ADD & ADHDADD & ADHD Natural Control of ADD & ADHD
Billie J. Sahley, Ph.D., CNC
In Toxic Psychiatry, Peter Breggin, MD states, Hyperactivity is the most frequent justification for drugging children. Difficult-to-control children are certainly not a new phenomenon, but attempts to give them a medical diagnosis are the product of modern psychology and psychiatry. At first, psychiatrists called hyperactivity a brain disease: minimal brain dysfunction (MBD). When no minimal brain dysfunction could be demonstrated, the label became attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Six million children in this country suffer some type of learning disability, ADD, or ADD with hyperactivity (ADHD). Over two million children currently take Ritalin for ADD/ADHD. ADD and ADHD may be caused by psychological problems, including trauma and abuse, nutritional deficiencies, chemical imbalances, allergic responses to food and chemicals, or a poor diet. A failure in the brains inhibitory system (the ability of the brain to inhibit and control itself) may also cause ADD/ADHD.
Ritalin, the most commonly used drug for ADD and ADHD, is an amphetamine and a Schedule II class drug (other Schedule II drugs are morphine, opium, and medicinal cocaine). Doctors prescribe Ritalin for many children who do not need it, causing a number of adverse mental and physical side effects. Yet this potent, toxic drug is being used as a quick fix to quiet children. Surprisingly, prescription rates for Ritalin doubled between 1992 and 1996.
Children demonstrating symptoms of anxiety, ADHD or ADD often have an imbalance in their brains biochemistry. A biochemical imbalance results from a deficiency of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain. If a biochemical imbalance goes untreated, a child can display maladaptive behavior, followed by possible long-term physical and emotional problems.
A childs state of health reflects his or her state of nutrition. When minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, or even hormones are deficient in a childs system, the result can be a disturbed biochemical homeostasis causing impaired functions in the brain. This, in turn, can cause an inability to focus, concentrate, and stay on task.
At the Pain and Stress Center in San Antonio, we have successfully treated numerous children with orthomolecular therapy. Orthomolecular therapy corrects the brains biochemical imbalance, without toxic drugs that can produce adverse side effects. ADD/ADHD presents a major problem facing parents today. Most people think of hyperactivity as some type of behavioral problem (a child who is impatient, impulsive, and constantly moving); but not all hyperactive children are aggressive. Some are very passive, withdrawn, and find it hard to communicate their feelings.
ADD/ADHD is not a condition that can be measured in precise scientific terms. Nor is it a situation with a quick fix, especially with powerful and addictive drugs such as Ritalin. ADD/ADHD is a complex and intricate condition in which children demonstrate maladaptive or disorganized behaviors, which put them out of sync with the world around them.
Numerous clinical studies established that hyperactive children often have low serotonin levels. A proper combination of tryptophan or 5-HTP and B6, elevates the serotonin level and balances the brain; the childs symptoms diminish. The dosage, of course, depends on the childs age, weight, and the degree of hyperactivity.
Effectiveness of Amino Acids
Neurotransmitters affect behavior and learning. A neurotransmitter deficiency consequently has a dramatic effect on childrens or adults abilities to learn and function in an orderly manner. Most hyperactive and ADD children are born with a shortage of neurotransmitters, establishing a genetic link, most often on the male side. These children also do not manufacture the needed amount of these chemical messengers.
Where do we get neurotransmitters? From the amino acids, GABA, glycine, taurine, tyrosine, glutamine and tryptophan. Do children or adults get enough aminos through diet? NO! Balanced amino-acid doses, in the right combination and formulas, produce the needed neurotransmitters naturally. Using a stimulant medication to try to produce neurotransmitters is like a shotgun going off in the childs brain. Our children were not born with Ritalin in their brain, so how can they have a Ritalin deficiency?
Approximately fifty different neurotransmitters exist in the human brain, but communication between brain cells uses only ten (approximately) major neurotransmitters. How we feed the brain directly affects our production of neurotransmitters. With proper nutrition and supplementation, we can correct or enhance mind, mood, memory, and behavior.
All major neurotransmitters are made from amino acids and dietary protein. One of the dangers of a low-protein diet is not ingesting enough amino acids to make adequate brain neurotransmitters. Apathy, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest, and insomnia all result when the diet does not include adequate amounts of amino acids. Drugs do not produce or increase production of neurotransmitters. Drugs only address symptoms. Amino acids restore the balance nature intended.
Some of the major symptoms of neurotransmitter deficiencies are ADD, ADHD, brain fog, mood swings, increased stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, and aggression. Stress plays a major role in the depletion of neurotransmitters. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are the keys to behavior, emotions, and pain. Inhibitory amino acids include tryptophan, taurine, GABA, and glycine.
