ADHD Awareness

12 Best Adderall Alternatives

Posted: November 21, 2017
By: Cognitune

Natural Adderall Alternatives

Adderall. It’s a word that will either make you cringe or make you smile, depending on who you ask. The drug’s intended to be used as a prescription medication to treat ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and narcolepsy. Now, it’s become increasingly popular for its off-label use as a study aid and a quick fix for motivation problems.

Students and Wall Street executives in search of a real-world limitless pill frequently turn to Adderall as a possible solution. The drug’s widespread misuse brought about a slew of media coverage and college campus horror stories. Adderall-induced addiction, depression, and derailed lives are just the beginning. With a prescription “smart drug” epidemic looming, renewed awareness, and a healthy fear of Adderall have come to light.

Natural Substitutes for Adderall


ADHD can be challenging to manage. You may experience impulsivity issues, inattentiveness, difficulty learning and socializing, and a general sense of inefficiency. These complications can lead to productivity problems that are extremely difficult to overcome. Fortunately, there are several natural over the counter (OTC) Adderall alternatives to control your symptoms. Herbal Adderall substitutes for treating ADHD are healthy and effective for long-term use. They are entirely legal and will safely reduce your symptoms.


Natural remedies for ADHD are especially significant for parents. Nobody wants to expose their children to the harsh side effects of amphetamine-based stimulants. With that said, non-prescription alternatives are also highly recommended for adults looking to boost focus and concentration. Before we dive into our list of natural supplements for ADHD, let’s take a closer look at the truth behind Adderall.

What Is Adderall and Why Is It Dangerous?


Adderall is the brand name for a potent Schedule II controlled substance that shares a remarkable amount of similarities with methamphetamine. Unfortunately, most Adderall users are unaware of this frightening fact and never associate the two. A common and dangerous misconception is that Adderall is safe since it’s an FDA approved medication, legally prescribed to children by licensed physicians. Just like candy, right? Hardly.


When taken as suggested by a doctor, Adderall, and similar drugs like Vyvanse and Ritalin can help reduce ADHD symptoms. But these drugs still have substantial health risks. Adderall itself contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This attribute makes it chemically addictive and potentially detrimental to your CNS (Central Nervous System) with long-term use.

Adderall works by stimulating several neurotransmitters in your brain to unnaturally high levels. The neurotransmitters in question include dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), serotonin, and norepinephrine. The sudden rush of “feel good” chemicals can provide alertness and enhanced energy and motivation for an entire day. Sounds good on paper, but the constant flood of “reward” signals can leave you wanting more. Tolerance development ensues. The need to take more of the drug to feel the same effects can quickly lead to addiction and dependency. Excessive Adderall consumption can deteriorate your central nervous system causing permanent and irreversible damage.

Using natural alternatives to Adderall can help you avoid these adverse side effects. When it comes to your health or that of your children, long-term safety should be your priority. Treating ADHD with legal over the counter substitutes is the best decision you can make for yourself and your children.

The natural brain supplements listed below help to improve focus, concentration, mental energy levels, and overall cognitive function. Our list of the 12 best natural Adderall alternatives for adults and children will cover the following supplements: Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Phosphatidylserine, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Alpha GPC, Huperzine A, L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP, and GABA.

Best Natural Over the Counter Adderall Alternatives

1. Ginkgo Biloba

Perhaps the most commonly supplemented herb for brain health, Ginkgo Biloba has shown promise as a natural treatment of ADHD in children. Ginkgo works by preserving the balance of vital neurotransmitters in the brain. Most notably, this nootropic will maintain acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. This benefit improves attention span and helps reduce impulsivity. A double-blind, randomized controlled six-week trial successfully linked Ginkgo supplementation to a significant reduction in ADHD related symptoms. The results of the study indicate that Ginkgo Biloba is a suitable natural alternative for Adderall.

Both legal and easily obtainable over the counter, this herbal supplement has a host of other mental health benefits as well. Ginkgo boosts memory retention, slows age-related cognitive decline, and enhances cerebral blood flow. This natural ADHD treatment can also improve sleep quality and overall mental cognition. These features make Ginkgo a safe and effective substitute to traditionally prescribed ADHD stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, or Ritalin.

2. Bacopa Monnieri

Those looking for increased lifespan and enhanced cognitive function often turn to Bacopa Monnieri (water hyssop) for help. As a traditionally used medicinal herb for centuries, Bacopa has proven itself as an excellent natural substitute for Adderall. Like its prescription counterparts, Bacopa Monnieri interacts with serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in the body. The positive interaction on essential neurotransmitters enhances alertness and energy levels in the individual.

Bacopa primarily works by enhancing neuron communication through the growth and maintenance of nerve endings in the brain. For this reason, Bacopa supplements reliably improve memory formation and mental cognition. Studies have demonstrated Bacopa’s ability to boost and stabilize mood and improve attention span in its users. This nootropic is available as a non-prescription homeopathic treatment for ADHD for over the counter purchase.

3. Caffeine

Most of us are no strangers to caffeine, but few would link a cup of coffee to a reduction in ADHD symptoms. Studies have shown that caffeine can safely improve focus and concentration for its users, making it a reliable natural Adderall alternative. Caffeine is considered a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant which can boost the production of dopamine in the brain. This legal OTC supplement is also a vasoconstrictor. Therefore, caffeine reduces blood flow to overactive regions of the brain by shrinking blood vessels (like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin). This effect allows for more predictable and stable communication throughout the brain.

Not only will caffeine enhance energy and reduce fatigue, but its stimulatory effect makes it an excellent supplement for curing brain fog. Adults and children with ADHD should consume caffeine during the morning hours, only. An early dosing schedule will help to eliminate sleeplessness or insomnia at night. Excessive caffeine consumption can be harmful to children and teens. Do not go overboard with this Adderall substitute.

4. L-Theanine

Found primarily in green tea leaves from Camellia sinensis plants, L-Theanine is a non-essential amino acid with a variety of health benefits. This safe and natural Adderall alternative can reduce stress and anxiety by boosting levels of GABA and glycine in the brain. GABA and glycine are inhibitory neurotransmitters that work to offset overactive excitatory neurotransmitters. This effect creates a state of relaxation and calmness within the user. By helping the brain achieve equilibrium, L-Theanine effectively reduces ADHD related symptoms.

Studies have supported the use of L-Theanine as one of the best over the counter replacements for Adderall. In users diagnosed with ADHD, there was a notable reduction in mild cognitive impairment while supplementing L-Theanine. Selective attention span also improved in another 16-week study. This natural amino acid is also an excellent nootropic to stack with caffeine. It works by offsetting the crash and jitters associated with caffeine, while still providing mental and physical stimulation.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a well-known Scandinavian herb with stimulatory properties like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin. Fortunately, this herbal nootropic comes without the adverse side effects of amphetamine-based ADHD stimulants. Rhodiola Rosea has been utilized for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for a variety of issues related to fatigue and cognitive impairment.

Several studies have demonstrated a link between Rhodiola Rosea and enhancements in memory and mood stabilization through serotonin and dopamine regulation. Improved energy levels, sharper mental processing, and enhanced cognitive function are also among the many health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. While this brain supplement is safe, and legal for OTC purchase, there are currently few studies that use it for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. However, its effects on cognition suggest that it is an excellent natural substitute for Adderall.

6. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine benefits the brain by providing structural support to cell membranes. This natural supplement is known as an essential phospholipid in the human body, aiding in the formation and recollection of memories. There is substantial convincing documentation demonstrating the effects of Phosphatidylserine (PS) on cognitive function. PS combats mood disorders, reduces perceived feelings of anxiety and depression, and even offers neuroprotection.

Not only is this natural remedy excellent for overall brain health, but it’s also a safe and effective over the counter Adderall alternative. A double-blind 2-month study in children with ADHD supplementing Phosphatidylserine showed significant improvements in impulsivity control and auditory memory. Additional research linked PS supplementation to enhancements in processing speed and accuracy in healthy adults. These findings suggest that Phosphatidylserine is an excellent non-prescription alternative for ADHD medications Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin.

7. Omega-3 Fish Oil

Arguably the most popular health supplement on the planet, Omega-3 fish oil is surprisingly effective in treating ADHD naturally. Fish oil contains two primary fatty acids that benefit the mind and body. These fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA is excellent for reducing bodily inflammation, improving heart health, and reducing anxiety and depression. DHA is more beneficial as a cognitive enhancer, used as a natural OTC substitute for Adderall.

While both types of fish oil provide numerous health benefits in adults and children, DHA-heavy supplements are more effective for treating ADHD. Several studies have found that fish oil containing more DHA led to improvements in working memory, attention span, and a reduction in behavioral problems related to ADHD (impulse control, hyperactivity, etc.). Another study suggested the effects of Omega-3 fatty acids were even more pronounced when stacked with Phosphatidylserine (PS). If you’re looking for safe, legal, and healthy natural remedies for ADHD, give fish oil a try.

8. Alpha GPC

One of the best Adderall alternatives for over the counter purchase is the highly bioavailable choline supplement, Alpha GPC (Choline Alfoscerate). Recent research suggests that children with ADHD have dramatically reduced acetylcholine receptors in the brain. Alpha GPC works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and promptly increasing levels of usable acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the most prominent learning and memory neurotransmitter in the human body. For this reason, Alpha GPC would be a safe and effective natural Adderall substitute for improving focus and concentration in the user.

