Is Your Child on Ritalin?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Submitted by Timothy J. Callaghan, M.D. for COEM’s Website
Three to seven percent of children (and one to six percent of adults) have been diagnosed with ADHD, and the use of pharmaceutical drugs to treat this condition is estimated to double every six years. Why?
In schools across America, teachers and nurses find themselves having to supervise administration of their students’ ADHD psycho-stimulant medication. In order to deal with ADHD symptoms, more and more children are being placed on drugs like Ritalin, Adderal, and Concerta.
Let’s first define ADHD.
ADHD is a persistent lack of attention with the inability to control impulsiveness. This manifests as restlessness, difficulty sitting still, problems completing tasks, and may be accompanied by learning issues, decreased memory, mood swings, and even temper tantrums. As a consequence, the child’s self-esteem may be devastated and the parent exhausted.
Since there is no clear objective test to diagnose this condition, it is critical to get a second opinion and, hopefully, one opinion should be from a developmental specialist. There is a fear that many “boys who are just being boys” will be labeled in error.
What is happening in these children’s brains?
Current research indicates that there may be a “perfect storm” combining genetic predisposition (vulnerability) and environmental triggers. We in Environmental Medicine feel that “genetics loads the gun but the environment pulls the trigger.”
Professor Richard Deth of Northern University has discovered that ADHD (and autistic) individuals have problems at the D4 (dopamine) receptors of the brain. These receptors, critical to normal brain transmission and signaling, are genetically different in ADHD children and may explain their susceptibility.
Note that the susceptibility doesn’t mean inevitability!
Researchers Harding, Jodah, and Gant list in their 2003 study eight categories of triggers. The researchers can be commended for identifying and initiating research into these eight areas of possible “triggers.” This concept of triggering mechanisms is the big key and has been utilized by Environmental Medicine physicians to successfully treat this condition for nearly thirty years!
What are the treatment options for ADHD?
The traditional approach to ADHD treatment is psycho-stimulant medication. It can be very effective and has helped many. However, there are often dangerous side effects and concerns over long-term use. One study showed chromosomal breaks with Ritalin. Another study found possible growth suppression. Some children exhibit insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and loss of appetite, neurological ticks, abdominal pain, social withdrawal, fatigue, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), “Zombie”-like behavior, and the possibility of increased risk for drug addiction. Side effects often necessitate anti-depressants and mood stabilizers being used to control emotional problems that are consequences of the medicine.
Is there a non-drug option to treat ADHD?
At the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, we look at the entire biochemistry pattern of the patient and utilize non-toxic treatments. After a very comprehensive initial evaluation, a battery of tests is performed to look for triggers. Testing includes tests to evaluate levels of toxic metals; hidden yeast or bacterial infections; allergies (including food allergies); deficiencies of important minerals, especially iron, as well as essential fatty acids and amino acids; and blood levels of glucose and insulin to rule out poor blood sugar control as a cause of mood swings.
Based on this wealth of information obtained from a comprehensive diagnostic work-up, we are often able to identify causes behind the behavior of ADHD. With proper diagnosis, treatment becomes much easier, and more importantly, more effective. We have been utilizing this approach at The Center for nearly 30 years and have seen wonderful success stories with many of our young patients. [See Success in Treating Attention Deficit Disorder.]
If you would like help for your child or other loved one with ADHD, please call The Center at (843) 572-1600 and talk with one of our staff. ADHD doesn’t have to limit your child’s potential. Please remember adults also suffer from ADHD and these same principles apply. When the causes are identified, there are a multitude of natural and effective treatment options available.
Crook, WG. The Yeast Connection and the Woman. Jackson, Tennessee: Professional Books, Inc., 1995.
Harding KL, Judah RD, Gant G. Outcome based comparison of Ritalin versus food supplement treated children. Altern Med Rev 2003; 8(3) 319-30.
Pangborn, JB and Baker SJ. Autism: Effective Biomedical Treatments. San Diego, California: Autism Research Institute, 2005.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Success in Treating ADHD
- Is Your Child on Ritalin?
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- Hoddon’s Story: A Mother’s Testimonial
- Autism on the Rise
- Children with Special Needs
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Asperger’s Syndrome