available. Please check out "What about drug-free, natural approaches" for more details. Please note that some individuals truly have medical problems that can only be controlled by drugs.


The natural approach holds that ill health is brought about by imbalances in our body. The aim is to get to the root causes (if possible) of the problems and then provide the body with the right non-toxic approaches so that it can heal itself.

There are many causes of ADD / ADHD and as many safe and non-toxic solutions. Remember that each individual is unique and getting to the root cause of the problems can be like solving a puzzle. Read and get informed. The more you know, the more equipped you will be at solving the puzzle to good health. The information provided here is centered on basic nutritional support. We hope to provide you with a head start in your research. Please check out the many excellent books available on this subject.

Below are some of the most popular approaches :

Clean up the Diet
Although many authorities have discounted the role of diet in ADD /ADHD (and in many other health problems), you only have to talk to observant parents to receive information to the contrary.

remove or reduce from the diet :
refined white sugar(sucrose),
artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin),
artificial colors,
caffeine, and

These ingredients not only have poor or no nutritional values but can bring about health problems for the sensitive individuals and those with poor immune systems. Read food labels carefully. Choose wholesome sweeteners like pure juice/fruit juice concentrates, maple syrup, honey, brown rice sugar, barley malt, stevia (an herbal sweetener) etc., whole grains and foods that are minimally processed.

The amino acid "Glycine" can be very effective in removing craving for sugar (ref: Control Hyperactivity A.D.D. Naturally by Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.)
Many excellent books are available to show you how to choose healthier food for better health. For example,

"Rx Prescription for Dietary Wellness" by Phyllis & James Balch explains the good and the bad in the foods we normally eat. Contains lots of wholesome and healthy recipes.

"Help for the Hyperactive Child" by Dr. William Crook, M.D. is an excellent book teaching you the basics in diet management and candida control.

Vitamin, Mineral and Food Supplements

Enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids work synergistically to maintain proper functions of body and mind. A deficiency or imbalance can bring about poor health which may manifest itself as inability to concentrate, fatigue, irritability.....

Ideally we should be getting all the nutrients we need from our daily foods. Unfortunately, few of us eat well, especially kids. Even for those who try hard to eat a well-balanced meal, the grains and vegetables may be low in trace minerals due to poor soil conditions. A healthy body begets a healthy and calm mind.

Many people have benefited from taking well balanced multi-vitamin formulas, trace mineral drops and super green foods like blue green algae. When taking single supplements, it is important to take a multi-vitamin with it too, as certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids have to work together for best results.

Below are some of the food supplements being used with good results.

- Well balanced multi-vitamin and mineral formula
- Super blue green algae or Spirulina
- Calcium and Magnesium - Calming effect. Needed for the nervous system.
- Zinc- especially useful in the case of copper toxicity or deficiency as well as immune system support.
- Ginkgo Biloba - Increase blood circulation to the brain. Helps memory.
- Evening Primrose Oil - Aids in transmission of nerve impulses and brain function.
- Vitamin B Complex - Important for brain and nerve function, food absorption and anti-stress. Helps the body tolerate foods that produce low blood sugar reactions.
- DMG (N,N Dimethyl Glycine) - Carries oxygen to the brain. Important for normal brain and nervous system function.
- GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) - research shows that it reduces hyperactivity.
- Valerian - acts as a sedative.
- Rescue Remedy - All purpose Bach flower remedy. Brings on peace and calmness during times of stress.

Recommended readings:
"Prescription for Nutritionally Healing" by James Balch and Phyllis Balch. If you are looking for a GOOD book about vitamins, minerals, herbs and food supplements, this is the one.

"Control Hyperactivity A.D.D. Naturally" by Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D. is a excellent book detailing the role of amino acids in the treatment of ADD.

Food & Environmental Allergies

Most people recognize itchy eyes, runny noses and hives as allergies. These are typically accepted forms of allergy. However, there is another form that is not easily, recognized, suspected or even agreed upon. It can affect any part of your body from inability to concentrate, fatigue, inability to fall asleep, joint pains, bed wetting, ear-infections (check that milk intake !), asthma (check that milk, dust mites and the family cat !) etc. to ADHD. Any foods can cause allergies, even healthy ones like apples and pears. Some of the biggest culprits are cow's milk, wheat, and artificial colorings. Some common environmental allergens are dust mites, molds, cigarette smoke.

"Is This Your Child" by Dr. Doris Rapp is an EXCELLENT book about food allergies, including information on supplementations for ADD / ADHD.

The Yeast Connection

Yeast (Candida Albicans) normally lives in healthy balance with other bacteria and yeasts in our body. An upset in the balance can be caused by eating too much refined carbohydrates or taking ANTIBIOTICS. Antibiotics kills the good bacteria in the gut but does not affect the yeast leading to an excess of yeast which produces toxins. The symptoms are varied and include headaches, inability to concentrate, depression, mood swing, hyperactivity etc. These symptoms often overlap those of food allergies.

Candida can be controlled through proper diet, which is sugar-free, yeast free and more. Many good books are available on the subject.

"Help for the Hyperactive Child" by Dr. William Crook, M.D. is an excellent book on this subject.

"The Body Ecology Diet" by Donna Gates is very helpful in teaching you how to control yeast and to restore the inner "ecosystem' by using food-combining and sound nutrition. Gives an all round approach to the problem.

Food supplements used to control candida:
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Acidophilus
- Garlic

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

A high intake of refined carbohydrates will cause a sudden raise in blood sugar. Insulin is produced to counteract this. As the blood sugar drops, hormones like glucagon, cortisol and adrenalin are produced to bring the sugar level back to normal. This can bring about symptoms like fatigue, light headedness, irritability, depression, .....This drop in blood sugar also produces a craving for food, esp. foods which will help raise the sugar levels again. So the cycle repeats.
Eat several small meals a day that are higher in complex carbohydrates and protein. Avoid refined carbohydrates, caffeine and other unwholesome foods.
Important supplements : Chromium Picolinate and B-Complex.

Recommended Readings

The following books are extremely useful reference for anyone interested in a drug-free approach to ADD /ADHD.
- Is This Your Child by Dr. Doris Rapp
- Help for the Hyperactive Child by William Crook, M.D.
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James and Phyllis Balch
- Rx Prescription for Dietary Wellness by James and Phyllis Balch
- Control Hyperactivity A.D.D. Naturally by Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.


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