The benefits of Alpha GPC go well beyond the treatment of ADHD and cognitive enhancement. This nootropic is arguably just as prevalent in the bodybuilding and fitness world. Alpha GPC can enhance growth hormone production and fat oxidation in healthy young adults. Additionally, choline supplements assist in neuroprotection and serve as excellent natural medications for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

9. Huperzine A

Huperzine A is an herbal nootropic supplement renowned in Chinese medicine for improving cognitive function in children and adults. In a similar fashion to Alpha GPC, Huperzine A benefits the brain by enhancing levels of acetylcholine. While Alpha GPC does so directly, Huperzine A increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, indirectly.

Huperzine A works like this: Acetylcholinesterase is the chemical responsible for breaking down acetylcholine in the brain. Huperzine A is classified as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This classification means that Huperzine A inhibits acetylcholinesterase from performing its duty of breaking down acetylcholine. Huperzine’s inhibitory properties allow more acetylcholine to build up in the brain, subsequently enhancing learning, focus, and attention in the user.

This herbal Adderall alternative is legal, and safe to use for the treatment of ADHD. Additionally, Huperzine A has a synergistic effect and is even more potent for boosting cognitive function when stacked with Alpha GPC. Look for both ingredients together when purchasing natural remedies for ADHD.

10. L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used to produce neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline and is one of the best OTC Adderall substitutes. This natural nootropic supplement is known for its ability to enhance mental cognition during acute and uncontrollable stress. Studies have shown that Tyrosine may also improve memory and reduce feelings of anxiety. This mood-stabilizing benefit makes L-Tyrosine a potentially effective homeopathic remedy for ADHD.

The effects of this Adderall alternative on alertness and wakefulness are particularly noteworthy in regular bouts of sleep deprivation. Tyrosine can improve cognitive function without interrupting normal sleeping patterns. Another study successfully linked the supplementation of L-Tyrosine and 5-HTP to prominent reductions in ADHD related symptoms in children. However, L-Tyrosine is less effective for ADHD and cognitive function in non-stressful situations. In other words, it may be a good natural treatment for ADHD if you are frequently stressed or experience irregularities in sleep quality.

11. 5-HTP

5-HTP is the precursor to “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin, and is a safe and effective natural substitute for Adderall. Much like prescription ADHD medications Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin, 5-HTP positively influences serotonin in the brain which has an anti-depressant effect. When levels of serotonin increase in the user, happiness and an improved sense of well-being occur. Thus, supplementing 5-HTP rejuvenates focus and concentration, improves creativity, and boosts mental energy.

Some users suggest taking L-Tryptophan as a natural remedy for ADHD instead of 5-HTP. L-Tryptophan is the precursor to 5-HTP. Since L-Tryptophan can also divert into protein construction or niacin, 5-HTP is the better choice for treating ADHD symptoms. This is because 5-HTP serves the singular purpose of being converted into serotonin. As a legal over the counter alternative to Adderall, 5-HTP easily permeates the blood-brain barrier. 5-HTP’s high bioavailability allows it to go to work on serotonin production quickly and efficiently.

12. GABA

GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is a self-regulating inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system often used as a sleeping aid. Its primary purpose is to help the brain maintain equilibrium. It achieves this goal by reducing the excitability and erratic over-firing of neurons, specifically by countering Glutamate receptors.

Studies have shown that GABA levels are much lower in those suffering from ADHD and insomnia. Unfortunately, GABA deficiencies can have an adverse compounding effect since sleeplessness can worsen symptoms of ADHD. This discovery has opened the door for using GABA supplements as a safe, natural alternative for Adderall in adults and children.

When taking GABA as a non-prescription remedy for ADHD, it can help moderate neural activity and increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Heightened levels of serotonin can control mood swings and reduce stress and anxiety. Supplementing GABA can also diminish irritability, aggression and other behavioral problems associated with ADHD like hyperactivity and impulse control. Although the research is not definitive on the effectiveness of GABA as an Adderall substitute, studies suggest that it’s at least worth a try.

Final Thoughts on Natural Adderall Alternatives for ADHD

Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin are powerful CNS stimulants for treating ADHD. These are not genius pills or smart drugs. These prescription medications can be dangerous if abused. Therefore, they are not the best options for long-term use, especially given the new knowledge we have on safe and legal over the counter replacements.


With a whole slew of natural Adderall alternatives and substitutes to choose from, it’s worth kicking the amphetamines to the curb in favor of a new ADHD remedy. What do you think is the best Adderall alternative? Let us know about your experience with these natural ADHD supplements in the comments below.


School Cash-for-ADHD Study: A Jarring Reminder to Be Wary of Unintentional Incentives

Posted: August 21, 2017
By: John Kelly

Youth Services Insider got our hands on a study out of North Carolina State University about a disturbing pattern in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

According to research done on ADHD diagnosing and medicating trends between 2003 and 2012, some children are mistakenly diagnosed with the condition because it represents a financial boom to school districts.

Study author Melinda Morrill took states and placed them into two groups: ones where the school districts had a fiscal incentive to diagnose ADHD, and ones where that incentive did not exist.

And to be clear, she isnt talking about incentive in the sense of an intentional push to action, like the federal adoption incentive. This is an unintentional incentive that unfolds in the following way:

1. States have nothing to do with the diagnosis of ADHD.

2. School officials frequently are part of decisions to diagnose ADHD.

3. The state contributes to special education in districts based on the number of kids who qualify for those services.

There are 34 states whose funding process creates this incentive, according to Morrills research.

What Morrill found convinces her that some portion of ADHD diagnoses are motivated by the potential for cash, not psychiatric evidence of the difficult-to-pinpoint condition. From her findings:

Using variation in special education funding policies across states, we find that children living in states with financial incentives are about 15 percent more likely to report having ADHD and are about 22 percent more likely to be taking medication for ADHD.

We confirm these findings using fixed effects and synthetic control methods focusing on two states experiencing a policy change over the time period studied.

Morrill also noted that between 2003 and 2012, two states New Jersey and West Virginia moved away from a system that financially rewarded more diagnoses. In both states, the percent of youth diagnosed and medicated for ADHD went down.

Her conclusion:

This study finds evidence of systematic differences in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD due to third party financial incentives that are unrelated to disease prevalence or severity. In some states, due to the financing mechanism for special education, schools face a financial incentive to encourage and facilitate the identification of children as having ADHD.

Click here to read the study. It should be of interest to anyone involved in either child welfare or juvenile justice, as youth who touch either or both systems are disproportionately diagnosed with ADHD and a whole host of other behavioral and mental health challenges.

But there is a broader issue that this study speaks to, in Youth Services Insiders humble opinion. And that is the extent to which unintentional financial incentives can lead to well-intentioned mishandling of youth, especially when it comes to mental health.

Well give school districts as a nebulous community the benefit of the doubt and say that they do not have an end goal of contributing to misdiagnoses of ADHD. They are all responsible for providing special education services, and those have to be paid for.

So it might be easy to rationalize liberal diagnosing of some ADHD for the greater good of having more funds to serve all of the special education students, many of whom have conditions that require more complex and expensive services on the part of schools.

The problem there is that Joe Student who just got diagnosed with ADHD he doesnt have might have a totally different life because of it. He might get started on powerful drugs with tough side effects. He might be placed on an academic track that stunts his capacity for growth.

This would actually be a great avenue of exploration for some research-minded funder: some commission or project that just identified (and perhaps recommended solutions to address) well-intentioned perverse incentives.


Injury and ADHD

Posted: August 17, 2017
By: Yannick Pauli, D.C.

Early research has shown that very young children who sustained head trauma often meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD within two years—even if they were not diagnosed with ADHD prior to the injury. Spurred by these findings, a study published in The British Medical Journal investigated a relationship between head injuries and childhood ADHD. The research team collected data from 62,088 children and divided them into two groups: children who had head, burns, or scald injuries before they reached the age of 2, and children who were injury-free. They discovered that those who received head injuries in early childhood are 90 percent more likely to get diagnosed with ADHD before they turned 10.

Spinal trauma usually accompanies head injury, as the abrupt cessation of movement to the head with impact also affects spinal alignment. For these reasons, it is important for your child to receive a chiropractic check-up or exam if he or she sustained any head injuries in childhood. Prevention can go a long way, too. Here are some ways to protect your child from spinal and head trauma:

Choose your birth options in advance, in order to avoid unnecessary birth trauma caused by instrumental intervention in birth.

Never leave a baby alone on raised surfaces like beds, changing tables or chairs. If you have to leave the baby unattended, place him or her on the floor, in a crib or in a playpen.

Childproof your home. Thoroughly install window guards, place safety gates near stairs and doors, and get rid of furniture with protruding edges. If there’s a playground in your yard, make sure there are shock-absorbing surfaces like sand or rubber mats under the playground equipment.

In the car, make sure your child is properly buckled up. Always use a child safety seat or, when they’re older, a seat belt.

Your children should wear appropriate headgear and other safety equipment when skating, riding a bike, skiing or playing contact sports.

Be aware of what your kids’ sports activities entail.

Make sure your child takes it easy when recovering from a head injury, foregoing any sports or rough play until the injury has healed completely. Not only will it take longer for the brain to heal if it quickly gets re-injured, but every injury does additional damage.


ADHD: Time for A New Perspective

Posted: August 17, 2017
By: Kelly Brogan, M.D.

“She has a remarkable ability to engage in a task. We use her as a model for the other kids, to show them what we want out of the journaling project,” said my daughter’s nursery school teacher as we sat together on diminutive, paintsplotched furniture. Rather than feeling self-satisfaction at her stellar “performance,” my mind wandered to the greater questions at hand: What is happening to children? How are we being manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry to interpret it? And how can awareness be raised around better solutions other than ADHD medications for kids?

