Per the CDC, which vastly underestimates most issues in America, ONE in ELEVEN children are diagnosed with ADHD. The numbers are rising with adults as well. As well, 6 in 10 children with ADHD have at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, 3 in 10 children with ADHD have anxiety. Why do these things all go together? Why do we typically see more than one diagnosis in these children and adults? Because there are multiple factors at play that come from the same root causes. Not every child or adult with ADHD has the same root cause but there are a handful of things that are typically present in these individuals.
What’s worse than labeling a child with an ADHD diagnosis, 62% of children aged 2-17 with ADHD take medication for their ADHD (ages 2-5 is just 18% medicated). Some of these medications are not stimulants but many are….these medications long term carry numerous side effects.
Stimulant medications increase neurotransmitter activity, especially dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are involved in pleasure seeking activities and control of the autonomic nervous system. This does lead to increases in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, increased blood sugar, etc. Long term physiologic dependence is a real concern with these medications as most find they need a dose increase every so often because it just “doesn’t work as well”. Over time you may find yourself more agitated, anxious, aggressive, even hostile. The constant over-firing of neurotransmitters disconnects the heart and brain. This is also EXHAUSTING long term to your adrenal glands. Why? Because the neurotransmitters that are produced also trigger the stress response which means an increase in cortisol, thus putting your body into a chronic state of fight or flight/freeze. This causes poor digestion as well. When your body is running from a bear (fight or flight or freeze) it doesn’t prioritize digestion, nutrient absorption, or even reproduction/reproductive hormone balance. Taking these medications long term has been proven to cause nutrient depletion as well. Deficiencies in potassium, iron, Vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium are associated with long term stimulant medication use.
Now, I’m not saying medications have not helped some people, but they do put a band aid on the symptoms so it can be ignored, and the root cause never dealt with. Which yes is sometimes easier and faster but long term will not serve anyone. The meds eventually don’t work as well. I have worked with MANY patients who needed increasing doses of their ADHD meds, or they just stopped taking them because the meds stopped working but they were still suffering. Many are anxious, depressed and have other medical problems. Does it hurt to take a med short term while working on root causes? I’m not sure I can answer that for you, but even just the listed side effects offer enough information to warrant a pause before starting a stimulant medication...
COMMON REACTIONS: anorexia, dry mouth, (which can be a factor in gum disease) insomnia, headache, abdominal pain, weight loss, emotional lability, anxiety, nausea/vomiting, agitation, dizziness, nervousness, diarrhea, tachycardia, fatigue, asthenia (physical weakness/ lack of energy), fever, infection, dyspepsia, constipation, libido changes, somnolence (sleepy), speech disturbance, tic exacerbation, dyspnea, dysmenorrhea, impotence, palpitations, BP elevation, visual disturbance, restlessness, tooth disorder, photosensitivity.
SERIOUS REACTIONS: physical dependency, abuse, psychosis, mania, aggressive behavior, sudden death, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, cardiomyopathy (long term use), seizures, hypersensitivity reaction, anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, priapism, peripheral vasculopathy, Raynaud phenomenon, growth suppression (long term use in peds patients), rhabdomyolysis, intestinal ischemia, withdrawal symptoms if abrupt D/C with prolonged use
NO SMALL AMOUNT OF SIDE EFFECTS: Mood changes. Behavior changes. How many teens are given these meds? Many along with anti-depressants. Then we wonder why we see violence. It’s never just one thing, but medication side effects need to be considered.
Okay, so let’s look at factors that cause the SYMPTOMS of ADHD. Remember, there is NO one genetic defect associated with ADHD. There are epigenetic changes that occur that might predispose a person to have these SYMPTOMS but epigenetic changes to you DNA can be changed based off lifestyle and toxin exposure, etc. People want to blame ADHD on genetics but it’s just not genetic. Too many things can be changed and symptoms can go away. Yes, there are predispositions and there are things that happen during pregnancy and young childhood that might make it much harder to reverse but it is still possible. If at the very least we are considering some of these root causes alongside conventional treatment it would help the persons long term risks of medication use and risk of other problems that come with these issues.
SLEEP DISORDERED BREATHING |
Signs of this: narrow, high palate, open mouth posture, mouth breathing, snoring, underdeveloped or recessed jaw, crooked teeth, underbite or overbite, teeth grinding, bed wetting, day time sleepiness, dark circles under eyes. Basically if you are mouth breathing at night you brain is not oxygenating as it should due to less nitric oxide production, your glymphatic system isn’t able to drain well and your brain cannot “detox” or get rid of waste well.
