The Role of Diet in ADHD…

Due to concern about the side effects and the long-term use of medications typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there is an increasing demand for alternative forms of treatment for patients with the condition, with dietary medications and supplementation showing promise.

ADHD

Research has shown that deficiencies in zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, glutathione, and/or omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to oxidative stress and altered neural plasticity needed for brain development and healing. For children with ADHD, this can manifest as poor concentration and memory and learning challenges.

Hypersensitivity to foods and/or additives can increase inflammation in the blood, which presents in children as atopy (hereditary allergy like asthma, hay fever, or hives), irritability, sleep issues, and prominent hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that taking a probiotic can help manage inflammation, which may benefit children with ADHD as well.

The link between ADHD and food additives including (but not limited to) preservatives, artificial flavorings, and colorings has been debated for decades. A 2007 Lancet publication reported that sodium benzoate and commonly used food colorings may exacerbate hyperactive behavior in children under the age of nine. A 2010 follow-up study concluded that children affected by these types of additives may share common genetic factors.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) and phospholipids are both essential for normal neuronal structure and function, of which diet is the only source of these important nutrients, especially during critical periods of development (childhood). Dietary deficiency early in life has been reported to increase the risk of developing ADHD signs and symptoms.

Past studies have established the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between the omega-3 vs. omega-6 fatty acids in one’s diet to reduce systemic inflammation. When the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 becomes too high (3:1 is favorable), it’s considered a risk factor for ADHD.

Diets low in protein and high in carbohydrates (refined carbs/sugar) are also a well-known risk factor for developing ADHD because the amino acids that make up proteins are essential for our body to manufacture neurotransmitters.

Advertisements

ADHD and Chiropractic Care?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a controversial diagnosis, as there are no clear objective clinical tests that can establish whether or not a patient has the condition. ADHD belongs to a spectrum of neurological disorders with no physiological basis (no clear lab tests exist) and often include other conditions such as learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or Tourette’s syndrome. Early-onset mania or bipolar mixed state can be difficult to differentiate from ADHD or they may co-exist with ADHD.

To complicate matters with regard to diagnosing ADHD, some kids may simply be at the high-end of the normal range of activity or have difficult temperaments. Poor attention may be caused by altered vision or hearing, seizures, head trauma, acute or chronic illness, poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, anxiety disorders, depression, and/or the result of abuse or neglect. Various drugs (such as phenobarbital) may interfere with attention ADHDas well.

Since the 1990s, the number of prescriptions to treat ADHD has skyrocketed 700%, possibly due to the increased awareness of the symptoms associated with ADHD and/or an increase in the diagnoses for ADHD, often demanded by frustrated teachers and/or parents. The classic medical model has embraced the use of Ritalin (methylphenidate) to treat ADHD. For parents who would like to explore other avenues of treatment, what can Chiropractic offer?

In a recent study involving 28 children aged 5-15 years with a primary diagnosis of ADHD, investigators randomly assigned 14 participants to a spinal manipulation (SM) group with conventional care and the other 14 to a control group (conventional care only). The researchers found the patients in the SM group experienced better outcomes based on several assessments and that a larger scale study would be necessary to verify their findings.

Nutrition may also have a role to play in the management of ADHD. In a 2015 study, researchers provided Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (a probiotic) to infants at six months of age and then followed them for the next 13 years. At age 13, six of the children in a placebo group had been diagnosed with either ADHD or Asperger syndrome while none of the kids in the probiotic group had been affected by either condition. The researchers concluded that probiotic use early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood.

Kids, ADHD & Chiropractic

What Is ADHD and How Common Is It?

Today with 1 in 10 kids is diagnosed with ADHD, making it the most commonly diagnosed neuro-behavioral disorder in children. This prevalence has sky rocketed over the past generation. Ritalin is currently the most common treatment for kids with ADHD. (In fact, the United States uses 90% of the world’s Ritalin) This medication is a schedule II controlled substance that has effects similar to both amphetamines and cocaine. As more parents are learning about the effects of medication on their children, they are looking to alternative treatments for ADHD. One very safe alternative that many parents have turned to is pediatric chiropractic care.

The main idea behind chiropractic care is that it restores optimal function of the nerve system. According the Gray’s Anatomy textbook, “All functions of the body are controlled by the nervous system.” ADHD is a known central nervous system disorder. When there is stress and tension in the nerve system, caused by common childhood occurrences like birth, falls, and sports, and chemical insult behavior problems may arise. A way to describe the effects of nerve system tension in children with ADHD and other neuro-developmental problems is that it is as if these kids have the heavy metal rock band Metallica blaring in the background all the time. It causes them behave erratically, have difficulty concentrating, seem overly sensitive, and have meltdowns for no apparent reason. Chiropractic care turns down the Metallica by calming the nerve system. The end result is that the childkids behaves and functions at a higher level. Since the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerves) is protected by the skull and moveable bones of the spine, pediatric chiropractors are able to use gentle spinal adjustments to affect the nervous system.

Is There Any Evidence That Chiropractic Can Help Children with ADHD?

This has been an intensive area of study for well over a decade. A 2014 study of children diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of 8 and 12 remarkable results were found with chiropractic care. 75% of the children were on medication. Following a minimum of 5 months of care there was an overall 17.3% improvement in ADHD symptoms with no additional intervention.