Alternatives to Medication for the Treatment of ADD/ADHD

Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food –Hippocrates
There are currently no federally-approved treatments for ADD/ADHD other than prescription medications. Although, a significant majority of studies are discovering validity in numerous “natural” treatments, and a number of credible health professionals are recommending behavioral and dietary interventions to supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still supports drug therapy as the treatment of choice.
The use of prescription medications to treat any type of disorder has been a relatively new development in terms of the practice of medicine. Although plant extracts and other holistic remedies have existed since the dawn of time, the ability of modern medicine to alter natural substances to form a chemical derivative that, in its final form, has absolutely nothing to do with the original material.
It is, however, very interesting that it was the advent of chemically-based foods, sweeteners, additives, and, yes, medications that signaled the advent of the ADD/ADHD “epidemic”.
Could there be a connection?
As the environment that people lived in changed, so did the ability of the body to function naturally. It stands to reason that any substance capable of producing biochemical reactions within the body is capable of altering the body’s functioning to elicit unnatural symptoms, including those displayed by individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
In essence, for the most part, the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are not caused by any natural malfunction of the human body, but rather by the introduction of unnatural substances which, in turn, create a toxic environment in which the body can no longer function properly. In support of this argument, it is obvious that the incidence of ADD/ADHD and the use of chemical additives, preservatives, and substances have risen at roughly the same rates.
As the use of chemicals has increased, so have the rates of ADD/ADHD diagnoses.
The reality is that some individuals are more sensitive to extraneous toxins than others. Just as some people are more prone to reacting to allergens whereas others are not affected by them at all, some people are simply biologically programmed to have a more severe reaction to toxins than others.
It stands to reason that, if the body reacts to a toxic environment by displaying a host of symptoms such as fidgeting, distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, forgetfulness, and behavioral problems, removing the individual from the toxic environment can lessen, and even eliminate, the problem.
Yet, many people are not sure how to go about removing the individual from the toxic environment or removing the toxins from the individual. Medication should always be a last resort. The majority of ADD/ADHD cases can be managed via a multi-pronged approach that does not include medication.
The majority of the cases that have been diagnosed as being ADD/ADHD can be managed by addressing
• the nutritional needs of the individual
• any existing behavioral issues
• toxins present within the individual’s environment
Save the medication for an emergency. Many people find that it, ultimately, isn’t necessary.
Many researchers suspect, and are now investigating, the correlation between food allergies and behavioral problems. These researchers have gone so far as to suggest that more than 60% of individuals suspected of having ADD/ADHD might be “cured” by eliminating such toxins as sugar, artificial colors and preservatives, soy, milk, chocolate, wheat, some citrus fruits, and eggs from their diets.
To prove this theory, and to help determine which toxins might be responsible for ADD/ADHD-like behavior, experts suggest the implementation of an elimination diet. An elimination diet is conducted in the following manner:
1. Begin by eliminating foods, or food groups, that might be responsible for the symptoms. If dairy products are suspected, eliminate all dairy products. Should the symptoms improve, dairy can be added back into the diet, one food at a time. When and if symptoms return, the food, or foods, that were most recently introduced are the probable culprits.
2. Start with foods that are usual suspects such as diary, wheat products, sugar, eggs, nuts, soy products, corn, and citrus fruits and juices.
3. Eliminate foods for a minimum of two weeks. Keep a careful diary of the individual’s behavior, breathing, and general health during this period.
4. Re-introduce foods one at a time for a minimum of three days. Continue reintroducing foods, at three-day intervals, until a reaction becomes present.
5. Make sure to read food labels! Some products contain the offending foods as an ingredient and will produce a reaction.
Another method that can be used to determine food allergies, sensitivities, and toxicities is the food diary. For a period of about a month, write down all foods, beverages, snacks, candies, etc. that are consumed. Everything that goes into the mouth must be recorded; even such innocuous substances as gum, medications (even over the counter meds), and candies. Record behavior, breathing, and general health in the diary. Remember to record sleep patterns, activity levels, and attitude. At the end of the month, patterns should be detectable according to what was ingested, when. Food diaries are often used in conjunction with an elimination diet.
Elimination diets and food diaries are now being used to uncover toxins that may be responsible for such conditions as Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, general food allergies, Fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, and even depression!