The Appleton Central Alternative High School in Appleton, Wisconsin was established in 1996 for “problem” students who did not fit well into a traditional high school setting. Students were described as “rude, obnoxious, and ill-mannered” by their own dean of students. Problems with discipline were severe enough that a policeman had to be on campus at all times. There were even weapons violations. In 1997 a new nutrition program was implemented. Machines selling soda pop were eliminated. The program was developed by Paul Stitt (biochemist and owner of Natural Ovens of Manitowoc) and Barbara Reed Stitt, PhD. Dr. Stitt is the author of Food and Behavior (she also developed a nutrition program while working as a probation officer that decreased the number of repeat offenders among her charges). Natural Ovens donated over $100,000 to hire cooks and set up food service. Nutritious meals were served to the students for breakfast and lunch (the students were only in school for those two meals). Soda pop, candy, chips and chemically laden foods were prohibited. Since improving the food fed to the students, for the last three years there have been no dropouts, no expulsions, no drug or weapons problems, and no suicides. Students say they have more focus and physical stamina.
Drugging them may not be the best approach. According to researchers from the FDA, drugs given for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can cause hallucinations, even when properly prescribed and taken. The research, published in Pediatrics (Vol. 123 No. 2 February 2009, pp. 611-616) looked at data from 49 different clinical studies and found that the drugs can cause the symptoms of psychosis and mania—including hallucinations. The number of children experiencing side effects was small—11 out of 743 participants in the various studies (about 1.5%), but the effects can be severe or disturbing. In some cases the children experienced hallucinations where bugs, worms or snakes were crawling on them. Participants receiving placebos in the various studies experienced no such symptoms.
It is clear that nutrition is the best way to help children with ADD or ADHD. Combine dietary change and supplementation with quality products. More on this topic of ADD/ADHD will come on my next blog as the new school season approaches and children are over labeled with these terms. We’ll dive into a functional medicine direction on how to start off when addressing these concerns with your child.