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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms and Natural Treatment

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms and Natural Treatment

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms and Natural Treatment

ADHD Treatment Perth

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neuro behavioural disorder characterised by a persistent pattern of inattentiveness, overactivity, impulsivity or a combination of, which are out of the normal range for a child‘s age and development.  at our Perth clinic we have experience with  ADHD and other neurological disorders.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioural disorder of childhood and is more common in boys than girls. 30-50% of individuals diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms in adulthood.

ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Combined hyperactive-inattentive:  this is the most common type

Causes of ADHD

Likely to involve genetic factors as well other factors affecting brain development during prenatal and postnatal life.

Imaging studies suggest that the brains of children with ADHD are different than those of other children, primarily affecting dopamine pathways i.e. ADHD children have reduced dopamine levels due to abnormally rapid reabsorption of dopamine.

Genetic variations in the COMT pathway and other genetic variations such as those with MTHFR are more susceptible to ADHD and mood disorders.

Risk factors

  • Family history
  • Gender: 2-4 times more common in boys
  • Food sensitivities: especially sugar, gluten, casein and food additives (artificial colourings (esp. yellow and red), preservatives (esp. benzoates and propionates), MSG)
  • Poor diet: high sugar and refined carbohydrates, low protein, low essential fatty acid, low fruit and vegetables
  • Dietary stimulants
  • Maternal stress, drug, alcohol and cigarette use
  • Premature birth or oxygen deprivation at birth
  • Heavy metal toxicity (especially exposure to lead in early life)
  • Chemical exposure (especially organophosphate pesticides)
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Family dysfunction, neglect, abuse, etc.
  • Overstimulation from electronic screens

Signs & symptoms of ADHD

  • Inattentive symptoms include:
    • Difficulty focusing, paying attention, easily distracted, frequently switches from one activity to another
    • Forgetful and loses things easily
    • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    • Does not follow through on instructions, schoolwork, chores or duties
    • Difficulty organising tasks and activities
    • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort
    • Daydreaming
  • Hyperactive symptoms include:
    • Fidgets, squirms in seat
    • Leaves seat when remaining in seat is expected
    • Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations
    • Has difficulty playing quietly
    • Is often on the go or talks excessively
  • Impulsivity symptoms include:
    • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    • Has difficulty awaiting turn; interrupts or intrudes on others


  • Identify /address underlying contributing factors
    • Food sensitivities: sugar, gluten, casein, food additives, salicylates
    • Balance neurotransmitters
    • Regulate MTHFR and COMT biochemical pathways
    • Investigate and regulate gut dysbiosis and intestinal permeability
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Heavy metal toxicity
    • Nutritional deficiency: especially EFAs, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D,
    • Family dynamics
  • Support brain function, in particular dopamine pathways
  • Calm sympathetic nervous system response

Diet plan guidelines for ADHD

  • Elimination diet to identify food sensitivities: In particular, gluten, casein, food additives and salicylates
  • Elimination of food additives, especially artificial colours, preservatives and sweeteners
    • While food additives have not been established as a major cause of ADHD, evidence shows that some children show improvement on an additive-free diet (Stevens et al, 2011).
  • Avoidance of sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and stimulants such as caffeine
  • Increase foods high in omega-3 fatty acids e.g. oily fish, nuts and seeds
  • Fresh whole food diet high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables, grass fed meats, nutrient dense foods

Supplements that support ADHD

Dosage will depend on age of childA thorough investigation should be undertaken to assess an individual with diagnosed or suspected ADHD.  The below supplements will assist in managing symptoms however address root cause imbalances in neurotransmitters, genetic pathways and gut integrity are required to have maximum effect on patients.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: to support healthy brain function; children with ADHD have lower plasma concentrations of certain EFA‘s
  • Active B-complex: to support healthy neurological function, people with MTHFR polymorphisms should avoid folic acid and use either folinic acid or methyl folate
  • Magnesium: to calm sympathetic nervous system response
  •   Phosphatidyl serine: studies have shown that in combination with omega-3 fatty acids may help with symptoms (Manor et al, 2012)
  • Iron, folate, B12, zinc and vitamin D: assess status and supplement if deficient
  • If heavy metal toxicity: glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, selenium, n-acetyl cysteine

Herbal Medicine treatment that supports ADHD

  • Cognition-enhancing – bacopa, ginkgo, gotu kola, Korean ginseng, French maritime pine bark
  • Relaxing nervines – passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile, oats, valerian
  • Adaptogens – withania, Siberian ginseng
  • Blood sugar balancers: gymnema, fringe tree

Lifestyle / Physical measures

  • Physical exercise / sport: very important
  • Avoid overstimulation: electronic media, computer games, excessive TV
  • Spend time in nature
  • Counselling / hypnotherapy
  • Meditation / relaxation / visualisation CDs for children


ADHD is a multifaceted condition that requires a thorough investigation into each patient to identify the major individual contributing factors. 

Poor functioning dopamine pathways, bacterial overgrowth of the gut, intestinal permeability, impaired detoxification, methylation imbalances, poor diet and heavy metal toxicity are all common factors that may contribute to the manifestation of ADHD.

At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we have experience with patients that have been diagnosed with ADHD or exhibit ADHD symptoms.  

Are you or a family member suffering from ADHD or some of the symptoms listed above?  Did you come off ADHD medication through addressing the underlying drivers of the condition?  Did a diet change improve your condition?  We would love to hear your story, please leave a comment below.

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The above information is intended to be general, educational advice only, on topics which are of interest to us. It is not intended to represent specific or individual health or medical advice and is not specific to your situation. The below information is educative and is not intended to advertise any service.

Before making any decisions in relation to your health, you should always discuss your individual situation with your own health practitioners to ensure that any advice you have read is right for you.

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper - ND is the founder of Advanced Functional Medicine Australia. He is a Naturopathic Doctor with extensive functional medicine training from leading practitioners in the USA and worldwide.

He is leading the way with advancements of functional medicine, clinically implementing worldwide best practices in Functional Medicine throughout Australia.

Jarrod consults in person from Perth, Western Australia and also online via Telehealth throughout Australia and worldwide.

If you are looking for personalised treatment, we highly recommend contacting Jarrod Cooper’s Advanced Functional Medicine clinic in Australia.

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