Steps to help:
- Support a nutrient dense diet (look at the work of Weston A Price), cod liver oil (I use Rosita), minerals (I use BodyBio, Biofulvic, Jigsaw electrolytes, Quinton Minerals and rotate them), Vitamins ADEK, magnesium, eat pasture raised eggs, organ meats, full fat raw dairy, etc. You still need a functioning gut to absorb the nutrients but these nutrients are key!
Multi organ supplement if desired (Code: Naturalnursemomma for 10% off)
Quinton, BodyBio, Rosita, Jigsaw electrolyte, Rosita wholesale online dispensary, ADK Designs for Health support
- Biologic dentist and Myofunctional therapist evaluation. There is no age too young or old that will not benefit from this.
Myomunchee is a wonderful tool to help train the muscles and strengthen them. The goal is 10 minutes twice daily.
Craniosacralfascial therapy (CFT). This therapy changed my life. Think of the fascia like a spider web holding your body together. If it is tight it will not function as well. Unwinding the fascia can be a game changer for children and adults. More info in relation to ADHD HERE.
Chiropractic care. Find one that works with infants and children and that is personally recommended to you by others who live near you. This can be so important for the nervous system and proper development.
Airway orthodontist, palate expansion, Healthy Start dental program (this is great for young kids who mouth breathe), as well as tie assessment and release using the Dr. Zhagi method.
If delayed or prolonged dental eruption, have many cavities, etc also consider the cell salt Calc Phos.
MINERAL AND NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES |
B vitamins are usually low as well. These kids and adults can be under or overmethylators so the situation will be different every time but hydroxo or adeno B12 may be a better B vitamin to start with as well as B1 (benfotiamine is the best form) and B6 (P5P). Many ADHD patients need B vitamins but do not tolerate methylated B vitamins so focusing on B1 and B6, organ meats, and whole food methylation support with eggs (choline), etc. may be needed. Other times starting a methylated B complex works well. I like to try Vervita Inspiracell first and see how well tolerated. This helps with neurotransmitter production. But if not tolerated I go to B Minus from Seeking Health + HydroxoB12 with folinic acid. If still not tolerated, I focus on B1 and B6 individually.
- Another factor to consider is Pyrrole Disorder. This is where the body excretes excessive zinc and B6. There is lab testing that can be done to detect this. But supplementation can be a gamechanger for these people. This again is a genetic predisposition, but there is usually something else at play causing this gene to be expressed like this. If this is the case I would go more towards BodyBio zinc drops (typically 15mg twice daily is tolerated of zinc with kids WITH FOOD, but I would start about 5 mg twice daily. B6 the best form is P5P. Klaire Labs active B complex has the good forms of B vitamins but still may not be tolerated and might need to do B1 and B6 individually.
B1 Pure Encapsulations Benfomax and Seeking Health P5P, both available from Fullscript
Many will say iron as well, but low iron is often due to leaky gut which many would argue is due to chronic infections, food sensitivities, and gut dysbiosis. Parasites are a major factor in low iron. Giving iron supplements just further feeds parasites and why you sometimes see them not helping and just causing more gastrointestinal distress.
- Consider magnesium. This can be a great first step with ADHD. Magnesium glycinate used to be my go to but this one is not tolerated by those who struggle with glutamate issues. Glutamate is excitatory and is often found to be an issue with those with ADHD, as well as low GABA. GABA is manufactured in the gut (it all goes back to the gut!) And is a calming neurotransmitter. Niacin (Vitamin B3) and theanine help with GABA production. So again, a B complex is often needed but not always tolerated. Back to magnesium… through years of figuring out the right magnesium with my own children, I believe magnesium glycinate is wonderful for those with anxiety or sleep issues but for those with ADHD, may want to look at Ionic Magnesium. Liqui-Mag from Brain Child Nutritionals is one option, Ionic Magnesium from Mother Earth Labs is another. I haven’t found any other great options because many magnesium powders are magnesium glycinate or citrate/carbonate which are less bioavailable. This is a journey for me as well so it can take some trial and error as you figure out the puzzle pieces for yourself and your children.
CHRONIC GUT INFECTIONS |
Parasites, yeast/fungus are the most common. These things paired with heavy metal toxin exposure and nutrient depletion can alone create an ADHD picture. Yeast is opportunistic, heavy metals are often at play here. But chronic mold exposure is a factor to consider when there are yeast issues. Yeast issues don’t just look like having recurrent yeast infections, it can look like excessive tantrums, mood swings, food sensitivities, laughing at inappropriate times, hyperactivity or inability to focus, poor sleep, etc.
