Living with ADHD:

How to identify and treat your root causes

Do you or your child wake up every day with anxiety based on the expectation to perform, knowing that no matter how hard you try, you’ll end up feeling inadequate? If so, you are among a growing number of people suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a psychological disability traditionally associated with young people, but becoming increasingly prevalent in the adult population. It is a condition creating significant life challenges for those affected, including social anxiety, inability to focus, poor self-esteem and difficulty controlling emotions.  

Traditionally ADHD has been defined according to the following three categories (Williams P., 2021):

  • Hyperactive – where persons tend to have good behaviour but perform poorly in academics
  • Inattentive – where persons are easily distracted and tend to be highly impulsive.
  • Combined hyperactive and inattentive – in which severe academic underachievement is noted accompanied by tendencies to violence or having a lack of empathy.

However, while recognition and understanding of the symptoms experienced by persons living with ADHD are absolutely necessary, it is also clear that this simplistic labelling approach is a painfully inadequate basis upon which to diagnose and treat.

What is the aetiology of this disorder? What underlies its different presentations? Why is it growing in prevalence? Only when these questions are answered will we be able to understand and manage this condition appropriately. 

To fully understand what ADHD really is, we need to take a deep dive into the fascinating world of brain chemistry.

Neurotransmitters – A signalling dilemma within ADHD? 

Neurotransmitters are signalling molecules instructing the brain to either stop or go and creating an appropriate nervous system response  (Hammond N., 2019). This enables us to perform complex tasks like reading, writing and playing music.  Within this symphony of brain chemistry, there exist vital regulatory controls that either activate or inhibit the excitation of our brain in order to prevent damage to neurons (Beck W R., 2011).  But when these sophisticated workings of brain chemistry break down, a phenomenon is known as ‘neurological wind-up’ occurs.

Neurological wind-up is where excessive neuroreceptor activity takes place, increasing the production of destructive free radicals and disrupting the delicate balance of neurotransmitter diversity.  Where we have an excess of one type of neurotransmitter relative to another, this leads to mental health symptoms such as depression, aggression, inability to focus, lack of motivation and poor impulse control. It is within this framework of neurotransmitter imbalance, that we need to examine the condition of ADHD.

Imagine how hard it is for a child who is genuinely trying their very best to do well in school but is prevented by their neurochemistry to do so. While the typical learning environment may present no problem to a neurotypical brain, the ADHD brain is simply not equipped to navigate situations such as the added stress of time pressure, the requirement to sit still for a prolonged period of time or the distraction of noise from outside. Focus becomes impossible, assimilation of information futile and these repeated occurrences serve to enforce increasing feelings of inadequacy and create further behavioural issues.

I have been there myself, and know of so many others who have struggled academically, not because they were lazy or stupid (which is often what you’re called when you’re getting 30% for math), but because their individual neurochemistry is simply not equipped to manage the tasks being given, in that particular environment. To allow the ADHD child to live up to his or her true potential, it is essential that the reasons underpinning the neurochemical imbalance be identified and treated appropriately.

Here are some signs that you or your child may be struggling with ADHD

  1. Inability to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  2. Constant fidgeting
  3. Acting without thinking, for example, impulsive spending
  4. Not knowing when to pause during the conversation
  5. Unable to maintain concentration on a specific task, easily distracted by noise or other environmental pollution

Methylation and Acetylation – The logistics of the brain

The brain orchestrates the production and transport of neurotransmitters through two main processes: acetylation (facilitating transport) and methylation (facilitating production).  In the world of neurological logistics, maintaining a balance between supply and demand is essential. In maintaining this balance, specific enzymes and nutrients play a vital role.

One of the most important mineral balances in ADHD is the copper: zinc ratio and indeed 84% of ADHD cases are observed to have an imbalance in this area, notably with a deficiency in zinc. (Walsh W., 2012). Mineral metabolism and methylation play a synergistic role here; in cases of over or undermethylation, mineral use can be completely disrupted, increasing the imbalance between key players which are designed to keep the brain active as well as protected from free radicals.  Understanding what methylation state a person may be in, provides key information as to which vital nutrients may be missing and contributing to neurotransmitter imbalance.

Even in cases where persons may be using medications, such as Ritalin, to manage ADHD symptoms, testing methylation imbalances and identifying nutrient deficiencies may assist in preventing unwanted side effects from the treatment such as dopamine toxicity.  It is a given that not every case can go without medicated support, and in such cases, knowing which nutrients are being depleted as a result of the treatment is vital to firstly limit side effects and possibly even reduce the required dose to manage ADHD.

Gastrointestinal health – the overlooked factor within ADHD

Another factor that is vital to consider in ADHD is ensuring the proper operation of enzymes that are designed to alter chemicals into different states, chemicals which otherwise may cause damage to our brains.

One such enzyme of particular importance in ADHD is Dopamine Beta Hydroxylase (DBH), which works to prevent excessive buildup of and toxicity of dopamine in the brain.  (Weinshenker D., 2007). 

Have you ever noticed poor concentration when you’ve had a stomach bug’? If so, this could be because of reduced DBH activity.

