October 31, 2005
"ADHD stands for attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD used to be known as attention
deficit disorder, or ADD. In 1994, it was renamed ADHD. The term
ADD is still used, though, to describe a type of ADHD that doesn't
involve hyperactivity. ... People with ADHD have differences in
the parts of their brains that control attention and activity. This
means that they may have trouble focusing on certain tasks and subjects,
or they may seem 'wired,' act impulsively, and get into trouble.
... Of course, it's normal for everyone to zone out in a boring
class, jump into a conversation, or leave their homework on the
kitchen table once in a while. But people with ADHD have so much
trouble staying focused and controlling their behavior that it affects
their emotions and how well they do in school or other areas of
their lives. ...
Over the years, there are
many theories for how to treat and/ or prevent ADD, ADHD, and other
behavioral disorders. "Dr. Stephen D. Lockey, Sr. of the Mayo
Clinic was an early advocate of using a non-salicylate and no-tartrazine
(Yellow No.5) diet to treat urticaria (hives). His dietary recommendations
were provided to physicians for their patients as early as 1948.
* He was aware of the cross-sensitivity between aspirin and tartrazine
shown in the early German and other studies. He also was aware of
the adverse physical and even behavioral effects of both BHA and
* Unfortunately, Dr. Lockey's recommendations were often ignored.
One possible reason may be that his diet format is almost exclusively
negative. It is a long listing of what should not be eaten, and
it is quite formidable. Another possible reason may be that physicians
had discovered Ritalin - a magic bullet - which is easier and quicker
than a life-style change."
By building on the theories
of those who came before, doctors over the years have tried to find
and do what works to make their patients better. In some cases the
course of action they have found has been to write a prescription.
In other cases, the course of action has been to help patients make
"Most of Dr. Feingold's
early experience with using the diet for hyperactivity was clinical
-- helping children who had not responded to any other treatment
-- what he called 'the failures of the medical community.' A significant
percentage of these children underwent dramatic improvement on the
* In his presentation to the American Medical Association (AMA)
in 1973, Dr. Feingold called for researchers to do the basic research
required to find out why this diet worked. He called for the government
to be involved because he knew it would be expensive and take many
years. He, himself, was a clinician -- he felt it was his job to
get the patient well, not to find out why it worked."
Whether it is writing a
prescription, asking patients to remove certain things from their
diets, or asking patients to add certain things to their diets,
doctors are still trying to find what is proven to work best.
deficiencies have been described in children with ADHD including
zinc, magnesium, calcium, and essential fatty acids. In addition,
children with ADHD have been noted to behave and concentrate better
in some studies when the ratio of protein compared with carbohydrate
in their diets was increased, however, this was anecdotal information
noted from studies designed to study other factors, so its not clear
if the increased protein is actually the cause of the improved behavior.
... [T]his initial study was designed to determine 1) whether or
not children with ADHD have different patterns of nutrient intake
compared with children in the same family and children in families
without a child with ADHD, 2) if the described nutrient deficiencies
are due to decreased intake, and 3) whether there is an increased
occurrence of carbohydrate craving, based on parents' perceptions,
eating patterns, and actual intake, among children (or certain subgroups
of children) with ADHD. The information gained from this study will
be used to design additional studies to test causative hypotheses
and intervention strategies."
Unfortunately, what works
best for one patient, may not work best for the next, so the search
continues. Dozens of clinical trials searching for possible causes
and treatments for ADD and ADHD are seeking participants. Theories,
anecdotal information, and new medications are all currently being
Sometimes the testing finds
something that seems to help with no adverse side effects.
"BOSTON, Oct 3, 2005
(UPI via COMTEX) -- A Boston scientist says an extended-release
stimulant for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is effective
for two years with no side effects. A multi-institutional research
team reports finding treatment with Concerta, a once-daily form
of the drug methylphenidate, successfully controlled ADHD symptoms
in more than 200 children. Dr. Timothy Wilens of Massachusetts General
Hospital lead author of the study said there had been concerns whether
stimulant medications used to treat ADHD continued to be effective,
whether patients build up tolerance, or whether the drugs might
have adverse effects on cardiovascular health or growth. 'We haven't
seen any clinically meaningful problems with height and weight or
any cardiovascular difficulties in this study, which also is the
first to evaluate this kind of daylong treatment in a large group
Sometimes the testing finds
causes for concern with medications that were previously found to
"The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) today is issuing a Public Health Advisory to
alert physicians of reports of suicidal thinking in children and
adolescents associated with Strattera, a drug approved to treat
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ... FDA is advising
health care providers and caregivers that children and adolescents
being treated with Strattera should be closely monitored for clinical
worsening, as well as agitation, irritability, suicidal thinking
or behaviors, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during
the initial few months of therapy or when the dose is changed (either
increased or decreased). Patients and caregivers who have concerns
or questions about these symptoms should contact their healthcare
provider. ... Today's actions follow a review and analysis of 11
clinical trials conducted in children with ADHD and one trial in
children with enuresis (bedwetting) that identified an increased
risk of suicidal thinking for Strattera."
There are those who feel
that eliminating or adding certain things from a person's diet will
help these behavioral issues. There are those that think changing
the entire diet is too difficult and/ or next to impossible with
the busy schedules that most people have in the 21st century. There
are those who think medication is the key. There are those who are
concerned about the effects of too much medication, or the wrong
kind of medication, for those with ADD or ADHD. Then there are those
who have found help and hope someplace else entirely...
"Kids with attention
deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) should spend some quality after-school
hours and weekend time outdoors enjoying nature, say researchers
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The payoff for
this 'treatment' of children 5 to 18 years old, who participated
in a nationwide study, was a significant reduction of symptoms.
... 'Overall, our findings indicate that exposure to ordinary natural
settings in the course of
common after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective
in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.'"
Questions of the Week:
If you do not have an ADD or ADHD diagnosis, and do not have symptoms
where you or anyone else would suspect that you might have either
condition, how and/ or why could the information gained from all
this research be useful to you? If you do have some trouble with
possible ADD or ADHD symptoms, but do not have a diagnosis, how
might you be able to work with your health care professional and
use the results of current research to help yourself function better
as you go about your daily activities? Whether or not you feel the
need for an official diagnosis, what information about various treatment
options should you bring with you (and/ or have enough knowledge
about to be able to discuss) when consulting with a health dprofessional?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum