ADHD | ADD - Part 1 Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

John Gray

You probably know someone who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You are going to know even more in the years to come. 

ADHD includes a wide range of symptoms, like difficulty focusing, difficulty processing information quickly, fidgeting, impatience and even anxiety. Every year, ADHD affects more than 4 percent of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20% of high school boys and 11% of all school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD - a 40% increase in the last decade.

What Causes ADHD?

Some say bad parenting causes ADHD. Others say it is the genes. But bad parenting or bad genes have been around for thousands of years and we have not had an epidemic of ADHD. Our genes determine our unique temperament but something else causes the “hyper” condition we call ADHD.

Parenting styles can certainly support or inhibit the health of a child but styles have not changed that much and they don’t cause ADHD. Normal parenting styles can condition the brain but they do not necessarily injure the brain. Children have ADHD regardless of whether their parents are strict or permissive. Unless a parent is physically or emotionally abusive they certainly don’t cause injury to the brain.

There are also those who minimize the epidemic of ADHD saying it is over-diagnosed to justify selling more drugs to children. It is true that we are becoming a society that is overly dependent on drugs for every condition but the fact remains that millions are of people are suffering from the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.

Others claim that ADHD is merely psychological and not a physical impairment of the brain. They conclude drugs are not the answer but that counseling alone can heal the condition. Counseling or some form of emotional support should always be part of the equation of healing the brain but the cause of ADHD is definitely not just “psychological” nor is the solution.

ADHD is a valid condition, recognized by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Surgeon General and countless other medical professionals. Modern brain scans can now detect clear differences in the ADHD brain verses the non-ADHD brain. Even more, there's is clear evidence to support a genetic predisposition for the condition in studies in twins -- a hallmark of legitimacy.

ADHD is not just laziness or an excuse for poor performance. It is not just in the “head” but it is literally in the brain. It is now proven to be a measurable physical impairment of normal brain function.

15 Things Causing ADHD, Bipolar and Autism

I believe the rise of ADHD, bipolar and autism is clearly the outcome of something new that we, as a society, have started doing in the last thirty years.

Listed below are fifteen different changes common in our modern lifestyle. These changes contribute to or directly cause brain injury. I believe this brain injury gives rise to the symptoms of ADHD. A concussion or shock to the body is an obvious cause of injury to the brain, but there are a multitude of other often unrecognized ways:

1. Acetaminophen
Over 600 hundred medicines contain the active ingredient acetaminophen. Acetaminophen inhibits the natural production of glutathione, which is produced by your liver to protect the brain from free radical damage. When used to suppress fevers, this commonly used medicine suppresses your brain’s natural ability to defend and heal itself.

Fever suppressants, cold, flu, allergy and pain relief pills like Tylenol, NyQuil, Percocet and Vicodin, which contain acetaminophen contribute to the specific brain injury that gives rise to ADHD. Tylenol, the biggest selling over the counter medicine in the world, has only been widely used since 1980, which is when ADHD, bipolar and autism began to increase.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) did a study on more than 64,000 Danish mothers and children that revealed when pregnant women took Tylenol or other medications with acetaminophen, they were 13% more likely to have children diagnosed with ADHD. 

2. MSG & Mercury
Chronic exposure to known neurotoxins like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and HVP (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein) make the brain more vulnerable to the free radical damage caused by mercury. Mercury is most commonly found in fish, but it is also found in other foods which are exposed to

Mercury is also found in simply the air we breathe and the water we drink because ma Major contributors to emissions of mercury are non-electric car exhaust, coal-fired electrical power plants, and hospitals with medical waste incinerators. Children, pregnant women and women of child bearing age are most vulnerable to the effects of mercury.

Unfortunately MSG and HVP are approved by the FDA and it is added to thousands of packaged foods. Meanwhile, manufacturers are not required to put MSG on food labels. They can simply say natural flavors. What is more tragic is that many baby formulas also use MSG. For more sensitive children, MSG and a host of other chemicals added to processed foods can be directly responsible for ADHD.

3. Sugar
High blood sugar levels cause injury to the brain. The excessive consumption of soft drinks, fruit juice, bread, cookies, chips, ice cream, cakes, pudding, etc. elevate blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels contribute to ADHD by causing free radical damage to brain neurons and chronic inflammation throughout the brain. 

