For those with ADD and ADHD, paying attention is easier said than done.
By William G. Crawford, III, N.D., N.M.D.
A puzzling, proliferative, perplexing
disorder is now, and has been, affecting
our children and large numbers of adults
in the United States for many years.
What is this affliction? In the past it
has gone by a number of names, but today
it is recognized as two diseases: ADD
(attention deficit disorder) and ADHD
(attention deficit hyperactivity
ADD and ADHD are "umbrella"
terms used to describe children with
symptoms as diverse as "he can't focus"
to "she bounces off walls!"
Generally, ADD is used to describe
children who exhibit a poor attention
span, dreaminess, and poor organizational
skills. They may be highly intelligent
but have to work extra hard in school to
make their grades. They are difficult to
diagnose because they exhibit little or
no hyperactivity. Many are misdiagnosed
because teachers and some medical
professionals diagnose children as having
ADD only when hyperactivity is present.
ADHD is the disorder with hyperactivity;
children in this category are always
moving. They are fidgety, can't sit
still, and teachers say they disrupt the
whole class. The hyperactivity usually
disappears during the teen years, yet the
inattentiveness and impulsivity remain
and are often problems in adult life.
At times children with ADHD also exhibit
behavior and social problems. These
children are the holy terrors at school
and at home. They defy authority figures,
push and shove other children, hit others
and are often in confrontations. They
cannot get along with children or adults
and often are not accepted by their
peers. These children have great
difficulties when they grow up. Although
their hyperactivity usually disappears,
their inattentiveness, impulsivity, and
behavior and social problems persist
unless they seek professional help to
correct these problems.
Although the exact cause of ADD and ADHD
remains unknown, it is known that
ADD/ADHD is a neurobiologically based
disorder. Scientific evidence suggests
that ADD/ADHD is genetically transmitted
and, in many cases, results from a
chemical imbalance or deficiency in
certain neurotransmitters, which are
chemicals that help the brain regulate
There are a number of theories about what
causes this disorder. Some researchers
believe the causative agent of ADD/ADHD
is an injury to the nervous system. A
difficult pregnancy or delivery may cause
this kind of problem, as could smoking,
alcohol consumption, or drug use during
pregnancy. Some believe oxygen
deprivation at birth or ear infections
with high temperatures or even allergies
could cause this type of injury or
developmental problem. Another possible
cause is some type of head trauma.
Some researchers believe genetic factors
may also be involved. This idea is
accepted by some and refuted by others.
Toxic metal accumulation also may play a
role. Medical literature confirms the
potent neurotoxic effects of aluminum,
copper, lead, and cadmium.
Nutrition and ADD/ADHD
It has been my experience, and the
experience of the ADD Foundation, that
nutritional imbalances can and are
occurring in those affected with
ADD/ADHD, and that by altering the diet,
eliminating certain foods, and making
appropriate lifestyle changes, ADD and
ADHD patients can help themselves.
One of the first things that should be
done is a tissue mineral analysis (TMA).
A TMA often reveals
1) An excessively fast oxidation rate
with a deficiency of the sedative
minerals. In this mineral pattern, the
sedating minerals calcium, magnesium, and
zinc are commonly less than half of
normal value. (When calcium and magnesium
are deficient, malabsorbed, or
underutilized, there are various problems
relating to hyperexcitability,
hyperkinesis, and neurotransmitters
within the brain which require calcium
before they can be made. If a calcium
deficiency is present, there are not
enough neurotransmitters being produced
in the brain.)
- Sodium and potassium levels are usually
elevated; a situation often associated
with excessive irritability and
inflammation. Many ADD/ADHD sufferers
have increased levels of these two
- Toxic metal poisoning, especially
aluminum, copper, lead, and cadmium
- Inadequate carbohydrate metabolism due
to a diet high in refined sugar and
starches, or due to various coexisting
mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
- Food allergies, especially sensitivity
to the more than 3,000 food additives
widely used in children's cereals and
other food products.
