By Jason KUROSU
Tuesday featured the final lecture in Glendale Community College’s Science Lecture Series, a series of free lectures attended by both faculty and students regarding alternative methods for treating ADHD. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician Diane Danis described some of the techniques being explored outside of the standard treatment: medication.
“Although medication is a mainstay of the treatment of ADHD, sometimes it’s not appropriate,” said Danis, who said that side effects and metabolism, among other things, could lead certain patients away from medication. “The stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall, they work. But they only work about 80% of the time, leaving 20% of the people for whom they don’t work.”
Danis has been working as a pediatrician for 20 years, working with children with special needs, many of who have ADHD symptoms. The lecture, titled “Outside the Box,” listed some of the methods Danis recommends to her patients and some that have potential for positive treatment, but not enough scientific grounding at the moment, while others lack scientific grounding altogether.
Danis’ main recommended method of treatment outside of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy was regular exercise, for both those with ADHD and the public in general.
“If you have ADHD, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is vigorous, physical exercise every day. It’s free, it’s good for your cardiovascular health, it’s good for everything about you and it will help you to think more clearly,” she said.
Danis said that as beneficial as exercise is, the complexity of the exercise contributes further to its benefits. Martial arts, dancing, and other such aerobics that require complex movement aids ADHD patients by tapping into various parts of the brain, including all those that affect a person’s attention including the cerebellum and frontal lobe.
Massage was another of the “free” methods that has shown some success. One study Danis discussed suggested that 10-minute pressure massages have benefits for the behaviors of ADHD patients.
“My perspective is it’s free, it’s pleasurable, it’s completely doable. Why not?”
A healthy diet was also suggested as beneficial for ADHD patients. Danis said that much of the evidence regarding diet was unclear, but that some studies identified certain ingredients and chemicals in food, such as sodium benzoate and salicylates, as having the potential to cause behavioral problems similar to those in ADHD patients.
The Feingold Diet, fish oil treatments and mineral supplements were among the alternative dietary techniques that have shown some success in treating ADHD symptoms, but Danis said that the research is not entirely conclusive.
“These are not beautiful, double-blind studies which are the gold standard for the efficacy of the treatment,” she said
Other options being explored include neuro feedback, which shows patients their brain waves in real time so that they may train themselves to develop better attentive skills. Danis said neuro feedback shows “a great deal of promise” but she hasn’t seen much concrete research in her clinical experience. Danis also said that a downside is that it can be “expensive and time consuming.”
Other alternatives include mindfulness (awareness of one’s emotions), sensory integration therapy (which focuses on the varying ways an individual processes sensory information), homeopathy and herbal medicine.
For more of Dr. Danis’ recommendations, visit www.danismd.com.