Posts tagged ‘elimination diet’

March 16, 2011

ADHD – diet vs. drugs

A study was released in the Februray 5 issue of the Lancet regarding the use of dietary modification to address the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in school-aged children instead of pharmaceutical drugs.  The study employed an elimination-diet approach, where children were first allowed a very diverse diet and then slowly tapered down to an extremely low-allergenic or anti-inflammatory diet of rice, turkey, pears, lettuce and water.

The conclusion – in 64% of the children the symptoms of inattention, fidgeting, lack of concentration and temper-tantrums completely resolved.  In an NPR interview with the study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser, she commented on the teachers and doctors of the children in the study saying: “In fact, they were flabbergasted… After the diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior.”

This study is a significant milestone in the efforts for treatment of ADHD.  Many children and parents struggle with the challenging reality of experiencing the symptoms of the disorder on a daily basis.  Although in some cases pharmaceutical medications are required to manage the disorder it is incredible to think over half of the children suffering from ADHD can be cured with simple diet changes!

The elimination diet is just the beginning.  What the conclusion of this study implies is that the symptoms of ADHD are the signs of hypersensitivity to certain foods.  Once those foods are eliminated, the child can return to a more “normal” diet and may eventually even be able to re-integrate the eliminated foods back into his or her diet after a period of elimination.

At the end of Dr. Pelsser’s interview she commented on the application of these findings: “We have got good news — that food is the main cause of ADHD,” she says. “We’ve got bad news — that we have to train physicians to monitor this procedure because it cannot be done by a physician who is not trained.”

But there is a good news addendum – there are, in fact, physicians already trained to monitor disease from a food-based perspective!  Naturopathic doctors receive a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less. (See my post what does your doctor know about nutrition for more on this.)

If you, or someone you know may suffer from the symptoms of ADHD, contact your local naturopath for support in the process of healing and to help assess whether dietary modifications may be just what the doctor ordered!


Dr. R