- For yeast issues with children I use Skutelleria Supreme, 1-4 drops twice daily. If parasites are also a concern I Melia Supreme has good coverage for both. For herbs and kids, I start with a sprinkle of it in some applesauce, moving to 1/8 capsule then 1/4 capsule over a few days or so. Older children can do more. For adults with yeast concerns the best is Goldenthread Supreme but it is best to start slowly, this is one that is stronger, so I start with 1 cap daily for a week then move to twice daily if tolerated. I look for behavior changes in kids, rashes, diarrhea, etc. In adults you might see a lot of fatigue if not right herb for you or diarrhea. Sometimes it’s too much too fast and other times it’s the wrong herb. Skutelleria Supreme is a good option for pregnancy and breastfeeding and children. Black Cumin Seed oil from Vervita is another good option for yeast, for children 1-2 drops per day, for adults usually max 10 drops per day, starting much slower.
- Leaky gut is a factor here. Butyrate can be helpful, is sometimes started at the end of a protocol. I use BodyBio sodium butyrate, ca/mg butyrate is more calming and can be used instead. It does not taste good so swallow whole. Children can take as well. Both can be bought from my Doctor's Supplement Store or Fullscript.
TOXIN EXPOSURE |
Heavy metals (think chemtrails, which I know seems crazy but listen to this podcast and watch "The Dimming" on YouTube and you might think differently). Vaccines are a factor here. It cannot be denied and there is a lot of literature and clinical evidence to support this. It’s not just one vaccine, but more the combination of many, the toxin bucket overflowing. Check out my podcast Red Pill Your Healthcast. The episodes titled The Elephant in the Room discuss vaccines. It’s not just the antibodies introduced, its the preservatives, glyphosate, and heavy metals that cause more issues but also the antibodies and “creating an immune system” is inherently wrong and creates long term issues including auto-immunity
RETAINED PRIMITIVE REFLEXES |
This is really from the work of Dr. Robert Melilo. Check out his books Disconnected Kids and Reconnected Kids. These are primitive reflexes that should be integrated (or go away) in pregnancy or infancy, sometimes toddlerhood, but is often not integrated due to trauma, toxin exposure, or other factors and can definitely be a factor with an ADHD diagnosis.
Retained Moro reflex: light/sound sensitivity, not maintaining eye contact, motion sickness, easily distracted, anxiety, emotional, mood swings, poor impulse control. A constant state of fight or flight. This should integrate around 2-5 months.
Retained Spinal Galant reflex: bedwetting, fidgeting, poor concentration/attention, auditory processing disorder, poor organization, hard time sitting still. This reflex should integrate around 3-9 months.
Retained Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex might look like poor hand eye coordination, “W” sitting, hard time sitting still or concentrating, messy eater. This reflex should integrate around 11 months.
These are just a few of them. There are more. Check out those books and the work of Dr. Robert Melilo and the Brain Balance Centers. There are exercises you can start at home to help but working with a trained professional will get you the best results.
Over and over this has been identified in the literature and clinical arena. ANY child with known trauma would benefit from Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), talk therapy, play therapy.
FOOD SENSITIVITIES AND ARTIFICIAL FOOD DYE |
This is one of the biggest factors and is foundational to improving the symptoms of ADHD. Removing artificial food dye can do WONDERS for any child or adult with these concerns. Please check out these posts for more information. As well, removing gluten and conventional dairy (sometimes need to remove all dairy then reintroduce raw and see if tolerated), sticking with whole foods, less processed foods. No refined sugary foods! This alone can help children and adults with ADHD.
A factor in several of these is adrenals being in overdrive. When a person is constantly in a state of fight or flight they pump cortisol and this can look like a child with ADHD. Reishi Supreme and Camu Supreme are wonderful adrenal supports for children, Camu also helps to stabilize histamine which is ALWAYS a factor. Histamine can make the brain feel like it’s on fire and can definitely look like the symptoms of ADHD. Especially because histamine is higher at night and will impact sleep. For adults needing adrenal support my go to Vervita Regenerzyme Adrenal. I also like Ashwagandha Supreme or Tulsi Supreme in the afternoon.
Okay, there is a lot of information here. Focus on nutrients and minerals, address gut dysbiosis, consider an airway evaluation and CFT, and limit toxin exposures as best you can. This means clean eating, no fluoride in water, clean air at home, clean home and beauty products (because yes it gets into your dust and you and your children breathe in those chemicals), and this also means for my family no vaccines.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. These things are supportive in nature. This is not meant to be medical advice, this is meant to be educational. Please speak to your healthcare provider before changing anything in your healthcare routine.