A candid and uncharacteristically provocative piece titled “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder” ran in The New York Times, as part of an effort to raise this awareness. The article discusses the making of an epidemic, much as Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and host of Mad in America, has in his efforts to expose the manufacturing of a profit-driven machine into which our children are being fed. The Times article begins with a bird’s-eye view of the alarming statistics: “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school- age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990.” It goes on to state “Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits.”

This article focuses on ADHD, but psychiatry is like a blob consuming as much of our population as it can. From 1994 to 2003, for instance, there was an 8,000 percent increase in children 19 and under being treated for bipolar disorder. Critics have implicated direct-toconsumer advertising (only legal in the United States and New Zealand), including comics for kids, financial courtship of doctors who claim to be beyond influence, ghost-written and pharmaceutically funded research, and paid key opinion leaders positioned to dismiss safety concerns. Psychiatric studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry are four times more likely to be published if they are positive, and only 18 percent of psychiatrists disclose their conflicts of interest when they publish data.

Psychiatry is particularly susceptible to industry corruption because of the highly subjective, nonbiological, impressionistic nature of its diagnostic criteria. With our “governing body,” the American Psychiatric Association, heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies, the temptation is all too great to open the diagnostic umbrella to encompass behavioral criteria like “makes careless mistakes” or “often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.”

Perhaps we are all susceptible, as a society, to the pharmaceutical industry’s courtship. However, the availability and ease of popping a pill combines with a hyper-simplified diagnostic label of illness, reducing an incredibly complex and multi-etiologic syndrome into the linear “A medication for B disease” model we have come to love in America.

The trouble with psychiatry is that we are using openlabel, short-term studies to justify lifelong treatments. We have lost all ability to appreciate the natural course of an illness (if we want to call it that), and the realities of long-term efficacy and cumulative burden of side effects. A longitudinal NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) study, the only one of its kind, demonstrated that after an initial decrease in ADHD symptoms, the medicated group showed signs of deterioration at three years. By six years, the group suffered worse attentional and behavioral symptoms than unmedicated controls, and increased functional impairment.

Despite claims that stimulant side effects are “generally mild,” data accumulated by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin has demonstrated quite the opposite. Breggin cites studies that demonstrate troubling risks for:

    Motor and vocal tics

    Addiction, withdrawal and rebound

    Growth suppression

    Adverse cardiovascular effects

    Mania, suicidality, psychosis

He explores the premise of creating brain pathology. (Whitaker and other researchers have also expressed grave concern about this possibility.)

Breggin cites a study by Nasrallah et al in which more than 50 percent of treated young adults experienced brain atrophy (confirmed by PET scans), concluding that “cortical atrophy may be a long-term adverse effect of this treatment.” In rhesus monkeys, Wagner et al demonstrated long-term changes to dopamine levels and receptor density related to compensatory changes the brain undergoes in the setting of chronic intoxication. Subjects abstaining from stimulants for three years were found to have persistent dopaminerelated brain changes on PET scans, related to Parkinsonian pathology.

When we interfere with behavior and brain growth, and when we force children to conform to our needs as busy, distracted and often chronically ill adults, we may be fundamentally compromising their expression of self. Breggin cites a 1992 study by Greenough, et al:

Spontaneous or self-generated activities— play, mastery, exploration, novelty seeking, curiosity, and zestful socialization—are central to the growth and development of animals and humans and necessary for the full elaboration of CNS synaptic connections.

I treat many women on the other end of this negligent spectrum of reckless prescribing, helping them to taper off of stimulants before pregnancy. In some cases, I am unable to do so because of the dependency and subsequent withdrawal that emerges.

I would like to peel back the layers of this complexity so that we can take a collective glimpse into what may actually be going on with our children (and adults!) and discover what tools parents have at their disposal before they pick up the phone to a psychiatrist.

The next pages list eight things parents should think about when it comes to underlying drivers of symptoms, drivers that a stimulant in no way addresses. The list focuses on toxic exposures, most derived from diet. Amazingly, a 2012 review of dietary treatment for ADHD published in Pediatrics by J.G. Millichap and M.M. Yee encompasses data establishing efficacy of diets ranging from ketogenic to Feingold to low-sugar, but still claims that, “In practice, additive-free and oligoantigenic/elimination diets are time-consuming and disruptive to the household; they are indicated only in selected patients.”

I disagree, and would state that dietary modification toward a whole-food, high-natural-fat, no-grain diet represents first-line intervention.

Control for these exposures (try it for a month!), and consider benign functional-medicine based interventions, homeopathy, and even neurofeedback, but please consider sparing your child from the relentless cycle of medications begetting medications, long-term inefficacy, and potentially irreversible side effects. Apologies, fines (including a $57.5 million fine levied against New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Shire, maker of the blockbuster ADHD drug Adderall), and acknowledgement of pharmaceutical corruption of pediatric health are all too little too late. We are going to look back on this era of child drugging with shame and humility, I predict. I encourage you to begin that discovery process now.

The behavioral effects of high and low blood sugar, cortisol, and insulin account for energy levels, agitation and hyperactivity, but there is a more insidious process at work: Sugar causes inflammation and suppresses a growth factor in the brain.

    Sugar: Pick up a food product marketed to a child population and you will inevitably see one to four types of sugar listed in the ingredients. From infant formula to endless processed snacks, sodas and juices, the onslaught pushes our children into reactive hypoglycemia and insulin resistance. The behavioral effects of high and low blood sugar, cortisol, and insulin account for energy levels, agitation and hyperactivity, but there is a more insidious process at work: Sugar causes inflammation and suppresses a growth factor in the brain called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Soda and processed food have been linked to academic errors, inappropriate behavior, and violence, according to research by David Hemenway. Cumulative, longterm effects of sugar on the brain are fast becoming a leading model for Alzheimer’s, confirmation of the brain-based starvation that occurs in the setting of chronic exposure.

    Gluten: Not only can gluten induce inflammation and autoimmunity (including brain-based autoantibodies), it also contains opiate-like compounds called gliadorphins. Gluten-containing foods are almost always processed for increased insulin provocation and made with genetically modified vegetable oils. Consider eliminating all grains (corn, wheat, rye, millet, barley, oats, etc.) and dairy (a cross-reactant) for one month.

    Genetically Modified/ Glyphosate-Sprayed Foods: We now know that the herbicide genetically modified foods are designed to withstand is wreaking havoc on our guts. Our children are vulnerable to this chemical that decimates beneficial bacteria, produces ammonia, binds minerals, and interferes with hormone-managing enzymes, and the metabolizing of other environmental toxins. Responsible Technology (responsible has guides to GMOfree shopping; also consider including fermented foods like sauerkraut (even just the juice) and lacto-fermented pickles in your child’s diet.

    Food Dyes and Additives: Banned in Europe, these food additives may exacerbate cognitive function: Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and sodium benzoate, a preservative. Relatedly, monosodium glutamate and aspartame are excitotoxins that drive neurochemical changes and behavioral symptoms consistent with attentional impairment and hyperactivity.

    Deficiences and Nutrient Stress: Deficiencies of B vitamins can arise from dietary restriction— for example, lack of B12 in the setting of animal-protein limited diets and from compromised utilization related to genetic variants such as the MTHFR gene and associated methylation defects. Methylation appears to play a highly relevant role in production of neurotransmitters, pruning, myelination and DNA expression.

    A real Goldilocks mineral, iron is a critical cofactor for neurotransmitter production, vital for brain oxygenation and thyroid hormone utilization. Studies linking iron stores to ADHD have been equivocal, but researchers argue for brainbased assessments, such as a 2012 MRI study that identified critical deficiencies in the thalamus of those diagnosed with ADHD. Low serum ferritin has been linked to symptoms of ADHD and also to increased dosing of stimulants for effect.

    Thyroid: Functional thyroid deficiency can result from autoimmune attack of the gland, iodine/ nutritional deficiency, or peripheral resistance. Poor access to active thyroid hormone in utero may result from iodine deficiency. Exposure to endocrinedisrupting chemicals such as pthalates and bisphenol A may also serve to impair thyroid hormone trafficking, resulting in a diagnosis of ADHD in a child. Others recommend looking beyond a standard TSH screening to assess for peripheral resistance and low free hormone levels in these children.

    Ultrasound in Pregnancy: There is an accumulating body of evidence that implicates ultrasound technology, in its current unstudied application (in frequency and intensity), in the development of abnormal brain structure. I discussed recent data supportive of this concern in a recent blog post at kellybroganmd .com titled “Perils of Peeking Into the Womb: Ultrasound Risk.”

    Vaccination: Neurobehavioral abnormalities stemming acutely or subacutely from vaccine exposure have been compensated and reported. Putative mechanisms include brain-penetrant additives such as polysorbate 80, and adjuvants such as aluminum and mercury. A primate study done with an unvaccinated control group concerningly demonstrated delayed acquisition of neurodevelopmental reflexes in the thimerosol (an ethylmercury-forming preservative) Hep B vaccinated group (particularly in those with low birth weight and gestational age) relative to the unexposed group. Another rhesus placebo-control (saline) study found that the vaccinated experienced changes in amygdala growth and opiate binding. Studies such as these, along with another one that determined a nine times greater risk for receipt of special-educational services in boys receiving the pre-2001 Hep B vaccine series, raise questions about a connection. We are now learning that there may be no “safe dose” of these metals and that a synergy between environmental chemical exposures and multiple administered vaccines may be more dangerous than previously expected.

    By no means a gold-standard study, but much needed nonetheless, a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated comparison California survey commissioned by Generation Rescue found that among more than 9,000 boys age 4–17, vaccinated boys were 2.5 times (155 percent) more likely to have neurological disorders compared to their unvaccinated peers. Vaccinated boys were 224 percent more likely to have ADHD and 61 percent more likely to have autism. For older vaccinated boys in the 11–17 age bracket, the results were even more pronounced. Vaccinated boys were 158 percent more likely to have a neurological disorder, 317 percent more likely to have ADHD, and 112 percent more likely to have autism.


