What is AD(H)D?
AD(H)D stands for Attention Deficit (and sometimes hyperactivity) Disorder. The central feature of this condition is that the brain is not easily able to sustain attention. Sufferers of AD(H)D report being easily distracted, wandering thoughts, forgetfulness, and other symptoms that prevent them from functioning in their life. One of the most important diagnostic criteria for AD(H)D is that the person struggles in a multitude of different environments from school, to work, and even activities that they enjoy. This helps rule out other variables like boredom in the workplace. If the inattention is only a problem in one environment, it is not a problem with the brain, but rather the dynamic between the individual’s needs and the environment’s ability to support those needs.
The hyperactivity component of AD(H)D is not always present, however, if it is it can significantly exacerbate an already difficult cognitive state. People with hyperactivity often report experiencing restlessness in the mind and body, in addition to an inability to stay focused.
What are the different types of AD(H)D?
There are 3 main types of AD(H)D. They are Inattentive type (ADD), inattentive hyperactive type (ADHD), and combination type.
What are the symptoms of AD(H)D:
AD(H)D in Children:
We see AD(H)D impact children’s cognition, behavior, mood, and overall success in their school and daily lives.
Below, are examples of issues that you might see in a child with AD(H)D:
Behavior: aggression, irritability, excitability, hyperactivity, fidgeting, restlessness, impulsivity, poor impulse control/ lack of restraint, and persistent repetition of words or actions
Cognition: difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, problems with paying attention, learning difficulties, and a short attention span that occurs in more than one environment.
Mood: agitation and anger, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and fear, boredom, excitement, and hyperactivity, or mood swings (often mistook for bipolar disorder)
AD(H)D In Adults:
AD(H)D can not be diagnosed in adulthood. We use the criteria from the mnemonic FISCAL DROP to screen for AD(H)D in adults. This includes:
- F: Finisher (are you good at finishing tasks?)
- I: Impatient (do you struggle with patience?)
- S: Sidetracked (do you find you jump from task to task?)
- C: Careless (do you make careless errors/ mistakes?)
- A: Absent minded (has anyone mentioned this to you?)
- L: Listener (do others complain you are not a good listener?)
- D: Distractibility (do you get distracted easily?)
- R: Reader (do you struggle to read or finish a text?)
- O: Organizer (compared to others, how is your organization?)
- P: Procrastinator (do you put tasks/ projects off?)
Do I Have AD(H)D?
- You must have symptoms in more than 1 environment, if yes move on to the next question. If no then you do not have classically defined AD(H)D though you may have cognitive issues that impact your concentration. To learn more about brain health, click HERE.
- Which of the following are pertinent to you (or your loved one):
- Short attention span
- Difficulty reading
- Poor finisher of tasks
- Lack of organization
- Poor listener
- Easily sidetracked
- If you also have: Impulsivity/ restlessness of your mind and/or body then you may also have the hyperactivity subtype.
If you are completing this quiz for a child you need at least six of the criteria from section 2, adults-only need 5.
Naturopathic Solutions for AD(H)D
Dr. Cain’s integrative AD(H)D solutions:
- Identify the root cause(s) of your symptoms and address those: In order to treat the root cause of your symptoms, we have to identify what is out of balance. To learn about depression, click HERE.
- OAT testing: Focus and attention is achieved through a complex array of biological processes in your body. If just one of these processes is out of place, you will suffer from symptoms of brain fog, inattention, memory difficulties, and a hard time staying on task. Examining these biological processes for abnormalities will help to identify what is not working in your brain and body on a microscopic level so that we can make corrections. The OAT is a revolutionary test that gives us the exact information we need. Even better, you can do the test from the comfort of your own home– no blood needed! The OAT test is an extremely comprehensive urine test in identifying the biological causes of AD(H)D. The OAT test reveals the interaction between your DNA and its environment by measuring over 70 health markers. It provides information about mood-regulating neurotransmitters, oxidative stress levels, and mineral and vitamin levels. The OAT test also looks at gut health, and tests for pathogens like clostridia which are known culprits in AD(H)D. The OAT test will enable you to eat based on your genetic individuality and speaks to optimal supplementation that actually impacts your unique microbiology.
