ADD/ADHD by Dr Mercola

Optimal Wellness Center (OWC):
There is currently a lawsuit against the maker of Ritalin and a psychiatric group for conspiring to create an all-encompassing diagnostic criteria for ADD/ADHD, which some claim could be interpreted to include nearly every kid in the US. Do you have any opinion on this issue?

Lendon Smith, MD:
I know little of what the lawsuit claims, but I understand that psychiatrists have added a number of "psychiatric diseases" to their list of diseases for which they can be compensated by the insurance companies. They are up to at least 400 now, I believe. They have even added such bizarre conditions such as "dyscalcula", a condition of being poor in math.

I was a bed-wetter as a young child, and the psychiatric textbooks claim that it was because I hated my mother. The bed was soft and warm, like mom, and because I resented her (did I really?) I was paying her back for real or imagined putdowns. It was "Pee on you, Mom." as the manifestation of this deep-seated hostility. I found out after a few years of this, if I did not drink milk, I did not wet the bed. I was not my mother; it was the mother cow. So much for psychiatry.

They do make things up.

They have to find someone to blame.

Who is around that is an easy target? Mom

The same goes for ADD/ADHD. Almost all children so touched with this syndrome eventually get a bad self-image, as all they hear are derogatory comments and commands like "sit down" or "stop that". Commands and questions like these are put-downs and tend to give a child a bad self-image. So the end result could have some psychiatric determinants.

When I started practice in 1950 there were a few thousand children in out country on "speed" or Ritalin for hyperactivity.

Now it is up to about 4 Million children a day getting Ritalin on school days.

The company keeps manufacturing the drugs because psychiatrists and pediatricians are prescribing them. The lawsuit might encourage doctors, parents, and teachers to look for some CAUSATIVE factors, such as nutritional deficiencies to explain the problem. It is not a disease.

Can we blame the government, or the "dust bowl" or the farmers for this careless handling of our topsoil? It used to be three feet thick. It is now down to an average of six inches.

Are there steps that parents can take, starting even during pregnancy to help reduce the risks of behavioral problems like ADD/ADHD?

Dr. Smith:
A woman should not marry a man who is an incipient alcoholic (read: has hypoglycemic tendencies, a precursor to alcoholism), or has some of the obvious ADD symptoms and signs (excessively ticklish, restless, overreacts to stimuli), or is an obvious jerk and stupid, too. The meal at the wedding reception should have no booze for either wife or husband, and carrot cake.

She should start taking nutrients as soon as the couple decides to have a child --- if they can predict this sometimes unpredictable event. Folic acid is a must to start before conception. He needs zinc, and they both should be on essential fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, and the B complex.

Vitamin C, starting at 1,000 mg a day for the first three months and then moving up to 5,000 mg a day until delivery day, has been shown to provide a more care-free pregnancy, a baby with few allergies, and an increased chance of being able to breastfeed successfully. (Dr. Frederick Klenner)

She should aim to gain about 30 pounds during the pregnancy.

The baby is more likely to be healthy and free of allergies. She should not drink cow's milk every day, if at all, and rotating the other ingredients of the diet would be important to prevent the possibility of allergies. No one should eat foods that come in packages.

Do not have sugar or white flour products in the house: someone will eat them!

Organically grown foods are better.

However, they still may not contain all the minerals needed for health. She should aim for breast feeding for the first year of the baby's life at a minimum. A lactation expert can help plan for that activity.

If possible, a home birth is less traumatic than a hospital one. Nurse, nurse, nurse is the smart way to feed the baby. No solids for the first six to eight months and then maybe some steamed zucchini or homemade apple sauce to start. One might wonder about the vaccines, which we now know can be factors in the production of neurological symptoms.

Love and limits are the rules for rearing a non-neurotic child.

Ear infections should not be treated with antibiotics, if possible, as their use may lead to overgrowth of the yeast, Candidiasis and dysfunction of the intestines. These infections are a give-away that the child is eating something to which he is sensitive or even allergic, like cow's milk. (If the mother is drinking cow milk, those sensitizing proteins could be in her breast milk.)