Bacteria, especially Clostridia species can irreversibly degrade DBH activity, leading to states of dopamine toxicity and subsequent decline of essential antioxidants such as metallothionine and glutathione (De Wolf W E Jr, et al., 1988).  Antioxidants are essential to combat the effects of elevated levels of copper and toxic metals and as discussed above we know that in ADHD that there are high rates of contamination of both. It is therefore of great importance that we pay attention to gut health to ensure the proper function of these vital enzymes.

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent Clostridia from compromising the brain’s ability to filter out excessive dopamine:

  • Soil-based probiotics provide a strong natural antibiotic effect against the infection of clostridia
  • Bifidobacterium breve and lactis have strong activity in increasing resistance to Clostridia infection
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a strong antagonist against Clostridia

Additionally, it is important to avoid foods high in glyphosates (grains and GMO foods are some of the worst culprits here) so as to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria whilst inhibiting clostridia spores from flourishing (Barnett A J., Gibson L D., 2020). Opting for organic produce is always best when looking to minimise the opportunity for unwanted bacteria to flourish.

Copper compromising factors: contributing factors to ADHD

When looking to optimise your brain’s ability to fight ADHD, a further nutritional consideration to take into account is the level of oxalates and lectins in the diet. Oxalates and lectins are both commonly found in vegetables, to serve as protection from grazing animals as well as to manage calcium use within their own unique chemical make-up. In cases where mineral use is imbalanced (such as ADHD), these two anti-nutrients can wreak further havoc by liberating iron and copper ions into our system, accelerating free radical damage and dysregulating the body’s utilisation of amino acids.

From enzymes to neurotransmitters, amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of life used by our body to create the necessary signalling agents of the brain.  Often in ADHD, dopamine and serotonin production is already low, and excessive oxalate and lectin accumulation may add to the problem by causing the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan (the precursors of dopamine and serotonin) to be redirected towards alternative biochemical processes, making them unavailable for neurotransmitter production. Limiting the intake of oxalates and lectins may also help control the unwanted growth of microorganisms such as Candida or Clostridia species which further compromise tryptophan and tyrosine utilisation.

The top DO NOT GO THERE’S when limiting high oxalates and or lectins are:

  1. Whole grains
  2. Spinach
  3. Swiss Chard
  4. Commercially farmed meat
  5. Corn 

An alternative way to treat ADHD

Living with ADHD, or not being able to help your frustrated child reclaim their self-worth and confidence, is undoubtedly a huge challenge. The good news, however, is that with functional diagnostic testing, we are able to figure out exactly which neurotransmitter and nutrient imbalances are contributing to a person’s ADHD symptoms, and enable us to do something about it!

I truly do not believe that we are born smart or stupid, rather I believe each person has the potential to be brilliant and more importantly feel calm and stress-free, it only takes a little bit of investigative work to figure out this puzzle. And that’s where the integrative approach to mental health comes in.

If you want to give yourself an edge or help your child through life, and you’ve tried everything else, then reach out to us and let’s see how we can assist your efforts in combating ADHD.

In summary, here are the top 4 things you can do if you have or think you have ADHD:


  • Whole grains
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Commercially farmed meat
  • Corn
  • candy
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • white pasta
  • potatoes without skins
  • chips
  • sodas
  • sports drinks
  • potato fries


  • Soil-based probiotics provide a strong natural anti-biotic effect against the infection of clostridia
  • Bifidobacterium breve and lactis have strong activity in increasing resistance to Clostridia infection
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is a strong antagonist against clostridia


  • A high-protein diet.  It may improve concentration and possibly make ADHD medications work longer.
  • More complex carbohydrates.  These are the good guys.  Load up on vegetables and some fruits,
  • More omega-3 fatty acids, and avoiding excessive omega 6 intakes.


Here are some of my top testing recommendations when assessing ADHD

  • Organic Acid Testing (OAT) – to determine the impact microorganisms may be having on your neurochemistry
  • Blood tests – to help assess methylation activity and determine the nutrient status
  • Hormone Saliva or DUTCH dried urinalysis – to assess the rhythm of stress hormone release, which affects the production of neurotransmitters
  • Heavy metal analysis – Hair Mineral Test Analysis (HTMA) not only tells us which metals may be contributing to poor brain function but also which minerals may be lacking within ADHD biochemistry


Nall R., Dec 2020. What to know about ADHD. Available at: <https://www/

Williams P., Aug 2021. What are the 3 types of ADHD. Available at: <,use%20to%20diagnose%20the%20condition.>

Beck W. R., Sept 2011. Functional neurology for practitioners. Available at: Elsevier Health Sciences.

ISBN 0702051047, 9780702051043

Walsh J W., June 2012. Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and heal your brain. Available at: Simon and Schuster ISBN 1628739878, 9781628739879

Weinshenker D., 2007. Dopamine Beta hydroxylase. Available at: 

Dewolf W E Jnr., Carr S A., Varrichio A., Goodhart P J., Mentzer A M., Roberts D G., Southan C., Dolle E R., Kruse L I., Dec 1988. Inactivation of dopamine beta hydroxylase by p-cresol: isolation and characteristics of covalently modified active site peptides. Available at:

Barnett A J., Gibson L D., Sept 2020. Separating the empirical wheat from the pseudoscientific chaff: A critical review of the literature surrounding glyphosphate, dysbiosis and wheat sensitivity. Available at:,Glyphosate%20Exposure%20Induces%20Gut%20Dysbiosis,that%20are%20resistant%20to%20glyphosate