Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
This descriptive term refers to restless, distractible children who have a
knack for disrupting any environment that tries to enclose and control them.
Many physicians have described diet revision treatment for children's'
behavioral and learning problems. Egger remarked: "A role for food allergy in
the hyperkinetic syndrome has been postulated since early this century."
The pharmacological approach to attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) is based on a drug-neurotransmitter model of brain function. The dopamine system is involved in reward-seeking behavior,
sexual behavior, control of movement, regulation of pituitary-hormone secretion,
and memory functions. A simple model of schizophrenia postulates increased or
unregulated dopamine circuits; drugs that block dopamine activity ameliorate the
schizophrenic syndrome. An interesting neurochemical relationship between
hyperactivity and schizophrenia has been postulated, where the two conditions
seem to have opposite features. ADHD may be attributed to dopamine deficiency.
Dopamine synthesis slowly increases as children grow and may not reach full
capacity until late teens. This is one of the built-in maturation lags that
prevent children from assuming more adult-like behavior in their early life.
Dopamine in young animals exerts a protective influence against hyperactivity.
Since schizophrenia is associated with increased dopaminergic activity and is
improved by dopamine-blocking agents, there is a reciprocal relationship between
psychosis and hyperactivity. Nutritional strategies may attempt to modify the
amino acid profile of the diet to encourage dopamine synthesis by augmenting
intake of phenylalanine and tyrosine and supplying extra cofactors such as
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). A more direct drug approach is to utilize
molecules that stimulate dopamine circuits or act as dopamine agonists.
The Physical Symptoms
The most common symptoms are allergic shiners (dark circles under the eyes)
and stuffy nose. ADHD kids tend to have histories of nose congestion, recurrent
middle-ear infections, and sleep disturbances, starting in infancy. Some have
more specific allergic problems such as eczema, hives, and asthma but most have
non-specific symptoms that do not fit the familiar patterns of allergy.
Digestive disturbances are common but may be episodic with long normal periods -
bouts of gas, distention, pain lead the list - some children have bouts of
diarrhea others tend to be constipated. Some have headaches and many have leg
pains often at night. Often parents will state that the child has recurring
colds or flu and are prescribed antibiotics too frequently.
The Problems at School
The school profile of children with delayed pattern food allergies, involves
a typical set of learning and behavioral problems. Teachers observe inattention,
fluctuating performance, restlessness, distractibility, or aggressive behaviors,
or remark on the quiet, withdrawn, disinterested nature of the child. Often the
child is criticized for laziness or attention seeking, or the parents are blamed
for undisciplined behavior. Psychological evaluation often reveals average to
above-average intelligence with attention deficits. Some will appear clumsy,
with awkward handwriting which varies from day to day, often appearing
disorganized or tremulous. The more seriously afflicted children will fail to
learn properly and will require assessment for learning disability and some form
of remediation. If the behavioral aberrance is marked, they may be referred to
school psychologists or psychiatrists. Difficulties in learning language skills
top the list of learning problems and the diagnosis of dyslexia is often made.
The irritable, restless child is considered "hyperactive" and may be disruptive
in the classroom.
Food Allergy and ADHD
ADHD can be understood as as an expression of a food-driven hypersensitivity
disease. Many children with ADHD will have symptoms and signs of
delayed pattern food allergy. We are
not talking about common allergy, diagnosed by skin tests. We are talking about
delayed patterns of food allergy which cannot be detected by tests.
