The symptoms of ADHD vary from aggression (bursts), through to difficulty concentrating, lying to impulsive behaviour and more.
When children are prescribed medication for ADHD it tends to be one of the two, RITALIN or ADDERALL.
Both of these meds ‘twiddle’ around with neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are ‘chemicals’ naturally produced by various parts of our body especially the brain. The cells speak to one another by releasing these neurotransmitters.
In ADHD the key VITAL neurotransmitter is DOPAMINE. Dopamine is released when we feel a ‘high’ such as when we achieve something, while we have sex when we eat food that we CRAVE. This neurotransmitter contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system.
Think ADHD, the impulse to do something to get that DOPAMINE TO KICK IN, there is not enough of the effect of dopamine that the drive to FEEL the dopamine high is just not happening.
This important dopamine boosts mood, motivation, and attention, and helps regulate emotional responses, movement and learning.
Dr Siegel’s book ‘Brainstorm; the power and purpose of the teenage brain’ explains that during the teen years the DOPAMINE receptors DROP, (like we need that right?). As these receptors drop, teens then get into this risk-seeking behaviour, they become impulsive, can get aggressive, withdrawn, clumsy, I am sure you get the gist. BUT Dr Siegel goes onto explain, this happens for their HEALTHY development, as in tribal cultures (rights of passage) this is when these amazing young people leave the tribe, they have to go and learn to fend for themselves and therefore their future ‘tribe’ ..if they had ‘normal dopamine levels’ they would not want to leave home and remain ‘comfy, cosy dependent on their parents’ . So ADHD in a child may be even further heightened during these teen years, they are not going crazy, I encourage you to read Dr Siegel’s book, it is much needed ‘sanity’ in such ’emotional’ times.
So if this dopamine is low, you can then understand the behaviours and traits of ADHD.
But what causes this ADHD? What causes low dopamine (apart from the teen brain). Here are some well-recognised causes ….
– ‘genetics’ (we need to think beyond this now, think EPIgenetics)
– birth trauma
– premature birth
– head injuries
– prenatal exposure to smoking, alcohol and drugs
From a non-mainstream perspective, we can consider …
– birth trauma
– trauma in general
– a lack of ‘safety’
– medications during pregnancy
These are just a few, but to explain why some of the above may play a role and do, I want to re-introduce the HPA axis, the fight-flight and freeze response of how one may experience an event in their life, here is one of several blogs I have written on this HERE.
ADHD is one of the symptoms of a dysfunctional HPA axis and ongoing ‘fight-flight’ physiology.
From a nutritional perspective, dopamine is made from protein foods (specifically an amino acid called tyrosine), it also requires SPECIFIC nutrients such as certain B vitamins, IRON, copper, vitamin C. These are MOSTLY not addressed, everyone knows sugar may make you more hyper and impulsive and aggressive, hence best to avoid if one has ADHD, but how many children go out of their way to avoid sugar? Seriously?
I will share PART 2 in my next blog but I will connect the spider’s web to ADHD as well as the importance of the above key nutrients in a case of ADHD.
To health and vitality!
PS. Adderall does not only ‘twiddle’ with dopamine levels it twiddles with noradrenaline and serotonin too.