ADHD treatment without drugs

Prescription drugs for ADHD are almost all stimulants and come with “black box” warnings, meaning they carry significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.

by Dr. Martha Grout — 

The stimulant-type prescription drug initially used for ADHD treatment originated in Russia during the Second World War and was developed to enable soldiers to stay awake longer. These stimulants quickly morphed into methamphetamine, known around the world as meth or speed. Stimulants also became the drug used to treat ADHD.

Peter Breggin, a medical doctor and Harvard-trained psychiatrist, wrote, “The ‘therapeutic’ effects of stimulants are a direct expression of their toxicity. Animal and human research indicates that these drugs often suppress spontaneous and social behaviors [making the psychostimulants] seemingly useful for controlling the behavior of children, especially in highly structured environments that do not attend to their genuine needs.”

Adderall and Ritalin are somewhat fashionable on college campuses as cognitive enhancers, or the “professor’s little helper.” Some students consider them benign, in part because peers have taken the drugs since childhood for ADHD. But studies show a majority of students do not partake.

Prescription drugs for ADHD are almost all stimulants and come with “black box” warnings, meaning they carry significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects. Adverse reactions listed for Focalin, for example, include psychosis, mania, aggressive behavior, arrhythmias, heart attack, stroke, sudden death, seizures, growth suppression, allergic reactions, low white cell count and liver-induced coma. Common reactions include loss of appetite, headache, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, blood pressure changes and visual disturbances.

It is well known that people with ADHD, depression, head injury and other forms of brain dysfunction often have a slowing of activity in the frontal lobes — that area of the brain in charge of executive function such as planning ahead, decision-making, remembering, language and other important cognitive functions. This kind of brain dysfunction can be treated without drugs.

Hemoencephalography (HEG) uses light to measure activity in the frontal lobes by measuring the oxygenation in the blood. Oxygenation of blood flowing to the frontal lobe can be increased through a computer-assisted biofeedback mechanism. This can improve all the functions dependent upon frontal lobe activity and bring order from chaos in the brain of a child — or adult — with ADHD.

As oxygenation increases, neurons are able to make new connections. When HEG is combined with exercises for auditory processing and vestibular function, cognitive development and brainwave entrainment, the process encourages neural connections all over the brain and brainstem.

The absolute financial costs of long-term drug therapy are usually significantly higher than a course of HEG biofeedback. The cost of medication, time off work, special education and activities, etc., run into tens of thousands of dollars over time. The cost of a course of HEG biofeedback sessions runs about $4,000 — and carries no risk of drug-induced adverse effects. Wouldn’t you rather help the brain develop its maximal potential?


Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H), has two decades in emergency medicine and a decade in homeopathic medicine. The Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz., specializes in diagnostic tests for chronic illness and HEG for brain training. or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 3, Jun/July 2009.

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