Gut Health for ADHD


Our colon, or gut, is home to trillions of bacteria — in fact, their cells out number our cells 10 to 1! For the most part they are friendly bacteria, and in exchange for our providing a nice place for them to live they keep us healthy, stop bad bacteria from multiplying, break down and rebuild hormones, and create essential fats and vitamins for us, amongst other things. Recent scientific studies have found that these bacteria also help prevent a huge range of conditions like diabetes, gum disease, colds & flu, eczema, constipation, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more. Besides all of this studies are also showing that these microbes affect the brain and play a central role in how we think and feel. This means that microbes may be affecting your child’s brain and behavior.

Some strains of bacteria are less friendly and they and their by-products can have negative effects on your child’s brain causing ADHD behaviors. But there are way to test this — one of which is a urine test called the Organic Acids Test or OAT test for short. And correcting an imbalance of bacteria can be as easy as giving your child a probiotic.

Let’s hear Sam’s story from Finally Focused by Dr. James Greenblatt.

At 9 Sam was extremely hyperactive and disorganized. At home he didn’t follow directions and threw temper tantrums. He had been asked to leave preschool twice until his behavior improved. He was diagnosed with ADHD and tried multiple medications — which had very negative side-effects for him — and under went many psychological and psychiatric evaluations. The results of his OAT test showed high levels of a by-product of “bad” bacteria which were causing high dopamine levels. High dopamine leads to super stimulated neurons which cause agitation and anxiety, make it harder to focus and learn, decrease self-control, and impair decision making — many of the symptoms of ADHD.

Sam started taking a high dose probiotic and within 30 days his symptoms had improved. His behavior was more under his control and his teachers said he was able to participate in class — even getting extra stars on his behavior chart.

In this case a simple intervention — taking a probiotic — improved Sam’s ADHD when multiple medications and interventions had not. This is the importance of gut microbes for your child.