Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by pervasive inattention and/or
hyperactivity with impulsivity. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 4.4 million youth, ages 4-17, have been diagnosed
with ADHD and, as of 2006, some 5 million youth, ages 4-17, are currently receiving medication for the disorder. ADHD is diagnosed
approximately three times more often in boys than in girls.
Three types of ADHD have now been established:
Predominantly Inattentive Type:
It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to
follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type:
The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long periods of time.
Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people,
or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions.
Symptoms of the Inattentive & Hyperactive types (above) are both equally predominant in the person.
Researchers and psychiatrists continue to debate the cause of ADHD. And not everyone believes ADHD exists. A growing number of
scientists and physicians have become vocal about proclaiming a group of symptoms, (ie, typical childish behavior) a disease.
Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD, author of "The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes “Patients” Out of Normal Children" writes, "They made a
list of the most common symptoms of emotional discomfiture of children; those which bother teachers and parents most, and in a
stroke that could not be more devoid of science or Hippocratic motive--termed them a 'disease.' Twenty five years of research, not
deserving of the term research has failed to validate ADD/ADHD as a disease."
Regardless of the debate of whether ADHD is a disease or not, millions are being diagnosed with this condition each year. And, while
we don’t know the definitive cause, ADHD seems to be associated with a deficiency or malfunction in the brain chemicals known as
neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help coordinate thought, action, moods, and over-all wellbeing. There is some evidence that
people with ADHD do not produce adequate quantities of certain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Research further suggests that there may be fewer connections between the brain cells. And there may even be a deficit in the amount
of myelin (insulating material) produced by brain cells in children with ADHD. This of course would further impair brain cell
communication already impeded by decreased neurotransmitter levels. Some evidence, although debated, shows that patients with ADHD demonstrate a decreased blood flow to those areas of the brain in
which “self monitoring,” including impulse control, is based.
Traditional medicine advocates the use of stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD. These medications, which include
Aderrall (detroamphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate), are also known as amphetamines. Amphetamines exert their effects by
binding to the monoamine transporters and increasing the extra-cellular levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine,
and especially, dopamine. Dopamine exerts a calming or focused effect on people who have ADHD. It enhances signaling between nerve
cells that are involved in task-specific activities and also decreases stimulatory “noise.”
Spending on ADHD drugs soared from $759 million in 2000 to $3.1 billion in 2004, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical
information and consulting firm. The United States uses approximately 90% of the world's Ritalin. The International Narcotics
Control Board (INCB), an agency of the World Health Organization, deplored that “10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages of
6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADHD and are being treated with Ritalin.” With 53 million children
enrolled in school, probably more than 5 million are now taking stimulant drugs. The number of children on these drugs has
continued to soar. A recent study in Virginia indicated that up to 20% of white boys in the fifth grade were receiving stimulant
While stimulant drugs may be effective at alleviating core ADHD symptoms (such as inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity), it
comes at a price. The potential side effects are numerous and sobering.
Tachycardia (rapid heart beat)
Mania, psychosis, hallucinations
Agitation, anxiety, nervousness
Irritability, hostility, aggression
Depression, emotional sensitivity, easy crying, social withdrawal
Drowsiness, “dopey,” reduced alertness
Confusion, mental impairment (cognition and learning)
Zombie-like (robotic) behavior with loss of emotional spontaneity
Dyskinesia, tics, Tourette’s
Nervous habits (e.g. picking at skin, pulling hair)
Nausea, vomiting, bad taste, dry mouth
Abnormal liver function tests
Pituitary dysfunction, including growth hormone and prolactin disruption
Disturbed sexual function
Hypersensitivity reaction with rash, conjunctivitis, or hives
Please remember that similar psychotic drugs were being given (legally with a prescription) to the teens that were responsible for
the Columbine High School Massacre in Colorado back in 1999.
Amphetamines are chemically similar to cocaine. Both cause similar reactions in the brain. If we were to give cocaine to
hyperactive children, instead of Ritalin, we’d most likely get similar results. Yet doing so would be criminal.
“We have become the only country in the world where children are prescribed such a vast quantity of stimulants that share virtually the same
properties as cocaine.” - Gene R. Haislip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
The FDA's Canadian counterpart, Health Canada, yanked the ADHD drug Adderall XR from the market for six months in response to
reports of 20 sudden deaths and 12 strokes in adults and children using the drug. Alarmingly, a recent report in the Journal of
the American Medical Association has demonstrated a three-fold increase in the prescription of stimulants to 2-4 year old toddlers.
Spending on drugs primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) surged 369 percent for children 5 years
old or younger. Utilization in preschoolers was up 49 percent from 2000 to 2003. When we are reduced to using mind-numbing,
health-robbing drugs on 2 year olds, something is definitely wrong. We find it very ironic that the government spends millions of
tax dollars each year advocating a “just say no to drugs” campaign. Yet, every day millions of our children are lining up at the
school nursing station to receive their daily dose of speed. This whole idea of treating symptoms while poisoning the patient seems
ridiculous to us. Surely, there is a better way? Fortunately, there is!
