I received an email the other day with the following:
Quick question Dr. Kilbane, my son is exhibiting ADHD tendencies. Do you happen to know of any natural-type remedies to help with this?
There are many natural things we can do for ADHD. I take a very similar approach to ADHD as I do for many other common conditions. I first review development, cognition, sleep, nutrition (make sure ferritin levels are normal (ferritin is a more sensitive indicator of iron than just checking hemoglobin), I make sure there are no underlying environmental or food allergies, and then I determine if the child needs to have a full neuropsychological evaluation to see where their IQ is in relation to their performance. This tells us if there are any learning disabilities like dyslexia or a processing disorder.
It is very important to get a proper diagnosis for ADHD before starting therapy. The diagnosis can be made with questionnaires that are filled out by parents and teachers (the Vanderbilt or the Connors) or with a full neuropsychological evaluation done by a psychologist (this is my preferred method).
If all of that has been taken care of, then I start with nutritional modifications, including decreasing process foods, artificial dyes and colors, and high fructose corn syrup. I recommend starting the Mediterranean or anti-inflammatory diet, I discuss the elimination diet, increase omega 3 fatty acids, and increase foods high in magnesium like green leafy veggies.
Next I review with families the various programs and therapeutic options in our Charlotte, NC community. Some Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists do something called metronome therapy, there is a center in Matthews called Brain Balance, there is another center in Huntersville called the Neurosensory center, there is a computer program called Cogmed that is administered by psychologists, and there is a gentleman in town who does neurofeedback. Each of these programs has its positives and negatives. I will continue to expound upon the differences in this blog in the upcoming weeks.
I have also recently learned of an incredible physician in Raleigh, NC who does some unique and wonderful programs for individuals with ADHD. His name is Dr. James Poole and his website is: http://fastbraiin.com/.
As you can see, there are almost never easy answers to “quick questions” in medicine, especially when taking an integrative or holistic approach! I will provide resources, books, and websites as I continue this blog series on ADHD.