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Avatar universal

ADHD - diet therapy v. Ritalin

You have had questions from people unable to use Ritalin and wishing for a nutritional approach of some sort.  

Please let people know that the Feingold diet has been used for 25 years as a treatment for ADHD and other behavioral disorders, as well as helping many of the physical symptoms that frequently accompany ADHD such as asthma, bed wetting, chronic ear infections, migraines, etc.

There remains a pervasive myth that the diet has been "debunked" and that it does not work, or that it is "unproven" or has "no scientific support."  I repeat -- this is a MYTH.  See the research at http://www.feingold.org/research.shtml

See a comparison of older inadequate studies and newer ones at
http://www.feingold.org/brochures.html  (click on "Side 1" and "Side 2" for the graphs and a very surprising chart from National Academy of Science information)

The method of action is not a diet effect -- it is not from eating any magic ingredients -- but rather from a removal of what is apparently a "drug effect" on some people of food additives manufactured from petrochemicals, as well as avoidance of foods containing a salicylate component that has been shown to suppress an enzyme needed in both the gut and the brain.  The good news is that since this enzyme is required to metabolize the very additives that are removed from the diet, there appears to be some recovery in most people so that salicylate-containing foods are usually tolerated at least in small quantities after a while.  
More information on the science behind this is at http://www.feingold.org/research_pst.html

A description of the diet itself, quotes from parents, etc. are all found on the Feingold web site at http://www.feingold.org

This is by far the CHEAPEST treatment available for ADHD.  While it requires some readjustment in shopping, Program materials and a 100-page Foodlist Book updated monthly make it as easy as possible.  The extra time and effort is more than made up for by savings of time and money not spent in the doctor's office for medication checks, blood tests, neurological tests, etc. etc.  

The Feingold Association is a nonprofit organization whose workers are mostly volunteers.  The fee for Program materials is about the same as the price of a pair of good running shoes, or dinner for 4 in a nice restaurant ... or a one month prescription of Ritalin ... but the benefits can last a lifetime.

I myself have raised 3 children with ADD, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, Aspergers ..... we began by using all the usual medications.  The diet was a life saver -- worked much better than the medications ever did, and no side effects.  And cheaper too -- I must have saved $100,000 in doctors visits no longer needed, special ed services no longer needed, etc.

I implore doctors to TELL the parents of ADHD children that this is an alternative -- let the parents decide which treatment they want to use.  ADHD is not generally a life-threatening crisis situation --- unlike cancer or leukemia or diabetes, the child can afford a few weeks to find out whether this kinder gentler treatment will work for them.

2 Responses
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Dear Shula,

Thank you for the information. There's no doubt that metabolic and nutritional factors can be significant in neuro-behavioral and emotional conditions such as ADHD, Mood Disorders (depression, bipolar illness) and OCD.

One of the cautions I usually send along to parents is to exercise a judicious approach to any treatment they might undertake, and to include as part of such judiciousness ongoing consultation with their children's health care providers. This is not to say that traditional medical approaches are the end all and be all, or that health care providers must provide their imprimatur on any approaches parents attempt. It is to say, though, that some parents tend to be too casual about approaches to non-prescription interventions, with the thought that any over-the-counter intervention, even over-the-counter in a grocery store, needn't be regarded carefully.
Avatar universal
Very good response, DR!!  I am one that advocates trying dietary changes, allergy testing, vitamin supplements, etc. BEFORE trying medication.  One thing I avoid at all cost is herbs, maybe because my son is only 6 but also because now that a lot of people are using alternative treatments we are hearing a lot more negative affects from herbs.  There are side effects to almost everything, and especially if you give too much of something or a combination of things that you have not researched very well.  I read, read, read about everything - a host of medical sites, drug information sites, medical journals, results of clinical trials, etc. and firmly believe that knowledge and information is the key.  Plus I keep my son's psych and pediatrician informed of all vitamins and tests my son takes.
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