Mar
29
2014

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD, attention deficit disorder) has been in the spotlight on and off over the years. It affects 8% to 10% of school-aged children, and about 2% to 5% of adults who still have this condition.

Typically a parent receives a note from school that they must come to a teacher/parent meeting and it is discussed that the child is disruptive in class, not paying attention, interrupting the teacher inappropriately and forgetting to do their homework. The teacher suggests that this may be a sign of hyperactivity. The school nurse is also of this opinion and they suggest getting a prescription for Ritalin or Adderall (amphetamine type medications), drugs that have been shown in other kids to be fairly effective in treating the symptoms.

Next the child is seen by the doctor who confirms the diagnosis and Ritalin (methylphenidate) is prescribed.

In an attempt to quickly control the situation, the side effects of Ritalin are often not discussed in detail: agitation, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, palpitations, dizziness, headaches, an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure elevation, and even psychosis (Ref.1).

It is easy to just write a prescription for Ritalin and hope that all is well. Had the parents heard of all the possible side effects, they may have asked whether there were alternative treatments available.

The causes of hyperactivity (ADHD)

The exact cause of ADHD remains unknown, but there is a clustering of this condition in some families, so there seems to be a clear genetic component (Ref.2). It appears that several genes are involved, namely those associated with serotonin and glutamate transporters, but also those affecting dopamine metabolism. Males are affected with ADHD more often than females (in children 3:1, in adults 1:1).

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Some remarks regarding brain development are in order: Dr. Kharrazian describes that the grey matter of the brain develops before the age of 9 and the development of the white matter is completed by the age of 19 (Ref. 3, p.3). In ADHD patients the frontal brain is underdeveloped resulting in an inability to suppress unacceptable behavior, immediate desires and impulses. Prescription drugs may alter the behavior on the surface, but the frontal brain development is still lagging behind. The only thing that can influence this is behavioral/cognitive therapy and extra tutoring while the symptoms are controlled. The window of opportunity is closed by the time the ADHD patient has reached the age of 19. After that a juvenile ADHD turns into a permanent adult ADHD. The cases that had only childhood ADHD and outgrew it were the ones where the frontal lobe abnormalities had corrected themselves before the age of 19.

This review article has noted that there is an association between a Western style diet (sugar and fat rich) and ADHD.

Interestingly both Ref. 1 and 2, which I would categorize as having originated from mainstream conventional medicine circles, deny such an association. But the link also noted that a healthy diet with fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids as well as supplementation with iron and zinc when these minerals are found to be low in the blood, do make a significant difference in ADHD patients towards normalization of their symptoms.

One of the under diagnosed causes of ADHD is gluten sensitivity as Dr. Perlmutter described in his book (Ref. 4, pages 150-158). This can spare the child or teenager the toxic side effects of anxiolytics, antidepressants or antipsychotics that may be inappropriately prescribed by their physicians, and a gluten free diet would allow the brain to recover very quickly in such cases. A food sensitivity history and some simple gluten sensitivity blood screening tests will diagnose this condition or rule it out.

To complicate matters even more, Dr. Amen has mentioned in several books that there are at least 7 different subcategories of ADHD that he has found in ADHD patients when studying thousands of single-photon emission computed tomography brain scans (SPECT brain scans). Dr. Amen mentions that the 7 subcategories of ADHD are the combined type ADD, the primarily inattentive ADD subtype, overfocused ADD, temporal lobe ADD, limbic ADD, ring of fire ADD and trauma induced ADD. Dr. Amen explains that each of these types needs to be treated differently and some of the treatment failures are explained by the fact that the wrong type of ADD was treated (Ref.5).

Treatment of ADHD

In the following I mention 5 steps that are useful for treating ADHD patients.