Do Fidget Spinners Help Anxiety & ADHD? Experts are Skeptical

Posted: August 17, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

Fidget spinners are the latest go-to gadget for schoolkids, but as their popularity has soared, so too has the controversy surrounding them. The hand-held, ball-bearing devices spin satisfyingly when manipulated by the users' thumb and fingers, providing what would seem to be a novel form of fidgeting. The devices' popularity is evidenced by Google searches for "fidget spinner," which were non-existent a year ago, and then suddenly peaked in popularity in May 2017.

Part of the rise is due to the way they're being marketed — not just as trendy "toys," but as tools to relieve stress and increase focus, particularly in people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and anxiety. While first making headlines for posing a potential choking hazard if any pieces break off, they've continued to be in the news because experts are split over whether fidget spinners are useful or only further distracting for kids.

The Act of Fidgeting May Be Beneficial

While fidget spinners are a recent fad, the act of fidgeting is an age-old human habit that does appear to offer some benefits. Chair-based fidgeting has been shown to increase energy expenditure by 20 percent to 30 percent, offering a potential way to offset some (but certainly not all) of the adverse effects of prolonged sitting. In fact, fidgeting was found to reduce the risk of premature death that's associated with excessive sitting time.

There's also the suggestion that fidgeting may occupy part of your brain, providing a needed distraction from racing or negative thoughts or serve as a type of ritual that may help with calm and focus, similar to doodling. Occupational therapists have long used various therapy toys, such as sensory putty, for children with ADHD, autism, anxiety and sensory issues, and some believe fidget spinners provide another similar option.

Miriam Gwynne, a parent to a child with autism, wrote on that fidget spinners and similar devices help her daughter to relieve stress, noting, "For her, the fidget spinner is not a must-have craze to be like her friends, but more a stress release from the demands placed upon her during her school day — much the same as she uses a stress ball or her twist-and-lock blocks."

Cleveland-based pediatric occupational therapist Claire Heffron also voiced support for the devices to The Washington Post, stating, "These little gadgets should be called fidget tools, not toys, and they can be part of a successful strategy for managing fidgety behavior if they are introduced as a normal part of the classroom culture."

Science Is Lacking to Back Up Fidget Spinners for ADHD, Autism

While some believe fidget spinners may help, and being a low-cost intervention probably can't hurt, others disagree. As the tools have grown in popularity, they've become a distraction in classrooms — to the extent that some schools are now enacting fidget-spinner bans. Julie Schweitzer, director of the Attention, Impulsivity, Regulation Program at the University of California Davis MIND Institute, told The Sacramento Bee:

    "I know people who have used some of these fidget gadgets, and some of them have said they've been helpful … but until we test it, we don't know. From what I've seen, (the fidget spinner) is becoming so ubiquitous that it's overtaking the classroom and becoming a huge distraction … To me, it's common sense. If you give somebody a toy or they could be doing classwork, what's going to be more interesting?"

In the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics, meanwhile, researchers wrote that "fidget spinners and other self-regulatory occupational therapy toys have yet to be subjected to rigorous scientific research. Thus, their alleged benefits remain scientifically unfounded." They added that pediatricians should be aware that the devices present a potential choking hazard and should "inform parents that peer-reviewed studies do not support the beneficial claims."9

If your child is struggling with focus and attention, and even in cases of ADHD, be aware that the use of a fidget spinner, particularly in the classroom, may be counterproductive, as it could draw your child's attention away from the task at hand. It could also end up posing a distraction for others. There may be times when fidgeting — and tools like fidget spinners — serve a valuable purpose, but, overall, physical games or sports are a better option than playing with fidget spinners.

Exercise Is Proven to Benefit ADHD

While the science behind fidget spinners for ADHD is virtually non-existent, there is solid evidence backing the use of exercise to relieve ADHD symptoms. In 2014, researchers found that among 7- to 9-year-olds moderate to vigorous exercise enhanced cognitive performance and brain function during tasks requiring greater executive control.

The benefits were found with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day, and applied to children with varying types of ADHD (including those with greater symptoms of hyperactivity or inattentiveness), those at risk for ADHD and even the control group of children without ADHD.

Study author Betsy Hoza, professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, told the Child Mind Institute, "The most important message is that physical activity is important for children's development regardless of whether you have ADHD or not … There's other research that suggests it has cognitive benefits for all children and we all know the physical benefits … Unless a child has a physical challenge that would be exacerbated by activity, exercise is a do-no-harm intervention."

In 2010, meanwhile, research published in the Journal of Attention Disorders revealed that children with ADHD who participated in a 10-week physical activity program had improvements in muscular capacities, motor skills, behavior and level of information processing.

As for why exercise is so useful for ADHD, Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explained in ADDitude, a magazine for families and adults living with ADHD, that elevations in dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which play a role in attention, plays a role.

Exercise has been compared to medication for ADHD, as it leads to improvement in executive control, which is the ability to maintain focus, working memory and cognitive flexibility (or switching between tasks). Executive functioning is often impaired in children with ADHD. Ratey noted:

    "Exercise turns on the attention system, the so-called executive functions — sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention … On a practical level, it causes kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn."

What Type of Exercise and Sports Are Best for Kids With ADHD?

The type of activity can make a difference in how it affects your child's mood, attention and behavior. For starters, competitive sports may not be the best choice, according to Hoza. "In today's world there are so many children's sports that are very competitive, and those wouldn't be the best choice for kids with ADHD who have a hard time following directions or might not be as coordinated as their peers," she said.

Sports that allow children to be part of a team, yet focus on developing their own individual goals, like swimming, track, cross-country or even tennis, may be a good choice, particularly if the coach is sensitive to the needs of a child with ADHD (such as not punishing a momentary lapse in attention). Some children with ADHD, especially those with extra energy, may enjoy wrestling as well — and it may be beneficial for your child to take part in multiple activities.

In fact, research shows that children with ADHD who participated in three or more sports had significantly fewer anxiety or depression symptoms compared to those who participated in fewer than three.The chosen activity (or activities) should, of course, be something your child enjoys, which will encourage him or her to keep doing it.

Ratey also recommends activities that require close attention to body movements, which in turn "tax the attention system" — "A very good thing for kids and adolescents with ADHD," he says. Examples include martial arts, gymnastics and ballet. In the case of martial arts, an added benefit is that it promotes rituals that children can also apply to other areas of life. Other good options, which promote teamwork, concentration, self-confidence and/or self-esteem, include soccer, horseback riding, fencing and archery.

If your child enjoys a sport like baseball, which can have a lot of downtime, ADDitude recommends talking with the coach about slight modifications that can help keep your child engaged, such as frequently changing field positions or giving your child an assistant job while waiting to bat.

If a Fidget Spinner Is Too Distracting, Try Essential Oils

If your child seems to benefit from using a fidget spinner, there's little harm in its occasional use (assuming it's not distracting fellow classmates). However, if this intervention seems like more of a hindrance than a help, consider the use of essential oils to increase focus, attention and calm. Vetiver oil (vetiver is a type of Indian grass) appears to be particularly useful. In one study, when children inhaled the oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school.

Eighty percent of the children also improved when using cedarwood essential oil similarly. Improvements in brain activity were revealed via electro-encephalograph (EEG), which measures electrical impulses moving through the brain.

This allowed researchers to determine whether the children's brains were functioning primarily in a beta (i.e., alert) state or a theta state (i.e., lack of focus). Improvements in beta-theta ratios were noted following the use of vetiver essential oil, while parents also noted improvements in symptoms.

Another study, published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, also showed vetiver essential oil to have particular promise for ADHD. The animal study revealed changes in brain activity suggestive of increased alertness, while research on human subjects revealed faster reaction times and stimulation of sympathetic nerve activity following inhalation.

A Comprehensive, Lifestyle-Based Plan Can Improve Focus, Attention and Behavior

If your child is struggling with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, I recommend consulting with a holistic physician who is experienced in treating ADHD using natural methods, including not only exercise but also behavioral therapy and more. In a study that analyzed the effects of drug versus behavioral treatment on homework performance in children with ADHD, the drug treatment led to no significant improvements in homework completion or accuracy compared to placebo.

The behavioral therapy, however, led to children finishing up to 13 percent more homework problems and increased accuracy by 8 percent. Dietary strategies can also be very effective, including limiting sugar and avoiding gluten. The evidence suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including ADHD, is quite compelling. One study went so far as to suggest celiac disease should be added to the ADHD symptom checklist.

Kids low in omega-3 fats may also be significantly more likely to be hyperactive, struggle with learning disorders and display behavioral problems. A clinical study published in 2007 also examined the effects of krill oil on adults diagnosed with ADHD. In that study, patients improved their ability to concentrate by an average of over 60 percent after taking a daily 500-milligram (mg) dose of krill oil for six months. They also reported a 50 percent improvement in planning skills and a close to 49 percent improvement in social skills.

Addressing nutrient deficiencies (such as vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium) and avoiding toxic exposures, including to food additives, glyphosate and other pesticides and radiofrequency microwave radiation, cell and portable phones and electropollution is also important. Ultimately, a fidget spinner may provide fleeting moments of distraction or calm, depending on the user, but to remedy ADHD, anxiety and other mental health challenges, a comprehensive, holistic approach will typically be required.


4 Facts About ADHD That Teachers & Doctors Never Tell Parents

Posted: August 17, 2017
By: Arjun Walia -- Collective Evol

It’s unrealistic to force a children to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day, for more than a decade, and expect them to listen while remaining ‘obedient’ and still. From day one we are taught that this is the only path to success and we are shown the consequences of not paying attention. It’s important to recognize that it’s perfectly normal for children to struggle with focusing on something that they are not even remotely interested in; this doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder and it doesn’t mean they require prescription medications.