There are safe natural methods of treating these infections. She can place a little vitamin C powder on her nipples every day and the baby will suck it off. The dose is about 100 mg of C per day per month of age: the six-month old would get 600 mgs a day. The dose would be 1,000 mg daily at one year and about 2,000 mg per day at age two, then decide how much daily for life after that age.

Preventing infections and the use of antibiotics should keep the baby's intestines functioning optimally. The dysbiosis of the gut may lead to improper nutrient absorption and nutritional imbalances. (From Dr Billy Crook)

If the child shows any of the telltale signs of hyperactivity like ticklishness, overreaction to sights and especially sounds, they would lead the alert parents to suspect incipient ADD. Magnesium in the 300 to 500 mg amounts daily should help. Once the parents are shouting and scolding more than they are complimenting and rewarding the child, then some psychiatric screw-up may be on its way secondary to the neurologic or nutritional defect.

Parents should be able to say nice things to their child twice as often as they give commands or ask questions.

Be nice to your child, hyper or not. He/she is the one who will put you away in a nursing home some day.

In addition:
  Bedwetting after age five years may be a clue about food sensitivities or low magnesium. (Magnesium can help the bladder muscles stretch and hold the required amount so the child may stay dry all night.)

  White spots on the nails are not a clue that the child has a lover; it is a sign of low zinc intake.

  Dry skin or eczema suggests low intake of essential fatty acids.

Is breastfeeding protective against ADD? If so, how is it protective?

Dr. Smith:
No doubt about it.

Breastfeeding is protective in warding off the risk of developing ADD and a host of other problems.

The essential fatty acids and many other substances present are important for the development of the brain. The breastfed baby has a slightly higher IQ than the strictly bottle fed baby. Breastfed babies have fewer infections, and hence require fewer antibiotics than the bottle fed ones. As previously discussed, if antibiotics are used for every infection that comes along, the infant and child (and adult) is likely to develop the candida yeast infection in the intestines with its attendant problems of malabsorption or dysbiosis.

Also, the immune system does not learn anything; it is not strengthened when antibiotics are used. In addition, breastfed babies are more likely to develop a better set of jaws and optimally spaced teeth. (Dr. Weston Price.)

The benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to the substances in the milk itself. Closeness and bonding are an important part of growing up.

Babies breastfed are more likely to be secure - not spoiled - secure.

The best years of my life were spent in the arms of another man's wife - my mother.

What is your opinion of "Ferberization" of infants? (This is the allowing of infants to "cry it out" in their cribs)

Dr. Smith:
I think that this concept sounds like an abomination of what parenting stands for. I understand this is what the Third Reich advocated, because in the 30s and 40s, the Nazi idea was to rear a tough Aryan race of children who would be obedient, used to stress, and learn to rise above the pain.

The Nazis had blue-eyed blonde true "Aryans" mate and reproduce, but the children were placed in nurseries with tough, no-nonsense nurses (like Elsa Koch) who "supervised" their care. The infants were only fed and changed at set intervals. Holding and cuddling was not allowed. The children thus treated - or not treated - in their infancy grew up to be stupid.

Love and cuddling conquers all.

If your baby cries, pick the poor thing up and try to find out what the matter is. Many people cannot believe that their baby could be hungry. You must remember that the stomach can empty itself in just an hour and a half. Assume that hunger is the cause. If the distressed little thing vomits, and then feels better, assume their is somethng wrong with the milk. It is most likely a sensitivity to cow milk.

Babies NEED people whom they can trust. They need to feel secure, and I might add, and a feeling that they are wanted.

What is your opinion of infants co-sleeping with their mother and/or parents?

Dr. Smith:
William Sears in his writings and speeches advocates that infants sleep with their mothers. He even made a sling that the mother could wear so that the baby would always be near her and feel her motions and even hear her heartbeat, which would remind the baby of the wonderful life in the uterus.