  1. A first step toward normalization of the metabolic changes in the brain metabolism of the affected child or adult is to adopt a diet that has been linked with low risk for ADHD: avoid food additives, cut out refined sugar, avoid known food allergies like gluten sensitivity and others. You may need to test the patient for food allergies using an elimination diet. Add a good amount of molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acids (the pure form of omega-3 without mercury, lead or PCBs) as this has shown beneficial effects in ADHD patients.
  2. Involve a behavioral psychologist for behavioral/cognitive therapy treatments. This is particularly effective in the 9 to 19 year old category where the frontal region of the brain is still developing.
  3. Work together with the schoolteacher and get supplemental teaching in areas of academic weakness to reduce the frustrations in the classroom setting.
  4. In adolescent girls who just started their period, a relative lack of progesterone (estrogen dominance) may be a contributory factor. A small dose (20mg to 30 mg) of bioidentical progesterone from day 6 to 16 of the menstrual cycle may help significantly in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. You may need to consult a naturopathic doctor or anti-aging physician to get a prescription for that.
  5. If all of this helps only marginally, then a smaller amount of Ritalin may be helpful; however, blood tests should be drawn from time to time to monitor for drug toxicity as the rate of absorption and elimination of the drug varies significantly from patient to patient.

It is interesting that studies have shown that a combination of Ritalin or Adderall with alternative treatment methods had a better outcome than either method alone.

Conclusion

It is important to think about the various possible causes of ADHD and not just get caught up in the knee-jerk reflex of treating ADHD with Ritalin (note that this was only step 5 above, if all the other things failed). In co-operation with the school system and using alternative ways at home first (change of diet, possible addition of low dose bioidentical progesterone cream in girls) and additional tutoring in weak school subjects the need for Ritalin may be avoided. If all else fails, the conservative approach is still available, but I suggest that drug monitoring (blood levels that should be done from time to time to avoid toxicity) is important.

More information about ADHD: http://nethealthbook.com/mental-illness-mental-disorders/developmental-disorders/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder/

References

1. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2014, 1st ed., © 2013 Mosby.

2. Jacobson: Psychiatric Secrets, 2nd ed., © 2001 Hanley and Belfus

3. Dr. Datis Kharrazian: “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?” © 2013, Elephant Press, Carlsbad, CA 92011

4. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

5. Daniel G. Amen: “Use Your Brain To Change Your Age” © 2012, Harmony Books, An imprint of Crown Publishing.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Apr
01
2007

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

Red meat is one of the sources of protein, but doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health reporting in the January edition of Diabetes Care, that a type 2 diabetes diet should be lean in red meat.

Type 2 diabetics are at risk for subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD), and intake of iron rich food was significantly associated with a greater risk of fatal CHD. The results come from a prospective study of 6,161 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. All of these patients reported a diagnosis of adult onset diabetes, and they were followed between 1980 through 2000, which amounts to an impressive 54,455 person-years follow-up. Attention was paid to the food questionnaires, which were monitored for the consumption of iron and red meat such as beef, pork or lamb as a main dish, also for the use of beef in roast beef sandwiches and mixed dishes, hamburger, hot dog, processed meat and bacon. Note was also taken of other nutrients such as seafood and poultry.
Women with diabetes who ate the most iron in the form of heme found in red meats had a 50% increased risk of total coronary heart disease as compared to those with the lowest intake. The risk ratio with women was more obvious in post menopause when compared with pre menopause.

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

While lean beef may be a good protein food to the average population, type 2 diabetics might choose to cut back on red meat and processed red meat sources and replace it with a heart-friendlier choice. Fresh seafood, rich in omega -3 fatty acids, would rank high on the list of a healthy eating plan.