It’s Okay If Your Child Struggles With Attention — This Doesn't Mean They Have a Disorder

Many doctors and teachers are already aware of this, but I would like to reiterate the point — just because your child struggles with paying attention in school or sitting still in the classroom does not mean there is an underlying disorder to blame. It’s perfectly natural for your child to want to be active and to want to focus on things that actually interest them. Sure, low grades might come as a result of not paying attention, but it is possible for a 2.0 student to know more than a 4.0 student; grades don’t necessarily reflect intelligence. In many cases, they indicate an ability to follow rules and memorize information — both important skills, but perhaps less important than critical thinking and creativity. Some students may have a better ability to buckle down, pay attention, and do their work, while other, equally as intelligent students, may struggle with this model. This, again, is perfectly normal, and could actually be a marker of something really positive. If your child is being held back and denied even the possibility of entering a gifted program based on the fact that they have attention issues, then there is problem.

New data from the National Center for Learning Disabilities shows that only 1% of students who receive services for their apparent learning disabilities (some of which are completely and unquestionably valid) are enrolled in gifted or talented programs. The report concluded that “students with learning and attention issues are shut out of gifted and AP programs, held back in grade level and suspended from school at higher rates than other students.”

Disorder or Creativity?

The last point in the above paragraph is pretty disturbing, particularly given the fact that recent work in cognitive neuroscience shows us that both those with an ADHD diagnosis and creative thinkers have difficulty in suppressing brain activity that comes from the  “Imagination Network.” There are no school assessments to evaluate creativity and imagination; these are admittedly difficult to measure and, accordingly, receive very little attention in the education system. Yet a lot of research is pointing to the fact that people who show characteristics of ADHD are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement compared to those who don’t show these characteristics.

“By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.” – Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania

While brain scans of people diagnosed with ADHD do show structural differences, it is a scary reality that a large portion of ADHD diagnoses are derived from the observations teachers make in school. Too often, children are diagnosed based on perceived behaviour alone, and then encouraged to take medication right away. These children are not actually tested or scanned; they and their parents are simply told that they have ADHD.

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.”– Stanley Kubrick

Did They Tell You This About the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The quote to your right comes from Harvard Medical professor and the former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell. She joins a long and growing list of some very ‘credible’ people within the medical profession who are trying to tell the world something important. She has said on several occasions that it is no longer possible to believe much of the published research, or even to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.

Another great example is Dr. Richard Horton, the current Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, considered to be one of the top ranked medical journals in the world. He said that “the case against science is straightforward, much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. . . . Science has taken a turn towards darkness."

The reason why these professionals are saying such things is because, as Dr. Angell puts it, “the pharmaceutical industry likes to depict itself as a research-based industry, as the source of innovative drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is their incredible PR and their nerve.”

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

– Arnold Seymour Relman, Harvard Professor of Medicine

The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, rising from 7.8% in 2003 to 11% in 2011. According to a recent analysis, ADHD in children has surged by 43% since 2003.

The quotes above aren’t just opinions; clearly these few (out of many) examples are from people who understand the industry, and it is troublesome to think that people still believe pharmaceutical corruption and manipulation of scientific literature are conspiracy theories.

The most recent real world example of this comes from a few months ago, when an independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil is not safe for teenagers — all after the fact that a large amount of literature had previously suggested this. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline (also maker of the Gardasil Vaccine), found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers. The study came from John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Ioannidis is also the author of the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” In the report, he stated that most current published research findings are false. And this was more than 10 years ago.

ADHD is classified as a mental disorder, which is interesting because the definition of these types of disorders in particular have been shown to be heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated financial ties between the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. They found that, of the 170 DSM panel members, 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on ‘mood disorders’ and ‘schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders’ had financial ties to drug companies. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders. In the next edition of the manual, it’s the same thing.

“The DSM appears to be more a political document than a scientific one. Each diagnostic criteria in the DSM is not based on medical science. No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSMN. It relies on judgements from practitioners who rely on the manual.” – Lisa Cosgrove, PhD, Professor of Counselling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston

"The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.” – Dr. Irwin Savodnik, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles

These are definitely some facts to take into consideration when it comes to dealing with your child’s ADHD diagnosis. It’s a ‘disease’ — one I was also diagnosed with — that I personally don’t even think is real. I think it was made up strictly for the purpose of making money.

There Are Other Methods to Help Your Child Focus and Improve Their Ability to Pay Attention

It’s becoming clear that we need a new approach to ADHD. Apart from examining the truth behind that label, as I hope I have done in the above paragraphs, it’s important to note that there does not appear to be much room in our school system for children who do not fit the ‘normal’ mould of the majority. The fact that we basically point a finger at them and label them does not really help anything. As much as we’ve been marketed to believe that medications can help solve the problem, I really believe they only worsen it. Many of these medications seem to dull the emotions and energy of the children taking them, ultimately making for a less positive and rich life experience.

One great way to improve your child’s ability to focus is to change their diet. It’s a shame that hardly any research has been published examining the relationship between mental ‘disabilities’ and diet, since many medical professionals strongly believe there is a direct link between them. Some studies have, indeed, emerged that show a link between a gluten/casein free diet and improvement in autistic symptoms, and some parents have already seen the benefits of implementing this research. (source)

The Mayo Clinic claims that certain food preservatives and colourings could increase hyperactive behaviour in some children. It would be best to avoid these, regardless of whether they are linked to ADHD or not.

It has also been suggested that EEG biofeedback (electroencephalographic) could help. It’s a type of neurotherapy that measures brainwaves.

In 2003, a study published in the journal Adolescence looked at how regular massages for 20 minutes twice a week could improve behaviour in the classroom. This is interesting because studies have also suggested that tai chi and yoga may also help improve ADHD symptoms. According to the studies, children with ADHD that practiced tai chi became less anxious or hyperactive.

So, one thing you could try is observing what your child is eating. You can limit their intake of harmful, hormone disrupting, disease causing foods like sugar, limit their exposure to pesticides, and encourage their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods (rather than processed foods).

When it comes down to it, developing methods for your child to pay attention to something they find boring and/or useless is a difficult task, and for parents who struggle with this, it’s important to remember that most likely your child is perfectly normal. It will help to choose to look at it in a positive light.

The fact that children are forced into these institutions, told how the world works, made to follow certain rules, and pressured to complete education out of fear of not having a job, is a truly unfortunate reality of today’s world. It is not the best environment for a child. Perhaps things will change in the future, but right now it seems children are encouraged to complete education out of fear, out of necessity, and out of the mentality that “this is just the way the world is.”

“When we can’t say ‘No,’ we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die. We begin to live our lives according to the forceful should of others, rather than the whispered, passionate want of our own hearts. We let everyone else tell us what story to live and we cease to be the author of our own lives. We lose our voice — we lose the desire planted in our souls and the very unique way in which we might live out that desire in the world. We get used by the world instead of being useful in the world.” – Dr. Kelly M. Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist, Ph.D. in clinical psychology

Perhaps sitting down and talking to your child, letting them know that there is nothing wrong with them and that they don’t have a ‘disorder,’ is a good start, at least for those who have already been labelled. Again, just because one person struggles with paying attention does not mean they have a disorder. If the information above is any indication, it could actually mean the opposite.

Having your child even believe in that type of label could be harmful. Given the recent developments in neuroplasticity and parapsychology, it has become clear that how a person thinks alone can change their biology.

Speaking with educators and finding a differentiated type of instruction more tailored to your child’s needs and interests could also be a solution. One of the biggest solutions, in my opinion, is not accepting labels for your children in the first place.

This is a big problem in modern day education, and solutions are limited. The issue here really seems to be the environment the children are surrounded by, not the children themselves.

Another thing parents could address are the feelings of the child. Part of growing up is learning to handle our emotions and tackle whatever challenges life throws at us, but in school we are only taught content, and that is all we seem to focus on. Humans are made up of more than just bits of learned information; we all perceive a certain way and if emotions and thoughts are not openly discussed and dealt with, it can create problems in other areas.

“I don’t know about you, but in my adult life, I have never had to use geometry once… yet I experience emotions and challenges every day. If school is designed to prepare you for life… why not teach actual life skills?” – Elina St. Onge


Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood ADHD

Posted: August 17, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol (International Nonproprietary Name),1 may be one of the more dangerous drugs you can purchase. This may surprise you since most households carry one or two variations of the product to treat headaches, fever or cold symptoms.

Acetaminophen is classified as an analgesic, or a medication acting to relieve pain. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, analgesics are the No. 1 reason people call a poison control center.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) links 980 deaths per year to acetaminophen and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that, beginning in 2006, the number of people who died after accidentally taking too much acetaminophen exceeded the number who purposely overdosed on acetaminophen.

However, these numbers may be deceiving, as other researchers have found 56,000 emergency room visits and 26,000 hospitalizations can be attributed to acetaminophen.

Although frighteningly high for a drug most people routinely keep in their homes, this isn't the only damage acetaminophen may cause.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics has linked taking acetaminophen during pregnancy with conduct disorders and hyperactivity in children.

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Hyperactivity and Conduct Disorders

The objective of this British study was to examine the association between behavioral problems in children and mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy and/or during the postpartum months, or partners who took acetaminophen.

The researchers concluded: "Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties." The researchers did find that these results were not explained by social factors or other behavioral challenges linked to increased use of acetaminophen.

