Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neuropsychiatric disorder diagnosed in childhood and is increasing in prevalence! In fact, there has been a 42% increase in ADHD diagnosis over the past 8 years.
With a “loosened” definition more children are being diagnosed and treated. However, we often treat children who have been misdiagnosed (and therefore treated) even by this loosened definition.
That being said, there are children who actually do have ADHD due to new environmental influences.
Suffering with ADHD From Overload:
Those who suffer from ADHD experience overload, causing them to be very sensitive to external stimuli, such as, sight, sound, and touch. This constant stimulation from the environment makes it difficult to keep focus. While those with ADHD are often extremely intelligent, they may be perceived as underachievers, as they struggle to complete task.s These children tend to be very cluttered and disorganised. In children, this may look like a messy room; in adults, this may appear as a disorganised desk cluttered with books, papers, and miscellaneous projects. This constant stimulation can also result in a great deal of internal stress, which leads to greater susceptibility to frustration, anger, and episodes of explosively.
Problems with ADHD Medications:
Unfortunately, treating ADHD is not always as simple as taking a pill. Twenty to 35% of patients with ADHD do not respond to the medication. Those who do benefit from medication often do so for a short period, with benefits diminishing overtime. Additionally, stimulants come with a whole profile of side effects, including issues with sleep, decreased appetite, tics, decreased growth, unpredictable behaviour, headaches, abdominal pain, and more. While medication may be part of a successful treatment plan, individuals often do better when medication is combined with additional integrative care.
We have come to understand that the development of ADHD is a complex interplay between genetics and the environment. A child with a parent who has ADHD has more than a 50% chance of developing ADHD and a 30% chance of developing ADHD if an older sibling has it. However, genetics, are not the only factor.
As with many other neuro-developmental conditions, the environment during pregnancy has been found to play a major role in the risk for the development of ADHD. Maternal exposure to toxins during pregnancy including, alcohol, drugs, heavy metals, PCBs, and pesticides is believed to increase risk of ADHD. Additionally, maternal mental health problems, maternal infection, and prenatal inflammation from maternal autoimmunity are believed to play a role in the development of ADHD. Finally, factors such as preterm birth and low birth weight increase the risk of ADHD.
An Integrative Approach to Neurotransmitter Balance:
It is well recognised that neurotransmitter imbalance plays a role in ADHD; however, the exact imbalance may be different for different subtypes of ADHD. The most common neurotransmitter imbalances recognised in ADHD are in dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. From an integrative perspective, there are several ways to view and address neurotransmitter imbalances. The key here is to explore the following factors:
Genetics: What genes may be influencing the metabolism of neurotransmitters, as well as the binding receptors?
Micronutrients: What micronutrients are necessary for the production and metabolism of the respective neurotransmitters?
Gut Health: Is there a dysbiosis or infection that is impacting neurotransmitter balance, causing neuro-inflammation, or impairing absorption of key amino nutrients?
The Power of Advanced Nutrients in Treating ADHD:
At Elixir Compounding, we follow the work and research of Dr. William Walsh, who has pioneered the field of individualised nutrient therapy for mood disorders. Dr. Walsh has found zinc and B6 to be particularly important in ADHD, which are depleted by a condition known as pyroluria.
Zinc deficiency effects more than 90% of individuals with ADHD. Zinc is needed for the production of GABA, the main calming neurotransmitter in the brain, and is necessary for proper formation of the connections between neurons. Low zinc has been shown to be associated with increased severity of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) is an important nutrient for the production and metabolism of several neurotransmitters, including, serotonin, glutamate, GABA, and dopamine. B6 has been shown to positively influence the behaviour or children.
Iron is another extremely important mineral involved in the production and metabolism of neurotransmitters. Multiple studies have shown that ADHD in children is associated with low levels of serum iron and ferritin, and iron supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms in these children. Iron deficiency has also been implicated in childhood sleep disturbance, and thus should be evaluated in any child who is struggling with both ADHD and difficulty sleeping.
Omega 3 deficiency is a very common occurrence with today’s standard diet. We are consuming less fish and more processed foods with high amounts of omega 6 oils, and this is especially popular in foods that feature in our children’s diets. Omega 3 supplementation with high doses of EPA has been found to be about 40% as effective as stimulant medication.
We now understand that there is a clear connection between the gut and the brain. The gut has actually been found to have its own nervous system, which creates neurotransmitters and communicates information to the brain along the vagus nerve. The nervous system within the gut is highly affected by the bacteria within the gut (aka the microbiome), and there is increasing evidence poor gut health contributes to psychiatric and behavioural disorders.
Elixir Compounding Pharmacy specialises in Advanced Nutrient Therapy. If your child is struggling from ADHD or another mental health condition contact Elixir today. We offer complementary face-to-face and phone consultations where we can assess symptoms and recommend a tailored advanced nutrient treatment protocol.