I've been going back and forth as to whether or not I should write about this. I was hoping others would have written on this forum from this course, so I wasn't the only one, but obviously ultimately decided I would share. I'm sure I'll get some heat as this is considered a controversial topic, but since it was brought up a few times during the course, maybe this will help someone since I consider DH a success story with alternative treatments.
I am the non-ADHD spouse. When DH was diagnosed with ADHD, he decided, for various reasons, that he wanted to find alternative treatments first before moving to prescriptions. I supported this.
The biggest key to doing this is that you cannot self treat. Simply reading an article online that says Vitamin B or Fish Oil (or whatever other supplement) helped someone with ADHD, and then going to the grocery store and buying those to take really isn't going to have any impact. You need to see a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) who has had some experience with ADHD. You will not find a ND who specializes in it, as there is not a high enough demand for that. NDs are real doctors, who can write actual prescriptions if needed, it's just their specialty was natural medicine in school. There are loads of options in the natural or alternative world that only a ND is going to know about and know how to use them properly. There are prescription supplements, too, that you can only obtain through NDs. Holistic Healers or Herbalists are not going to have the extensive knowledge a ND has, either.
NDs are not typically covered by insurance, so you will be paying out of pocket. In our experience, you get what you pay for, though, and it is worth it. Our doc answers emails, actually encourages us to update her via email, and even offers phone "check-ins" to established patients all free of charge. She also consults multiple other doctors and specialists at no charge to us. It is usually around $100-200 per visit, depending on where you live. Lots of NDs will offer packages that give you X amount of visits at a discounted rate if you pre-pay. This really helps to save money. As a reference, DH can go several months without needing to see her, but in times where things need to be changed up, he sees her about once a month until things are back on track and then goes back to not needing to see her. If you don't live in a major city or near a ND, most NDs offer phone or telemedicine consults (secure skype basically). DH does the video appointments because he finds it easier to concentrate than being on the phone. His first appointment was in person, and the rest have been via phone or video. Typically, the first appointment is actually 2 appointments fairly close together. The actual first one will be you doing all the talking, to get a full health history, order tests (blood, urine, hair, or saliva are common tests for NDs to order), and be evaluated. (Our insurance covers most of the tests, but you will have to look into if your insurance will cover tests ordered by an out-of-network doctor). The second appointment will be the doctor explaining their recommendations and test results. From then on, the appointments will be like regular doctor visits, asking questions and getting immediate answers.
In DH's experience, after just a few weeks of being on the supplements and doing dietary changes, we started noticing subtle changes in the most severe of his ADHD symptoms. As time went by, the effects trickled down to the more minor symptoms. After about 3 months, there was significant changes in every aspect of his ADHD symptoms. Don't expect things to happen this quickly, it may take 3 months to notice ANY change. DH remained stable for about a year. Then we decided to sell our house, which everyone knows is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. The stress of that made his symptoms worse. Instead of immediately going back to the ND, which he should have done, we both ignored it and tried to muscle through the stress, because we both just wanted to sell, move, and have it all over with. This was a HUGE mistake. The ADHD symptoms spiraled and he was back to where he was prior to being diagnosed. After we moved, he finally went back to the ND and had things switched up. It helped for a few months until he went through a very stressful work situation, and again he went backwards. This time he went to the ND much more quickly and was able to get back on track once again, and stay that way for many months.
From what I have read, no matter if you are on regular prescriptions or what method of treatment you decide to use, you will have some ups and downs. In DH's case, every time he has changed things up, he has seen significant improvements quickly and they have lasted. The most frustrating thing for both of us is doctors, therapists, and the like, always tell us we have to be patient with prescriptions, because it takes a while to figure out what kind will work for you, and then what dose is the right for you. But they always downplay natural/alternative treatments because you don't see immediate results. DH just wanted the same consideration for the path he choose and has worked for him. We both feel strongly that everyone should choose what they feel is best for them, no matter if that is prescriptions, natural medicine, or some other option.
Submitted by I'm So Exhausted on
Submitted by Moondust on
The symptoms were distraction, inattentive to details, depression, sleep issues, impulse control, quick temper/outbursts, short term memory issues (probably caused by the distraction/inattentiveness), lack of follow through, general disorganization... I'm sure there are others I'm missing. He has never had hyperactive issues.