Millions of people have turned to drugs known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor work by selective enhancement of serotonin levels. SSRIs prevent the presynaptic nerve from reabsorbing serotonin that it previously secreted. Prozac causes an increase in brain serotonin levels; but Prozac and other prescription drugs do not increase neurotransmitters. (See Figure 1).
5-HTP is synergistic with other supplements that enhance neurotransmitters such as GABA, glutamine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and glycine. Magnesium prolongs the benefits of 5-HTP. Chronic stress depletes available serotonin, as well as interferes with serotonins ability to control behavior. Research demonstrates that low serotonin levels can change brain function and impair learning. Low serotonin may be responsible for an increase in depression and drug use among teens and children. Most teens with low serotonin levels are more prone to try recreational drugs or even prescription drugs, for relief. A low brain serotonin level impairs the ability to focus and reason. 5-HTP shows a lot of promise as a natural answer to a multitude of problems that plague adults and children. Use caution with 5-HTP if your child is taking prescription antidepressant medications.
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)
GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, is found throughout the central nervous system. GABA assumes an ever-enlarging role as a significant influence on ADD, ADHD, stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as stress-induced illnesses. According to Candace Pert, a neuroscientist who discovered the GABA receptor, every cell in the body has a GABA receptor, which is one reason why GABA has such positive effects. GABA inhibits the cells from firing, diminishing anxiety-related messages.
Tranquilizers provide only temporary relief. We have seen many patients on Xanax that still experience anxiety. They have been told it is not addictive: it is! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TRANQUILIZER DEFICIENCY! Nutrient deficiencies do occur, however; and they can and do change behavior. GABA, glutamine, and glycine prove vital for energy and the smooth running of brain functions. We have successfully used these three amino acids with patients to ease anxiety, irritability, and ADD.
Research demonstrates a large number of children who display ADD/ADHD behavior actually experience anxiety. If they use all available GABA, then the receptors in the brain become empty, allowing the brain to be bombarded with random firings of excitatory messages. However, when adequate amounts of GABA are present, the reception of multiple random firings are blocked, so the brain does not become overwhelmed. At the Pain & Stress Center we regularly combine GABA and other amino acids to achieve positive results. Dose amounts vary, depending on the age and weight of the child.
GABA now takes its place as a major influence on those taking drugs, and in many cases, replacing the drugs. We have found that, when combined with other amino acids, GABA works exceptionally well with ADD children.
Glutamine, along with GABA and Glycine, is rapidly becoming an important therapeutic amino acid of the 21st century. Glutamine, found in many foods, is the third most abundant amino acid in the blood and brain. It also provides a major alternative fuel source for the brain when blood sugar levels are low.
Glutamine functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and is the precursor for GABA, the antianxiety amino acid. The amino acid trio of Glutamine, GABA, and Glycine plus B6 are among the major inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. Glutamine is found in the nerves of the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, in the cranial nerves, and in many other areas of the brain. These three amino acids work together as inhibitory neurotransmitters. Anyone taking amino acids must take B6 to metabolize the amino acids.
Intellectually impaired children and adults often show an increase in IQ after taking glutamine in combination with Ginkgo biloba and B6. Dr. Roger Williams demonstrated that children and adults diagnosed with ADHD showed a marked improvement when taking 250 mg to 1,000 mg of glutamine daily.
GABA and glutamine are not only found in the brain, but also in the receptor sites throughout the body. Glutamine is the memory and concentration amino acid. Seventy five percent of hyperactive and ADD childrens blood tests showed low levels of glutamine.
Dr. C. Fredericks research also demonstrated a definite increase in the IQs of children given glutamine. When glutamine was given daily, children showed impressive improvements in their abilities to learn, to retain, and to recall. Glutamine is a major part of my orthomolecular program for hyperactive and ADHD children. Glutamine is one of the amino acids that create the neurotransmitters in the brain that enhance learning and memory. Hyperactive and ADD children have low neurotransmitter levels, especially glutamine. Adding glutamine increases the level of neurotransmitters. Start with 500 mg of glutamine and gradually increase until you reach the optimal dose for your child, to a maximum of 3,000 mg per day.
Taurine is now classified as a conditionally essential amino acid in the adult. In infants and children, however, taurine is an essential amino acid. As one of the sulfur amino acids, adults synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine, provided B6 and zinc are present. Taurine is found abundantly throughout the body in the heart, olfactory bulb, central nervous system, and brain (hippocampus and pineal gland).
As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, taurine, after GABA, is the second-most important inhibitory transmitter in the brain. Taurines inhibitory action in the brain equals that of GABA and glycine. Its inhibitory effect is one source of taurines anticonvulsant and antianxiety properties.
