Spiritual Feast

All the fullness without the itis

You, Me and ADHD

Jasmine is an average seven year old girl. She likes Justin Beiber, dancing, singing, jumping rope and art. She has two best friends, Gracie and Jessa. Her mother, Shira, is a single mother but manages to read to her and her younger brother, Matthew every night after dinner. While Shira is a single mother, she has been dedicated to the education of her two young children from their birth.

When Jasmine entered first grade, Shira was called to a conference with the teacher. The teacher noticed some hyper active behavior, lack of focus and failure to follow through to completion. Upon receiving this information, Shira inquired with the teacher, her pediatrician and even a child development education specialist regarding forming a plan of action. The teacher and pediatrician both recommended behavior modification counseling in addition to medication. The child development education specialist also recommended behavior modification techniques, but introduced the idea of diet modification and vitamin supplementation. Shira borrowed books from the local library on the topic. The information she found was not only dizzying by sheer volume, but conflicting, broad and general, and some even far-fetched. Exhausted with all the possibilities of treatment, she prayed.

First, I am not a medical doctor. Second, I am not a specialist on brain biochemistry. With that said, I have nearly ten years in the education field, specifically with the development of young children ranging birth to school age(the average ages where these disorders are identified and treated). I must say that personally, I have witnessed much behavior that can be categorized as abnormal, atypical, and delayed. I have witnessed children on medication and seen a wide range of side effects, reactions and even progress. Yet, I can not say that I am in support of medicating young children for these disorders, at least not before exhausting every other possibility.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Besides the entire “1 Corinthians” religious aspect because it can be argued that treatment of the disorder is honoring your body, there is a huge moral issue when you are giving a drug like those used to treat these disorders in children. In the simplest terms, children bodies are still developing and thus are more vulnerable than adults to side effects of medication and it is our moral obligation to ensure that they don’t fall victim to unneccessary harm – is short to protect their well-being and health. I am a big believer in research and understanding exactly what a decision entails before making it. So, here is what I found(from credible sources like .Gov websites, medical journals, etc):

What is ADHD?

The definition according to the DSM IV (“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” published for Doctors to diagnose the disorder): “ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child’s age and development.”- Lets examine these symptoms:

Inattentive symptoms

  1. Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork
  2. Has difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play
  3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork)
  7. Often loses toys, assignments, pencils, books, or tools needed for tasks or activities
  8. Is easily distracted
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity symptoms:

  1. Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  2. Leaves seat when remaining seated is expected
  3. Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations
  4. Has difficulty playing quietly
  5. Is often “on the go,” acts as if “driven by a motor,” talks excessively

Impulsivity symptoms:

  1. Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  2. Has difficulty awaiting turn
  3. Interrupts or intrudes on others (butts into conversations or games)

None of these descriptions are necessarily a “medical” problem but a combination of observed behavior displayed by the child in question.

What are the Current Treatment Options?

The drugs widely prescribed for ADHD(Ritalin, Adderall, …) are stimulant compounds that belong to the amphetamine family(yes like meth amphetamines).On a cellular level, methylphenidate increases the level of dopamine in the brain stem and frontal lobe, allowing it to focus on a task at hand. It also blocks “background” neurons from firing(blocks other thoughts from interrupting the focus of the frontal lobe).Side effects of this chemical compound, are as follows:

” The treatment of children with Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/HD) has been problematic because methylphenidate (MPH) — the most commonly used drug to treat ADD/HD — has been linked to hand tremors, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, stunting of growth, damage to the cerebellum and tachycardia. Higher doses of methylphenidate, the chief ingredient in Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall and Adderall XR, have been linked with brain atrophy. A warning label has also been placed on another drug, Strattera, that is used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity Disorder is linked to liver damage. Stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and decrease sleep and appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and its consequences. Repeated use of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. At high doses, they can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, including stroke.

