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Holistic Approach to Children with ADHD

If your child has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and has been recommended a stimulant medication, you might be wondering if there are any alternative options to try before medication. Or your child with ADHD has been on conventional treatment for a period of time, you have seen positive effects but have diminished over time, and/or your child is experiencing more side effects from the medication, you might be wondering if there are any natural options that are safe and effective. In this article, we will cover some possible contributing factors to ADHD in children and a 4-step strategy to address ADHD.

Problems With Traditional Treatment

Stimulant medication, like Adderall or Ritalin, alone or combined with behavioral therapy is the standard conventional treatment for ADHD. Around 70% of children with ADHD show some improvement with the medication, while appx. 30% of children with ADHD do not respond to the medication. In those who respond to the medication, benefits may wean off over time. The problem with stimulant medication is it masks symptoms but does not address the root cause of the disease. In addition, stimulants come with a whole profile of side effects.

Common side effects include:

  • Issues with sleep

  • Decreased appetite

  • Dry mouth

  • Headache

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dizziness

  • Nervousness

While I might disagree with taking stimulants as a long-term solution, the medication could be part of a successful treatment plan. Some individuals do better when medication is combined with integrative care. It is always important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the medication for your child's condition.

What Are The Root Causes ADHD?

Before we look into treatment options, first we need to ask, what causes your child's ADHD symptoms? This is important to ask because each individual is different. ADHD is a complex disorder that is influenced by multiple factors. You can share the same diagnoses, and the same symptoms, but that does not mean you share the same root cause. Finding the root cause determines what treatment method to use. Without discovering the root cause, you might need to go through a lot of trials and failures.

No doubt, genetics play a role in terms of predisposing how kids react to environmental triggers. When it comes to gut dysbiosis, one might develop ADHD symptoms, another might develop an autoimmune disease, and another might develop eczema. There are various ways in which environmental triggers can manifest in terms of symptoms, and this is primarily determined by genetic and epigenetic factors. When it comes to ADHD, if a parent has ADHD, a child has more than a 50% chance of having it, and if an older sibling has it, a child has more than a 30% chance. Although it is highly heritable, environmental factors play a key role in determining whether and how ADHD will develop among children with genetic predispositions to the disorder.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Exposure to an overload of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, has repeatedly been linked with the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and attention-deficit disorder in children. Heavy metals can interrupt the dopamine pathway, which is one of the major neurotransmitter pathways that is involved in ADHD.

Non-Metal Chemical Toxicity

Studies have found chemicals, including phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), are moderately to highly associated with ADHD. These toxins can be found easily in our daily life, such as foods, carpeting and flooring, cleaning and lawn products, and personal-care products. Children and babies are especially vulnerable to toxic chemical exposure. During fetal's development, exposure to even minuscule amounts of toxins can have a lifelong impact on children's brain and physical health. ADHD can be developed due to damage to the brain.

Nutritional Deficiency

A range of nutrients have been associated with brain development and functioning, and diet may be a contributing factor in the high incidence and prevalence of mental disorders, such as ADHD and autism. Researchers have found that there is a high correlation between selective eating problems (picky eating) and ADHD. Most of the kids I see in practice that has ADHD have high levels of sensitivity to the texture, color, smell, and/or taste of food, some children tend to ignore nutritious food leading to deficiency in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Nutritional deficiency can be both a trigger and a consequence of ADHD symptoms.

Poor Gut Health

We understand that there is a gut-brain connection. The gut has its own nervous system, which creates neurotransmitters and communicates information to the brain along the vagus nerve. The gut microbiome highly affects the nervous system and the imbalances of the gut microbiome could be one of the main contributing factors to behavioral disorders. Common causes of gut dysbiosis include antibiotic use, high sugar intake, stress, chemical consumption (eg. pesticides from fruit), high protein intake, and infection.

Other Common Contributing Factors:

  • Mold toxicity

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Impaired methylation cycle

  • Food allergies & food sensitivities

  • Sleep apnea

It is extremely important to get functional lab test done to identify the root cause. These test includes, heavy metal test, organic acid test, food sensitivity test, nutritient panel, hormonal panel, non-metal chemical test, and more.

