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The ADD/ADHD Brain And Gut Connection

gut and brain
August 18, 2015

ADD/ADHD spectrum disorders are often thought of as strictly brain related. In fact, that is often what gets addressed when looking for ways to control the symptoms associated with the diagnoses. However, there is a strong link to what is happening in the brain to what is happening in the gut. According to Dr. Perlmutter, the author of “Grain Brain” and “Brain Maker”, around 6.5 million children are living with a diagnosis of either ADD or ADHD.

That’s an astounding number when you also consider the high usage of stimulants being used to treat these kids whose brain and bodies are yet to fully mature. Beyond looking at the head as the source of the issues, there are studies that looked at the whole body.

There are connections to ADD/ADHD to babies born via cesarean -they do not get covered in the same bacteria that vaginal birthed babies receive, a link between heavy antibiotic use, and a high incidence of bowel issues and these children.

“A new study evaluated 742,939 children and demonstrated that those children with ADHD had a dramatic increased prevalence of constipation almost threefold higher than those without ADHD. Fecal incontinence was sixfold higher in the ADHD group, and visits to the doctor because of bowel issues was also dramatically increased in kids with ADHD. Importantly, these findings did not differ depending on whether or not the children with ADHD were on medication.”

The human body is covered in billions of bacteria both inside and out. When a person either lacks enough of the good bacteria or is overrun with the “bad” bacteria, the entire ecosystem is affected. The undesired bacteria may flourish and produce toxins that travel systemically, including into the brain. The brain then reacts to the imbalance, trying to regain homeostasis. The result is expressed as hyperactivity, acting out, and distractibility and low concentration.

Fortunately, medication is not necessarily the only answer or an answer at all. Along with a healthy diet and taking steps to create a healthy gut biome, neurofeedback is a well-researched adjunct to therapy that can help relieve symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Neurofeedback works by coaxing the desired brainwaves into a pattern consistent with focus and concentration. By removing a stimulus when the brain is producing brainwaves associated with hyperactivity and rewarding the brain with a return of the stimulus (in this case a movie and the accompanying sound) when the brain is producing focus-linked brain waves, the brain learns on a subconscious level where its “happy place” is. Once the brain learns to live in a balanced environment, it will remain there. Studies thirty years out have shown little to no changes from the learned brainwave behaviors; meaning the positive learned patterns remained! Beyond the brainwave patterns changing, the relief of symptoms will be greatly reduced. In the cases of persons on the ADD/ADHD spectrum, they should see a marked increase in their ability to study, focus, and complete tasks. This can be noticeable in as few as 10-20 sessions.

The brain of the child with ADD/ADHD fully develops, but studies have shown that this happens at a slower pace, on average of three years.. The cerebral cortex and the structure that communicates between both halves of the brain are functionally and structurally behind the curve. Neurofeedback works using operant conditioning on both halves of the brain along the cerebral cortex. It does this from a unique algorithm based on a brain map (EEG) done at the beginning and at intervals throughout treatment. It is a fluid program that coaxes brainwaves into optimal function both over the cortex and along the individual halves to create a cohesive, smooth system of communication therefore reducing symptoms of ADD/ADHD.



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