He always seemed like he had a chip on his shoulder and would be very short and snippy with me. This went completely away very quickly, probably 3 weeks or so. And this is always the first thing to come back when he is "off" and needs something adjusted. Of course symptoms and how people react to treatments are going to vary by person. By the 3 month mark we could have 15 minute conversations where he would stay on topic and remember what we talked about days later. This is HUGE. Before he would sometimes change subjects mid-sentence! I couldn't follow what he said, and he wouldn't remember what we talked about just a couple hours later. I don't think he has had an outburst (where he'd scream, throw things, or even pull his hair) since about 2 months after starting the supplements. Depression and sleep issues only come back under extreme stress.
I can't say all his symptoms have vanished, since we all know ADHD can't be cured. However, they are manageable. He remembers to set reminders on his phone for things that need to take place in the future, for example. If he forgets to set a reminder, he probably will forget to do whatever that was unless something else reminds him of it later. Though he has gotten significantly better at remembering to set reminders and to accept that he needs reminders.
What treatments or
Submitted by NowOrNever (not verified) on
What treatments or supplements were switched up? From which ones to which ones? I understand that the constellation of treatments and/or medicines would be assigned, based on the individual's test results, but I'd like to get a more specific idea of what kinds of things are prescribed for ADHD & high stress.
Did you and your husband consult the same ND, throughout the life events that you mention?
Submitted by Delphine on
Would be very interested in what the ND prescribed for your husband. I much prefer alternatives, myself. My son is the one who decided he wanted to take the med.
From what I've read (I know this is going against what you said about getting info online), heavy exercise and a high protein diet are very helpful with ADHD. I got my son a rebounder and he loves jumping on it. The rebounder has many health benefits. http://wellnessmama.com/13915/rebounding-benefits/
Diet and exercise
Submitted by Moondust on
Yes, diet and exercise are HUGE components. H likes to swim and ride bike the most. He hates doing things like run on a treadmill because it's too boring staying in one place for him. He will go jogging outside occasionally, though. If he skips a day, he is more easily distracted. But he recognizes that so keeps up with doing some sort of activity/exercise each day. I think the rebounder looks like fun and want to try it for myself!
Diet is big, too. He doesn't eat gluten (which you can find multiple resources suggesting people with ADHD avoid gluten). The ND also said to stay away from processed foods that have lots of salt and preservatives. This was difficult as H typically ate frozen meals for lunch at work since that's quick and easy. Once we realized all I had to do was make bigger homemade meals for dinner (I love to cook so this was actually a fun thing for me) and H could just take leftovers for lunch, it was easy. He eats mainly proteins and vegetables, with higher quality starches like quinoa or brown rice (minimally though) and fruit and/or nuts for snacks. He has a lot more energy, says it's easier to concentrate, never has sugar crashes anymore. The diet changes were something he fought for some time, but once he did them, he felt so much better overall that he has no intention of going back to eating junk like he used to all the time. He really was a junk food addict, so I'm glad he changed that because it will help his overall health, not just the ADHD.
You can google "ADHD Diet" and there's lots of info on what to avoid, what can help, etc.
Submitted by Moondust on
I don't feel comfortable going into specifics about the supplements my husband has been on or is currently on because many of them are readily available online and I don't want people to find this and take it to mean it's right for everyone (even though you realize it's not). We found that simply taking the wrong dose, too high or too low, greatly affected his symptoms. For example, if one thing got too high (simply taking 2 pills a day like the bottle and doctor recommended, but was too high for my husband) his depression would get significantly worse, but when he went down to 1 pill a day, his depression drastically improved. Before we had that experience we were much more open with telling people what he was on. After that, we realized how important it is for each individual to be on their own treatment plan and dosages. It was actually a very scary situation and that is why I don't want to go into specifics.
I will say he started taking mainly one brand, I think 3 different supplements within that brand. Plus a couple vitamins/minerals he was lacking. When he switched things up, it was within that same brand - stopping certain supplements all together, adding in new ones or changing the dose of what he was taking. When that didn't seem to help and things were going backwards, the doctor said it was time for a new approach and he stopped just about everything, changed brands, and is now on new supplements, vitamins, and minerals, almost all different brands than each other. It has been several months of the "new" plan and it again drastically helped, just as described above. I don't know if this will last for a year or more like the original plan did, (until we sold our house = extreme stress) or if he will need minor tweaks like he did in the past. Only time will tell.
Things like Omega-3s (specifically DHA), vitamin B, and PS-100 are widely known to help with brain function, and he is on all three, plus other things specific to him and ADHD.
And yes, we have stayed with the same ND the whole time. We feel she is very competent, and isn't afraid of seeking advice or second opinions from other doctors, which she has done on several occasions to make sure H is getting the best options. I would have no issue changing doctors if I didn't feel it was the right fit or H wasn't getting proper care. When things weren't going well and H actually made an appointment, she listened and changed things immediately. Why the symptoms got worse and lasted for as long as they did was 100% our fault, because we both tried to ignore it instead of just going in.
