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Alternative Treaments for ADHD

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What are some of some of the alternative, complementary, and controversial Treatments for AD/HD? How does a person know if they are safe?

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Solution Summary

This solution identifies and describes some of the alternative, complementary, and controversial treatments for AD/HD, including how to evaluate the different treatments in terms of being safe and/or effective.

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1). What are some of some of the alternative, complementary, and controversial Treatments for AD/HD? How does a person know if they are safe?

The following overview is from the CHADD website, so reference accordingly.

EXCERPT: Overview of Alternative, Complementary, and Controversial Treatments for AD/HD

Because not every treatment for every individual is effective, CHADD (2003)encourages additional research on all complementary interventions that demonstrate some potential.

1. Dietary Intervention

Dietary interventions (as contrasted with dietary supplements) are based on the concept of elimination, that one or more foods are eliminated from one's diet.

The most publicized of these diet elimination approaches is the Feingold Diet.2 This diet is based on the theory that many children are sensitive to dietary salicylates and artificially added colors, flavors, and preservatives, and that eliminating the offending substances from the diet could improve learning and behavioral problems, including AD/HD. Despite a few positive studies, most controlled studies do not support this hypothesis.1 At least eight controlled studies since 1982, the latest being 1997, have found validity to elimination diets in only a small subset of children "with sensitivity to foods."1 While the proportion of children with AD/HD who have food sensitivities has not been empirically established, experts believe that the percentage is small.1,3,4 Parents who are concerned about diet sensitivity should have their children examined by a medical doctor for food allergies.

Research has also shown that the simple elimination of sugar or candy does not affect AD/HD symptoms, despite a few encouraging reports.1,5

2. Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplementation is the opposite of the dietary elimination approach. While the elimination diet assumes that something is unhealthy and should be removed from the diet, supplementation is based on the assumption that something is missing in the diet in an optimal amount and should be added. Parents who are concerned about possible missing nutrients should have their children examined by a medical doctor.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the sale of prescription medication, the FDA does not strictly regulate the ingredients or the manufacturer claims about dietary supplements. Go to the FDA Web site (http://www.fda.gov) to learn about existing regulations.

AD/HD is a brain-based disorder where the chemistry of the brain (neurotransmitters) is not functioning as it should. Nerve cell membranes are composed of phospholipids containing large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). Studies have been conducted to examine the impact of omega-3 and omega-6 deficiency and the possible impact of fatty acid supplementation. Further controlled studies are needed.1

Recently, organizations exclusively promoting glyconutritional supplements have come into business and are widely publicizing their products. Glyconutritional supplements contain basic saccharides necessary for cell communication and formation of glycoproteins and glycolipids. These saccharides are glucose, galactose, mannose, N-acetylneuraminic acid, fucose, N-acetylgalactosamine, and xylose. Two small studies showed a reduction in inattention and hyperactivity symptoms after a program of glyconutritional supplements,6,7 but a third study found no impact of the supplements on symptoms.1

The following conclusions regarding various supplements are based on an extensive review of the scientific literature:1

1. Treatments with supplements that "are neither proven nor found lacking in definitive controlled trials" include essential fatty acid supplementation, glyconutritional supplementation, recommended daily allowance (RDA) vitamins, single-vitamin megadosage, and herbals.

2. Megadose multivitamins (as opposed to RDA multivitamins) "have been demonstrated to be probably ineffective or possibly dangerous," and "have not only failed to show benefit in controlled studies, but also carry a mild risk of hepatotoxicity and peripheral neuropathy."

3. "For children with demonstrated deficiencies of any nutrient (e.g., zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamins), correction of that deficiency is the logical first-line treatment. It is not clear what proportion of children have such a nutritional deficiency." The deficiency as a cause of AD/HD without other symptoms has not been demonstrated.

4. Amino acid supplementation does not appear to be "a promising area for further exploration."

5. "No systematic data regarding AD/HD efficacy could be found for hypericum, Gingko biloba, Calmplex, Defendol, or pycnogenol."

3. Interactive Metronome Training
Interactive Metronome Training is a relatively new intervention for individuals with AD/HD. The Interactive Metronome (IM) is a computerized version of a simple metronome - i.e. what musicians use to "keep the beat" - and produces a rhythmic beat that individuals attempt to match with hand or foot tapping. Auditory feedback is provided, which indicates how well the individual is matching the beat. It is suggested that improvement in matching the beat over repeated sessions reflects gains in motor planning and timing skills.

The rationale behind IM training is that motor planning and timing deficits are common in children with AD/HD and are related to problems with behavioral inhibition that some experts believe are critical to understanding the disorder. In addition, these deficits are alleviated by stimulant medication treatment. Thus, it is plausible that interventions to improve motor timing and planning abilities directly, such as IM training, could also be helpful to children with AD/HD. There is no evidence that motor in-coordination is related to behavioral inhibition.
To date, there has been a single study of IM training for boys with AD/HD.8 This was a well-conducted study with appropriate control groups, and the ...

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