As compared to individuals who did not use acetaminophen during their pregnancy, those who took the drug during weeks 18 and 32 had a 31 percent increased risk of hyperactivity and a 42 percent higher relative risk of conduct disorders in their children.

This study controlled for a number of different variables that could have affected the results, such as genetics, smoking and alcohol use.9 There were over 7,700 participants.

Not everyone was convinced by the results of the study. Even lead author, epidemiologist Evie Stergiakouli, PH.D., of the University of Bristol, stepped around the issue, saying: "Observational associations do not necessarily mean that there is a causal association between the risk factor and the health outcome."

However, the researchers also noted (quoted from Medical News Today): "Children exposed to acetaminophen use prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties … Given the widespread use of acetaminophen among pregnant women, this can have important implications on public health advice."

Other Studies Confirm Results and Identify More Risk

While recent, this is not the only study associating acetaminophen with dangerous side effects to your health and the health of your children.

• A recent study from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CERAL), Barcelona, Spain, found a link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and hyperactivity and autism.

Researchers discovered more symptoms of autism in boys whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy, than in girls.

They found that all children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy were 30 percent more likely by age 5 to demonstrate attention impairments linked with hyperactivity disorder or autism.

• A study found an association between the drug and children later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were at higher risk for hyperkinetic disorder, use of ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behavior by age 7. There was a stronger association when mothers took the drug in more than one trimester.

• A study published in 2009 found mothers who used acetaminophen in the third trimester were at higher risk for preterm birth.

• A study published in 2013 found children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy developed motor skills, communication and language skills more slowly than those children who were not exposed.

• Use of acetaminophen during pregnancy also appears to be linked to pre-eclampsia and thromboembolic diseases, and taking the drug for more than four weeks during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimester, moderately increases the risk of undescended testicles in boys.

Acetaminophen Use and Toxicity

In this short video, CBS News explains the statistics and risks associated with acetaminophen use. The drug works by blocking feelings of pain and reduces fever without addressing the source of the issue. As your body metabolizes the drug, it may damage your liver. In 2009 the FDA issued this warning:

    "Liver warning: This product contains acetaminophen. Severe liver damage may occur if you take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in 24 hours; with other drugs containing acetaminophen [or three] or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product."

In 2014, the FDA updated their warning to include: "FDA is recommending health care professionals discontinue prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule or other dosage unit."

Unfortunately, there are times you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize as the drug is a common addition to other pain and over-the-counter cold remedies.

Vicodin and Percocet are two common prescription pain medications that include acetaminophen, increasing your risk of acetaminophen poisoning, one of the more common forms of toxicity, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Other common brand name over-the-counter medications that include acetaminophen in their active ingredients include:

  • Actifed
  • Alka Seltzer Plus
  • Anacin
  • Cepacol
  • Contac
  • Coricidin
  • Dayquil
  • Dimetapp
  • Dristan
  • Excedrin
  • Feverall
  • Formula 44
  • Liquiprin
  • Midol
  • Mucinex
  • Nyquil
  • Panadol
  • Robitussin
  • Saint Joseph Aspirin-Free
  • Singlet
  • Sinutab
  • Sudafed
  • Theraflu
  • Triaminic
  • Vanquish
  • Vicks     

As the drug is a common ingredient in other over-the-counter medications, and has a narrow therapeutic index, it is easy to accidentally overdose or take enough to cause significant liver damage. Doses over 5,000 mg per day if you don't consume alcohol, and 4,000 mg if you do consume alcohol, can trigger significant liver damage. There's 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in just eight extra strength tablets.

While other countries have placed a limit on how much consumers may purchase and have restricted sales to pharmacies, no such limits are placed in the U.S. From 2001 to 2010, the related deaths attributed to acetaminophen were twice that of all other over-the-counter pain relievers combined.

Number of Children With ADHD Rising

In both private insurance and Medicaid populations, the number of children being treated with drugs for ADHD continues to rise. According to the CDC, approximately 3 out of 4 children between age 2 and 5 receive medication for ADHD, but only half of those receive any form of psychological services.

In 2011, approximately 11 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. This is a significant rise from 7.8 percent in 2003. The rate of diagnosis of ADHD also varies by state in the U.S., with the highest being Kentucky at 18.7 percent and the lowest being Nevada at 5.6 percent.

According to the National Survey of Children's Health, the average age of diagnosis is 6.2 years; 3.5 million children are taking medication for treatment, and boys continue to be twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Medications used to treat this hyperactivity disorder are stimulants, which come with their own list of side effects and dangers. Common side effects include headaches, upset stomach and increased blood pressure. Less commonly, children may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia and tics.

Natural Alternatives for Pain, Fever and Anti-Inflammatory Treatment

Although the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) continues to recommend acetaminophen for treatment of minor discomfort, fever and pain during pregnancy, the choice is ultimately yours. It will be you, your child and your family who experience the repercussions from using medication that may affect your child's neurological development.

There are other choices for treatment. Dr. Aisling Murphy, assistant clinical professor at University of California Los Angeles Obstetrics and Gynecology, admitted to CNN:

    "Minor aches and pains (e.g., headaches or mild backache), are common in pregnancy and often are a reason for patients to take acetaminophen. The practice is very common."

However, she also counsels her patients to use other methods first, and avoid any unnecessary medication during pregnancy, including acetaminophen. These alternative modalities may include:

  • Hot or cold packs to the area may help reduce discomfort or pain. However, do not use a sauna or hot tub as these raise your core temperature, increasing the risk for miscarriage or some birth defects.
  • Your headache or muscle aches may respond well to massage to increase relaxation and improve blood flow to aching muscles or joints.
  • Ginger tea may help relieve tension and sooth your aching head. However, not all herbal teas are safe during pregnancy. Teas contain many of the same nutrients as foods, but in more concentrated forms. Ginger tea may help relieve aching muscles, reduce insulin resistance, ease morning sickness and relieve stress. Use fresh organic ginger root to steep your own tea at home and avoid the potential of accidentally ingesting harmful additives.
  • Essential oils are another way to relax, unwind and reduce pain and discomfort. A favorite of some midwives is Frankincense topically, in your bath water or as a scent in your room.
  • Getting plenty of sleep may also help reduce your perception of discomfort and pain. During pregnancy your body is working to develop a new human being. You require more rest and sleep than you normally would. Lack of sleep may increase your perception of pain and discomfort.
  • Chiropractic care. Learn more here:,_Easier_Births.pdf


What's Causing the Rise in ADHD?

Posted: August 16, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

    According to a 2010 US government survey, 1 in 10 American children now has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—a 22 percent increase from 2003.

    ADHD makes it hard for children to pay attention and control impulsive behavior, and an increasing number of older children, including high school students, are now being labeled as having ADHD. Adult ADHD is also becoming more prevalent.

    As reported by the Las Vegas Guardian Express, nearly 11 percent of American kids are labeled with the disorder. More than twice as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD than girls—one in five, compared to one in 11. The featured article speculates about the cause behind these rising numbers.

    Some experts feel the increase could be due to increased awareness and better diagnosis, but I think you'll find it interesting that this trend also coincides with increased prevalence of the pervasive weed killer, glyphosate, in the American food supply.

    There's also plenty of room for overdiagnosis. In fact, an ADHD diagnosis is often made on the subjective observations of teachers or guardians, based on signs that nearly every child will display at some point. Aggravating factors, such as diet or home environment, are oftentimes overlooked entirely.

    The featured article actually points out some interesting correlations between ADHD diagnoses and changes to the American educational system that might help explain how, if not why, so many children are misdiagnosed or flat out falsely diagnosed.

What Is ADHD?

    But before we get into potential causes for the uptick in prevalence, let's review how ADHD is qualified in the first place. The disorder involves a cluster of symptoms that includes inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors.

    Often, children with ADHD struggle in school and have difficulty managing interpersonal relationships. They also tend to suffer from low self-esteem. The similar term attention deficit disorder (ADD) has largely been replaced with ADHD, as it describes two of the most common symptoms of the condition, inattention, and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.

    Diagnosing ADHD really comes down to a matter of opinion, as there is no physical test, like a brain scan, that can pinpoint the condition. This could change, however. According to a recent study, a newer MRI method called magnetic field correlation imaging that can detect low iron levels in the brains of children with ADHD could potentially help parents and patients make better informed decisions about treatment. As reported by

        "Psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD affect levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Because iron is required to process dopamine, using MRI to assess iron levels in the brain may provide a noninvasive, indirect measure of the chemical, explained study author Vitria Adisetiyo... If these findings are confirmed in larger studies, this technique might help improve ADHD diagnosis and treatment...

        The [magnetic field correlation imaging] scans revealed that the 12 ADHD patients who'd never been treated with psychostimulant drugs such as Ritalin had lower brain iron levels than those who'd received the drugs and those in the control group. The lower iron levels in the ADHD patients who'd never taken stimulant drugs appeared to normalize after they took the medicines."

    At present, diagnosis is dependent on subjective evaluation, and, for better or worse, teachers can play a significant role in this evaluation. Most children with ADHD will display a combination of inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior, along with the following symptoms:

  • Frequent fidgeting or squirming    
  • Difficulty playing quietly
  • Always seems on the go
  • Restlessness     
  • Excessive talking and interrupting others     
  • Difficulty waiting his or her turn
  • Frequent daydreaming     
  • Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities     
  • Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening


    Many of these "symptoms" could describe virtually any child, or most children, on any given day. Hence, those who display these symptoms at school but not at home or with friends are not considered to have ADHD. Ditto for children who display symptoms at home but not at school.

    Only children who struggle with inattention and hyperactive or impulsive behaviors around the clock are deemed to have ADHD—or at least they should be. According to a 2010 study, an estimated 20 percent of children are misdiagnosed with ADHD.

