Generation after generation, childhood ADHD diagnoses skyrocket. Do you or someone in your family have ADHD? If so, you know how hard it is to deal with the day-to-day reality. Education and health care workers are witnesses to the struggles of children and adults with attention deficits.
Even if you don’t have a child with ADHD, this issue affects you. In fact, the epidemic of ADHD is part of a larger crisis in the Western world, and we all need to pitch in to reverse the problem.
Generation after generation, our children face more obstacles to health beginning in early life. Each generation of mothers passes on more toxicants to their babies even before birth, including mercury and phthalates. And each generation of mothers passes on is exposed to more toxins, and those toxins are being passed on from mother to baby during even the earliest stages of fetal development.
Common toxicants that can overload the system of children include perfumes, household cleaning products, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, commercial toothpaste, herbicides, paints and more. Synthetic fragrances present in the child’s environment can overload the detoxification pathways and exacerbate symptoms.
Here are just a couple of good sources on toxicants that contribute to ADHD: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/opinion/sunday/contaminating-our-bodies-with-everyday-products.html?_r=0
Heavy metal exposure
Let’s take the issue of heavy metal exposure and mineral imbalance. Most people in the field know that exposure to mercury and lead can cause and/or aggravate ADD and ADHD. Babies and young children absorb a higher percentage of ingested lead than adults do. The smaller the child, the higher the percentage absorbed. As Andrew H. Cutler notes, whereas adults “may absorb 5-10% of the amount of lead they consume … very young children absorb 25-80% of it” and “six year olds … absorb 3 or 4 times more than adults (and 2 year olds absorb 5 or 6 times as much as adults)” (Hair Test Interpretation, p. 99).
Adding insult to injury, lead salts have a sweet taste. Unfortunately, this makes them appealing to little ones who tend to taste everything within reach. This is one reason why pediatricians encourage lead testing for babies and toddlers living in older homes. Recent lead exposures show up in blood and hair tests. However, because lead moves to the bone tissue soon after exposure, blood tests do not accurately detect past lead exposure.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and babies born in mercury-toxic mothers accumulate this toxin during prenatal development. Common risk factors include amalgam (silver-colored) fillings, mercury-containing vaccines, consumption of tuna and other high-mercury fish and exposure to broken compact fluorescent lightbulbs and broken mercury thermometers. Because mercury has very long half-life, mercury which the pregnant mother accumulated years ago can impact her developing fetus today.
Copper is an essential element which becomes quite toxic at levels above what is physiologically necessary. Copper that is bound to its transport molecule is crucial for good health. However, unbound copper tends to accumulate in the liver and brain. There, it can cause hormonal imbalances, neurological and behavior problems, and even psychiatric symptoms. As Richard Malter notes in The Strands of Health, copper dysregulation is a risk factor for post-partum depression, newborn jaundice not associated with Rh incompatibility, ADD/ADHD and even bipolar disorder.
While practicing as both a clinical and school psychologist, Malter observed that virtually all the children with ADHD in his practice were affected by copper dysregulation. Malter further notes that hormonal contraceptives and copper IUDs increase copper levels. We are in the midst of an epidemic of copper dysregulation in children of mothers who used these forms of contraception prior to their pregnancies. Additionally, the accumulation of copper tends to increase from generation to generation.
As Cutler notes, excess copper and vitamin D increase absorption of lead (Hair Test Interpretation, p. 99). Further, Malter notes that vitamin D increases copper retention. This means that children who already have dysregulated copper are more likely to accumulate lead, and that children taking vitamin D supplementation are more likely to suffer from both lead toxicity and copper dysregulation.
Sadly, allopathic medicine has very little to offer affected children and their parents. The stimulant medications come with their own set of problems. In fact, parents commonly note weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue and pallor in their children. Many parents report that the medication seems to work just long enough to keep the child’s behavior under control during school hours. Then, as the medication wears off in the mid-afternoon, their youngster’s behavior, mood and impulse control decline drastically. Unfortunately, many children on these stimulant medications sleep poorly.
Offering something more to children with ADHD
Children with ADHD essentially need what all children need. However, they are more sensitive than the average child to environmental and emotional stressors. They thrive on a nutrient-dense real-food diet low in sugars and refined starches. Clean air and clean drinking water are paramount. Even more than their peers, children with ADHD need fresh air, sunshine, and plenty of time outdoors. This allows them to run around, explore and express themselves through movement. Excess stress, lack of movement and exposure to toxicants may exacerbate symptoms of ADHD.
Make sure you check out my compilation of information on household products and personal care products, including toothpaste, sunscreen, deodorant, household cleaners and laundry detergent. In this link, you will find resources to help you assess your current products and find alternatives if necessary.
Every child has a unique biochemical make-up and unique nutritional needs. Thus individualized nutritional therapy services are extremely helpful. I help families come up with an effective strategy for their child’s particular situation.
Hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA)
In my work with ADHD, I highly recommend a hair tissue mineral analysis. This allows us to assess the levels and balance of essential minerals and toxic elements. In fact, every child with ADHD has a unique pattern of imbalance that responds very well to nutritional and supplemental adjustments. Hair tests are incredibly useful but must be properly interpreted, because they are far from straightforward. I’ve been studying and practicing hair test interpretation since 2014. A well-formulated rebalancing plan leads to impressive improvements in ADHD symptoms.
If you have a child with ADHD and would like to talk about how nutritional therapy may be of benefit, please do not hesitate to get in touch.