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Is ADHD genetic or developmental?
The art of medicine: only peripherally related to ADHD
Congressmen investigate ADHD drug shortage
ADHD Coaching
Short-acting ADHD medicine shortages in the news

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Dr. Kacir's ADHD Blog

Alternative Treatments for ADHD

ADHD Coaching

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a friend who was dealing with her own ADHD and that of her children.  She had found a great ADHD coach and recommended that I hire her, too.  Life interfered, and I never got the referral information, but I've always remembered her glowing recommendation.  I have read about coaches online, but have not yet met one in person and I have hesitated to recommend them to my patients due to my lack of experience.
 
Today, I got a LinkedIn message that inspired me to do some research.  I found two local ADHD coaches who seemed to have good credentials and a link to this article: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/4002.html.  I was very impressed by the article and thought I would share it with my readers!

ADHD and diet

A researcher in The Netherlands did a study to determine whether diet affected ADHD symptoms in children between the ages of 4 and 8.  Fifty children ate regular meals with their families after gettting advice about healthy eating.  The other fifty went on a strict elimination diet.  All they could eat were meat, vegetables, pears and water, sometimes getting potatoes, fruits and wheat.  All the kids were evaluated for ADHD symptoms after 2 weeks.  About half of the children on the limited diet did not respond, so the potatoes, fruit and wheat were taken away.  After 9 weeks, 64% of the children on restricted diets had improved their ADHD symptoms, while none of the children on regular diets showed any improvement.  Then, in a second part of the study, foods were added back one at a time and this caused the ADHD symptoms to come back in 19 out of 30 children who had improved.  Interestingly, the types of food that caused relapse had nothing to do with immunologic testing for sensitivity to the food.
 
This study is interesting, but does not provide a lot of evidence about diet causing ADHD symptoms.  For one thing, the researchers, patients and families knew which group each child was in and this can influence results.  The study did reveal that IgG testing does not tell which foods are likely to cause ADHD symptoms.  For families that are willing to do the hard work of severely restricting their diets, it may be a helpful thing to do.  However, this study does not show that the results are necessarily worth the effort.

Exercise and brain function

Researchers have shown that better physical fitness leads to better brian function!  They tested 9 and 10-year-old children on a treadmill to see how fit they were, then they did MRI scans of their brains and measured different parts.  The hippocampus, which is key to learning and memory was bigger in the children who were in the best physical condition.  In animal and adult studies, a bigger hippocampus meant better performance on tests of brain function.  So they tested all the children and found that those who were most physically fit were better able to remember and use information they were given.
 
This information isn't specific for ADHD, but it implies that regular exercise is good for everybody's brain.  Memory and learning are part of the executive functions that are affected by ADHD, so get out there and exercise!

Nature Deficiency Disorder

This topic is not directly related to ADHD, but I have read several articles recently which referred to the problems which arise when children are not exposed to nature.  There was one study which I read a couple of years ago that treated kids with ADHD by taking them to a park for 30 minutes every day as part of their school program.  Their teachers reported fewer ADHD symptoms in the children who participated.  The articles I have read more recently compare children with varying exposures to natural outdoor environments and find that those with the most time spent outdoors have better general health, including emotional states.  I have not seen any research about outdoor exposure in adults with ADHD.

Neurofeedback and ADHD

I was listening to National Public Radio this morning and heard a piece describing the use of Neurofeedback as treatment for ADHD.  The presenter was a mom who was treated with it first and then decided to treat her 12-year-old son.  The presentation summed up the positive and negative aspects of the treatment very well.  On the positive side, it has been shown to work, although it is not clear how long the effects last when the active treatment stops.  On the negative side, it is complex, expensive and time consuming.  Furthermore, it is difficult to evaluate practitioners who provide the service.
 
What is Neurofeedback?  Essentially it involves a limited EEG or electo-encephalogram, during which electrodes are attached to the patient's scalp so that the patient's brainwaves can be displayed to him or her.  The patient then concentrates on increasing certain brain waves that are associated with better concentration and decreasing those that are produced with distraction.  It is "biofeedback for the brain" and is provided by a subset of biofeedback centers that have the right equipment and personnel trained to use it.
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