ADD and ADHD is estimated by the NIH to effect 3-5% of school aged children, though a recent report of parental estimation raises the number of chldren exhibiting ADHD symptoms to 7-10%. Over 5 million children are currently medicated for the condition. While the medications can help children be sucessful in school, they have numerous negative side effects. There are many natural methods to address the causes and exacerbating factors of ADD/ADHD.
ADD and ADHD are multifactorial conditions. Brain chemistry, genetics, nutrition, food and food additive reactions, environmental toxins and TV exposure have all been linked to the development or exacerbation of symptoms. Whatever the cause, ADD and ADHD can be improved, even eliminated, with a comprehensive approach. Therapy should include neurotransmitter balancing, diet and nutritional support, and learning skills training. Summer is a great time to investigate and work on the underlying causes of ADHD.
Each child is unique; the first step in the natural approach to learning and behavior issues is to identify your child’s specific effectors. At Elements we begin with a thorough history and functional medicine testing to investigate:
Brain chemistry: Lack of focus, at its core, is due to the child’s individual balance of neurotransmitters. ADD/ADHD medications work to change this balance and improve the ability to focus. We can also work to improve balance and focus naturally. We start with a neurotransmitter test, a simple urine collection, to learn your child’s unique neurotramsmitter balance. Then we work through diet and supplements to correct the balance and improve function. Once the brain chemistry is rebalanced, medications may be unnecessary.
Nutrition: The standard American diet is lacking in critical nutrients for growth and develoment. Childen with ADD/ADHD may be deficient based on their diet, or have a greater need. Studies have shown that doing something as simple as increasing omega-3 fatty acids and protein has alleviated ADD symptoms in 30% of study participants.
Food reactions: Overexposure to certain foods can create excess inflammation and neurotransmitter imbalances. These imbalances can affect focus and learning. While any food can be a culprit, gluten, found in wheat, and casein, found in milk products, are two commonly problematic foods. Sometimes it is not food itself, but the addition of colors and preservatives that cause problems. While studies have not demonstrated a correlation, we have seen clinically that some children improve with the elimination of food additives.
There are two avenues of determining if specific foods are excerbating ADD/ADHD symptoms: the elimination and reintroduction diet or food allergy testing. For children with ADD/ADHD, Food Intolerance Testing, involving a simple blood collection, is prefered. This test gives specific answers to whether or not food is negatively affecting your child.
Summer is a great time to investigate and work on the underlying causes of ADD/ADHD. Schedule your appointment today.
Brenna Murphy, ND