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ADHD/ADD

Published by Dr. Meghan Haggarty

Expanded diagnostics tests have recently allowed naturopathic doctors an even more detailed look into the individualized drivers of this childhood and increasingly adulthood affliction. To help treat ADHD our naturopathic doctors in Calgary measure neurotransmitter levels, the chemical messengers in our brain that affect mood and behavior, and identify specific foods that have a direct effect on the neurological system. Toxin exposure is also evaluated.

Neurotransmitter imbalances in children affect mood, attention and focus. The major neurotransmitters affected include:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Histamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine
  • GABA
  • Glycine
  • PEA

Some of these are excitatory and others are inhibitory in action like a brake and gas pedal. They work together to create balance. Urine tests are used by our naturopaths to measure levels of the various neurotransmitters in the body and determine the ones that are imbalanced and creating symptoms of ADHD. Food allergies are also evaluated in children with ADHD to identify foods that may be causing inflammation in the neurological system. Diets containing a high level of allergic foods can affect energy and concentration ability. In addition proteins in gluten and casein containing foods are not broken down fully in some children. In these children the proteins act on the brain in an action similar to opiates. Urine tests are used to identify the presence of these partial proteins. Using this testing our naturopaths at our Calgary clinic can develop an individualized supplement and dietary plan for your child.

Chronic infections can also cause an inappropriate immune response and damage the neurological system. Particularly important to children with ADHD is a chronic strep infection. This can cause hyper excitability, OCD behaviors and violent outbursts. Our naturopathic doctors know that treating underlying infections is an important part of getting to the root cause of the child’s symptoms.

Additionally evaluating exposure to toxins including heavy metals is important. The naturopaths at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary are certified and experienced with chelation therapy. If a child has increased levels of toxins in their body combined with a decreased ability to detoxify the harmful substances can affect attention, mood and behavior. Substances such as lead and mercury show many symptoms similar to ADHD when levels in the body are too high.

Once our naturopathic doctors identify these triggers specific nutrients, dietary modifications, herbs or medications are recommended to address the problems identified by these assessments. Specific amino acids and vitamins are used to balance neurotransmitters. Dietary changes are recommended based on the foods that are affecting each individual child to ensure they are eating the foods that are best for them. Toxic exposure is addressed by reducing future exposure and using appropriate herbs or substances to support detoxification and remove harmful substances from the tissue.

Case Studies

5 Year Old Boy with ADHD

QJ was a 5 year old boy who was experiencing extreme behavioral problems. He was diagnosed by his child psychologist as having ADHD. His mother came to see a naturopath at the Calgary clinic extremely concerned since he had been asked to leave the playschool he was at since he was so disturbing and was at times even harming other children.

Naturopathic testing was done to measure the child’s neurotransmitters which showed elevated levels of all of his excitatory neurotransmitters. This was consistent with the symptoms of hyper-excitability and inability to focus. The testing also revealed elevated levels of the neurotransmitter histamine indicating an elevated immune response in the brain was driving the imbalance. Stool analysis was done then and showed elevated levels of yeast in the digestive tract.

Naturopathic supplementation with specific herbs and amino acids were used daily to help balance the neurotransmitters and support the inhibitory neurotransmitters. Herbs to treat the yeast overgrowth were given with probiotics to improve the environment in his gut in order to address the underlying driving immune response.

Upon follow-up with the naturopathic doctor the mother reports a significant improvement in the child’s focus and behavior. He is interacting better with children and functioning appropriately to continue attending his playschool. 

Therapies Used for the Treatment of ADHD

  • Chelation
  • Pharmacological, Herbal and Nutritional Therapy
  • Detoxification Therapy
  • Nutrition Optimization
  • Neurotracker