Reference: The Medical Post, February 20, 2007, page21

Last edited December 5, 2012

Nov
01
2006

Eat Your Salad Greens, But No Spinach

Spinach has traditionally been regarded as a healthy, green leafy vegetable and a valuable source of vitamins and minerals, in particular iron. The tedious chore of cleaning the tender greens and removing soil and sand traces has been taken care of by packinghouses. As a result, the consumer could purchase ready to eat spinach in plastic bags. These greens were a welcome ingredient for spinach salads or other dishes.
Lately all spinach has been recalled from the world’s largest producer of organic produce. Natural Selection Food has recalled a total of 34 brands that were distributed nationwide, and some of which were available also in Canada. Consumers are still being warned not to eat fresh spinach from the U.S., even though there have been no reported cases of ill effects or diseases in Canada itself. Problems have surfaced in September in form of food borne illness in the U.S. The culprit seems to be contamination with E. coli 0157:H7. Food borne illness can be serious. So far there have been 109 cases of illness in the U.S. and possibly two deaths. The worst affected area so far is Wisconsin, where 29 illnesses were reported and one person died of the disease.
As a result of this alert, salad mixes that contained a variety of greens including spinach leaves have also been pulled from the shelf. It should be mentioned that washing the spinach leaves does not make it safe to consume, as the E.coli bacteria stick to the leaves.
While it seems good-bye to spinach leaves for now, it remains important to eat your greens. Researchers at University of California in Los Angeles and colleagues at Louisiana State University analyzed the salad consumption based on the intake of salad, raw vegetables and salad dressing on 9,406 women and 8,282 men. The researchers also found from their studies that daily consumption of salad and raw vegetables is not the norm in any population group and even less prevalent among African Americans.

Eat Your Salad Greens, But No Spinach

Eat Your Salad Greens, But No Spinach

There were data from lab tests on serum nutrient levels, and it showed that consumption of salads was positively associated with above-median serum micronutrient levels of folic acid, vitamin C and E, lycopene, and alpha carotene and beta carotene. All of these nutrients are important for healthy daily functioning. They are weapons that help fight infection, heart disease and cancers. The consumption of salad and raw vegetables remains the most effective strategy for increasing the intake of important nutrients.

Reference: The Medical Post, October 3, 2006, page 21

Here is a follow-up on this story: Apparently the outbreak was caused by a wild boar and by a nearby cattle field:  http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/09/meaningful-outbreak-7-dole-spinach-e-coli-outbreak/#.VFaWXPTF-88

More information about food safety: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/food-safety/

Last edited November 2, 2014

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Oct
01
2006

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

It is well known that various health concerns are related to the gender of a person, but there are findings that suggest that even nutrition has to be tailored to the needs of males or females.
Calcium is known to be beneficial to bone health, and while high calcium diet may protect a woman from osteoporosis, it does not have the same evidence for men. As a matter of fact, high calcium intake in males may increase their risk of prostate cancer. For the male it means that calcium should be used in moderation and vitamin D intake could help to offset some risks.
Fat choices, mostly sources of monounsaturated fats in the form of olive oil are important for both, men and women, and for both the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish are excellent. Men, especially those with a risk of prostate cancer, should be cautious about loading up on flaxseed and canola oil. Alpha-linolenic acid in these two oils may be a problem for the prostate.
Iron is also emphasized in healthy nutrition, but men need less than women. In the presence of an abnormal gene, excessive iron can accumulate to harmful deposits in various organs.
Social habits, for example the drinking of alcohol seem to have more grave implication to women than to men. The glass of wine that may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain strokes may seem harmless enough, and average men don’t seem to develop health problems, as long as the alcohol intake is low. Larger amounts will increase the risk of many ills for males and females alike, but even low doses of alcohol may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
“Super Foods” have made headlines, and all of them are known because of their high content in antioxidants. A recent study from the University of Oslo, Norway, under Dr. Bente Halverson examined, which of them are ranking highest. At the top are, in the order of strength: blackberries, grape juice from Concord grapes, artichoke hearts, walnuts and strawberries. The researchers came up with a list of high oxidant foods on the basis of typical serving sizes.

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

Everybody needs to find healthy food

These are the winners among the super foods and spices: blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, ground cloves, grape juice and unsweetened baking chocolate. Males as well as females of all age groups will benefit from those.
Dr H. Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School points out that there are fundamental facts in nutrition that apply to everyone. But there is also a fine print, which varies according to gender, age and medical conditions.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 19, 2006, page 25

Last edited November 1, 2014