So, what can you do nutritionally to help
ADD/ADHD? I recommend the following
dietary and lifestyle changes:
Perhaps the most important factor in
treating ADD/ADHD, and in treating any
health problem, is to keep in mind the
following areas of healing, which are
espoused by Dr. Ernesto Contreras of the
Oasis of Hope Hospital: Mind and emotion,
body or physical, and spiritual or faith.
- Use green juices. Green juices have a
wonderful detoxification quality, which
- Use antioxidants, especially those
known as proanthocyanidins, or OPCs. This
group of nutrients combats free radical
pathology quite effectively, and crosses
the blood brain barrier very freely to
calm free radical pathology in the brain.
- Get adequate amounts of calcium and
- Make sure children get some fats and
oils. Many vital body tissues, including
the nervous system, require fatty acids.
For children who are fast oxidizers, fats
calm them down, provide steady energy,
and avoid the energy roller coaster of
hypoglycemia to which so many children
- Use chelating substances to detoxify
and eliminate mineral toxins.
Oral EDTA is a good chelating substance.
- Eat regular meals with your children.
One of the worst aspects of modern day
life is "grazing" instead of eating.
Besides the questionable nutrition that
results, this practice also diminishes
the importance of meals, setting up
children for bad nutritional habits later
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Investigate potential food allergies.
The May 1994 issue of The Annals of
Allergy reports on researchers who
described their observations on 26
children referred to their allergy
practice who met the criteria for
diagnosis of ADHD. When dairy products,
wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, egg,
chocolate, and peanuts, as well as
artificial colors and preservatives, were
eliminated from their diets, the children
showed significant improvement in
behavior. When the offending foods were
added back, the symptoms returned.
- Do not force a child to eat.
A poor appetite usually indicates a
vitamin or mineral imbalance. When
mineral imbalances improve, appetites
- Do not force children to eat quickly.
Hasty eating makes for poor chewing and
poor digestion. Mealtime should not be
used to discipline. A calm, quiet,
relaxed eating environment is best for
- Avoid all junk food, particularly
refined sugar and refined flour, white
rice, white bread, pastries, cookies,
etc. These foods are deficient in zinc
and magnesium, and can cause sodium and
- Avoid food additives. In 1973, the
late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, who was a
chief of the allergy clinics of the
Kaiser Foundation in California, reported
a food additive had been responsible for
the hyperactivity in 40 percent to 50
percent of the hyperactive children he
If you pay attention to these three
areas, you can help.
This article is based on a chapter in Dr.
Crawford's soon to be published book.
William G. Crawford III, N.D., N.M.D., is
president and CEO of The ADD Foundation,
which is a research organization that
approaches ADD and ADHD afflictions in a
metabolic and nutritional manner.
Queries on the foundation can be
addressed by calling 1-334-461-0660, by
faxing 1-334 461-0650, or by writing to
the ADD Foundation, One Office Park,
Suite 404A, Mobile, AL 36609.
Ritalin is the drug of choice for
treating ADHD, and it is prescribed to
millions of children, mostly boys. It
makes kids who have been bouncing off the
walls and talking incessantly begin to
sit still. They listen, they focus. Most
make better grades.
Ritalin is also a mind-altering,
potentially addictive stimulant that
works on the brain much like cocaine
does. As a matter of fact, Ritalin,
according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency, is considered a class 2 narcotic.
Other drugs in this classification are
cocaine, methadone, and methamphetamines.
The Physicians Desk Reference notes that
Ritalin should not be used in children
under six years of age, since safety and
efficacy in this age group has not been
established. Nor is sufficient data on
safety and efficacy of long-term use
available. Ritalin also comes with a very
long list of adverse reactions.
These include loss of appetite, insomnia,
headaches, stomach pain, weight loss,
racing heart, seizures, and stunted
The article "Attention!" is reproduced with the permission of AIM International
©, 1997 by AIM International.
Back to Home Page |
Catalog/Product List |
How to Order (Retail or Wholesale)
AIM Price List |
The AIM Opportunity/How to be a Distributor