The Evolution of ADHD

From studies of modern hunter-gatherers, we can surmise that learning took place through play, observation, and informal instruction, rather than through the highly regimented classrooms almost all of us have experienced. It is no surprise that ADHD is usually diagnosed in children who have trouble focusing “properly” in school, and it continues to be a problem for adults when their work or lifestyle requires focusing in particular, regimented ways. There is good reason to believe that in our evolutionary past, ADHD was often not much of a problem and was perhaps even an asset.

Some intriguing evidence for this hypothesis comes from work on the genetics of ADHD. One gene associated with ADHD is called dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4), alleles of which change the sensitivity of a subtype of dopamine receptors that are expressed in the prefrontal cortex. ADHD is a complex trait (regulated by many genes), and the ADHD-associated allele in the DRD4 gene (called DRD4 7R) only accounts for a small portion of the cases of ADHD. Nonetheless, a variation of the DRD4 gene provides a window into the evolutionary forces that shaped our brain.

The 7R (ADHD-associated) allele of the DRD4 gene is peculiar in that it seems to have originated about 45,000 years ago and was then positively selected for. That is, the 7R allele conveyed some advantage to those who carried it

Zinc and ADHD

As per a study published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, taking zinc supplements can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD or attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder in children. 

Researchers from Iran executed a controlled clinical trial to evaluate the benefits of prescribing zinc supplements alongside the more conventional methylphenidate treatment. 

The study involved 44 children who were diagnosed as suffering from ADHD; and none of these patients had taken any medication before the trail. 

For the six weeks, half the children were given zinc sulphate (55mg/day) in addition to the conventional treatment; while the other half were given a placebo. A child psychiatrist examined the children's improvements. 

Our New Supplement Line is Here!

ADHD Naturally is happy to announce that we have our own line of ADHD Supplements, Naturally Focus & Balance. Our personal brand of supplements are specially formulated to give both children and adults the highest level of nutrition. They are made from the best natural and organic ingredients with no preservatives, dyes, colors, soy, dairy, gluten or GMOs.

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Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.

In the United States, at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5 percent. How has the epidemic of ADHD—firmly established in the U.S.—almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the U.S. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological—psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

The Therapeutics Of Tea: Why L-Theanine Can Help Stop Stress

L-theanine is also being considered as a therapeutic treatment for young children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in relation to its effect on sleep quality. Sleep problems are a common comorbidity associated with ADHD, and disturbed sleep is often linked to exacerbating the disorder (5). The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the efficacy and safety of L-theanine as an aid to improving sleep quality in 98 boys, aged 8-12 years, who had previously been diagnosed with ADHD. Subjects were administered 100 milligram tablets of L-theanine or a placebo twice daily for six weeks and were evaluated for sleep problems for five consecutive nights at baseline and at the end of the six weeks. Surprisingly, the study found that boys who consumed L-theanine obtained significantly higher sleep percentage and sleep efficiency scores, along with a non-significant trend for less activity during sleep, defined as less time awake after sleep onset (5). Not only did the study show improvements in sleep patterns, the relatively high dose of L-theanine that was administered over this time period was well tolerated and didn’t show significant adverse effects (5). This study indicates a plausibly safe method of therapy for young children with ADHD with naturally derived L-theanine. (5)

Hyperfocus: The other side of adult ADHD

For a child or adult with ADHD, the determining variable is interest -- if the person loves to play music, they can do it for hours. If they hate doing dishes, they will clean one dish, lose focus, and jump to another activity. One metaphor that captivated Sklar's attention paints an interesting picture -- first put forth by author Thom Hartmann, the theory suggests that those with ADHD have more of a "hunter" orientation, evolutionarily speaking, and those without ADHD are the "farmers." One group is more nomadic and needs to constantly scan the environment, with attention darting here and there for prey; the other group possesses the patience, calm, and nurturing ability to tend to repeated farming tasks with long-term consistency. The hunter mindset in some ways explains hyperfocus -- once the prey is identified, the hunter intensely focuses on her pursuit.

How to Treat ADHD Naturally

Two main types of studies have looked into the effects of diet on ADHD symptoms:

  • Supplement studies: These studies look into the effects of dietary supplements likeomega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins or minerals.
  • Elimination studies: These studies look into the effects of eliminating certain foods, additives or ingredients from the diet.

For a detailed review of these studies, check out this article: Does Nutrition Play a Role in ADHD?

However, it should be noted that dietary modification as a treatment for ADHD is still viewed as controversial.

Nonetheless, consistent evidence from strong studies shows that elimination diets can greatly decrease ADHD symptoms for some children (810111213).

Bottom Line: ADHD is a common behavioral disorder. While therapy and medication remain the most common treatments, research shows that an elimination diet can help some people manage symptoms.

ADHD medication enhances the risk of heart problems in children

A new Danish study indicates that children recieving ADHD medication have a higher risk of getting heart problems.

The risk of developing heart problems is twice as big for children taking medicine for Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when compared to children not receiving the medicine.

