by Allen Buresz, D.C.
Table of Contents
- What Are the True Facts?
- Symptoms in Infants and Young Children
- Symptoms in Older Children
- Potential Causes
- Natural Light Deficiency
- Food Additives
- Avoiding Ritalin®
- Success By A Nutritional Approach
- Using Homeopathy
What Are the True Facts?
The vast majority of medical doctors consider Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to be of unknown causes. Yet it’s a known fact that the elimination of food additives and refined sugar produces dramatic improvements. Why haven’t you been told this well-known fact? Considering the advertising revenues, it doesn’t take a genius to see why the print and broadcast media have, for the most part, refused to publicize this vital information!
Other relevant articles:
Studies on Food Additive Use and Intelligence
Food Additives and Hyperactivity in Children
ADD, hyperactivity, and dyslexia are believed to be disorders of certain mechanisms of the central nervous system. Infants and children are the ones most often affected, and most often subjected to the widespread and indiscriminate use of drugs, especially Ritalin®, for quick short-cut suppression of deeper problems.
ADD interferes with the child’s home, school and social life. Unable to screen out stimuli, the child is easily distracted. This usually intelligent child receives a label of being “learning-disabled” and finds the nervous system cannot be slowed down to focus long enough to complete an assigned task. Other symptoms may be head knocking, self-destructiveness, temper tantrums, clumsiness and sleep disturbances. ADD may exist with or without the hyperactivity aspect.
ADD has been diagnosed for hundreds of years, but more recently has become more prevalent due to the increased use of chemicals, pollutants, or heavy metal toxicity (such as lead, mercury, and cadmium). One estimates quotes over l.3 million with Attention Deficit Disorder; another source quotes up to 3 million with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Although genetics, infections and brain damage (trauma) have been cited as causes of ADD and LD (Learning Disabilities), these cases are quite rare compared to causes like a dysfunctional home, heavy metal toxicities, nutritional deficiencies, and food and chemical allergies. The majority of cases are caused by an immune defect and allergies to food additives, preservatives, chemicals, or inhalants. To deal adequately with this illness, we must address all these potential imbalances. Some of the nutritional deficiencies that correlate with LD or ADD are calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron and zinc. On the other hand, high copper, lead, cadmium and aluminum levels have also been seen in learning disabled children.(21)
Good nutrition during pregnancy and in the early years of the child’ s life may help in preventing ADD. Eliminating processed foods, artificial flavorings, colorings, preservatives, and sugars have been shown to help the hyperactivity aspect of the affliction.
Symptoms in Infants and Young Children
- Crying inconsolably
- Poor or little sleep
- Difficult feeding
- Refuses affection and cuddles
- Head banging or rocking fits or temper tantrums
Symptoms in Older Children
- Constantly moving
- Destructive or disruptive behavior
- Accident proneness
- Bouts of fatigue, weakness and listlessness
- Poor concentration ability
- Vocal repetition and loudness
- Withdrawn behavior
- School failure despite normal or high IQ
- Poor sleep with nightmares
- Poor appetite and erratic eating habits
- Poor coordination
- Irritable, uncooperative, disobedient, self-injurious, nervous, very moody or depressed
- Hypersensitive to odors, lights, sound, heat and cold
- Nose and skin picking or hair pulling
- Bed wetting (enuresis)
- Dark circles or puffiness below the eyes
- Red earlobes or red cheeks
- Swollen neck glands or fluid behind ear drums
Many natural health oriented doctors believe that potential causes for the modern epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD) and hyperactivity are:
- Food additives
- Refined sugar
- Poor nutrition
- Natural light deficiency
- Food allergies
- Heavy metal toxicity (such as lead, mercury, or cadmium)
- Poor teaching methods combined with lack of discipline
Natural Light Deficiency
Dr. John Ott, the pioneer in light-deficiency disorders, proved an association of natural light deficiency with ADD in the school system in Sarasota, Florida many years ago. You can read about it in Dr. William Campbell Douglass’ book, Into the Light. (8)
Dr. Douglass suggests that if your child or grandchild has been diagnosed with ADD, all the light bulbs in your home should be replaced with full spectrum lights (everyone should do this anyway). (8) You might also attempt to get the schools in your area to install full-spectrum lights.