4. Unfermented soy and pasteurized dairy
ADHD can be caused by inhibited digestion due to consuming soy protein, soymilk and pasteurized dairy products. Most fast food hamburgers are also supplemented with indigestible soy products. Baby formulas with soy protein or pasteurized dairy protein also inhibit digestion. Inhibited digestion prevents the production of metabolic enzymes and amino acids necessary for healthy brain function. It’s important to note that “fermented” soy and raw dairy products are not harmful and do not cause inhibited digestion.

5. Sedentary Lifestyle
Our sedentary lifestyle prevents lymphatic circulation to detoxify the brain of heavy metals, chemicals and toxins in our air, water and food. This increased toxicity causes brain infections and inflammation.

Lack of exercise prevents brain cell growth and limits blood circulation to heal brain infections. Physical movement is necessary for brain development and the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. Without enough neurotransmitter production, instead of exercise we seek out forms of passive stimulation to avoid the feelings of boredom associated with low production of brain chemicals. This passive stimulation feels good but it does not support brain development and growth.

6. Stress
Chronic psychological stress induced by excessive punishment, loss, disapproval, violation or threat raises stress hormones, which in turn cause brain injury. Various forms of childhood or adult trauma can raise your cortisol set point, which in turn sustains higher blood sugar levels causing inflammation in the brain.

7. Stimulant Drugs
Brain scans have proven that excessive dopamine stimulation due to street drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin and methamphetamines change and injure the brain. Similar changes take place in the brain when taking prescribed stimulant drugs, like Ritalin or Adderall, for ADD and ADHD. 

8. Video Games
Research confirms that video games like other challenging activities certainly create positive changes in the brain but these studies overlook the real danger of video games. A moderate use of video games, like any fun activity, is not a problem but excessive use, particularly video games involving violence, is like taking a stimulant drug, which causes gradual brain injury.

Researchers at Indiana University using brain scans reported that playing violent video games alters brain function in healthy young men after just a week of play, depressing activity among regions associated with emotional control. Other studies have found an association between compulsive gaming and being overweight, introverted and prone to depression. 

The neural circuitry that mediates desire for internet video games is similar to that observed with substance dependence. With excessive stimulation, this middle area of the brain becomes desensitized and is less affected by normal stimulation. This causes the number one symptom of ADHD: boredom in response to normal stimulation and the increased need to escape boredom through excessive stimulation.

9. Induced Labor
While induced labor can sometimes save lives, it is overused simply to make the birthing process more convenient for doctors and hospitals. Twenty-five percent of mothers in the US receive Pitocin during labor. In some hospitals up to ninety percent of mothers receive Pitocin. 

Using Pitocin during childbirth has been proven to double the risk of ADHD. In a study of 300 children whose mothers received Pitocin at birth to induce labor, 67.1% of the children were diagnosed with ADHD.  And a study in North Carolina reported that women whose labor was induced were 16% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. 

10. Divorce
Statistics reveal a greater risk of ADHD in children of divorced parents, particularly when boys are missing the regular influence of their fathers or their mothers are unable to find happiness. The presence of a father figure increases the brain chemical dopamine in a child while the presence of a happy mother can also generate healthy levels of this brain chemical. 

Dopamine is the brain chemical for focus and motivation. ADHD is directly related to inhibited dopamine function. The stress of divorce combined with other factors that contribute to brain injury can easily cause ADHD.

11. Pornography
Online pornography and non-personal sex can stimulate massive dopamine levels, and like any addictive drug, this intense increase of dopamine will change the brain by down regulating dopamine receptors. This down regulation requires increased stimulation to provide normal levels of sexual fulfillment. A study using brain scans at Cambridge University found that pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism or drug abuse. 

12. Antibiotics, Pesticides, Plastics and GMOs
Antibiotics kill dangerous bacteria in the gut but it is also well known that they kill good bacterial as well. The absence of good bacteria allows a toxic fungus called candida to over-populate the gut.

Some health practitioners recognize that children with ADHD and autism almost always have different degrees of indigestion caused by an excess of candida. Excessive candida in the gut inhibits the healthy production of B vitamins and neurotransmitters necessary for normal brain performance. Without the ability to make B12 the liver is unable to make the glutathione needed to protect the brain from free radical injury.

Both genetically modified foods (GMOs) or the residue of pesticides in non-organic foods will also kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut and give rise to excessive candida and gut problems.

