What Experts Say

I strongly recommend Dr. Newmark's book to all parents, relatives, and friends of children with ADHD, as well as the teachers, doctors, and other professionals who work with them. Before going to the pharmacy, we can use an integrative approach to help these children succeed and fulfill their true potential. Dr. Newmark tells us just how to do that.
— Dr. Andrew Weil

Dr. Newmark has finally crafted the book that I have long been wishing for: a wonderful self-help guide for parents looking for a thoughtful and science-based natural approach to treating ADHD. This integrative/holistic style reduces or eliminates the need for stimulant medications and offers sound advice about diet, sleep, nutrients, herbs and other key modalities. The book radiates a balanced wisdom that comes so rarely from practicing physicians today..
— Scott Shannon, MD Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; author of Please Don’t Label My Child; editor of Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Mental Health

If I had one book to read about ADHD, this is it. It is well-written, practical and filled with the uncommonly good common sense of an experienced and compassionate clinician with fair-minded and rigorous reviews of the state of the science.
— Kathi Kemper, MD, MPH, Director, Center for Integrative Medicine; Professor of Pediatrics, Social Science Health Policy, and Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center


Foreword by Andrew Weil, MD
Advance Reviews
Table of Contents

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is more commonly called ADHD, and in the space of a couple of decades, has gone from a relatively uncommon syndrome to a household word.

Overall, 6 to 8%of the children in the United States are being diagnosed with this disease, and 2.5 million are being treated with long-term medication. This is a 1,600% increase since the 1970s! Almost one in every 10 boys is currently diagnosed with this disease, and the medical establishment is constantly pushing for more diagnoses and treatment.

It sometimes seems that every time we turn around, another child has been diagnosed with this disorder and placed on pharmaceutical medication, which the child is expected to take throughout childhood and even for life. Worse yet, there is very little solid research concerning the long-term benefits or side-effects of these medicines. [All ADHD statistics are from the Center for Disease Control web site, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html ]

Many of us are skeptical, alarmed, or uncertain about all of this. It just doesn’t seem right that millions of our children have suddenly developed a need to take chronic medication in order to succeed in life. Some suspect that the medical establishment is creating a disease where there is none; many people believe parental discipline has become too lax or that schools are asking too much of children; others worry that we are just not “letting kids be kids.”

The enormous increase in the number of children being treated for ADHD is often seen as a combination of parental failure, incompetent schools and teachers, overzealous doctors, and avaricious drug companies. Critics see a society trying to solve common childhood difficulties by handing out a pill and medicating millions of children rather than taking the time to implement effective parenting and teaching approaches.

On the other side of the issue are parents whose children are having real problems. They may be falling behind and behaving poorly at school, having a hard time making or keeping friends, and being extremely difficult to manage at home. These problems persist despite the fact that these parents are providing the best care and discipline they can manage. Often, they have other children with no such difficulties and are raising all their children with the same love and caring discipline. They simply do not know what to do when their child cannot learn at school or is completely unmanageable at home or in public.

Teachers are also in a bind. How can they teach children who won’t sit in their seats, who cannot seem to focus for more than two minutes at a time on their work, who distract other kids, and who fall further and further behind academically?

The pediatrician or family practice physician is asked to evaluate and fix these problems as quickly as possible so everyone can get back to their busy and overstressed lives. Often, the physician is supposed to do this in a 10- or 15-minute visit, in the quickest and easiest way possible for everyone involved. Is it any wonder that the prescription pad is pulled out so often?

Where is the truth in all this? Is ADHD just a diagnosis made up for convenience to medicate our kids instead of parenting, teaching, and doctoring them well? Or is ADHD a real and disabling condition, requiring timely intervention to prevent serious educational, social, and family problems? I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I am convinced that the condition is significantly over-diagnosed and that too many children are medicated. However, I also believe that there are children out there who need help—who have real and serious problems with their ability to regulate their own behavior and concentrate well enough to succeed academically.

Children today are exposed to a vast array of chemical toxins from the time they are conceived and throughout childhood. They are often raised with food that is not only nutritionally inadequate but actually harmful to their developing brains. They are then subjected to several hours per day of electronic media that conditions their attention span to bursts of a few seconds. In addition, the economic realities of modern life force many parents to spend less time helping their children cope within our very stressful society. Is it any wonder that our children are having more problems?

Fortunately, medications are not the only way to help these children. In my years of practice as an integrative pediatrician, many families have come to me for help to avoid placing their son or daughter on long term medication, despite significant pressure from schools, teachers, and the medical establishment to do so. We have been able to work together to help their children succeed and indeed flourish, supporting them in their areas of difficulty and encouraging the great skills and talents that most of them have.

An integrative approach means looking at the child in his or her entirety, as a whole person, not just at a collection of symptoms that need to be fixed. It is a path that is much more complex than a simple pill, but whose rewards are so much greater.

In this book we will begin with the basics, making sure that the diagnosis of ADHD has been made correctly and not substituted for another underlying problem. We will explore the complex neurobiology of ADHD, explaining what we actually know about how the brain operates in the ADHD child. We will show you how to evaluate for nutritional deficiencies, making sure that the nutrients vital for normal functioning are present in adequate amounts. We will look closely at dietary intake and discuss how to determine if food allergies or sensitivities are adversely affecting your child’s body and nervous system. Next we will explore some important nutritional supplements, foremost among them the omega-3 fatty acids, and some common and safe herbs that may be helpful. In addition to nutritional issues, we will present proven and effective methods to manage your child’s behavior at home and to work with teachers and schools to provide a superior learning environment. And based on my belief that there are indeed some children who need ADHD medication, I devote a chapter to discussing how to use these medications optimally and combine them with an integrative treatment program for maximum effectiveness. Finally, we will explore some exciting alternative therapies for treating ADHD, ranging from the newer techniques of EEG neurofeedback to the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine.

If you are reading this book, you are obviously deeply committed to the well-being of children, whether as a parent, teacher, counselor, or concerned friend, and are reluctant to “solve” the complex problem of ADHD via medication only. I have written this book to help give you the tools to develop a truly integrative approach to ADHD, thereby helping your child achieve his or her maximum potential.

I wish you great blessings and success on your journey.

Sanford Newmark, MD