Some children with Downs syndrome have shown an increase in IQ levels when taurine was added to their diet along with glutamine, B6, and vitamin E. The need for taurine increases whenever you experience more stress than usual, or have an illness.
Tyrosine is the amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter that often helps overcome depression. Clinical studies show that tyrosine controls medication-resistant depression.
In a 1980 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, a study by Dr. Alan Gelenberg of Harvard Medical School discussed the role of tyrosine in the control of anxiety and depression. Dr. Gelenberg postulated that the lack of available tyrosine results in deficiency of the hormone norepinephrine at a specific location in the brain that relates to mood problems such as depression. Children given tyrosine supplementation demonstrated a marked improvement in mental performance and mood stability.
Tyrosine, because of its role in assisting the body to cope physiologically with stress and building the bodys natural store of adrenaline, deserves to be called the stress amino acid. Stress exhaustion requires tyrosine. During periods of stress, in order to continue coping with stress physiologically, the brain requires tyrosine. Tyrosine aids children and young teens, as well as adults, with recurrent depression and mood disorders. In children, dosage ranges from 200 to 500 mg daily.
Glycine is a nonessential amino acid, with the simplest structure of all the amino acids resembling glucose (blood sugar) and glycogen (excess sugar converted in the liver for storage). Glycine is sweet to the taste, can be used as a sweetener, and can mask bitterness and saltiness. Pure glycine dissolves readily in water. As the third major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, glycine readily passes the blood-brain barrier. Studies by the late Carl Pfeiffer, MD, Ph.D., demonstrated glycine as an important factor in psychiatric disorders.
Glycine decreases the craving for sugar, and, in many cases, can replace sugar on foods such as cereal. Glycine calms aggression in both children and adults. When combined with GABA and glutamine, glycine influences brain function by slowing down anxiety-related messages from the limbic system.
As a very nontoxic amino acid, both children and adults can use glycine. Glycine can be mixed with other amino acids. Doses for a child range between 500 to 2,000 mg daily, divided.
Hyperactive or ADD children are almost always deficient in magnesium. Magnesium proves necessary for proper brain energy and is the first mineral depleted when anyone (child or adult) is under stress. Magnesium is a stress mineral, and deficiency can lead to hyperactive or ADD behavior.
Magnesium plays a significant role in sugar metabolism and in the proper utilization of carbohydrates to create energy. Magnesium is so very important in a childs diet, especially if he displays hyperactive behavior, ADD, or other behavioral problems. Magnesium can be taken in liquid form, tablet, or capsule.
When added to the ADD/ADHD diet, calming effects sometimes occur immediately. Most magnesium exists inside the cells where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. In 1988, a study published in Alternative Medicine Review linked the development of ADHD to low blood-serum magnesium levels. A group of children followed for six months were given 200 mg of magnesium a day. Researchers noted remarkably decreased hyperactivity in the children.
As a major nutrient needed by ADD/ADHD children and adults, magnesium is the number one stress mineral needed by the body. Magnesium is responsible for over three hundred enzyme functions. It cannot be stored by the body, and it must be taken daily. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include asthma, migraines, eye twitches, anxiety, confusion, muscle spasms, irritability, depression, nervousness, fatigue, mood swings, PMS, hypertension, and insomnia.
A calcium deficiency can also induce ADD/ADHD behavior. A child deficient in calcium exhibits irritability, sleep disturbances, anger, and inattentiveness. The first signs of a calcium deficiency include nervous stomach, cramps, tingling in the arms and legs, and painful joints. A calcium deficiency can also lead to ADD/ADHD behavior. Children sensitive to dairy products must receive daily calcium supplementation in capsule, chewable, or liquid form. Children up to 10 years of age need 1000 mg of calcium daily; adolescents need 1,200 to 1,500 mg daily. For those involved in sports activities, calcium supplementation is a must.
Recent research reports that Huperzine A improves mental function and learning in adolescents. Chinese researchers designed a study to determine the efficiency of Huperzine on memory and learning. The clinical study included 34 matched pairs of junior middle school students that had significant complaints of poor memory and difficulty in learning. In the double blind trial, half of the students received a placebo while the other half received Huperzine A for four weeks. Academic performance was measured before and after the clinical trial. The Huperzine group scored significantly better on standard memory tests without side effects.
Huperzine A is an extract derived from Chinese club moss. Huperzine can be combined with amino acids and other nutrients. The suggested dosage is one 50 mcg capsule in the morning and in the evening for children aged 12 and over.
This information is excerpted from my book Control Hyperactivity/ADD Naturally. Other resources include Is Ritalin Necessary?
Both are available through:
Pain & Stress Center
5282 Medical Dr. #160
San Antonio, TX 78229-6023
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