Chiropractic & Nutritional Care Can Help Improve Focus In Those With ADD & ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder affects children who aren’t able to focus, sit still in school, have fidgeting issues which can affect their learning process.
This is, at times, a result of an imbalance in the parasympathetic (rest & digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and it’s dominating, we see ADD and ADHD behavior in children.
Chiropractic care can help by assessing the upper and lower back for tension on the nerves that control the two nervous systems and can help the body begin to relax. We may also recommend applying essential oils that calm your body or taking supplements to boost the immune system and digestion which helps to balance the body. This all allows the child to calm down and focus on learning and playing and not having to move every minute.
Our Clinic's Approach To Improving Focus In Children
Attention Deficit Disorder & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Often, we don’t think about kids going to the chiropractor. But because we, at Brown Family Chiropractic, help improve the nervous system for infants up to adults, we love to see children. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help correct current health and behavioral issues as well prevent issues arising in the future from unresolved imbalances or injuries.
We see Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder a lot today in children. These are kids who aren’t able to focus on a task or thoughts, maybe they aren’t able to sit still in school, or they have a lot of fidgeting issues. This all affects their learning process.
The Sympathetic & Parasympathetic Nervous System
When we think about ADD and ADHD, we think about an imbalance in the nervous system. We have two driving forces of our nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight or flight. nervous system. It keeps you on alert. It keeps you waiting and looking for what’s coming down the pipe. And the parasympathetic nervous system, which is that part of our nervous system that tells us to slow down and smell the roses, that works on immunity, that works on digestion.
When the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and it’s dominating, we see ADD and ADHD behavior in children. The sympathetic nervous system comes from the middle of the back and the lower of the back where the parasympathetic lives in the head and in the base of your spine. So when we find issues in areas and correct them, it balances those two nervous systems and allows the brain to function better. It allows the child to calm down and focus on learning, playing, and not having to move every minute.
Muscle tension in the spine and neck can lead to vertebrae being out of alignment and possibly reduce the signal of the nerve leaving that vertebra. If they are not able to send a good signal to the organs they lead to, this can lead to issues arising in those organs or the nervous system.
First, we are going to look for tension or restrictions in the upper part of your neck and upper back which feeds the nerves that control the parasympathetic nervous system. We’re also going to look for tension in the low-back because those are the nerves that control the sympathetic nervous system.
Nutritional Care & Counseling
Conditions in the body can create symptoms of and ADHD and having ADHD can create stresses in the body that may lead to other conditions and diseases. There are natural ways to help improve the body, strengthen your organs, and focus the mind when you begin to feel distracted.
Gut Inflammation & Probiotics – Heal Your Body’s Second Brain
There are several supplements we recommend to help the brain and body heal. First, we want to heal your gut – your stomach, small intestines, and large intestine. Toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of ADHD. Supplements such as Flora Bites and Floraboost are probiotics available at our clinic that can reduce inflammation in your gut and optimize their gut flora.
Omega 3 Deficiency – Restoring Neural Activity
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.
We have the following omega 3 supplements available at our clinic to help boost the brain and reduce inflammation: Nordic Omega 3 Fishies, Nordic Omega 3 Gummies, Orthomega Pearls. and Vitamin D Liquid for Kids can help boost the immune system and digestion which helps to balance the body and nourish the brain.
Oxidative Stress – A Side Effect of ADHD
Studies have suggested that people with ADHD have an insufficient response to oxidative stress, opening them up to a whole host of neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Using essential oils like DDR Prime helps combat oxidative stress and reverse damage caused to your cellular DNA.
Other Natural & Dietary Recommendations
• 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.
Simple Ways To Improve Focus
Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now, rather than letting your mind wander or trying to multi-task. Students who took a mindfulness class improved reading comprehension test scores and working memory capacity, as well as experienced fewer distracting thoughts.
Exercise & Spend Time Outdoors
Kids have a lot of energy and they need to have a physical means to expend that energy. Exercise gets the blood flowing, helps neurons start firing, and releases dopamine & serotonin. This aids in both mood, digestion, and helps the body’s overall performance.
When the children with ADHD inhale vetiver oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school.1 Eighty percent of the children also improved when using cedarwood oil similarly which has a high concentration of sesquiterpenes that improve oxygenation of brain cells.2
When to supplement your body.
If your child struggles with behavioral difficulties, we may first recommend a chiropractic adjustment to help balance the communications between the brain and body. Then we may recommend addressing your child’s diet – limiting sugar intake, assess for gluten sensitivity, removing food additive and GMO foods from their diet, and then suggest a probiotic and omega-3 supplement.
What Is ADHD?
How ADHD is qualified in the first place? The disorder involves a cluster of symptoms that include 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 Medicine.net:3
“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:4
- – Frequent fidgeting or squirming
- – Difficulty playing quietly
- – Always seems on the go
- – Restlessness
- – Excessive talking and interrupting others
- – Difficulty waiting for 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,5 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 death6 at the age of 87.
Prescription Medication That Rivals Illegal Street Drugs?
Methylphenidate is the active ingredient in common ADHD drugs Ritalin and Concerta and is a “Class II narcotic” meaning Methylphenidate has a high potential for abuse and addiction. 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
- – Cardiotoxicity 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.8
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. 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 study9 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:16
“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.
What can we do naturally to ease acid reflux or GERD?
1. Relax before and during meals.
2. Chew, Chew, Chew your food 30 times before swallowing.
3. Hydrate – drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. i.e. if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water each day.
4. Cook or steam most veggies (and possibly fruit) and add raw as tolerated. Cooked veggies are easier to digest as we transition to actually digesting our foods again.
5. Daily eat ripe fruit only as it’s in season. Unripened food is harder to digest.
6. Decrease your intake of dairy, red meat, sugar and gluten.
7 Las Vegas Guardian Press November 24, 2013
8 Fox Business August 12, 2013
12 See ref 11
16 See ref 3