The study builds on data from 714,000 children born in 1990-1999. It is the most comprehensive, data-based study within the field explains the head of the project Søren Dalsgaard, a psychiatrist at the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus University.

"I was surprised that the increased risk of heart problems was so high and that the risk did not only apply to children, who were already susceptible to heart ailments," says the psychiatrist.

"The result is worrying. It shows that clinicians must continue to be aware of the risk of heart ailments, when we prescribe medicine to ADHD patients," he says.
The study was published in the scientific publication Journal of Adolescent and Psychopharmacology.

Stop drugging ADHD kids — and start teaching them to use their gifts

This year, Americans will spend more than $8 billion on members of the stimulant family, in a desperate attempt to keep squirmy school kids with ADHD glued to their chairs — or sometimes, even their kindergarten rugs.

But what if, in an effort to get kids to behave like 55-year-old men, parents and teachers are actually drugging the creativity out of our next generation of leaders?

ADHD and Diet: The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A debate in the nutrition science community is the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing ADHD symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that the body cannot reproduce and therefore can only be obtained through food. Three types of omega-3 fatty acids exist: alpha-linolenic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in oily fish such as salmon. ALA is in flax seeds, nuts and leafy vegetables. Omega-3s are an imperative part of cell membranes and are important in health because they reduce inflammation, which lowers risks for chronic diseases. These fatty acids also are highly concentrated in the brain and improve cognitive functions. Children with ADHD often times have low levels of omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA.

Connecting ADHD and Nutrition

For kids with focus and behavior challenges, nutritional shifts may work as well as, or better than, medication.

Anyone who’s raised a kid with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) knows the drill: You take your sweet child to nursery school, and he runs amuck during story time. He won’t follow instructions for using the glitter and glue during art. He tips over other kids’ block towers.

Your child might be bright, maybe even brilliant, but he’s on his own disruptive trajectory. He might be called out in class, disinvited from play dates, labeled a menace. He risks exclusion from his community of peers, all because he can’t pay attention, slow down, or fit in.

 

Hyperfocus: The Flip Side of ADHD? Thinking about dysregulation, not deficit, of attention

ADHD Naturally Editor's note: This is a great article summing up "hyperfocus."  Hyperfocus is often referred to as one of the superpowers associated with ADHD.  It is the ability to narrow in and focus intensely on something that captures your interest.  This level of focus is much greater and more intense than focus observed in individuals that do not have ADHD.  Some scientists and researchers claim that hyperfocus gave individuals a distinct survival advantage throughout human history and in evolution.  If understood, managed and harnessed correctly, it can be an incredible tool and super ability.  Hyperfocus is most definitely what built this site.

Stopping the False Epidemic of Adult ADHD

 

I know many of the clinicians now touting the scale to be fine doctors with great skills and common sense in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. But I worry that others are now doing quickie diagnoses, seeing their endorsement as a license to line their pockets in the new field of ADHD adults. I also worry that most research is Pharma financed.

Mediocre and potentially hazardous drugs are being heavily pushed by a worldwide marketing blitz to sell docs who have little experience with ADHD. I have no doubt that this new massive influx of ADHD adults is being diagnosed in a few brief minutes, without the careful history taking necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Even seniors in their 80s, as I saw recently in a proud report by a doc who runs a specialty mill for ADHD.

Why Children, Pregnant Women Should Eat Food With Fewer Pesticides

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does the annual testing of pesticide residues that EWG uses to create its Shopper’s Guide. The most recent round found, among many others, one type of pesticides, called organophosphates, that have been strongly linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in children. Diagnoses of ADHD in American children has surged in recent years, and leading researchers, including Landrigan, point to organophosphates as one of the driving factors.

CDC warns that Americans may be overmedicating youngest children with ADHD

U.S. health officials are urging parents of preschoolers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to try behavior therapy first before trying drugs — and they're calling on insurers to cover the treatments.

The concern comes from new statistics that show a troubling gap between recommended practices for treating the youngest Americans and what's happening on the ground at doctors' offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents of young children with the diagnosis try behavior therapy first, but less than half are receiving such services. Meanwhile, an eyebrow-raising 75 percent are receiving drugs as treatment.

The drugs of choice among most pediatricians, psychiatrists and others treating children with ADHD are stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin — which have earned an almost mythical reputation for their ability to help children do better in school, and which some teens and college students abuse to gain an edge in academics. But the long-term effects of those drugs on a young brain and body have not been well studied, and the side effects can be numerous, including poor appetite, sleeplessness, irritability and slowed growth.

Study Finds Risks for Teens of Mothers Who Took Certain Antidepressants

Adolescents whose mothers took certain antidepressants while pregnant with them are more than four times as likely to become depressed by age 15, compared with children whose mothers had psychiatric disorders but didn’t take the medication during pregnancy, according to a large new study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, also found no link between the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like Prozac and Zoloft) during pregnancy and the development of autism, ADHD or anxiety in children.