Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
words by Helaina Lungu

introduction

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex nervous disorder that is characterized by noticeably higher levels of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention that affect behavioural, emotional, cognitive, academic, and social functions.[1] The characteristics of ADHD theoretically appear before your child hits 7 years of age and currently affects 5% to 9% of children in Australia.

 

signs & symptoms

Some of the early signs to look out for may include problems with their academic performance, relationships, and self-esteem. Other symptoms that coincide with these signs include other physical or psychological illnesses like speech or language disabilities, depression, and anxiety according to the American Academy of Paediatrics.[2] Two main types of ADHD exist that have different behavioural characteristics. See the below table for a breakdown of each type.

 

causes

From a naturopathic standpoint there are several factors that influence a person’s susceptibility to developing ADHD, including the below:

  • Genetics and environmental factors cause imbalances to neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin [3]
  • Increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain [4] 
  • Dysfunction to the stress response (HPA axis) and higher cortisol levels as a result [5] 
  • Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder (PANDAS) may increase the expression of symptoms [7]

 

prevention

Although genetics may not necessarily be within your control, there are a lot of other angels we can use to prevent and manage ADHD symptoms, including the below:

  • Genetics – children with ADHD often have at least one close relative who has ADHD [6] 
  • Focus on pre and early postnatal health – limiting maternal drug, alcohol, and cigarette use; exposure to toxins and heavy metals like lead and PCBs; ensure thyroid health [8]
  • Address nutritional deficiencies – vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids [9]
  • Identify and limit intolerant foods like food colours and additives [10]
  • Support gut health [11]
  • Improve sleep hygiene and health [12]
  • Regulate and promote a healthy stress response [13]
  • Support impaired methylation pathways with activated B vitamins and choline [14]
  • Identify heavy metal toxicity and reduce environmental exposure [15]
  • Reduce systemic inflammation [16]
  • Balance blood sugar levels [17]

 

testing

Your health practitioner may recommend testing any of the below areas to support effective treatment of ADHD symptoms in your individual situation:

  • Omega-3 – EPA and DHA
  • Folate and vitamin B12
  • Zinc: copper ratio
  • Serum vitamin D
  • Homocysteine
  • Iron studies
  • Blood glucose
  • Microbiome insights
  • Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)
  • Methylation profile
  • Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) profile

 

treatment

There are a few options available to effectively support living with ADHD, such as:

  • Pharmaceutical drugs – psychostimulant medications are most commonly prescribed by medical doctors, however, may also prescribe other mood stabilisers like anti-depressants or alpha-2-agonists as well
  • Nutritional supplements – B vitamins, magnesium, omega-3, iron, vitamin D, and probiotics are most commonly prescribed by your naturopath/nutritionist
  • Herbal medicine – Kava kava, Chamomile, Valerian, Lemon balm, Passionflower, American ginseng, Bacopa, Ginkgo, and Rosemary may be prescribed by your naturopath/herbalist
  • Diet – an elimination diet is usually prescribed under the guidance of your health professional, however, may transition over to or try gluten-free, casein-free, low-FODMAP, anti-inflammatory, alkaline, or Mediterranean diet long term depending on the individual situation
  • Lifestyle – regular moderate to high-intensity exercise has seen promise in managing this condition in addition to limiting recreational screen time

 

If you are ready to get your health under control and need some personalized professional guidance make sure you Book Your Complimentary Consult in our online clinic today. Our wide selection of high-quality professional products is available as part of your FREE consultation and we express post products Australia-wide.

Click here for research sources

[1] Elsevier Clinical Key [Internet]. Melbourne (AUS): Elsevier 2019. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: [Updated July 25 2019; Cited 18 Feb 2020]. Available from https://www.clinicalkey.com.au. Subscription required to view.

[2] Kidd 2000; Stubberfield et al. 1999; American Academy of Paediatrics 2000

[3] Elsevier Clinical Key [Internet]. Melbourne (AUS): Elsevier 2019. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: [Updated July 25 2019; Cited 18 Feb 2020]. Available from https://www.clinicalkey.com.au. Subscription required to view.

[4] Kern JK, Geier DA, Sykes LK, Geier MR, Deth RC. Are ASD and ADHD a continuum? A comparison of pathophysiological similarities between the disorders. J Atten Disord. 2015 Sep; 19 (9): 805-27

[5] Pritchard AE, Nigro CA, Jacobson LA, Mahone EM. The role of neuropsychological assessment in the functional outcomes of children with ADHD. Neuropsychol Rev. 2012 Mar; 22 (1): 54-68.

[6] National Institute of Mental Health. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Accessed at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml on November 9, 2001.

[7] Hechtman, L. (2011) Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: Australia.

[8]Kidd P. Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children: rationale for its integrative management. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(5):402-428.

[9] Wang LJ, Yu YH, Fu ML, Yeh WT, Hsu JL, Yang YH, et al. Dietary profiles, nutritional biochemistry status, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: path analysis for a case-control study. J Clin Med. 2019 May 18; 9 (5).

[10] Baumgaertel A. Alternative and controversial treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatr Clin of North Am. 1999;46(5):977-992.

[11] Bull-Larsen S, Mohajeri MH. The potential influence of the bacterial microbiome on the development and progression of ADHD. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 17; 11(11).

[12] Freitag CM, Hanig S, Palmason H, Meyer J, Wust S, Seitz C. Cortisol awakening response in healthy children and children with ADHD: impact of comorbid disorders and psychosocial risk factors. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 Aug; 34(7).

[13] Okabe R, Okamura H, Egami C, Tada Y, Anti C, Mukasa A et al. Increased cortisol awakening response after completing the summer treatment program in children with ADHD. Brain Dev. 2017 Aug; 39(7): 583-592.

[14] Altun H, Sahin N, Belge Kurutas E, Gungor O. Homocysteine, pyridoxine, folate and vitamin B12 levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatr Danub. 2018 Sep; 30(3): 310-316.

[15] Lee MJ, Chou MC, Chou WJ, Huang CW, Kuo HC, Lee SY, et al. Effect on susceptibility to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: implication

[16] Mitchell RH, Goldstein BI. Inflammation in children and adolescents with neuropsychiatric disorders: a systemic review. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014 Mar; 53(3): 274-96.

[17] Lindblad F, Eickhoff M, Forslund AH, Isaksson J, Gustafsson J. Fasting blood glucose and HbA1c in children with ADHD. Psychiatry Res. 2015 Apr 30; 226(2-3): 515-60

Words by Helaina Lungu

Words by Helaina Lungu

Helaina is a passionate and experienced practitioner who has qualifications in naturopathy, weight loss consulting, and personal training. Her experience includes educating the community and practitioners alike about the benefits of and the latest trends in the natural medicine industry. In the past Helaina has represented some of the biggest natural health brands in Australia, like Bioceuticals and Metagenics, before founding The Botaniq in 2020. Her particular fields of interest include weight management, digestive, and mental health. In her spare time, she loves to listen to music, go for long drives, head to the beach, and go for a walk with her beautiful pug.
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