    According to some, the disorder may not even be a "real" disorder at all. Psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, hailed as the "scientific father of ADHD," actually went on record saying that ADHD is "a prime example of a fictitious disease." He made this stunning confession in a 2012 interview with the German paper Der Spiegel, just seven months prior to his death at the age of 87.

How the American School System May Be Promoting ADHD Diagnoses

    At least part of the rise in prevalence could be attributed to inappropriate diagnosis. As reported in the featured article, there's an interesting correlation between the rise in ADHD diagnoses and the implementation of the US Elementary and Secondary Education Act known as "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB). The program was implemented nationwide in 2002.

    The NCLB standardized teaching methods across the US which, contrary to what the name implies, does leave a lot of kids "behind," in the sense that brighter children frequently end up bored and discouraged from lack of academic challenge. And bored, discouraged children will oftentimes "act out."

        "Now with the implementation of CORE standards, who some describe as NCLB on steroids, there is a chance the ADHD numbers may climb even more," the article predicts.

    But there's more to this story...

        "Another study, published by the Child Mind Institute, states there might be another incentive behind the rise, and that is the financial benefit to schools. Many schools, especially those where the tax base is much poorer... rely heavily on federal funding to operate.

        Long before NCLB was enacted, many of these districts had already enacted 'consequential accountability statutes,' which penalized a school when children failed; however, often scores for children diagnosed with ADHD are not counted... thereby helping to ensure the passing test scores of the class as a whole.

        Geographically speaking, children in the South are diagnosed far more often with ADHD than children living in Western states by a rate of nearly 63 percent. North Carolina, one of the first states to implement consequential accountability statutes, stands at a ADHD diagnosis rate of over 16 percent; California, one of the last states to implement these policies, ranks at only 6.2 percent. The difference is staggering."

Raising a Generation of Drug Users

    About two-thirds of the children diagnosed with ADHD are on some form of prescription medication, and oftentimes the side effects are far worse than the condition itself. These drugs actually rival illegal street drugs in terms of their dangerous risks to health, which include:

  • Permanent brain damage     
  • Cardio toxicity and liver damage     
  • Cancer
  • Changes in personality, depression, and/or hallucinations     
  • Heart attack and stroke     
  • Sudden death and suicide

    Sadly, tens of thousands of American kids are now prescribed dangerous antipsychotic drugs before the age of five—some even before reaching 12 months of age, hard as that is to imagine. Children in the Medicaid system are at greatest risk for overdiagnosis. Data shows they're prescribed antipsychotic medications four times more often compared to those with private insurance.

    The price we pay as a society for drugging our children out of objectionable behavior patterns is steep. In children, the long-term effects of drugs are typically largely unknown, while in the short term, we've seen shocking increases in violent and aggressive acts committed by teens taking one or more psychotropic drugs.

    These children are also likely to experience health problems as they mature into adulthood. Just look at what happens to street junkies through time, and then consider that Ritalin has a more potent effect on your brain than cocaine... Being raised firmly within the drug paradigm from an early age may also make them more likely to opt for drug treatment for other ailments rather than exploring other options.

What Causes Behavioral Difficulties?

    Behavioral problems clearly do exist, and do appear to be more prevalent than in decades past, with or without the ADHD label. The question on everyone's mind is what's causing it? The cause of ADHD remains elusive, although there are many contending culprits, including poor nutrition and environmental toxins ranging from food- and vaccine additives to agricultural chemicals.

    For example, a 2006 study found that a mother's use of cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs during pregnancy could increase the risk for ADHD. The study also suggested that exposure to lead and/or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can cause ADHD symptoms. Pesticide exposure has also been linked with ADHD.

    Unfortunately, few are focusing on basic nutrition, which I believe is a key factor. We know that the food choices of most children and adults today are incredibly poor, and how can you possibly expect a child to have normal behavior if he is fed refined grains, sugars, and processed foods loaded with chemicals and largely devoid of natural nutrients?

Five Dietary Factors to Address if Your Child Has ADHD

    Five dietary factors of particular concern are the following. If your child struggles with behavioral difficulties, whether he or she has been diagnosed with ADHD or not, I strongly recommend addressing all of these factors:

        Too much sugar. High sugar content and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can lead to falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, in turn, causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, and panic attacks.

        Besides that, sugar promotes chronic inflammation in your body, and many studies have demonstrated the connection between a high-sugar diet and worsened mental health.
        Gluten sensitivity. The evidence10, 11 suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including ADHD, is quite compelling. According to a 2011 study,12 celiac disease is "markedly overrepresented among patients presenting with ADHD," and a gluten-free diet has been shown to significantly improve behavior in kids. The study went so far as to suggest celiac disease should be added to the ADHD symptom checklist.
        Too few beneficial bacteria. As explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in neurology, toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. Reducing gut inflammation is imperative when addressing mental health issues,13 so optimizing your child's gut flora is a critical step. To learn more, please see my previous article, "Are Probiotics the New Prozac?"
        Animal-sourced omega-3 deficiency. Research has shown that kids low in omega-3 fats are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, struggle with learning disorders, and display behavioral problems. Omega-3 deficiencies have also been tied to dyslexia, violence, and depression. A clinical study published in 2007 examined the effects of krill oil on adults diagnosed with ADHD.14 In that study, patients improved their ability to concentrate by an average of over 60 percent after taking a daily 500mg dose of krill oil for six months. They also reported a 50 percent improvement in planning skills, and close to 49 percent improvement in social skills.
        Food additives and GMO ingredients. A number of food additives are thought to worsen ADHD, and many have subsequently been banned in Europe. Potential culprits to avoid include Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and sodium benzoate, a preservative.

        Recent research also shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, used in large quantities on genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops, limits your body's ability to detoxify foreign chemical compounds. As a result, the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins are magnified, and may result in a wide variety of diseases, including brain disorders that can affect behavior.

The Hidden Health Hazards of Glyphosate and GMOs

    Glyphosate-contaminated food has recently been implicated in the dramatic rise of both ADHD and autism, the latter of which is clearly more extreme in terms of behavioral difficulties. Still, both problems appear to be rooted to some degree in abnormal gut flora, and this is where glyphosate begins its path of destruction. How severe the effect might be in any given person will likely depend on a wide variety of individual factors, including the mother's gut health during and at the time of giving birth.

    Former US Navy staff scientist Dr. Nancy Swanson has meticulously collected statistics on glyphosate usage and various diseases and conditions, including autism. A more perfect match-up between the rise in glyphosate usage and incidence of autism, shown below, is hard to imagine. To access her published articles and reports, please visit Sustainable Pulse,15 a European Website dedicated to exposing the hazards of genetically engineered foods.

    According to Dr. Swanson: "Prevalence and incidence data show correlations between diseases of the organs and the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply, along with the increase in glyphosate-based herbicide applications. More and more studies have revealed carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup at lower doses than those authorized for residues found in Genetically Modified Organisms... The endocrine disrupting properties also lead to neurological disorders (learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Those most susceptible are children and the elderly."

How to Optimize Your Child's Gut Flora

    The two key problems caused by glyphosate in the diet are nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity, and your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate's mechanism of harm. Effectively addressing this problem requires a two-pronged approach. First you need to avoid the primary sources of glyphosate, which more or less makes it imperative to avoid processed foods. Secondly, you need to address the damage already done. To reseed your child's gut with the healthy bacteria (probiotics) necessary for optimal physical, mental, and emotional health, I recommend the following strategies:

        Avoid processed, refined foods as they promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungus in the gut. Most processed foods are also high in sugar and fructose, grains (gluten), artificial additives, and genetically engineered ingredients (which tend to be more heavily contaminated with glyphosate)—all the top items that tend to aggravate ADHD symptoms. Also, replace sweetened beverages (whether diet and regular), including fruit juices and pasteurized milk, with pure non-fluoridated water.

        Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods: Fermented foods are one of the best routes to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Fermented vegetables are perhaps among the most palatable fermented foods. Many kids will also get used to fermented dairy products like kefir.

        Use a high-quality probiotic supplement. If you cannot get your child to eat fermented foods on a regular basis, a high-quality probiotic supplement may be highly beneficial in correcting abnormal gut flora that contribute to brain dysfunction.


Additional Strategies to Relieve ADHD Symptoms

    Besides addressing your child's nutrition, as described in the two sections above, I also recommend implementing the following strategies:

  • Clear your house of dangerous pesticides and other commercial chemicals.
  • Avoid commercial washing detergents and cleaning products used on clothes, and replace them with naturally derived cleaning products free of added perfumes, softeners, etc.
  • Spend more time in nature. Researchers have found that exposing ADHD children to nature is an affordable, healthy way of controlling symptoms. 
  • Investigate sensory therapy and emotional wellness tools. Instead of looking for a quick fix, encourage ADHD sufferers to talk, and find out what emotions are causing issues. You may also want to consider energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to improve emotional coping and healing.


Essential Oils Can Help ADHD

Posted: August 16, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

About 11 percent of U.S. children (or 6.4 million) have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity that interferes with learning, daily functioning and relationships. Rates have been increasing by about 5 percent a year.

Among very young children (2 to 5 years), behavior therapy is the first-line treatment recommended for ADHD, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

However, data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that about half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication, and 1 in 4 were being treated only with medication.

Further, only half of 4- to 5-year-olds with ADHD received behavior therapy, despite it being the recommended go-to treatment. By age 6, the so-called "best practice guidelines" for ADHD include treatment with both medication and behavior therapy.

It's a sad state of affairs on multiple fronts, the first of which surrounds the accuracy of ADHD diagnoses. Misdiagnosis is common, which means many children may be taking medications unnecessarily. The other glaring issue is the dangers of ADHD drugs, which are immense.