Addiction to stimulants is also a very real consideration for anyone taking them. This most likely occurs because stimulants, when taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed by a doctor, can induce a rapid rise in dopamine in the brain. Furthermore, if stimulants are used chronically, withdrawal symptoms—including fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns—can emerge when the drugs are discontinued. ”

-Taken from National Institute of Health.gov

From National Institute of Health, NIDA(National Institutue for Drug Abuse)

The other drug alternative Atomoxetine (Strattera), is a compound that is classified as a norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor. A NRI or NERI is a pharmaceutical drug that blocks the re-absorption of norepinephrine and epinephrine into the brain‘s cells. The medication works by countering the action of the norepinephrine transporter, a mechanism that absorbs norepinephrene and epinephrine from the synapse back into the brain cells. This allows neurotransmitter receivers in the synapse to register the effects of the two neurotransmitters for much longer than normal. Norepinephrine and epinephrine, when being received, tell the brain to trigger the release of stored glucose for improved energy production, as well as increased heart rate. This increases blood and oxygen supply to the muscles and brain, which is then manifested as a surge in energy, motor function, and mental ability. Side effects of norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor are as follows:

“The side effects of norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor use arise from the over-stimulation of metabolic processes and include dry mouthtirednessirritabilitynauseadecreased appetite,  constipation,  dizziness, headaches, sweatingdysuriasexual problemsdecreased libidourinary retention or hesitancy, increased obsessive behavior, weight changes, palpitations, increases in heart rate and blood pressure. When the drug is used beyond normal levels, the problems escalate; the patient’s brain can suffer from severe toxicity, resulting in comas or death. 

Occasionally after prolonged use some patients have experienced slow onset mild depression, tiredness and forgetfulness while using Strattera. There were also reports of this medicine causing indications of short-term memory loss from some patients. Confirmed cases of severe liver damage have been reported by Eli Lilly and Company. A black box warning was issued by the FDA in 2004.Other side effects can include serious psychological and physiological problems such as paranoia, acute brain damage, psychosis, mood swings, mood disorders, depression, abnormal thought patterns, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, and self injury.

-National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine and Strattera.com

Psalm 127:3

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

When a parent’s first priority is to protect the child, are these side effects worth the risk? Unless you have a family member who had dementia or Alzheimer’s, you are probably not aware of what brain atrophy actually means(found in risks of methylphenidate) .  Atrophy of any tissue means loss of cells. In brain tissue, atrophy describes a loss of neurons and the connections between them. Atrophy can be generalized, which means that all of the brain has shrunk; or it can be focal, affecting only a limited area of the brain and resulting in a decrease of the functions that area of the brain controls. If the cerebral hemispheres (the two lobes of the brain that form the cerebrum) are affected, conscious thought and voluntary processes may be impaired. Depending on where the atropy is located, the brain atrophy may influence impulse control, judgement, problem solving and decision-making, personality, mood and even memory. I am not going to compare giving medication like antibiotics or chemo for cancer (which can be life saving) to an optional medicine like Ritalin (Methylphenidate) or Strattera for a behavior.  Well then, this becomes a debate about whether we can compare a behavior disorder to a medical disorder, right? ADHD is an actual disorder requiring some kind of medication, not just behaviors requiring behavior modification…right? Wrong, if you read the indicators of the diagnosis, they are all behavior related…and behavior is very different from illness.

The question is how do we modify these behaviors WITHOUT the use of chemical manipulation of the child’s brain? We must remember that the chemicals that these drugs manipulate are normally occurring in the human body. While we cannot find the cause of some of these chemical abnormalities, we can manipulate their levels in the child’s brain through natural sources like diet, exercise and vitamin/herbal supplements. Many factors are involved when addressing the release and manufacturing of chemicals in the human body. Factors like sleep, diet, exercise, allergies all influence the chemical process of the brain. In addition to the chemical effects, children like adults are not cookie cutters and must learn techniques to compensate for their individual weaknesses and struggles regarding learning and behavior. This includes examining the effectiveness of teaching, discipline and study structure and practices.

Again, I am not a medical doctor, but I have compiled some education information. It is my belief in God and His creation that EVERY child deserves the right to be “good enough” naturally as God intended.


