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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Functional Medicine Perspective

  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Functional Medicine Perspective The number of people suffering from complicated, ch...


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Functional Medicine Perspective

The number of people suffering from complicated, chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, ADHD, autism, and mental illness is on the rise in our society. Treating the patient has taken the place of healing the patient. This shift in phrasing implies that the patient's problems are permanent but that the symptoms can be managed with a lifetime of increasingly powerful drugs. However, patients require an approach that embraces recovery by treating the core source of their problems. That approach is functional medicine.


What is ADHD?

One of the most frequent mental diseases affecting children is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many adults also suffer from ADHD. Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the three main symptoms of ADHD.


No laboratory test can be used to diagnose ADHD. Gathering information from parents, educators, and others, completing checklists, and having a medical evaluation (including vision and hearing tests) to rule out other medical conditions are all part of the diagnostic process. The symptoms are not caused by the person being stubborn or angry, or by their inability to comprehend a task or directions.


The Causes of ADHD

The causes of ADHD have yet to be uncovered by scientists. There is some proof that genetics play a role in ADHD. Other factors that may have a role in the development of ADHD include being born prematurely, having a brain injury, and the mother smoking, drinking, or being under a lot of stress during pregnancy.

Dopamine deficiency appears to be a common component in ADHD, according to research. Dopamine is a brain molecule that aids in the transmission of signals from one nerve to another. It aids in the elicitation of emotional responses and motions.


According to other studies, there may be a structural difference in the brain of people with ADHD. There is also evidence that nutritional imbalances, dietary intolerances, a disrupted gut microbiome, and sleep problems can all contribute to ADHD, and that treating ADHD with diet and lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms.


How Should ADHD Be Treated?

When it comes to treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there is a need to take a completely new approach — one that addresses the fundamental cause rather than relying simply on medication to mask the symptoms. Movement and exercise, mindfulness and meditation, being in nature, and solving sleep issues are all functional medicine approaches to treating the causes of ADHD. 


That isn't to say that medication isn't or cannot be a valuable factor. It most certainly can. But a long-term solution that is more inclusive and integrative is in the best interests of the children and their families dealing with the disorder. So, if the medicine has a function, it is more like the third phase, and it is intended to be a short-term symptomatic remedy to get someone to where they ought to be to continue working through coping mechanisms. 


While medication can aid in the treatment of ADHD, Functional Medicine focuses on the causes of the disorder. It combines evidence-based medicine with complementary and alternative therapies to provide tailored care, balancing the body's biochemistry and prioritizing nutrition, nutrients, gut health, and environmental effects as a way to reduce symptoms associated with the disorder.


Genetics, environment, food intolerances, toxicity, and a poor diet are all factors that a Functional Medicine health practitioner can address and help treat in most children diagnosed with ADHD.


Gut Health

The gut-brain relationship is still being studied by scientists. Studies suggest that the gut microbiota, which plays a vital role in disorders like ADHD, is influenced by food. Probiotics, prebiotics, and other fiber-rich foods promote the growth of good gut flora while suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria. Probiotics have been shown in studies to be useful in the treatment of ADHD. But what are probiotics? For an informative explanation, refer to the Ruscio Institute's guide to probiotics.  Dr. Ruscio endeavors to get patients well as fast as possible while keeping costs low. He argues that Integrative and Functional Medicine care has grown unduly expensive as it frequently entails unneeded health screenings. He claims that commonly used tests are based on dogma rather than sound science, which is why he is constantly conducting studies at his clinic. Gut-healing foods (such as fermented foods like sauerkraut), and nuts, seeds, and legumes, are recommended to parents to restore gut balance.


Nutritional Deficiencies

In patients diagnosed with ADHD, nutritional deficiencies are prevalent. The most common are magnesium deficiency, zinc deficiency, and lithium deficiency (trace element). Functional medicine practitioners advise an increase in nutritional intake. Many ADHD children are low in important vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D levels in children with ADHD have been found to be considerably low in studies. A high-quality multivitamin-mineral supplement can help to restore nutrient status.


Avoid Processed Sugars

Sugar, particularly simple sugars found in processed meals, has been found to raise a child's chance of ADHD, according to research. In one study, higher sugar intake was linked to increased hyperactivity and ADHD-like attention deficits. Artificial colors and preservatives, according to other research, can play a role in the development of ADHD. While it may seem difficult, transitioning children with ADHD to a whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and high-quality animal products can result in significant improvements in behavior and focus.


Reducing Inflammation

Researchers have discovered that omega-3 fatty acids can help youngsters with ADHD. These fatty acids can boost dopamine synthesis and receptors at therapeutic levels. Because most kids don't consume wild-caught fish on a daily basis, anti-inflammatory foods like walnuts and professional-grade fish oil can be taken instead.


Food Intolerances

Those with ADHD could also consider going on an elimination diet. Gluten, dairy, and other dietary sensitivities can overwork the immune system, raise inflammation, and cause issues like intestinal permeability (or leaky gut). An elimination diet has been shown in studies to help people with ADHD. Removing these problematic foods from a child's diet will help them focus. 

A functional medicine doctor focuses on what triggers ADHD rather than putting a band-aid on the symptoms for a short-term solution. 

ADHD needs to be redefined as a medical neurological issue. A Functional Medicine approach might be able to fully remove or improve symptoms, which entails looking into metabolic, dietary, environmental, or hereditary issues. ADHD has no relation to intelligence and children can become future leaders, creators, artists, and scientists if the root cause is addressed.