Thank you for sharing Moondust
Submitted by Delphine on
Excellent job finding solutions for your hubby, and yes, I'd recommend the rebounder to anyone! Can't use it here because the downstairs neighbors complain. But long walks work well, too.
So to be clear, is he not on meds? If not, yours is a great example of what can be accomplished with a natural approach.
All natural, so far
Submitted by Moondust on
Yes, he has done it 100% naturally. He decided he would be comfortable with trying alternative treatments first, and if they didn't help he would go to prescriptions. Before he tried anything, he gave himself the time-frame of 6-12 months to see if the alternatives were viable. He did try a few things on his own with no improvement, so quickly moved to the ND where he found the results. I want to mention the ND required proof of an ADHD diagnosis before treating him. Since he has gotten results from working with the ND, has has not felt the need to investigate prescriptions. He still feels that if one day the effects of the alternative treatments stop working on him, he will move onto prescriptions. It has been about 3 years, I don't think I mentioned that before.
DH wanted me say it is important to take the active form of B vitamins. These are more expensive, but they help better with brain function. He also has started using Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil (just google it) and likes it. He uses it in addition to omega-3s.
I'm glad sharing our story may have helped in some way. I was very nervous no one would be open to it and only condemn us. So thank you, too!
Yes, I think it's great
Submitted by Delphine on
I only wish my son would take that path. I was upset when he first told me of his plans to go on Vyvanse but as he pointed out, it is his life and his choice. He thinks the med is helping him but I've noted his temper getting shorter, and a more disrespectful tone in his communications since he has been on it.
What is "the active form of B vitamins"?
Free ebook: natural treatments for ADHD
Submitted by Delphine on
John Gray has a free ebook available at his site: Staying Focused in a Hyper World.
He is down on the meds for ADHD and promotes natural treatments. Just got it yesterday myself.
You can get it here:
If anyone checks it out...
Submitted by Delphine on
...would be very interested in their take on the book.
Excerpt from Preface:
Reducing Oxidative Stress In The Brain
Every thought, emotion, and reaction in the brain requires energy. In this process of making energy, free radicals are produced.
We cannot avoid free radical production in the brain but with the right antioxidants we can neutralize these free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
So what are free radicals and antioxidants?
Free radicals are incomplete molecules looking to bond with a stable molecule. Antioxidants are special stable molecules with extra electrons to bond with free radicals. Free radicals and antioxidants work together in various ways to sustain good brain health. These molecules (free radicals) seek out other molecules containing electrons to bond with and live happily ever after. This works out fine as long as there are plenty of antioxidants with extra electrons to bond with. Like the dating process, free radicals seek out other molecules containing electrons to bond with.
Energy production is not the only cause of free radicals. Every second the brain is being bombarded with extra free radicals caused by nutritional deficiencies, junk food, environmental toxicity, prescribed drugs, and even over the counter drugs. If these extra free radicals are not stabilized by an abundance of internally produced antioxidants, then oxidative stress increases. There are three basic steps to reduce oxidative stress and improve brain function:
1. Decrease our exposure to extra free radicals.
2. Increase our production of antioxidants.
3. Eat more foods rich in antioxidants.
Oxidative stress results when we have too many free radicals and too few antioxidants. This oxidative stress in the brain gives rise to the symptoms of ADHD in some people, but also a host of other mental symptoms in others like memory loss, depression, anxiety and compulsiveness.
This one condition, oxidative stress, inhibits all aspects of brain performance.
The many symptoms of oxidative stress in children go beyond distraction, restlessness and impulsiveness in the classroom. Eventually, if you live long enough, this same condition can lead to dementia, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaque in the brain, which is the result of oxidative stress, is directly linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. This same amyloid plaque is also found to a lesser degree in children diagnosed with autism. If you live long enough, ADHD leads to dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Almost every client I have helped over 40 years of relationship counseling has had, to some degree, an undiagnosed adult variation of ADHD. You too, may have some degree of ADHD and you don’t even know it. Unless pointed out, it may not become obvious to you until your 50s when you can’t remember where your car is parked or what you were about to say to your partner.Besides the personal stories I share in Staying Focused In A Hyper World, I also reference hundreds of studies and sources for understanding healthy brain function and the many benefits of natural solutions.
Hundreds of evidence based studies support natural solutions for ADHD, memory and focus.
My primary purpose for this book is to reinforce the validity of natural solutions. With so many well tested options, you have a real choice to go drug-free in your approach to recharge your brainpower.
John Gray, Ph.D.