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The functional Overview Of ADHD

Written by

Sabrina Freudenmann BHSc

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a behavioural and learning disorder. ADHD is known to impair the routine activities of the affected children and adults. Here is a brief discussion about the functional overview of ADHD aimed at understanding how it develops.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is characterized by a low attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is usually diagnosed in children often affecting their academic performance and even interpersonal and social interactions.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD results in an inability to stay focused, and remember things. Some other features of this condition include impulsivity that can make it difficult for them to perform efficiently in structured settings like schools.

The hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness caused due to ADHD can contribute to symptoms like:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty in listening
  • Inability to sit still
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Problems with anger management
  • Difficulty in staying focused
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Low tolerance for stress and otherwise ordinary problems
  • Tendency to talk too much
  • Impatience, difficulty waiting

Treatment of ADHD

Typically, children and adults with ADHD are treated with medications that target the neurotransmitters in the brain. Ritalin and Adderall are the most commonly used drugs for the management of ADHD. These medications basically help by suppressing the symptoms of ADHD without effectively addressing the root cause of the illness.

These drugs also cause a range of serious side effects, including anxiety, suicidal thoughts, nervousness, agitation, insomnia, vomiting, increased blood pressure, an increased heart rate, and even psychosis.

Therefore, there is a need to adopt a functional approach to the management of ADHD to relieve the symptoms without interfering with the normal functions of the brain or the hormonal balance in the nervous system.

Natural Treatments for ADHD

Identify nutrient deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are commonly associated with a higher risk of ADHD. Research studies have revealed that children with ADHD are likely to have a magnesium deficiency. Supplementing with magnesium would reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity and improve the attention span of patients with ADHD.

The deficiency of other essential nutrients like Zinc has also been linked to a higher risk of ADHD. Several studies have suggested that zinc supplementation could help reduce the symptoms of ADHD, especially hyperactivity in children.

B vitamins play a vital role in metabolism and maintaining homeostasis. Levels of B vitamins, namely vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folate), have been found to be reduced in children and adults with ADHD; additionally, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) levels in children with ADHD were found to be significantly lower than in children without ADHD.

High homocysteine levels have been observed in a variety of diseases including ADHD. Homocysteine may contribute to higher oxidative stress and brain inflammation. B vitamins have the ability to lower blood homocysteine levels.

Low ferritin has been found in patients with ADHD and therefore suggesting an important role in ADHD pathology. A deficiency in iron can lead to a low level of ferritin as iron is stored in the body by the protein, ferritin. Iron is important for growth, red blood cell formation, oxygen transport and dopamine signalling.

Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for ADHD development as it has been suggested to be a contributor to several neuropsychiatric disorders. A meta-analysis of eight studies totalling 11,324 children (2,655 with ADHD) found that vitamin D serum levels were significantly lower in patients diagnosed with ADHD compared with healthy controls.

Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has been linked in children with ADHD. Our typical western diet is has often excessive levels of certain omega-6fatty acids but is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, which include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenonic acid).

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is considered one of the most important brain nutrients. PS has a variety of functions within the brain including supporting cell membrane fluidity and beneficially influencing neurotransmitter systems (eg, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin).

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA work synergistically with PS to provide the building blocks for healthy cell membranes so a deficiency in these acids affects also your PS levels.
A randomized, double-blind study found that supplementing with PS significantly improved ADHD symptoms as well as short-term auditory memory. Another 2021 meta-analysis found that at a dose of 200–300 mg daily, PS had a significant effect on symptoms of inattention compared with placebo.

Eliminate heavy metals

The accumulation of heavy metals in the body such as lead and mercury could interfere with the neural signalling mechanisms in the nervous system and aggravate the attention deficit. Lead could create an adverse impact on the neural development in young children even with a low level of toxicity.

Hence, promoting detoxification of heavy metals with the help of safe and effective therapies like methylation, chelation, and sulfation is recommended to relieve the symptoms of this condition.

Healthy eating habits

Eating clean by eliminating specific foods that contain food additives, dyes, and harmful chemicals is one of the effective ways to manage the symptoms of ADHD. These chemicals are commonly added to packaged and processed foods and ready meals.

Research studies have proven that these foods can increase hyperactivity and other symptoms of ADHD, and hence, must be avoided.

Discover food sensitivities and intolerances

There is evidence suggesting that certain food categories are more likely to aggravate the symptoms of ADHD in some patients. For example, gluten-containing grains, dairy products, and foods with added sugars can trigger the symptoms of ADHD.

Discovering food sensitivities and intolerances and avoiding them could help to restore the healthy bodily functions and relieve the symptoms of ADHD.

Improve gut flora

Reducing the inflammation in the gut and balancing the gut flora would restore the normal neurological functions and improve hormonal balance thereby reducing the symptoms of ADHD.

Reduce inflammation

Medical research has shown that the inflammation in the brain could trigger the onset and worsening of ADHD.

An increase in the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine has been linked to inflammation and damage to the blood-brain barrier while the high levels of an inflammatory protein called C-reactive protein could trigger inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body.

Hence, addressing inflammation by using natural anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and green tea is recommended for relieving ADHD symptoms.

Regular exercise

Research studies have suggested that regular exercise could improve concentration and focus in children with ADHD. Taking a walk at a park or in nature on a regular basis could help boost the secretion of dopamine in the brain and thus, enhance the memory and attention span of children and adults with ADHD.

Use adaptogenic herbs

Research studies have revealed that the use of adaptogenic herbs Ginkgo biloba and pine bark could be beneficial for improving the symptoms of ADHD. These herbs would restore the body’s ability to cope with difficult situations and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity.

CBD oil

Research suggests that the intake of CBD oil could relieve the symptoms of ADHD, thanks to its ability to drive down inflammation in the nervous system and improve hormonal balance.

Boost serotonin

Patients with ADHD often have serotonin imbalances that play a role in mood swings, impulse control, and sleep patterns. Patients may use tryptophan or vitamin B6, which has the ability to boost the production of serotonin and reduce symptoms like hyperactivity.

Sleep well

Behavioural sleep interventions have been shown to improve the sleep pattern, and in turn, reduce hyperactivity and improve focus in patients with ADHD. Following a fixed bedtime routine can also improve the speed quality and duration and relieve the symptoms of this condition.

In 95% of obstructive sleep apnoea suffers attentional deficits have been reported. Also, obstructive sleep apnoea has been observed in 30% of people diagnosed with ADHD. So, addressing successfully obstructive sleep apnoea relieves ADHD symptoms in individuals.

As sleep disorders are a common comorbidity in ADHD or a causative factor it has been shown that L-theanine improves sleep. In a study of boys (aged 8‒12 years) diagnosed with ADHD, 400 mg L-theanine daily was shown to improve sleep.

EMFs from mobile devices

Several studies have found a strong correlation between exposure to EMF radiation and a higher risk of ADHD. Hence, limiting screen time and using EMF-blocking devices could be useful for relieving the symptoms of this condition.


ADHD can impair the routine functioning of the affected children and adults. By investigating the underlying factors that contribute to the development of ADHD, it is possible to manage the symptoms of this condition while avoiding a lifetime of persistent debilitating symptoms and drug use.


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