ADHD without drugs may seem improbable, as a prescribed pharmaceutical medication is the general treatment for childhood neurological disorders such as ADHD. However, there is no denying the role that lifestyle and dietary modifications have on patient outcomes. Paying attention to sleep, nutritional deficiencies, exercise, nutrition and the child’s classroom environment can have profound impacts on learning and attention deficit problems in children.
Dr Nancy O’Hara will be speaking at the 2019 Mindd Forum about the latest research on managing ADHD without drugs and teaching tools which clinicians can use to holistically manage this condition.
About Dr Nancy O’Hara
Dr Nancy O’Hara is a board certified Pediatrician with a Master’s degree in Public Health and entered general practice in 1993. Since 1999 she has dedicated her functional medicine practice to the integrative and holistic care of children with chronic illness and neurodevelopmental disorders. She is also a leader in the training of clinicians and is a member of the Mindd Foundation Advisory Board.
What is ADHD and how Common is it?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an early childhood developmental disorder. Symptoms of ADHD can result in impulsive, hyperactive or inattentive actions or a combination of all three. Children may find it difficult to pay attention to things and get easily distracted, be very fidgety and cannot sit still or be very impatient and not wait for their turn. These symptoms can extend to the point where it affects their school, friendship or home life.
In Australia, 1 in every 20 children have symptoms of ADHD, which is 1.2 million people.
What is the Current Medical Treatment for ADHD?
The most common medical treatment generally involves a combination of pharmaceutical medication, behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, emotional counselling or social skills training. Psychostimulants are the drugs prescribed for ADHD. In Australia, the psychostimulant medications mainly used are dexamphetamine, methylphenidate and lisdexamfetamine.
There is also a non-stimulant medication approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for the treatment of ADHD called Atomoxetine. For some children with ADHD psychostimulant medication is not suitable, in which case treatment with atomoxetine would be considered.
Are there Side Effects from the Psychostimulant Medications used?
There are known side effects to the psychostimulant medications prescribed to children such as decreased appetite, sleeplessness, a greater instance of anxiety and increased irritability, gastrointestinal symptoms and headache. Weight loss and slowing of growth in height may also occur so close monitoring needs to be prioritised.
Tics (a habitual spasmodic contraction of the muscles most commonly present in the face) may be worsened by this medication or may appear for the first time during this treatment.
Children who take the medication consistently may also find that the effectiveness wears off and results in ADHD symptoms returning and in many cases returning more intensely than before. In this case, the medication dose would need to be altered and closely monitored by a doctor.
Can Functional Medicine Treat ADHD without Drugs?
There are multiple contributing factors to the aetiology of ADHD that can be linked back to lifestyle and dietary choices. Physicians should always consider the role of excessive sugar and high fructose corn syrup, nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxins, food additives such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, lack of proper sleep and ensuring their children are in supportive environments.
A holistic approach to ADHD without Drugs also integrates several modalities to address biochemical, physiological and emotional. A functional medicine practitioner would investigate food sensitivities, thoroughly assess gut health and any pre-existing infections, support neurotransmitter function, reduce toxicity, ensure the diet contains an abundance of essential nutrients and assess any blood sugar irregularities.
Dr Nancy O’Hara will be breaking down the relevance of these treatment options in her 2019 Mindd Forum Masterclass ‘Making the Grade: ADHD without drugs’. She will also be speaking about a number of other topics:
Be sure to attend Dr Nancy O’Hara’s Masterclass lectures below:
- Chronic Immune System Activation/Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
- POTS & Dysautonomia
- PANS, PANDAS & Beyond
- Lyme: It is in Australia
- Trust Your Gut: Celiac & Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
- Making the Grade: ADHD without drugs
What Practitioners will learn from Dr Nancy O’Hara’s Masterclasses to apply to their own Practice:
- Identifying chronic inflammatory responses that may be triggered by biotoxins, tick bites, toxic metabolic products, extracellular ATP and cell wall fragments from moulds.
- Explore the complexities of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and identify treatment strategies.
- Learning to identify PANS and PANDAS and the associated symptoms, as well as identifying the link between other infectious triggers and neurological symptoms in children.
- The different ways in which Lyme Disease is approached, including diagnostic criteria and standard verse controversial treatment approaches.
- The role of zonulin and the latest updates about progress in identifying and treating celiac disease, as well as the expansion of gluten restriction for people without classic celiac disease.
- The importance of lifestyle modifications, including careful attention to sleep, exercise and nutrition in treating ADHD without drugs.