The diagnosis of ADD and ADHD has risen by close to 50% over the last decade or two and this is in part due to the fact that more drugs are being pushed so more physicians are diagnosing the condition. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or developement. ADHD represents one of the most common disorders of childhood. The condition often persists through adolescence and can continue to adulthood.
It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviors: are more severe, occur more often and interfere with or reduce the quality of how they functions socially, at school, or in a job. Other conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, and substance abuse, are common in people with ADHD. Some people may have only one of these behaviors, for example inattention without being hyperactive. Children however often have both.
Anybody who follows my research, articles or radio broadcasts knows that except for life-threatening emergencies, I am generally against taking drugs before implementing lifestyle modifications and exploring the possible use of nutritional supplements that have been proven to be safe and possibly effective. Patients and physicians are often misled to believe that drugs are generally safe and effective and the passage of time often proves this to be incorrect.
It is my opinion that we are “drug crazy” in the United States and when it comes to kids with ADHD, parents are often pressured or at least not offered options other than treating their child’s symptoms of ADHD with medication. For example, in the UK it is recommended that physicians NOT put children with mild to moderate ADHD on medications, yet in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines are the opposite, with drugs being recommended as first line therapy.
I read an analysis done by MedPage about a study done on children diagnosed with ADHD who were put on medications to treat the condition. When you read just how kids with ADHD who were given drugs fared, you will wonder who besides the drug companies are benefitting from these drugs recommended as a first-line therapy?
Before discussing the results found in this most recent study, it is crucial to know that a previous study funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that ADHD treatments are not working for most young children and that symptoms continued over a six year period despite being on medication. 90 percent of the children continued to experience symptoms. Symptoms were just as severe for kids on the drugs as those who were not taking any drugs. Of participants, 62 percent of the children taking anti-ADHD drugs had significant hyperactivity and impulsivity, compared with 58 percent of children not taking medication. Moreover, 65 percent of children on medication also had serious inattention, compared with 62 percent of children not taking drugs to treat ADHD.
The information reported in a new study, is just as alarming and upsetting. Recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Pediatric, this study was conducted by researchers/scientists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. It was not surprising to learn that children diagnosed with ADHD performed worse in school, and were more likely to be hospitalized for any reason including injuries than children without ADHD.
The authors followed children who were not only diagnosed with ADHD but were specifically put on medications to treat the condition. Almost 800,000 children from ages 4-19 were followed for a four-year period and the following results were reported…
These medicated children:
1- Were 5-6 times more likely to be excluded from school
2- Were significantly more likely to have special needs (mental health, learning disability, autism)
3- Were 42% more likely to be unemployed and 3X more likely to experience lower academic achievement.
4- Were more likely to have poorer health outcomes.
Clearly parents should consider non-pharmaceutical options.
So what should a parent of a child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD do before considering placing a child on these questionable drugs?
Get your child off of processed foods (sugary cereals, processed meats, fast foods, sugary drinks like soda and significantly reduce sugar intake in general and no artificial sweeteners. It is best to eat unprocessed, whole foods. Additives including artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colorings may be especially problematic for those with ADD or ADHD. Have him or her do the following:
- Eat a couple of eggs for breakfast, more salads and vegetables, fish and free range chicken breast
- Eat a fish oil product that provides a total of 1500 mg/day of EPA and DHA
- Take a daily B complex vitamin (50 mg) and zinc (15 mg/day). B Vitamins help maintain a healthy nervous system.
- Take at least 250 mg/day of magnesium
- Take a daily probiotic from a well-known company or eat some greek yogurt (low sugar) or even a spoonful of sauerkraut a day if they like the taste.
I think you and your child will see considerable improvement in his/her symptoms and you may be able to avoid the risks associated with prescription drugs.
To the Best of Health,
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.