Bobner et al reviewed studies linking nutritional disorders with behavioral
and learning problems in children. In their introduction they state: "Millions
of dollars are spent annually on special education programs for children whose
behavior prevent them from participating in the regular school setting despite
average or above average intellectual capacity. A growing body of research
indicates that some of these behavioral disorders are related to nutritional
Many factors are considered in the literature including nutrient
deficiencies, toxic heavy metals and food allergy. A correlation between
physical symptoms such as chronic rhinitis and recurrent otitis media and
learning-behavioral problems suggests that food allergy may underlie learning
disabilities. Increasing numbers of children who are aggressive with antisocial
behavior, and serious mood swings concern us. Sick children who behave badly
create a ripple effect of disturbances in their families, neighborhoods and
Egger et al published studies showing the effect of foods on migraine
headaches, epilepsy, and hyperactivity in children, has stated: "Taken together,
the available research suggests that different types of adverse food reactions
correlate with neurological and psychiatric symptoms. The diversity of foods
involved...is suggestive of allergy, and the adverse effects may correlate with
Ritalin and Amphetamines
Drug options have included pemoline, L-dopa, bromocriptine, amantadine, and
lergotrile. Ritalin and amphetamines increase dopaminergic
activity and decrease hyperactivity while they increase stereotypy. Ritalin has
become the "drug of choice" for children with ADHD. Any child treated with
Ritalin is moved from the hyperactivity end of the spectrum toward a
schizophrenia-like state. Ritalin therapy poses risks, some obvious and others
concealed. The most obvious Ritalin effect is appetite suppression and retarded
growth. Some parents complain that their Ritalin-treated child acts like a
"zombie. " They describe emotional blunting and detachment from family and
friends, a schizophrenic attribute. Children on higher doses and with chronic
use of Ritalin may manifest paranoid XE "Paranoia"
features: there is a tendency to be overly suspicious, to withdraw, to get angry, and to display
restless, non-productive behavior
In the US, a FDA advisory committee heard testimony indicating that 2.5
million children take stimulants for ADHD, including nearly 10 percent of all
10-year-old boys in the United States. The use of these agents is much less
prevalent in European countries, where the diagnosis of ADHD is relatively
uncommon. The popularity of the diagnosis, Adult ADHD is relatively recent
leading to at least 1.5 million adults who take stimulants on a daily basis,
with 10 percent of users older than 50 years of age. Drug-related events
reviewed by the committee included 25 cases of sudden death in children or
adults that included myocardial infarction, stroke, and serious heart
arrhythmias. The committee concluded: “We rejected the notion that the
administration of potent sympathomimetic agents to millions
of Americans is appropriate. We sought to emphasize more selective and restricted use, while
increasing awareness of potential hazards. We argued that the FDA should act
soon and decisively. “
Professor Sroufe wrote: “Three million children in the USA
take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their
parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin
and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s
functioning. But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep
expanding the number of prescriptions filled? In 30 years there has been a
twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.
As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for
more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on
these drugs. Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term,
which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when
given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school
achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side
effects, including stunting growth. Sadly, few physicians and parents seem to be
aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these
A highly regarded Cochrane Review showed that there is only
very low-quality evidence to support the use of methylphenidate (Ritalin,
Concerta, other brands) in children with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) leading the reviewers to urge more caution when prescribing
stimulants. Dr Storebø and Dr Zwi stated: "We should view the average reduction
in symptom scores attributable to treatment with a high degree of caution," they
add. "Clinicians need to weigh what we now believe to be an uncertain degree of
benefit against the many adverse events that are known to be associated with
methylphenidate, such as appetite suppression and sleep difficulties. The
general perception of methylphenidate as an effective drug for all children with
ADHD seems out of step with the new evidence. This new information from our
review should challenge the mindset of clinicians because there is more
uncertainty to factor in to balancing the benefits and risks of these
medications."(Methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews. November 25 2015.)
Proper Diet Revision
All of these symptoms may remit surprisingly and dramatically when food
selection is changed. The details of a successful food plan vary from individual
to individual. The most globally successful diet revision in all these illnesses
involves complete revision of the problematic diet.
- Selective "elimination diets" tend not to work.
- There are no tests for this type of food allergy.
- The proper technique of diet revision therapy is designed to solve
simultaneous problems in the child's food supply.
Consideration is given to
- minimizing exposure to junk food and food additives,
- choosing nourishing, primary, low allergenic foods as dietary staples,
- assuring nutrient adequacy by careful monitoring of the child's food intake.