Hyperactivity, Foods, and Drugs
The incidence of Hyperactivity, hyperkinesis and attention deficit disorder (ADD) seems to be rising at an alarming rate
in American schools. For the child and parents and teachers alike, it can be a frustrating and difficult problem.
Conventional treatment for hyperactivity kids is to place the child on the drugs dexedrine or Ritalin. These drugs are
actually forms of speed, but hyperactive children are slowed down by them. It is rare for these kids to be evaluated for
nutritional, environmental or food sensitivities. Dietary restrictions are difficult to manage, not only for the child, but for
the parents and the doctor. The drugs do make a difference in their childs' behavior, so most parents resign themselves
to their use.
No one knows the long term side effects of having your child on daily medication for his or her first five years of
schooling. Shouldn't doctors be investigating all the potential causes before beginning their child patient on years of
In a recent British study (1), 185 hyperkinetic children went on a low allergy diet of water, lamb and chicken, potatoes
and rice, bananas and pears, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, celery, and carrots. The diet was
supplemented with calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins. Behavior responded to foods upon both challenge and
elimination in 116 children. Forty of these kids received intradermal hyposensitization or placebo, and it was found that
16 of 20 who received hyposensitization could tolerate the foods after treatment. Hyperkinetic behavior was eliminated
as long as the offending foods were avoided.
This study, like many before it, demonstrates that not all hyperkinetic kids need to be placed on drugs. It's time that food
allergy testing be required before any child is drugged. Perhaps the prescribing of Ritalin without food testing will go
the way of tonsillectomies..
(1) Egger, Joseph et al, The Lancet, May 9, 1992;339:1150-1153