Those wonderful, safe days of long ago; where are they now when we need them?

When babies sleep with or near their parents, especially mom, they are not being spoiled, they are being made to feel secure and accepted.

There were enough lights, sounds, and other stresses during childbirth that I would imagine that after birth, the poor kid must have a serious headache, at least. If he is a boy he might have a penis ache also, from the amputation of his foreskin. He needs all the comfort and warmth possible.

When we consider the rapid rate of growth in those first few weeks, the baby has to be fed frequently, and who best to satisfy that need? Mom, of course. I figured out how fast the baby was growing in those first few weeks. If we extend that growth curve straight up, and the baby continued to grow at the same rate, by the time he is 10 years old, he would be about 20 feet tall. He needs to be fed frequently and sleeping with mom allows this to happen during the night more easily for both mother and child.

The father should at least be "allowed" to change, cuddle, and find the lost pacifier under the bed. Let him know he is important in child rearing. He should even sing to his baby.

It would be helpful to have a crib-like device fastened to the adults' bed somehow so the mother can easily slide the baby straight over to her nice warm bed.

What is your opinion of the Feingold Diet for ADD? It seems to get a decent amount of attention. Do you think it is effective? Are there points you agree or disagree with?

Dr. Smith:
About 30 years ago, I met the late Dr. Ben Feingold, an allergist in San Francisco. He had found that many people were sensitive to aspirin. They often developed asthma, nasal polyps, skin rashes and even irritability and odd behavior, including hyperactivity. When he had these patients, often adults, stop using aspirin, the symptoms, including surliness and hyperactivity disappeared.

That started the whole Feingold Association. He discovered that aspirin or salicylates were also in many foods, including citrus, some berries, and other fruits and some vegetables. Mothers of children with hyperactivity could tell when her child ate some of the forbidden foods. It certainly worked for some children.

I was on a panel of doctors talking to parents of these children, and asked him why he did not eliminate sugar while he was at it. Ben's reply was "I bit off a little more than I could handle with the salicylate business."

Eliminating salicylates still works for some. There are Feingold Associations in almost every city in the US.

Thanks Ben. You are one of our heroes.

Dr. Mercola's comment:
Dr. Smith was practicing medicine before I was even born and has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge during that time period. It is great to read about nontoxic therapies for treating this rampant problem amongst our children.

Much of what he is saying is right in line with my diet recommendations, which avoids the problem of hypoglycemia and blood sugar imbalances by removing nearly all sugars and reducing grains to a minimum. The diet also eliminates many of the foods that most often cause sensitivities, most notably milk and dairy products.

I have not previously used the overly ticklish/magnesium and forgotten dreams/vitamin B6 correlation before, but I plan on giving them a try, especially since these nutrients are very safe at the dosages he suggests.

I would recommend avoiding the magnesium oxide form however. Although this is the cheapest type, it is the least healthy.

I would also say that, while the Feingold Diet is a step in the right direction by establishing the Diet/behavior link, I feel strongly that it misses some of the most important dietary points of all, such as avoidance of sugar and dairy.

Books Written by Lendon Smith:

1. The Children's Doctor - 1969

2. Encyclopedia of Baby and Child Care - 1972

3. New Wive's Tales - 1974

4. Improving Your child's Behavior Chemistry - 1976

5. Feed Your Kids Right - 1978

6. Foods for Healthy Kids - 1980

7. Feed Yourself Right - 1982

8. Dr. Smith's Low Stress Diet - 1984

9. Dr. Smith's Diet Plan for Teenagers - 1986

10. Vitamin C as a Fundamental Medicine - 1988

11. Hyper Kids Workbook - 1990

12. Happiness is a Healthy Life - 1992

13. Feed Your Body Right - 1994

14. How to Raise a Healthy Child (Hardcover or Paberback) - 1996

15. The Infant Survival Guide - 2000

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