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Update: Dr. Erika now has an ebook outlining her 3-step approach to ADHD. Check it out here!
Last Saturday, June 1st, I gave a talk at Meadowsweet Herbs here in Missoula about ADHD and the steps I take to heal it naturally. I am happy to share a shortened version of the talk with you if you happened to miss it!
I have found this 3-step approach to ADHD to be very effective. I always tell my patients that my long-term goal is to permanently restore health. When we use this 3-step approach we systematically rule out other conditions that may either mimic ADHD or aggravate it. Once we have done our detective work the real healing can begin.
I love to see families whose lives are completely changed by this approach!
Here is a summary of my 3-step approach (watch the video for more information):
- Is it really ADHD? It is truly astonishing how many cases of ADHD in children are actually misdiagnoses. Things like iron-deficiency anemia, thyroid disease, or heavy metal toxicity (especially lead or mercury) often look just like ADHD. Children in my practice are screened for these conditions first because let me tell you, at least 50% of the time I see kids have something other than ADHD. Another of Dr. Erika’s observations: I have a hunch that a subset of kids with “ADHD” are actually in pain. Sound strange? I think it actually makes a lot of sense. People who are uncomfortable are often restless to get their mind off of the pain. In kids I think it is even worse because they don’t have a good understanding of what different sensations mean. It can be scary for a child to be in pain, and they may not even recognize it as such, especially if they have never experienced “normal” (pain-free) health.
- WHY is it ADHD? Once we have exhausted step 1 we move on to step 2. If we know for sure it really is ADHD Dr. Erika wants to know why. I believe that ADHD symptoms are caused by something irritating the nervous system. So what is it? Leaky gut syndrome, vitamin D deficiency, sensitivity to food colorings and additives, genetic defects, oxidative damage, or social stress can all cause irritation to the nervous system. In addition to removing these factors we need to add nourishing nutrients to help calm and soothe the nervous system and protect against future damage.
- When all else fails – check the biochemistry. Lots of naturopathic doctors I know start at this step because it is so effective. Basically we can do a blood or urine test to check the levels of neurotransmitters and supplement the ones that are low or give cofactors to stimulate production. I use this as the last resort because changing the biochemistry in the brain doesn’t address the underlying cause. It is always my goal for my patients to heal naturally and not be dependent upon supplements for the rest of their lives – when we follow steps 1 and 2 we are usually able to avoid that dependency. When we skip straight to step 3 it usually means that patients are dependent upon taking those supplements in the long term. Also, many of these biochemical imbalances resolve themselves just by following steps 1 and 2 – sometimes we can go crazy chasing lab results around because we forget that people are not lab results.
Do you have questions about this approach? Please feel free to comment/ask below!