- Basic blood work: CBC, CMP, Thyroid (FT3, FT4, TSH, RT3), Iron Panel (Ferritin, TIBC, Serum Iron, HFE gene), Lipids (ideally a vertical auto profile (VAP) test), Urinalysis, GGT, HGA1C, Homocysteine, HSCRP, Fibrinogen, MMA, Serum B12, MTHFR, COMT, APOE, Cortisol x3,
- Hormone testing: FSH, LH, Fractionated Estrogens, Progesterone, Pregnenolone, Prolactin, DHEA-S, Testosterone (Free & Total), & SHBG.
- Toxins and AD(H)D: It is widely recognized that toxicity can lead to brain diseases like AD(H)D. There is a multitude of toxins that negatively impact your nervous system, however, one of the most widely known toxins is lead. Lead is ubiquitous in our environment and identifying if you have a lead body burden is imperative for you to recover from your symptoms. A tricky variable is that even though lead is toxic, the lab provides a reference range of what is a “normal” amount of toxic lead to have in your body, and what has “crossed the line” and is then is finally defined as problematic. I would not wait to treat my lead toxicity until it’s out of the lab’s reference range. If my child had lead, I’d want to know and even if it was <7, I’d start treating it right away. (REFERENCE: Clinical Psychology Review Volume 33, Issue 3, April 2013, Pages 417-425.
- Oxidative build-up: There is an extensive amount of research linking AD(H)D and oxidative build up. Oxidative stress damages your DNA and is extremely harmful to your brain and organs leading to symptoms of inattention, difficulty focusing, memory problems, brain fog, fatigue, mood swings, hyperactivity, and more. If your symptoms of AD(H)D are associated with oxidative stress build-up, proper identification and treatment are absolutely necessary.
- Your gut health will impact your ability to focus and use your brain to its highest potential. The intimate relationship between the gut and the brain speaks volumes about the importance of diet and our mental and emotional wellness. If you have AD(H)D, it is likely that your diet is playing a role. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet; finding out your unique needs will give you direction on how to eat so that you can feel like yourself again!
Top 3 AD(H)D Diet Tips
- Eat: Chia seeds, ginger, cashew nuts, broccoli, blueberries, spinach, broth (especially organic bone broth)
- Avoid: Sugar, carbohydrates, fried foods, food dyes, soda/pop, preservatives.
- Feed your brain:
- Eat: Lean protein, wild/ Alaskan fish, healthy oils (avocado, coconut, walnut)
- Consume: lots of water, minerals, vegetables from the brassica family (broccoli, brussel sprouts), high fiber foods (legumes, beans)
- Avoid: Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, pork, excess red meat
To read more download the Gut Psychology Diet
Lifestyle: Let’s talk about ADHD lifestyle changes that can improve ADHD symptoms:
- Regular and adequate sleep is important for the brain and body. There is an abundance of literature documenting how sleep impacts focus, attention, mood, motivation, impulse control, and behavior. To improve the sleep of you and your family consider the following: Limit screen time, try to create an allowance for using screens. Stop using screens altogether 2 hours before bedtime. This will reduce stimulation to the brain as well as blue-light which tells the brain it is daytime and time to be awake. Set up a routine: The brain loves routine. Your routine should be relaxed, not hurried, and peaceful. Exercise is an important part of a good night’s sleep. In fact, some scientists suggest that exercise has an even greater on ADHD symptoms than even diet! Your child should be exercising for at least 1 hour per day, this includes running, climbing, jumping, stretching, lifting, and more.
- Keep conversation light at bedtime: Try to limit conversations that might be stressful, controversial, or over stimulating before bed. Instead, reserve a time earlier in the evening and be intentional about your check-list before your wind-down routine begins.
- Keep a calendar: External organization can promote an internal organization.
- Keep a tidy home: A tidy house is a fuel for focus, while a messy house may clutter up the mind.
Natural Supplements for AD(H)D:
Supplements to heal the gut and reduce inflammation
- GI Revive by Designs for Health
- ProbioMax® Daily DF 30 Billion CFU Probiotic by Xymogen
- Similase by Integrative Therapeutics
Supplements to increase focus:
- Attention-Deficit/Severe by Professional Formulas
- Attention-Deficit/Mild by Professional Formulas
- Learners Edge by Integrative Therapeutics
- Focus Fizz by Nutra BioGenesis
Herbs for AD(H)D:
- Acumen by Klaire Labs
- Ginkgo-Gotu Kola Supreme by Gaia Herbs
- Mental Focus Oil Blend by Now
- Homeopathy for AD(H)D: Homeopathy can be incredibly effective in treating the cause of the symptoms of AD(H)D. To read a case example Dr. Nicole published in NDNR, click here.