Kids taking these powerful drugs may suffer from side effects ranging from sleep problems and loss of appetite to seizures and increased heart rate, which is why alternative treatment options are urgently needed. Fortunately, one age-old option, essential oils, has shown promise in helping to relieve the symptoms of ADHD.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated, aromatic plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for emotional, cosmetic, medical and even spiritual purposes. The term "essential oil" actually comes from the idea of "quintessential oil."

Aristotle believed that in addition to the four physical elements (fire, air, earth and water) there was a fifth element, quintessence.

This was considered to be the "spirit" or life force of the plant, and distillation or evaporation were used to remove the "spirit" for human usage (this is also why distilled alcoholic beverages are referred to as "spirits").

Today, essential oils, which contain complex mixtures of beneficial plant chemicals, are extracted from plants via two primary methods: distillation, which has been used since ancient times; and expression or cold pressing, which is used to extract citrus essential oils.
Essential Oils May Improve ADHD Symptoms

Research by the late Dr. Terry S. Friedmann, a physician who believed in treating the body, mind and spirit as one, showed that vetiver oil (vetiver is a type of Indian grass) was beneficial for children with ADHD.

When the children inhaled the oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school. Eighty percent of the children also improved when using cedarwood oil similarly.

Cedarwood essential oil was chosen for the study because it has a high concentration of sesquiterpenes (they make up 50 percent of its constituents), which improve oxygenation of brain cells.

Vetiver is known to calm and balance the nervous system while stimulating the circulatory system, according to Friedmann. He explained:

    "When the essential oil is inhaled, the micro droplets are carried to the limbic system of the brain, which is that portion that is the processing center for reason, emotion and smell, and to the hypothalamus, which is the hormone command center. The essential micro droplets are also carried to the lungs where they enter the circulatory system."

Improvements in brain activity were revealed via electro-encephalograph (EEG), which measures electrical impulses moving through the brain. This allowed researchers to determine whether the children's brains were functioning primarily in a beta (i.e., alert) state or a theta state (i.e., lack of focus).

Improvements in beta-theta ratios were noted following the use of vetiver essential oil, while parents also noted improvements in symptoms. Friedmann reported: "I received several letters from parents of the ADHD children stating that their behavior at home had improved for the better. In several cases, they also stated that school educators informed them that their performance was observed to improve in the classroom. The report cards in some of the subjects had reflected this improvement as well."

Vetiver Essential Oil May Improve Alertness

A recent study published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology also showed vetiver essential oil to have particular promise for ADHD.

The animal study revealed changes in brain activity suggestive of increased alertness, while research on human subjects revealed faster reaction times and stimulation of sympathetic nerve activity following inhalation.The former study's researchers wrote: "Ultimately, the stimulating effects of vetiver EO [essential oil] might be beneficial for learning and memory processes. In conclusion, the present findings provide information that vetiver EO may be used as a stimulant to improve alertness and task performance."

Rosemary, Lavender and Other Essential Oils

Beyond vetiver and cedarwood, rosemary essential oil has also shown promise for increasing cognitive performance. When study participants completed tasks in a cubicle diffused with the aroma of rosemary essential oil, their performance improved in both speed and accuracy.

"The unique relationships between plant essential oil aromas and any behavioral impact are potentially due to the complex molecular composition containing a range of alcohols, aldehydes, acids, phenols, esters, ketones and terpenes," the researchers wrote, continuing:

    "[T]his study supports the suggestion that active compounds present in aromas may be absorbed through the nasal or lung mucosa and thus provide the potential for pharmacological activity…The small size of these lipid-soluble compounds facilitates passage across the blood–brain barrier and consequently they may produce effects at the neuronal level by either acting directly on receptor sites, or indirectly by impacting on enzyme activity."

Lavender essential oil, on the other hand, is most known for its sedative properties. Some people with ADHD have trouble sleeping, and lavender essential oil has been found to improve sleep.

Other essential oils that may relieve various symptoms of ADHD include peppermint oil for improved alertness as well as:

    Ylang ylang, which is known for its relaxing properties
    Frankincense, valued for inducing feelings of mental peace and calm
    Bergamot, which may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
    Eucalyptus, which may relieve mental exhaustion and stimulate blood flow to the brain
    Lemon, valued for improving mood and preventing emotional outbursts

Parents See Dramatic Improvements

One Wellington, Florida, mother, Tina Sweet, spoke with WPTV to share her experience using essential oils as a treatment for ADHD in her 11-year-old son.

"Every single day I was getting (messages from teachers saying) he won't stay on task. He won't stay focused. He won't stay in his seat. He's talking. He's just up and running around. He just could not stay focused," she said.

After starting him on aromatherapy using essential oils, she said his grades improved from Cs and Ds to As and Bs. Now in fifth grade, the student is in advanced classes and described as a "calm child." She applies essential oils to several body areas each morning and he also wears an essential oil bracelet.

Describing the use of essential oils as "life-changing," Sweet also credits her son's ability to cut back on his ADHD medications to the use of essential oils.

How to Use Essential Oils for ADHD

Inhalation or applying the oils topically to the skin are two effective ways to use essential oils for ADHD. Placing three to four drops of oil into a diffuser is one of the simplest methods, while some of the studies on essential oils for ADHD involved participants inhaling the scent directly from the bottle (for two or three deep breaths) three times a day.

You can also try steam inhalation by placing three to seven drops of essential oil into boiling water, then covering your head with a towel and breathing through your nose (keep your eyes closed and be careful not to get burned).

To use the oils topically, first do a test to be sure they don't irritate your skin (apply one drop to your skin and observe it for one to two hours). Oils should be applied very sparingly to your neck, wrists, bottom of feet and/or behind your ears. You can blend them with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, as well.

Some people like to pre-mix essential oils with fractionated coconut oil and put the mixture into a rollerball dispenser. This way you can roll on the oils whenever you feel you need them.
Other Natural Options for Treating ADHD

Essential oils may relieve ADHD symptoms, but for best results they should be combined with other natural strategies to relieve ADHD. If your child struggles with behavioral difficulties or other ADHD-like symptoms, whether he or she has been diagnosed with ADHD or not, I strongly recommend addressing the following factors:

Too much sugar. High-sugar foods and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can cause falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, in turn, causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety and panic attacks.

Besides that, sugar promotes chronic inflammation in your body, and many studies have demonstrated the connection between a high-sugar diet and worsened mental health.

Gluten sensitivity. The evidence suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including ADHD, is quite compelling.

According to a 2011 study, celiac disease is "markedly overrepresented among patients presenting with ADHD," and a gluten-free diet has been shown to significantly improve behavior in kids. The study went so far as to suggest celiac disease should be added to the ADHD symptom checklist.

An unhealthy gut. As explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in neurology, toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Reducing gut inflammation is imperative when addressing mental health issues, so optimizing your child's gut flora is a critical step.

This includes not only avoiding processed, refined foods but also eating traditionally fermented foods. Fermented vegetables are perhaps among the most palatable fermented foods, although many kids enjoy fermented dairy products like kefir, especially if you blend them into healthy smoothies.

If you cannot get your child to eat fermented foods on a regular basis, a high-quality probiotic supplement may be highly beneficial in correcting abnormal gut flora that may contribute to brain dysfunction.

Animal-sourced omega-3 deficiency. Research has shown that kids low in omega-3 fats are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, to struggle with learning disorders and to display behavioral problems. A clinical study published in 2007 also examined the effects of krill oil on adults diagnosed with ADHD.

In that study, patients improved their ability to concentrate by an average of over 60 percent after taking a daily 500-milligram (mg) dose of krill oil for six months. They also reported a 50 percent improvement in planning skills and a close to 49 percent improvement in social skills.

Food additives and GMO ingredients. A number of food additives are thought to worsen ADHD, and many have subsequently been banned in Europe. Potential culprits to avoid include Blue No. 1 and No. 2 food coloring; Green No. 3; Orange B; Red No. 3 and No. 40; Yellow No. 5 and No. 6; and sodium benzoate, a preservative.

Research also shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, used in large quantities on genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops, limits your body's ability to detoxify foreign chemical compounds. As a result, the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins are magnified, and may result in a wide variety of diseases, including brain disorders that can affect behavior.

There are many other natural options that have been shown to improve ADHD symptoms as well, including the following. For more information, please consult with a holistic physician who is experienced in treating ADHD using natural methods.

    Address nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium
    Exercise and/or active playtime
    Spend time outdoors in nature
    Limit exposure to radiofrequency microwave radiation, cell and portable phones and electro-pollution
    Reduce toxic exposures to pesticides, artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate (MSG), cleaning products, detergents, perfumes and more.



Rethinking Recess: Texas School Cures ADHD With One Change

Posted: August 14, 2017
By: Paul Webber

ADD and ADHD are both constantly touted by parents and teachers as the reasoning behind why children are unable to focus. And often times, the cure seems to be a slew of pharmaceutical medications that numb the children to their surroundings.

Rarely is the cure ever to cut down on sugar or to consider that a childs brain and focus simply isnt fully developed. And never has the cure been enacting a program that extends the amount of time kids have recess.

Could the answer to better test scores, behavior, and attention be as simple

The Eagle Mountain Elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas has been giving their children two 15-minute recess breaks every morning and two breaks every afternoon. These breaks cut into classroom time and kids are encouraged to play. And guess what? It is working.

Kids are now able to focus better and there is less fidgeting.

So then are we mishandling ADD and ADHD diagnoses? It would seem pharmas found a wonderful revenue stream with an ailment that can often be cured with proper diet and more activity time.