Chiro.cc - putting Chiropractic and Chiropractors on the Internet
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER & THE ALLERGY CONNECTION
By : ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc.
||Taken from "Childhood Illness and the Allergy
Connection" by Dr. Zoltan Rona, Prima Publishing, 1997.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD a.k.a. hyperactivity) affects
thousands of infants, children, adolescents, and adults. It shows up as abnormalities in
behavior like hyperactivity, learning disorders and communication problems in early
childhood with some remission occurring before birth and that, left untreated, continue to
suffer from the condition into adulthood. ADD affects more boys than girls with a ratio of
3:1. A high percentage of hyperactive children have blond hair and blue eyes and suffer
from what appear to be allergic signs and symptoms. In the history of an ADD child, the
mother often describes that, during pregnancy, there was a great deal of fetal movement
and very hard kicking.
As infants, hyperactive babies are often colicky, sleep
poorly or very little and cry or scream a lot. In childhood, they look restless and
fidgety and eat poorly. In the more severe cases they may be "rockers" or
"head bangers" rejecting affection and mothering. As the child becomes older,
there is a very noticeable rushing from one thing to the next, a shortened attention span
and easy distractibility. Behavior can become destructive with poor coordination and
general clumsiness. Some hyperactive children have trouble integrating what they see and
hear due to visual perception abnormalities which, in turn, leads to inabilities to
understand basic concepts.
Other conditions that have been documented to occur in many
ADD children are eczema, asthma, chronic infections, hay fever, headaches, stomach aches
and fungal infections of the scalp, skin and nails.
Infants and Young Children
- inconsolably screaming
- restlessness poor or little sleep
- difficult feeding
- refuses affection and cuddles
- head banging or rocking fits or temper tantrums
Symptoms in Older
- impulsiveness, clumsiness, constantly moving destructive or
- accident proneness, bouts of fatigue, weakness and
- aggressiveness, poor concentration ability, vocal repetition
- restlessness, school failure despite normal or high IQ
- poor sleep with nightmares
- poor appetite and erratic eating habits
- poor coordination
- irritable, uncooperative, disobedient, self-injurious nerve
Causes of ADD
- genetic abnormalities, birth injuries, hormonal imbalances,
psychological or emotional problems, biochemical imbalances caused by toxic heavy metals
(lead or cadmium excesses), food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, amino acid
deficiencies toxins from chronic infections with bacteria, fungi (e.g. candida overgrowth)
and parasites digestive enzyme or stomach acid deficiencies, environmental
hypersensitivities, especially to food dyes, chemicals and additives multiple food
cravings and delayed (Type II-IV) allergies dyes, chemicals, inhalants, and other
irritants hypoglycemia or sugar hypersensitivity
- ADD children should be thoroughly tested and treated by diet
changes and nutritional supplements before resorting to amphetamine-like drugs like
methylphenidate (Ritalin ).
Routine blood and urine tests hormonal tests for thyroid,
adrenal, pancreas (enzymes, insulin, glucagon) insulin and glucose tolerance tests.
Vitamin and mineral testing including hair mineral analysis livecell microscopy.
Also CDSA and Comprehensive Parasitology gut permeability testing food and chemical
allergy testing amino acid analysis
Certain allergy medications have been reported to have adverse side effects on learning
and behavior because they affect the central nerve system. For example, the use of the
anti-asthma drug, theophylline has been significantly correlated with reports of
inattentiveness, hyperactivity, irritability, drowsiness and withdrawal behavior, these
negative side effects being directly proportional to the length of use. The use of this
medication may also cause learning disabilities. Corticosteroids are other drugs used to
treat asthma, allergic rhinitis and other allergic conditions. Unfortunately, these drugs,
whether swallowed or inhaled, have a direct and indirect impact on the central nerve
system. They have been documented to cause a change in brain electrical activity, mood
changes, changes in sleep patterns, increased irritability and even psychotic reactions.
Children on continuous steroids for at least a year have been reported to have lower
performance on standardized academic achievement tests for reading, verbal memory and
mathematics. Commonly used prescription and over the counter antihistamines have been
reported to cause slower reaction time on visual-motor tasks, worsened attention and
cerebral processing speed and drowsiness. Antihistamines can cause sedation, dry mouth,
and irritability. There is also some suggestion that antihistamines are associated with a
greater cancer risk. Decongestants have been associated with visual hallucinations in some
children. While spokespersons for the medical profession tend to minimize such side
effects, they can be of significant concern to parents of children with ADD or learning
Micronutrient deficiencies or dependencies (e.g. zinc) can have deleterious effects on
both short and long term memory. White spots on the nails could be a sign of zinc
deficiency even when blood tests for zinc are normal. The expression, "No zinc, no
think" is not without merit. Many studies have shown that zinc supplementation is
helpful with memory, thinking and I.Q. The best way of getting zinc is to optimize the
diet. The most recently published RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for adults is 15
mgs. per day. The richest sources of zinc are generally the high protein foods such as
organ meats, seafood (especially shellfish), oysters, whole grains and legumes (beans and
peas). Studies show that cognitive development can be impaired when there are low iron
blood levels. Deficiencies in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B 1 and choline may also be
involved. Toxic heavy metals such as cadmium and lead can accumulate in the body and cause
both hyperactive behavior and learning disabilities in some susceptible children. A hair
mineral analysis can reveal whether or not these toxic heavy metals are building up in the
body. The good news is that, with a natural program of vitamins and minerals,
accumulations of lead and cadmium can be removed from the system. Since amino acids are
the precursors to the neurotransmitters, low levels can lead to neurotransmitter
deficiency. Higher than accepted levels may lead to neurotransmitter excess. One example
of amino acid excess causing hyperactive behavior occurs with the artificial sweetener,
aspartame. Some children are highly sensitive to aspartame and scrupulous attention should
be aimed at keeping this potential neurotoxin out of the child's diet. In children who
consume large amounts of aspartame in soft drinks or other processed foods, amino acids
can be significantly abnormal. Once the amino acid levels are determined, treatment can be
aimed at balancing brain chemicals more accurately. A history of allergies has been
reported by many authors for behavioral problems like being overtalkative, irritable,
inattentive/distractible, hyperactive, impulsive, difficult to handle, drowsy/sleepy,
mean, withdrawn, and euphoric. ADD/hyperactivity has been particularly connected with food
allergies, chemical allergies and salicylates. The ELISA/Act blood test can reveal the
immune system's reactions to over 300 foods and chemicals. In many ways, this blood test
is similar to other ELISA tests which measure antibodies to viruses, bacteria and fungi.