You know from above, that the amphetamines work by boosting certain neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. Neurotransmitters come
from the amino acids found in protein-rich foods. The neurotransmitter dopamine comes from the amino acids, L-tyrosine and
L-phenylalanine. Why not use L-tyrosine and or L-phenylalanine to boost dopamine? There are few side effects other than increased
pulse, heart rate, and tension (rather uncommon), they work quickly, within half an hour, and are often just as effective and certainly
safer than amphetamines. Start with a low dose, 500mg of L-phenylalanine 30-45 minutes before breakfast (on an empty stomach) and
increase as needed.
The Russian herbal compound, Rhodiola rosea has been shown to improve moods, and boost mental clarity. Research shows that it
reduces fatigue and improves both physical and mental performance. Rhodiola rosea's effects are attributed to its ability to optimize
serotonin and dopamine levels.
Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the tendency toward hyperactivity among children with ADHD.
Several studies have examined the role of essential fatty acids in ADHD, with very encouraging results. In one pilot study,
researchers found that the symptoms of children with ADHD who were given omega-3 fatty acids improved on all measures. I recommend
all my patients supplement their diet with fish oil supplements.
Combining magnesium and vitamin B6 has shown promise for reducing symptoms of ADHD. Vitamin B6 has many functions in the body,
including assisting in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and forming myelin, which protect nerves. Magnesium is also very
important; it is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions. At least three studies have demonstrated that the combination of
magnesium and vitamin B6 improved behavior, decreased anxiety and aggression, and reduced hyperactivity among children with ADHD.
The mineral zinc is involved in numerous bodily processes including the production of neurotransmitters and fatty acids. Several
studies have shown that individuals with ADHD are often deficient in zinc. I encourage anyone with ADHD to take a good optimal
daily allowance multivitamin/mineral formula containing generous amounts of vitamin B6, zinc, and magnesium. While I don’t always
agree with the government’s messages, I do agree that we should encourage our children to just say no to psychoactive drugs,
either legal or illegal.
According to a study released in July 2007, most children treated for ADHD show significant
improvement within a few years, regardless of treatment (medication only, behavioral therapy only, standard “community care,”
or a combined approach). Medication, behavioral therapy, a combination of the two, and usual community care all produced significant ADHD symptom
improvement at three years with no difference between groups, found Peter Jensen, M.D., of Columbia University, and colleagues.
The new report, published in the August Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, tracked 485 children
who were still participating three years after the study began.
Dr. Todd W. Austin's ADHD Protocol
1) Determine whether the patient's neurotransmitter levels are deficient via either lab tests or the brain function questionnaire (ie, are
dopamine, norepinephrine and/or serotonin levels decreased?).
2) Specific chiropractic adjustments. From my years of clinical experience, I've seen that many ADHD kids have cervical and
thoracic spine misalignments.
3) Get the patient off of sugar and high fructose corn syrup as much as possible, as well any 'junk' high glycemic carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, public school breakfasts & lunches are a major problem here. Peanut butter (with sugar added) & jelly (with sugar added) on white
bread is not healthy in any way, shape or form. Also, a bowl of "Lucky Charms" and a chocolate milk (full of high fructose corn syrup)
is a huge 'no-no' too. Kids will need to give up (non-diet) soda too, except for rare special occasions. For more info, watch my
"Evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup" video found below.
Some patients say that the hardest thing is getting their ADHD kids off of the sugary breakfast cereals. I recommend Kashi brand
cereals. They taste great and are much healthier than the Kelloggs, General Mills or Post brand cereals for the most part.
Also, my 2010 version of GORP makes a great, fun breakfast for ADHD kids too.
My "Making GORP" video is below.
4) Get the patient more sleep. A pre-teen (or younger) needs 11 hrs/night, whereas for a teenager, 10 hrs/night is acceptable.
5) Put the patient on 5-HTP (if needed) to promote deeper sleep and / or to boost Serotonin levels.
6) Have the patient take a good optimal daily allowance (ODA) multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
7) Have the patient use a quality Children's Fish Oil supplement with good levels of 'DHA' Omega 3 fatty acids, which are key for
brain development and optimal brain function.
8) Have the patient take either 'BRAIN FOCUS' formula for improved mental clarity or SAMe to improve dopamine and or
9) Wean the patient off of prescription ADHD amphetamines (if the parents choose to go this route) in the summer months (as this
usually takes 2 to 3 months). This is done during the summer as to not interfere with the students school grades.
Austin Family Chiropractic is also a proud retailer of an excellent book by Dr. Rodger Murphree which explains ADHD and brain chemistry (neurotransmitters)
in much greater detail. The book entitled "TREATING & BEATING ANXIETY & DEPRESSION with Orthomolecular Medicine" sells for $15.88
(which includes sales tax).
If you'd like to know more about our office or our protocols for 'ADHD', please feel free to
give us a call (M/W/F, 8 AM-12PM & 2-6 PM CST & SAT AM by appointment) at (217)965-3100.