Nerves and Nutrition: Alternative Strategies for Dealing with ADD/ADHD

Dr. Greg and Lyn Chappell


Concern is growing around the escalating use of psycho stimulant drugs for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is particularly true in Michigan as it ranks as one of the highest in the nation in Ritalin usage. Doris Rapp,M.D., author of “Is This Your Child?” and “Is This Your Child’s World?” states, “Alternative forms of therapy should certainly be considered before any child is placed on a drug that is similar to cocaine.” So why is the treatment of choice still psycho stimulant drugs with their dangerous side effects and why do parents look at us with blank stares when asked what safer alternatives have been offered let alone tried?


The assessment of ADD/ADHD is based on a group of observed behaviors which are biological and neurological in origin. Generally, the primary causes are poor nutrition, nerve interference from spinal misalignments, environmental contaminants, and allergic-type reactions to food and/or environmental factors.


ADD and ADHD are manifestations of either an interference to the body’s ability to regulate proper function or an imbalance in the biochemical system. Regulation and control of body functions is primarily the job of the nervous system. This includes digestion of the food we eat and transport of these nutrients throughout the body. You can eat a good diet, but, if your digestive system isn’t working properly, you don’t utilize the food correctly. The nervous system also directs proper function of glands and organs which produce the biochemicals that the brain utilizes for thoughts, behavior, and body regulation.


The quality of the food you eat contributes to, among other things, the integrity of the nerve cells and chemical neurotransmitters. This, in turn, determines how well the nerves can transmit their signals to attain integrated, balanced body functioning. Interference and inadequacy in either or both of these two interdependent areas can result in the group of symptoms classified as ADD/ADHD.


Body regulation and control are a reflection of your inborn, innate, intelligence’s ability to express itself through the nervous system. Spinal misalignments, called vertebral subluxations complexes (VSC), pose a common and serious interference to the nervous system’s ability to perform these processes. Causes of VSC arise from physical, mental, and chemical stresses that the body is not able to adapt to. They accumulate over time causing dysfunction throughout the body while many times existing without any overt recognizable symptoms.


Depok Chopra,M.D. in his book “Quantum Healing” states “Intelligence is more important than the actual matter of the body since without it, that matter would be formless, undirected, and chaotic.” “Undirected and chaotic”, sounds like ADD/ADHD to me! A body free of nervous system interference can regulate and control itself more effectively eliminating the symptoms that contribute to the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.


This is why safe and effective chiropractic has had tremendous results with getting kids off of and preventing the use of drugs like Ritalin with their potentially harmful side effects.


The nervous system’s partner is a balanced biochemistry through proper nutrition. The typical American diet is high in refined sugars and processed, low nutrient dense foods laced with additives, preservatives, colorings, pesticides, etc. These are not good for anyone on a regular basis and certainly exacerbates the ADD/ADHD situation. Whenever possible, think high protein, unprocessed, raw, organic, natural, and uncooked.


Two key words here are raw and uncooked. We have a tendency to cook and microwave a lot of our foods. Unfortunately, this destroys most of the enzymes that naturally occur in the food and are designed to help you digest it. No matter how good the food is, without the enzymes you don’t get the nutrient value into your system. An alternative is to supplement with digestive enzymes but this should not be an excuse to not eat raw and uncooked foods as much as possible.


There is no “clean list” for an allergy-free diet. Anyone can react to anything. Certain foods that cause reactions can magnify symptoms. To help isolate foods that are causing problems keep a diet diary for a week noting everything ingested and how the child feels during the day and note significant behavior changes. Look for patterns at the end of the week.


Another tool is to do a single food elimination diet. Specify a certain food and don’t eat it for 5-7 days. On the day of testing, don’t eat anything for the first 3-5 hours, and then eat the food you’re testing. Note reactions. More information on these procedures can be obtained from “Is this Your Child” by Doris Rapp, M.D. or “Dr. Mandell’s 5 day Allergy Relief System” by Dr. Marshall Mandell.


It is estimated that about 50-70% of children are allergic to cow’s milk and dairy products. Some people with ADD/ADHD do very well with “raw” milk (especially goat) as it is high in amino acids, especially Tryptophan, which aid neurotransmitter function. Common dietary allergens include: wheat, corn, oats, peas, soy, peanuts, cow’s milk, artificial colors, pure baker’s chocolate, eggs, cane sugar, chicken, beef, pork, potato, tomato, orange, lettuce, broccoli, green beans, coffee, cheese, and alcohol. These are not always absolute causes but provide a starting place to begin your search. Often, you will crave what you are allergic to. The key is, if you crave it, don’t eat it!


Snacks should be oriented around proteins. A great way to do this with kids is making “shakes” and adding protein and micronutrient powders such as spirulina, blue green algae, wheat and barley grasses, etc.


Due to the nutrient depletion of our soils, foods are not what they used to be. Therefore, supplementation is advised. These should include digestive enzymes, trace minerals, and essential fatty acids (EFA). The latter are vitally important as they aid in transmission of nerve impulses and proper brain function. Other sources of EFA’s are salmon, cod, and cold pressed olive oil. Avoid anything with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils such as commercially processed cooking oils, margarine, prepared foods, and commercial snacks.


Other things to avoid include sweeteners such as high fructose and corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame (Nutrisweet) which many authorities believe to be toxic to the nerve system. Instead, use raw honey or stevia powder. Also, avoid white flour products and other refined foods as much as possible.


In addition to nerve and nutrition concerns, two other considerations to be aware of are reactions to chemicals in our environment and candida imbalances.


Body chemistry imbalances and central nervous system dysfunctions can be caused by the myriad of chemicals we encounter everyday. These are compounded by toxic gasses released by common household products such as cleaning agents, air fresheners, plastic products, and new furniture, carpet, and paint as well as commercial cleaning agents used in the schools. Strive to eliminate or reduce exposure as much as possible.


Candida Albicans is a yeast that ideally exists in balance with the ?good? bacteria in the colon as part of our normal, healthy flora. Due to our society?s over exuberance in the use of antibiotics for treatment purposes and antibacterial products (soaps and toys), and the constant dosing of low level antibiotics that we get through the food chain in the meat we eat, we seriously deplete the good bacterial colonies. This allows the candida organisms to multiply uncontrolled and spread throughout the body. They can then invade other tissues causing a host of symptoms mimicking other conditions such as psychological disorders, allergies, sinus problems, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and headaches, among others. Correction of this problem involves modifications in diet and use of yeast fighting nutritional supplements.


So, before your child is subjected to dangerous psycho stimulant medications, or if they are already on them, try safe and effective alternatives first. The only “side effect” will be a healthier, more balanced child!



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