There have been many independent studies on artificial food coloring and its side effects on the human body. I could include a five page long list that hangs on my cupboard or for time sake show you one or two examples and include links. I.E:

The link was studied back in  the 70’s ! Shaywitz in 1978 reported that “escape latency in the normal animals [rat pups] fed the food coloring mixture demonstrated markedly impaired performance in both the T-maze at 20 days of age and the shuttle box at 27 days.” He further concluded, “Our results also suggest that hyperactivity should not be the sole factor investigated, and that measures of the effects of food coloring on cognitive function must be carefully evaluated in any future study.” Although this appears to be the only published study comparing the ability of rats or mice to run mazes with and without having been fed food dyes, and Shaywitz’ recommendations were ignored, a number of elementary and middle school students have been carrying on similar research.(Shaywitz 1978)

And again in the 90’s: When you eat things with Yellow 5, you lose zinc through your urine and saliva. If you have ADHD, you lose it even faster than someone without ADHD. Zinc, an essential trace mineral, is required by hundreds of your body’s enzymes involved with the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol. Zinc is also critical for wound healing, sense of taste and smell, immune system function, bone strength, thyroid function, blood clotting, cognitive functions, prenatal development, and sperm production. Even a mild deficiency can produce a wide range of physical and mental problems.(Ward 1990, 1997)

And again in the 21st century: Yellow 5 has been shown to damage the ability of nerve cells to send and receive signals. In order for our brains to work properly – to think, remember, reason and learn – the nerve cells must be able to communicate with each other. In a shocking toxicology study in 2006, Lau showed that a combination of yellow #5 plus aspartame in amounts likely to be found in a single snack, was toxic to developing neurites at a level far beyond that expected from the toxicity of each alone (see d in picture below. Perhaps even more shocking (to the layman) is the assumption by the researchers that that these additives are toxic to developing neurites at any level. (Lau 2006)

This is just the side effects of one additive! Imagine the interactions of all the artificial coloring in children’s food. Then factor in high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and chemical additives to food and the list of side effects, mainly hyper activity are staggering! Eliminating or limiting these foods to after school can help increase focus and attentiveness.

Vitamins and Herbs:

The human body needs a multitude of vitamins and minerals to function correctly. Deficiencies of vital vitamins and minerals in children can be linked to hyper activity, lack of focus, depleted mental clarity and function.

The following herbs are used for mental focus and clarity: Bacopa, Basil herb, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Club Moss, Dandelion Root, Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng root, Gotu Kola, Lobelia, Periwinkle, Rhodiola, Rosemary, Sage, Siberian Ginseng root, Turmeric, and Yerba Mate.

The following herbs may have a calming effect Bergamot Oil, Black horehound, Black cohosh, Borage, California poppy, Catnip, Catuaba, Chamomile, Clary sage, Dogwood, Red clover, Lemon balm, Cramp bark, Black haw, Skullcap, Hyssop, Lavender, Mugwort, St John’s wort, Motherwort, Lobeliaile, Pasqueflower, Linden, Damiana, Vervain, Peppermint, Licorice, Mistletow, Oatstraw, Passionflower, Reishi mushroom, Rosemary, Tansy, Wild lettuce, and Jamaican dogwood.

Since the remaining natural factors that influence the disorder, sleep, discipline, allergies and behavior modification are topics that you can not get support on from a blog, I have included some resources to help. Here are some links and resources to further inform yourself. There is one more note I would like to include, the DSM IV that is used to diagnose the disorder of ADHD is written and reviewed by a panel of experts, it was found that many if not all the panel consist of individuals with ties to the pharmaceutical companies that produce the medicine. (Are we really supposed to expect an unbiased view on the actual science behind the disorder and treatment if the people who determine the standards of diagnosis have financial ties to the drugs? ) Read the article uncovering this controversy in the NY Times here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/psychiatry-handbook-linked-to-drug-industry/.

Jasmine is attending school and making passing grades. Her teacher reports significant improvements in her behavior and attention. Her mother, Shira, does not give her any medication but uses a combination of diet, peppermint(for calming) and behavior modification techniques to combat the ADHD diagnosis. Shira eliminated high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, artificial additives and reduced refined sugar consumption(especially in the morning) in Jasmine’s diet. She includes a daily structured studying hour that provides Jasmine with a distraction free environment to ensure academic progress. Jasmine watches 30 minutes of television a day, and has at least 45 minutes of (outdoor weather willing)exercise daily.