Besides gut problems, children with ADHD have hormonal imbalances, which can be directly caused by exposure to synthetic chemicals. In 2003 scientists discovered that the popular pesticide “Endosulfan” blocks the action of testosterone in boys which in turn disrupts and delays the process of puberty. In addition, healthy dopamine function and motivation particularly in boys is directly related to testosterone. A 2007 study by the California Department of Public Health found that women who lived near farm fields sprayed with Endosulfan during the first eight weeks of pregnancy are several times more likely to give birth to children with autism.

13. Gluten Intolerance and other Food Sensitivities
One third of Americans are so compromised in the gut that they cannot tolerate gluten, which is particularly high in bread. Although wheat is not yet genetically modified the fast-rising yeast used to make bread is genetically modified. This fast-rising yeast causes bread to have higher gluten levels making it harder to digest. This indigestion causes inflammation in the brain. By giving up gluten products many people have reduced or eliminated ADHD symptoms.

A multitude of studies have shown that for many adults and children food sensitivities are a major cause of ADHD. Common culprits that can cause food allergies are gluten, non-fermented soy products (soy milk and tofu), “pasteurized” dairy products, GMO foods, corn, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, eggs, food dyes, preservatives, antibiotics, and/or artificial sweeteners. Food allergies and sensitivities cause gut inflammation, which in turn leads to inflammation in the brain and ADHD.

14. Toxicity
Increasing levels of toxicity in the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat not only causes excessive free radical damage in the brain but it depletes the body of glutathione which can protect and heal the brain. The impact of this environmental stress on our body along with any of the factors listed above contributes to the brain injury that gives rise to ADHD. 

15. Nutritional Deficiencies
Over the past 100 years, farming practices using synthetic fertilizers have depleted the soil of the vitamins and minerals necessary to stimulate the production of brain chemicals. This common deficiency of minerals and vitamins means you must eat more food to get the nutrition you would have gotten in the past. Foods that are genetically modified (GMOs) are even worse. One published study concluded that non-GMO corn compared to GMO corn is twenty times richer in nutrition. These missing vitamins and minerals are all needed to protect the brain from injury.

Iodine deficiency is also linked to brain injury. The World Health Organization reports that iodine deficiency is one of the main causes of impaired cognitive development in children. The common use of chlorine in our water, bromine in our bread yeast and fluoride in our water gradually depletes iodine in the body.

The Power of Antioxidants

Each of these fifteen causes of chronic brain injury actually depletes your brain of the antioxidants necessary to not only protect brain cells but to recharge your brain power. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Injury to the brain occurs when neurons are exposed to extra “free radicals.” This injury becomes chronic when your body is unable to neutralize these extra free radicals with antioxidants.

The body is normally designed to produce extra antioxidants to “mop up” or neutralize these extra free radicals. But today, due to the influence of prescribed drugs and junk food your body is unable to make the necessary amount of antioxidants to neutralize or mop up these extra free radicals.

When the body is depleted of antioxidants, a new problem emerges. These extra free radicals produced by our immune system, in turn cause chronic injury to the brain. This ongoing injury causes ongoing inflammation in the brain, which results in ADHD and a variety of other mental conditions. Natural solutions restore balance in the brain by decreasing exposure to free radicals and increasing production of antioxidants.