The belief that food additives can cause hyperactivity in children stemmed from the research of Benjamin Feingold, M.D. It is commonly referred to as the Feingold Hypothesis. According to Feingold, perhaps 40 to 50 percent of hyperactive children are sensitive to artificial food colors, flavors, and preservatives. They may also be sensitive to naturally occurring salicylates and phenolic compounds in foods.
Feingold’s assertion that food additives are a problem in learning disorders has been subject to great debate over the past two decades. Practices that are profitable carry on and major economic interests have responded by hiring their own researchers to combat the results. Questions are asked in ways that will produce answers that undercut the challenging work and please the funding interests. The media publishes “conflicting reports.” Politicians and regulators cite this conflict as their reason for inaction. Habits do not change easily. Feingold’s work has stimulated a classic example of such debate, because the American food supply and American agribusiness is profitably enmeshed in the use of food additives.
Dr. Feingold made his original presentation to the American Medical Association in 1973. His strong claims were based on experience with 1,200 individuals in whom behavior disorders were linked to consumption of food additives. Follow-up research in Australia and Canada has tended to support Feingold’s thesis. (27)
In 1996 the World Health Organization warned that Ritalin® over-use has reached dangerous proportions. Hopefully, by being armed with correct information, you may be able to avoid using Ritalin® or other similar medications. Use of these drugs on a long-term basis is questionable. Safety of such long-term use is simply unknown, but many dangerous side effects have been increasingly observed. Ritalin®, for instance, may provoke seizures and suppress growth, or it may cause angina, blood pressure changes, depression or any of a very long list of serious side effects.
Dr. Robert Mendelsohn had once noted: “No one has ever been able to demonstrate that drugs such as Cylert and Ritalin® improve the academic performance of the children who take them…. The pupil is drugged to make life easier for his teacher, not to make it better and more productive for the child.” (13)
Success By A Nutritional Approach
Most self-proclaimed “experts” on ADD and Hyperactivity disorders are unaware of the relationship between nutrition and ADD / ADHD, but they are quick to say that these are not important nor relevant. However there are enough studies that prove otherwise. For example:
- A 1994 study at Purdue University found that boys diagnosed with ADHD had lower levels of the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
- A 1997 study found that 95% of ADHD children tested were deficient in magnesium (Magnesium Research 10, 1997)
- A 1996 study found that ADHD children had zinc levels that were only 2/3 the level of those without ADHD (Biological Psychiatry 40, 1996)
The cell membranes and synaptic endings of neurons in our brains and nervous systems are composed of DHA, an omega-3 essential fatty acid. These membranes go rancid unless protected with antioxidants. Since most people don’t get enough DHA, other types of fats are incorporated into the brain, but they do not function as well because they are the wrong shape. Also, the all-important neurotransmitters are manufactured by the body from dietary sources. In order for these neurotransmitters to function well, the B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin C must all be present in sufficient amounts. Some studies have shown a relationship between fatty acid deficiencies and ADD, learning disorders, and behavior problems.
Some dietary suggestions that I have found to be helpful are:
- VERY IMPORTANT! Supplement with natural concentrated nutritional supplements containing antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, vitamins, and essential minerals. The goal is to improve synaptic cell-to-cell communication.
- Provide essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements (as in fish oil, flaxseed oil, DHA / EFA supplements, primrose oil).
- Adjust the types of fats your family eats (good fats are olive oil, fish oil, canola oil and flaxseed oil; reduce all others). These are also helpful for the cardiovascular system, and can reduce the risk of cancer.
- Eliminate, or at least reduce as much as possible, trans-fats (man-made hydrogenated oils which can be incorporated into your brain structure – processed food are full of them). These fats are also worse for your heart than saturated fats and are potential carcinogens.
- Avoid food additives and highly processed foods.
Dr. Zoltan Rona, past president of the Canadian Holistic Medical Association, has pointed out the following important nutritional considerations in his best-selling book, Childhood Illness and the Allergy Connection:
Micronutrient deficiencies or dependencies (e.g. zinc) can have deleterious effects on both short and long term memory. White spots on the nails could be a sign of zinc deficiency even when blood tests for zinc are normal. The expression, “No zinc, no think” is not without merit. Many studies have shown that zinc supplementation is helpful with memory, thinking and I.Q. The best way of getting zinc is to optimize the diet. The most recently published RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for adults is 15 mgs. per day. The richest sources of zinc are generally the high protein foods such as organ meats, seafood (especially shellfish), oysters, whole grains and legumes (beans and peas). Studies show that cognitive development can be impaired when there are low iron blood levels. Deficiencies in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 and choline may also be involved.