Scientific Research on ADHD on the web:



Generation Rx:  on netflix and http://www.documentarystream.com/generation-rx/
Drugging our children : http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-drugging-of-our-children/
Making a Killing, the Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/making-a-killing-the-untold-story-of-psychotropic-drugging/
Frontline: The Medicated Child: netflix http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/medicatedchild/view/


Driven to Distraction : Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood
Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey (Contributor); PaperbackThis is a classic book that changed a lot of people’s thinking about ADHD. Worth the time…

The A.D.D. Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers, and Kids

Harvey C. Parker, et al / paperback / Published 1996Dr. Parker’s origial workbook has helped many, many families.

The ADD Hyperactivity Handbook for Schools : Effective Strategies for Identifying and Teaching ADD Students in Elementary and Secondary Schools
Harvey C. Parker / Paperback / Published 1992

Windows into the A.D.D. Mind : Understanding and Treating Attention Deficit Disorders in the Everyday Lives of Children, Adolescents and Adults
Daniel G. Amen, MD. /Paperback / Published 1997We really like Daniel Amen. He’s written a number of facinating books on the brain and behavior (even on the brain and the soul), and this is a good book on ADHD. Get it along with his more recent book on the different types of ADHD (“Healing ADD” is the lead of the title)…

ADD Success Stories : A Guide to Fulfillment for Families With Attention Deficit Disorder

Thom Hartmann, John J. Ratey / Hardcover / Published 1995

Beyond Ritalin : Facts About Medication and Other Strategies for Helping Children, Adolescents, and Adults With Attention Deficit Disorders

Stephen W. Garber, et al / Paperback / Published 1997Garber’s book is another book that shook everybody up… A different perspective

ADHD and the Nature of Self-Control

Russell A., Barkley Ph.D. / Hardcover / Published 1997Barkley is the ADHD guru, and he has written a lot of vaulable books on the subject. This is one…

How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children : Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions for Helping Children With Attention Problems and Hyper
Sandra F. Rief / Paperback / Published 1993Reif’s book was one of the first really good books for helping kids with ADHD in the classroom setting

Managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children : A Guide for Practitioners

Sam Goldstein, et al / Hardcover / Published 1998Back in “the day” Goldstein was like everybody’s kindly uncle, helping with ADHD. Everything he published was worth reading…

ADHD in the Schools : Assessment and Intervention Strategies (Guilford School Practitioner Series)

George J. Dupaul, Gary Stoner (Contributor) / Hardcover / Published 1994

Answers to Distraction

Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey (Contributor) /Paperback / Published 1996

Answers to Distraction
 – Cassettes

Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults

Lynn Weiss, Kenneth A. Bonnet Ph. D. /Paperback / Published 1997

The Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults Workbook

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder : A Clinical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment

Larry B. Silver / Hardcover / Published 1992

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults

Paul H. Wender / Hardcover / Published 1995

Attention Deficit Disorder : A Different Perception

Thom Hartmann / Paperback / Published 1997

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder : A Clinical Workbook

Russell A. Barkley, et al / Paperback / Published 1998

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder : A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment

Russell A. Barkley / Hardcover / Published 1998

Beyond ADD : Hunting for Reasons in the Past & Present

Thom Hartmann / Hardcover / Published 1996

Brainstorms: Understanding and Treating the Emotional Storms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood

H. Joseph Horacek MD, Hardcover

Driven to Distraction : Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood

Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey (Contributor) /

Taking Charge of ADHD : The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents

Russell A. Barkley, Phd, Paperback / Published 1995

One comment on “You, Me and ADHD

  1. spiritualfeast
    October 13, 2011

    More books:
    The ADD and Adhd Cure: The natural way to treat hyperactivity and refocus your child Jay Gordon
    ADHD Alternatives: A Natural Approach to Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Aviva J. Romm C.P.M.
    Twelve Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for Attention-Deficit Disorders Laura J. Stevens
    The A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. Diet! A Comprehensive Look at Contributing Factors and Natural Treatments for Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity Rachel Bell
    *The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution: A Drug-Free 30 Day Plan Marcia Zimmerman M.ED.C.N.
    Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Appr… by Edward M. Hallowell
    *Overcoming ADHD Without Medication: A Parent and Educator’s Guidebook Association for Youth Children and Natural Psychology

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This entry was posted on October 13, 2011 by in God.


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