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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 28, 2013

ADHD for Everyone
And Drugs, Too.

Commentary by Ralph Campbell, M.D.

(OMNS Oct 28, 2013) I've seen several pharmaceutical videos about ADHD lately. One started with a cartoon that resembled a "Simpsons" episode. I initially thought it was a gag. It appeared to be a typical presentation about a drug with the usual casual fast-talk about side effects that included death from a stroke. It was so straightforward yet insidious and comical, that it simply had to be a satire. I enjoyed the presentation right up to the end, only to find that it was real. It was an ad that had nothing to do with ADHD. The drug goes under the name of Abilify and was supposed to be given along with an antidepressant when the antidepressant alone wasn't working. The video got me thinking of how I've always wanted to see a satire of this type of drug ad. It would be so refreshing to see a cartoon that would bash the drug for a change.

"Saying no to drugs" also requires saying "yes" to something else. That something else is nutrition, properly employed.

Then came the video itself, "ADHD in the Workplace." It was presented by a doctor, garbed not in the typical stethoscope and white lab coat, but in a casual open-necked shirt, giving the viewer the feeling, "I'm really just one of you, not a pompous M.D." He described the symptoms of ADHD. The message seemed to be that if you are restless and have trouble concentrating, you probably have this common disorder. It didn't mention that these symptoms are normal for most people who are distracted or anxious, and often a consequence of deficits of essential nutrients. Now, the workplace has to adjust to your problem. For relief of restlessness, move around and go to the restroom. This advice almost sounded like the cliché, "hang around the water cooler." To relieve your inability to concentrate, wear earphones. Then the advice, "You may even be eligible for workman's compensation" which could support treatment with taxpayers' money.

Too bad that most doctors don't know how to truly diagnose such common disorders that are in fact caused by deficiencies of essential nutrients. Most medical schools barely touch on the importance of nutrition. Medical student training pays little attention to prevention but much to finding a medicine for every disease. The students are usually unaware that pharmaceutical companies heavily influence the curriculum. In practice, the health insurance carrier determines the course of action.

If nutritional treatment is so good, how come your doctor doesn't use it? The answer may have more to do with medical politics than with medical science. Says psychiatrist Abram Hoffer: "The DSM system (the standard of the American Psychiatric Association) has little or no relevance to diagnosis. It has no relevance to treatment, either. No matter which terms are used to classify these children, they are all recommended for treatment with drug therapy. If the entire diagnostic scheme were scrapped today, it would make almost no difference to the way these children were treated, or to the outcome of treatment. Nor would their patients feel any better or worse."

The extension of this childhood diagnosis to adults has gone awry. When confined to a system in which medicines are preferred to nutritional remedies, pharmaceutical profits drive marketing campaigns and treatments. Recently I saw a comment that "The problem is, if a drug is available to the doctors, they will make the corresponding diagnosis." I had come to the same conclusion many decades ago. The drug Ritalin, due to its amphetamine-like effect, had found a niche in the treatment of the rare but serious disease, narcolepsy. The pharmaceutical company that made Ritalin was searching for another disorder to apply it to. ADHD promised many more patients and profits.

Now they have really hit pay dirt: ADHD medication for all ages!

(Ralph Campbell, MD, a board certified pediatrician, has been a lifelong advocate of nutritional medicine. Now in his mid 80s, Dr. Campbell stays active (but not hyperactive) as an octogenarian orchard farmer in Montana.)

Editor's note: The next OMNS will discuss nutritional alternatives to ADHD drug therapy.

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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

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