Since amino acids are the precursors to the neurotransmitters, low levels can lead to neurotransmitter deficiency. Higher than accepted levels may lead to neurotransmitter excess. One example of amino acid excess causing hyperactive behaviour occurs with the artificial sweetener, aspartame. Some children are highly sensitive to aspartame and scrupulous attention should be aimed at keeping this potential neurotoxin out of the child’s diet. In children who consume large amounts of aspartame in soft drinks or other processed foods, amino acids can be significantly abnormal.(21)
Children who have been diagnosed as being “hyperactive” or having Attention Deficit Disorder may have the following:
- Cervical segmental dysfunction (pressure or irritation in the neck or the junction of the neck and skull)
- Allergies to one or more foods (usually milk, cane sugar, chocolate, American cheese, or wheat (with sugar, additives, and cow’s milk being the most frequent problems)
- Toxic metal accumulation (usually lead, mercury, copper, or aluminum)
For the spinal nerve pressure or irritation, some chiropractic adjustments (spinal manipulations) may be enough to correct this potential component. From what I have read of Dr. Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy, he says that ADD is commonly mechanically caused by an occiput that is jammed too far forward on the cranial base (apparently a common result of any sort of birth trauma, no matter how minor). Of those he’s treated who’ve presented with ADD, I believe that he said 60 per cent of those had the “jammed occiput” condition. Of those with this mechanical problem, he experienced a 100 per cent cure rate. Unfortunately, the mechanical aspect is rarely examined by parents seeking help with ADD.
I always recommend elimination of refined sugar and food additives from the diet of the affected person. This has to be done to the best of one’s ability, and obviously is not always 100 percent possible. Conscientious efforts on the parents’ part, and frequent trips to health food stores and organic food suppliers are a must.
Suspension of all dairy product use for the first 6 weeks is also often recommended, since cow’s milk products are very frequently involved in allergic or hypersensitivity reactions in these cases. A simple “leg length check” can often be useful in narrowing down potential food allergies. For example, if you suspect milk to be a potential problem, give a few drops of it under the tongue while the child is lying on his back with shoes on. If the child begins to react to the milk (or any other food being tested), then the previously equal in length legs will appear to suddenly become unequal in relation to each other (sometimes by as much as three fourths of an inch). I think you will be as amazed to see this phenomenon as I was when I first witnessed it three decades ago!
If there is reason to suspect toxic accumulation of lead, mercury, copper, or aluminum, then I use Metalstat homeopathic drops from Energique(C) for detoxification of heavy metals. Blood tests and hair tests are available for accurate testing, but since correction may be accomplished by inexpensive homeopathic drops, I seldom see a need to insist upon such testing (which can often add up to hundreds of dollars in expenses). Let’s be practical and use common sense! The beauty of the action of homeopathic drops and remedies is that they function as a catalyst for the body’s own inner healing mechanisms and resources to go into action to correct health imbalances. If the homeopathic being taken is not necessary, then nothing happens! If not used excessively, there are no harmful side effects to worry about as are often encountered with most prescription drugs.
Finally, in addition to all-natural nutritional supplementation (if it is a particularly difficult or long-term problem), it may be helpful for the child (and occasional adult) to take twice daily ADD HP(C) homeopathic drops from Energique.(C) to assist in the reorganization and coordination of the central nervous system back to an integrated whole. These drops contain homeopathically prepared potencies of Adrenocorticotropin, L-Dopa Phenolic, Gamma Aminobutyric Acid Phenolic, Norepinephrine Phenolic, Serotonin Phenolic, Lycopodium Clavatum, Calcarea Carbonica, Calcarea Phosphorica, as well as some others – and often reduce the time to when parents can see their children functioning without impairment. It should not be unusual to see a child get rid of his Ritalin®, get rid of his allergies, and get rid of the stigma of “A.D.D.” and “hyperactivity” placed upon him or her when the measures discussed in this article have been carried out.
Remember, true health care should always seek to determine the causes of health problems. Obviously bad health habits and the causes of the problems then need to be eliminated. In my opinion, simply suppressing the effects of the causes or bad habits with drugs is not the optimum approach! Despite the fact that this seems almost childishly obvious, what do we see everywhere around us in today’s health care?
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