4-Steps (4Rs) To Address ADHD

Step 1: Remove Toxins

Based on the abnormal findings on the functional lab tests, you clean out the excess toxins in your child's body and eliminate the food items that your child is sensitive to. Removing the toxin load is a crucial step to take before implementing good nutrients into the body. Without removing toxins, your child's methylation pathway, detoxification system, immune system, digestion system, etc. may not work properly and the nutrients entering the body may not be absorbed.

What are the common toxins in the body?

  • Bacteria

  • Yeast, and fungal, esp mold and candida

  • Parasites

  • Heavy metals, such as lead and mercury

  • Glyphosate

  • Non-metal chemicals, such as phthalates, benzene

What you can do to help your child remove toxins?

  • Epsom salt bath

  • Identify and kill the mold in the house

  • Avoid processed food, artificial sweetener, and sugary food in your child's diet

  • Use non-toxic house cleaning products

  • Use a water filter system

  • Replace plastic food containers with glass, silicon, or stainless steel

In my practice, I use different modalities to help children remove toxins in their bodies, this includes antimicrobial/antifungal herbal formulas, binders, chelation, dietary recommendation, IV therapy, ozone therapy, etc.

Step 2: Repair the Detoxification System

Once the toxins are removed, we can start on detoxification and repairment of the body system.

How to support the detoxification system?

  • Support the liver

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Heal the gut

  • Improve nutrients

What you can do to support your child's detoxification system?

  • Make sure your child eats a healthy balanced diet

  • Juicing (Ingredients suggestions: Apple, ginger, turmeric, kales, celery, lemon, cucumber)

  • Let your child spend more time playing outside during daytime

  • Develop a regular bedtime routine

What are the common supplements to support detoxification and repair the body system?

  • Antioxidants (eg. glutathione)

  • Liver support herbs (eg. milk thistle)

  • Anti-inflammatory (eg. curcumin)

  • Probiotics

  • Amino acids (eg. L-glutamine)

Step 3: Replenish Nutrients

When the toxin load is reduced, the body is able to function more properly. This is the time when you can start replenishing missing nutrients.

What are the common nutritional deficiencies in children with ADHD?

  • Vitamin D

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Magnesium

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Step 4: Rebalance Diet and Lifestyle

When symptoms has been improved or the outcome has met your expectation, this is not the end of the healing process. Rebalance is a crucial step to take to prevent worsening or developing new symptoms. This step requires the whole-family to work together to make diet, sleeping habits, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. For example:

  • Avoid artificial colorings and flavors in diet to prevent hyperactivity

  • No screens at least 2 hours before bed to improve sleep and prevent overstimulation

  • Exercise with your child daily, focus on cardiovascular and coordinative exercise, such as running, jump rope, ball or balloon toss, and targeting exercise, to improve focus, mood, and cognitive functioning

Alpha Care Program

AlphaPed offers a care program designed for children with autistic, ADHD or other behavioral symptoms. Our naturopathic doctors will work with you and your child to identify and treat the root cause of your child's autistic symptoms. Our goal is to guide you and your child through their healing process and release your burden on searching for treatment methods. If you are interested in learning more, book now for a 15-min discovery call.

Disclaimer: As a Naturopathic Medical doctor, it is my intent to seek out and present many approaches to health and recommend what is best for my patients on an individual basis. All materials on this website are provided for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.


Handelman, K., & Sumiya, F. (2022). Tolerance to Stimulant Medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Literature Review and Case Report. Brain Sciences, 12(8), 959.

Lee, M. J., Chou, M. C., Chou, W. J., Huang, C. W., Kuo, H. C., Lee, S. Y., & Wang, L. J. (2018). Heavy metals’ effect on susceptibility to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: implication of lead, cadmium, and antimony. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(6), 1221.

Moore, S., Paalanen, L., Melymuk, L., Katsonouri, A., Kolossa-Gehring, M., & Tolonen, H. (2022). The Association between ADHD and Environmental Chemicals—A Scoping Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(5), 2849.

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