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  • sugfoot
     7/18/2016 11:48:33 AM
    Can I be allergic to these foods that effect ADD negatively and not know it. Or do these allergies show up another way...hives, gut pain, etc.?
  • msemmelmann
     9/11/2015 10:25:54 AM
    how do I see answers to the above questions re: Children and amount and different suppliments?
  • royalexander
     8/29/2015 9:46:04 AM
    I have the same question. Can I order something like a one month ADD package? I don't want to take the chance that I'll miss something out. Thanks.
  • anumol24
     4/12/2015 8:01:57 PM
    Hi Dr.Gray, I think your new book is just wonderful.Only with great insight and compassion can one take such a compassionate view of ADHD/bipolar and explain it.Now I don't feel so stressed about such things.I am still in awe about how true it is that it is due to the body being unable to keep up with the brain,and I agree it is in part nutritional.I remember my mom saying how she had refused to take nutritional food during pregnancy believing it to be "modern".This book definitely fills the gap.Thanks....
  • John Gray
     10/31/2014 10:38:07 AM
    HI everyone. The Starter Guide for my new book includes suggested supplements and amounts to take. It's available on the home page. enter your name and email and we will email it to you...
     10/20/2014 8:54:46 PM
    Dear John, First of all thanks for sharing your knowledge through all your books, videos and advises.. I just found out about your page and I cannot stop reading, watching and learning... Most of what I read is about ADD and ADHD which run in the family.... I have TOURETTE SYNDROME since age 5 (Im 53 now) and I would like to know if you know about it and what you suggest for my case. You are a light and a new hope.... Thanks with all my heart.
  • olivia_lonestar
     8/31/2014 9:43:19 AM
    HI! I just wanted to personally thank you so much for changing my life! I am 24 years old and have suffered from ADHD for over ten years. I always knew (before I was diagnosed) that I wasn't (mentally) normal. I randomly turned on Coast to Coast 2 weeks ago and heard you tell my story, from being abandoned by my parents, to having uncontrollable highs and lows. I have been off my ADHD medicine for 13 days now, taking fish oil, grape seed extract, and DHA. I just received all the rest of what you had suggested to get in the mail yesterday and I am so exited. My entire life is already changing. I can feel my brain functioning better and for once in my life I actually feel my age. I have been eating clean and seriously it is amazing how different and good I feel. I seriously have told everyone I know about your site, and plan to continue. I actually have quite a fan base on social media and plan to use that in my advantage to tell people how to get healthy and restore their brains! So, I will be sending everyone I know over to your page because you have already in two weeks changed my life! I cannot wait until I feel completely normal and am unstoppable as to what I can do in the world! I've always known I had a greater purpose but lately had been wondering how I would ever accomplish greatness with never feeling well. I mean constantly, I never had a good day on Vyvanse. It is remarkable that you have shared these solutions and suggestions with us! thank you so much! sincerely from the bottom of my heart! -Olivia_Lonestar...
  • Michelle8kids
     8/17/2014 9:28:49 AM
    My adopted son is 7 years old and under 60 lbs. I'm very concerned about dosage. Is there someone in the organization that can help us with these protocols for the supplements? I'm looking into the vitamin c, but I thought that any vitamin c not used right away was excreted fairly quickly. That is very confusing for me as well.
  • ssschick
     3/25/2014 9:54:16 AM
    Hi I am very interested in nutritional support for kids with attention and focus problems, including my kids. Can you please clarify the dosage? -at one point you say Grape Seed extract 2 capsules in the morning -- how many milligrams is each capsule? -also at one point you say "naturopath doctors suggest half the dosage amounts below for children" but then further down you say "these are the amounts for the average child, 75-90 pounds." Can you please clarify all the dosages so that the amount for kids is very clear? Many thanks....
     11/24/2013 9:46:28 AM
    I am 55 years old and I have just been diagnosed with ADD. Just one of the new legions of women who are tired from too much to do? Absolutely not. A look back at my childhood report cards that call out my disruptiveness, lack of focus, and chronic underachievement at the prestigious all girls private school I attended K-12. I survived on smarts, a good memory, and last minute adrenaline to push me over the passing line. College was the same as again, I used my strategies to survive. Work, same thing. Now that menopause is upon me, it has gotten worse. Strategies aren't working so well. I have been on Adderall of four months and the difference is profound. If I can feel the same way with natural supplements, I am all for it. I went to a homeopath for years a decade or so back but I can no longer afford him. What I can remember is that as a child, I hated vegetables and ate very little of them. Food additives in the 1060s were not anywhere near what they are now. I loved candy. Now, I eat very well, with little to no additives, no corn syrup (very little sugar), no bread or pasta (very little grain at all). I eat mostly organic. Here's a rub: the suggested supplements are about $175/month. With my insurance, Adderall is $15.00/month. Comments to my comments?...
  • Donna Gutzman
     4/29/2013 9:53:24 AM
    Sue Fahey and Nancy Pone this one might interest you. It's in 3 parts. Vitamin C and grapeseed extract!
  • gvilar
     4/11/2013 3:48:48 PM
    Hello John, thanks a lot for sharing this info!! My son is 8, is it safe to provide what you suggested in "Natural Protocol for ADHD: Reduce Hyperactivity" (the three of them) long term? Thank you!!!
  • KMN
     2/14/2013 8:45:47 AM
    I'd like to have my family start the ADD/ADHD plan. I'm just confused about specifically what to buy. For instance, the protocol listed under the video doesn't list all of the supplements that were recommended in the video. Also, there's a Potential vitamin and a Super Minerals vitamin that are each recomended although I think it's either or, and does this mean I need additional supplements depending on which one I get. Your Vitamin C isn't in 60 mg doses; it's 500 something Will I get a list of what and how often to take each when purchased. Is there a package plan?...

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