4 Factors involved in A.D.H.D.
Kids and adults diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) show some level of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, to the point that it is affecting their personal, social and academic and work-related lives. Four important points to consider to understand the causes and how to treat the child/adult patient follow:
1. Consider the chemical impacts on development. Much research has proven the connection of early and ongoing exposure to toxins on the brain and behaviour. Second-hand smoke exposure, alcohol. PCBs, lead and mercury exposure in or after pregnancy have correlated with increased liklihood of ADHD diagnosis. A proper assessment of these patients and their chemical exposures can direct better treatments. Hair, blood, and urine tests are important ways to screen for these and other neurotoxins.
2. Genetics. There can be a strong family history of behavioural challenges including for ADHD. Several genes have been shown to relate to ADHD in research studies, including those that affect the brain’s neurotransmitters and those that allow for development of the nervous system itself. What many may not realize, however, is that there are ways to influence the genetic expression so as to optimize our health. This may involve changes in diet and nutrition, also known as ‘nutrigenomics.’ That is, we can do a test that will show us the genes that can relate to ADHD, and we can correlate what scientists have shown of what nutrients and what foods help to shift the best genetic expression for that gene. Learn more about genomic testing.
3. Nutrition. When there is inadequate nutrition, the body can function erratically. This includes the symptoms of ADHD. A 2011 study published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics found that children with ADHD had significantly lower levels of magnesium, zinc, and an indicator of iron status. These are nutrients that are fundamental for not only neurological function, but also ones known to influence mood, behaviour, genetics, energy, and immunity.
4. Medications and alternatives. There are inadequate long-term safety studies of medications for ADHD, however, they can be effective in controlling the symptoms. Other ways to help these patients do exist, and should be explored with a naturopathic doctor and other health professionals. For example, creating a plan that addresses the cause(s) of the ADHD makes sense, and can include dietary and herbal interventions, targeted detoxification of toxins, as well as homeopathy, essential oils, acupuncture/acupressure, etc.