Food for thought – ADHD 11963

Patrick Holford, one of Britain’s leading nutrition experts, says in his book ‘Food is better Medicine than Drugs’, that nutritional treatment may be the way forward for many hyperactive children.

Many hyperactive children are not tested for nutritional imbalances or food or chemical sensitivity, treated nutritionally or given counselling or family therapy.  They are more likely to be put on stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta, SSRIs or NARIs such as Strattera (atomexetine).
The list of harmful side effects of Ritalin seems endless and parents must be informed about this before their children are prescribed this drug.  They include high blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and temperature, appetite suppression, stomach pains, weight loss, growth retardation, facial tics, muscle twitching, insomnia, euphoria, nervousness, irritability, agitation, psychotic behaviours, heart arrhythmia and palpitations, tolerance and dependence, psychological dependence – even death!
Ritalin acts the same as cocaine in the brain by promoting dopamine levels.  It occupies more of the brain cells responsible for the high experienced by addicts than smoked or injected cocaine.  The reason that schoolchildren taking Ritalin, does not get addicted, is because it takes about an hour for dopamine levels to rise after a Ritalin tablet is swallowed, while cocaine does it in seconds.
It has been shown that Ritalin can initiate changes in the brain structure and function of rats that remain long after the therapeutic effects have dissipated.  This could lead to a greater susceptibility to drug dependence later in life.
It is quite worrying that, in February 2006, the FDA issued a black-box warning on all ADHD stimulant medication after a growing incidence of heart attacks, strokes and hypertension in both adults and children who have taken ADHD stimulant medication.  This warning was rejected by the agency’s paediatric advisory committee a month later.
Aside from Ritalin, ADHD children are also treated with SSRI’s, which are not recommended for children, because of an increased suicide risk.
A new range, NARI’s, have been developed because of this risk.  NARI stands for Noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors.  These target another neurotransmitter, noradrenalin, in the brain.
In 2005 the FDA advised doctors to be cautious about prescribing one of these, Strattera, because of evidence that it also increased risk of suicidal thoughts.  Children taking this must be closely monitored initially when started on this drug and when the dosage is changed.
I do not even need to look at other medications prescribed to our children; the irony is that tens of thousands of children are being prescribed drugs that have been shown not to work very well and even to be fairly dangerous.  Although it is unlikely that ADHD is purely a nutrient-deficiency disease, most children with ADHD is deficient of many nutrients and respond well to nutritional supplements.  It is a far less dangerous and much cheaper option to first try nutritional therapy than to put your child on drugs.  The right combination of vitamins, minerals and essential fats can truly transform children with learning and behavioural difficulties.
There are four nutritional solutions proven to make a difference to learning, behaviour and concentration:
1.    Sugar-free and low GL diets
2.    Essential fats, especially Omega-3’s
3.    Vitamins and Minerals
4.    Allergy- and Additive-free diets



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