For more information on the ELISA/Act test and doctors in your area who can order it for
Serammune Physicians Laboratories
1890 Preston White Dr., Suite 201
Dr. Russell Jaffe is the immunologist who developed this test
and made it available to physicians in Canada and the U.S. He can be reached for further
information at SPL Ltd. Conventional medicine treats ADD children with Ritalin and similar
amphetamine-like drugs. These stimulant medications work fairly quickly and, for many
kids, this is effective treatment, especially in the case of the child about to be
expelled from school or causing the family to fall apart. On the negative side,
amphetamine-like drugs are only effective in about 70-75% of cases. In many cases,
increased hyperactivity occurs after the last dose of the day has worn off. The child may
have trouble going to sleep, difficulty getting up the next morning and experience a loss
of appetite. The risk of marginal deficiencies in iron, zinc, calcium, B vitamins,
protein, etc. increases. Amphetamine-like drugs do not address the cause of
ADD/Hyperactivity. It's akin to taking an aspirin for recurrent headaches. The pain
temporarily goes away but the reasons for the headaches remain a mystery. The majority of
parents do not like the idea of medicating their children. Some parents reluctantly
medicate their children only because they are pressured by teachers, schools and dogmatic
physicians to use stimulant drugs. Further, there are no long term studies showing that
medicated children do better in the long run academically, emotionally and otherwise
compared to the children of parents who say no to drugs.
The Read Causes
Like the other chronic diseases of our times like multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, cancer,
asthma and autoimmune disease, ADD is at epidemic levels in the post-industrial revolution
era. Childhood learning problems are also on the rise. Some argue that this is because of
better recognition and objective testing but respected authors like William Crook and
Lendon Smith strongly disagree.
Learning disability (LD) was not a major problem for
children growing up in the early 1800's and as late as 1950, there was only one child
in each classroom with LD or ADD. Today, it is more like five or six. Ritalin, other
amphetamine like drugs or intense psychotherapy have done nothing to change the dramatic
rise in incidence of these diagnoses because they do not address the source of the
problem. The answers to why a child develops LD or ADD lie in the field of genetics,
environmental toxicology and nutrition. Although genetics, infections and brain damage
(trauma) have been cited as causes of ADD and LD, these cases are quite rare compared to
causes like a dysfunctional home, heavy metal toxicities, nutritional deficiencies, and
food and chemical allergies.
The majority of cases are caused by an immune defect and
allergies to food additives, preservatives, chemicals, or inhalants. To deal adequately
with this illness, we must address all these potential imbalances. Some of the nutritional
deficiencies that correlate with LD or ADD are calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron and zinc.
On the other hand, high copper, lead, cadmium and aluminum levels have also been seen in
learning disabled children.
Aside from diet changes excluding food and chemical
allergies, there are many natural treatments including a long list of vitamins, minerals,
herbs, amino acids, essential fatty acids and enzymes. The treatments all depend on the
case history, physical examination and the results of biochemical tests. Evening primrose
oil is a common remedy recommended for ADD children. It and numerous herbs have
anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties through their ability to modulate
prostaglandin levels, the hormones responsible for inflammation, pain, allergic reactions
and other aspects of the immune system. Based on the findings of biochemical tests, a
personalized nutritional program of diet and supplements can be recommended. Work with a
health care professional familiar with nutritional remedies.
- Boris, M. Foods and food additives are common causes of the attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder in children. Annals Allergy 72, 1994, pp. 462-68.
- Carter, C.M. Effects of a few foods diets in Attention
Archives of Diseases of Childhood . 69, 1993, pp. 564-568.
- Crook, William G. Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard-to-Raise
Jackson, Tennessee:Professional Books, 1987.
- Crook, William G. Detecting Your Hidden Allergies, Jackson,
Tennessee:Professional Books, 1988.
- Crook, William G. The Yeast Connection Handbook,
Tennessee:Professional Books, 1996.
- Egger et al. Effect of diet treatment on enuresis in children
migraine or hyperkinetic behavior. Clinical Pediatrics, pp. 302-307,1992.
- Hagerman, R.J. and Falkenstein, M.A., An association between
otitis media in infancy and later hyperactivity. Clinical Pediatrics,
1987; Vol.26, No.5
- Kahn, Cynthia, A.", M.D., et al. Lead Screening Children
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Developmental Delay. Clinical
Pediatrics, September 1995;498-501.
- Kaplan, B.J. Dietary replacement in preschool-aged
Pediatrics 83, 1989, pp.7-17.
- Rapp, Doris J. Allergies and the Hyperactive Child., New
York, New York:
Cornerstone Library, (Simon & Schuster), 1979.
- Rapp, Doris J. Allergies and Your Family. New York, New York:
Publishing, 1980.Stevens, Laura J., et al. Essential Fatty Acid.
- Metabolism in Boys With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995;62:761-8.
- Smith, L. 1983. Feed Yourself Right. New York: McGraw-Hill.