Dietary Counseling and Consultations

Children's Health

ADHD a label gone wrong

Published May 18th, 2011 in Children's Health

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCIH, CNC, CNW, CNH

I had the privilege of working with three hundred ADD/ADHD from 1998 through 2002; individuals and two remarkable healthcare providers. One of the most important things I learned from Dr. Daniel Thompson and Dr. Jessie Landsberg, was the importance of turning a “label” into a “Badge of Power”. Dr. Landsberg, a remarkable lady who holds several degrees and worked for many years as a psychologist in the New York school system, shared her landmark studies on music in the classroom with me; She found marked increases in focus, concentration and productivity in students and teachers; when selected types of music were played quietly in the background.

Dr. Landsberg’s motivation to improve cognitive health for the young students in her school district came about after witnessing firsthand the effects of prescription medication on children. To take away the creativity, energy and health of children in order to bring about order and conformity in classrooms is troubling to many educators, healthcare providers and parents alike.

As a neurobiologist, Dr. Thompson shared with me information on how everything we eat affects our brain chemistry, not always all at once, but cumulative and generational disruptions that trigger a cascade of chemical responses, where alternant pathways direct brain hormones and nutrients astray. This was the start of my belief that “our cells carry the memories of our ancestors” and that many of today’s disorders and illnesses are the result of generational malnutrition, chemical toxicity and retarded natural movement.

“Children with ADHD are a trial to their parents, teachers and to themselves. And when the problem carries into adulthood, it can be a serious barrier to financial and social success”. [1] Are they?

In my research I see a common pattern; the baby-boomer generation is the “test subject generation, and the subsequent generations that follow are part of the study”.  What do I mean by this? The baby-boomer generation has been the first in many things, first to use synthetic birth control and hormones: resulting in the highest levels of breast and prostate cancer ever. The first to be exposed through diet to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and toxic chemicals, and the first generation to use medications for behavioral, physical and emotional “disorders” in mass: antidepressants, ADHD medications, bi-polar medications, sleep aids.

According to an April 2000 Life Extension article on ADHD:

It is estimated that 2% to 20% of American school children suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most common of the childhood psychiatric disorders. The syndrome is characterized by distinct patterns of disruptive behavior. The main symptoms of ADHD include reduced attentiveness and concentration, a short attention span, easy distractibility, impulsive behavior, and age-inappropriate excessive activity (hyperactivity). Children with attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder are hard to manage. They are disruptive at home and at school, have trouble in reading, writing, and often fail in their studies.

The symptoms occur in as many as 10% of boys and 5% of girls. The disorder declines with age, though up to 65% of hyperactive children still have the symptoms as adults. Although conventional pharmacological treatment of ADHD with stimulant drugs reduces symptoms of inattentiveness and hyperactivity, the most commonly prescribed, amphetamine-like drugs such as Ritalin® (methylphenidate) have the potential for addiction, growth suppression, and other serious complications.[2]

Boys learn differently from girls, researchers have found boys are tactile learners, standing, touching and moving aids in their learning, when placed in a school system that requires long periods of stillness, boys have greater difficulty. On average these children have high IQ’s and are often found to excel when placed in non-traditional school environments that teach skills in channeling their creativity, intellect and energy. In my opinion this is far better than a chemical lobotomy that may be destroying our country’s future innovators who challenge the “box of conformity”. Public teachers can only do so much; the first and most important educator(s) in a child’s life are their family.

According to Hippocrates (460-370 BC) “All diseases begin in the gut.” The Gut and Psychology (GAP) syndrome is used to describe children who fall into the gap in medical knowledge between nutrition, behavior and learning problems.[3] Autism, ADD / ADHD, learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, behavioral and psychiatric disorders are dramatic examples of the gut-brain connection.[4]

The whole family must clean the ‘trash’ out of their diet, augmenting with whole food nutritionals that include trace minerals, proanthocyanidins, probiotics and enzymes, clean (heavy metal free) omega 3 fish oils found in salmon, cold-water white fish, and nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, and eliminate simple carbohydrates; candy, corn syrup, honey, sugar, foods made from white flour, white rice, and potatoes. Eat complex carbohydrates, to stabilize erratic blood sugars that contribute to brain chemistry imbalances.

Eat a high-protein diet, including beans, cheese, eggs, meat, and nuts. Add protein foods in the morning and for after-school snacks, to improve concentration.[5]

Removal of “approved” brain disrupters like fluoride from the daily routine.[6], [7]

Many famous individuals learned as children how to direct their ADHD into a positive benefit instead of a label or excuse. All of the named think “outside the box”, creative people who have made a success of their lives and advanced innovation in our world.

Bill Cosby, Babe Ruth, Harry Belafonte, Cher, Kirk Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Magic Johnson, Bruce Jenner, Leonardo DaVinci, Michael Jordan, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Orville & Wilber Wright, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Walt Disney

Great Characteristics of ADHD:  Creative, Artistic, Intuitive, Visionary, Inventive, Sensitive, Original, Loving

Today’s children are left to TV’s, computers, iPods and game stations far more than 20 years ago, the constant screen flicker and effects on the hypothalamus from florescent lighting serve to increase cortisol levels in everyone, especially children whose central and sympathetic nervous systems are highly sensitive.   Elevated night-time cortisol leads to impaired immune function, increased chemical sensitivities, mood shifts, depression and poor sleep.[8], [9] According to the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. To maintain physical health, we need fresh nutritious food, regular exercise and restorative sleep each night.

When we take responsibility for our health and that of our families, part of that control is making sure the foods we eat are wholesome and safe; medications only treat the symptoms, food heals the body.

To your good health, and label free creativity.

[1] M. G. Cliff

[2] (Advances in Nutritional Therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 2005)

[3] (Campbell- McBride, 2005)

[4] (Richardson, 2006)

[5] (Advances in Nutritional Therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 2005)


[7] (Science of the Total Environment 408(11): 2295-2298)

[8] (James L. Wilson, 2007)

[9] (Shawn Talbott, 2007)