Alternative medical treatments for ADHD, ADD and Autism
By Dr. James Blumenthal, Los Angeles Doctor of Chiropractic and DAN! Doctor
In this article, Dr. Blumenthal discusses Interactive Metronome, retained primitive reflex therapy, and clinical nutrition and functional neurology as alternative treatments for ADHD.
How do you determine what treatment methods to use in individual cases?
We have a deep respect for the natural healing ability of the human body. We use a two pronged approach of first removing the obstacles to good health, and then providing the building blocks that support optimum functioning so that our bodies can do what they have been so brilliantly designed to do.
Instead of trying to simply manage or reduce symptoms, our goal is to eliminate them entirely by solving the underlying problems that are causing problems for our patients and improve their lives permanently. This requires more careful attention to and understanding of the people we work with.
To do this, we obtain a very careful history and examination and specialized lab tests for digestive function, food sensitivities, neurotransmitters, nutrients, detox pathways, body burden of toxic metals and chemicals, and other factors.
We evaluate the results of these tests with the lens of many years of clinical experience to determine the correct treatment(s). Quite frequently we find that the cause of symptoms involves brain areas that are not working fully.
What are some of the causes of ADHD and ADD?
Typical problems associated with ADHD can be caused by food allergies or sensitivities, neurotransmitter imbalances, or a build up of toxic chemicals or metals. These difficulties may reflect imbalances between the left and right brains, parts of the frontal cortex, or within the brain areas that provide impulse control. There are many other possible causes at the physiological or body-function level.
What alternative medical approaches are used to relieve ADD and ADHD symptoms?
At our center we have tried and assessed countless methods and approaches over the years. The tools we use now have passed the tests of time and effectiveness, which is why we still use them.
Three of these tools we use to get brains “turned on” are Interactive Metronome training, Retained Primitive Reflex therapy and clinical nutrition and functional neurology.
Interactive Metronome training (IM) is a computer-based tool which turns on the brain areas responsible for focus, attention, resistance to distraction, planning and sequencing, and impulse control.
Interestingly, we have noticed that IM can raise SAT scores by about 100 points and that is has a big impact on physical coordination and social cueing (recognizing cues or signals that indicate how one’s words and actions are being received in a particular social setting and adapting accordingly).
Following three to eight weeks of brain training, studies using the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities have shown that IM improves cognitive abilities by up to five academic years in the areas of math and reading fluency, decision making, and mental processing speed.
Interactive Metronome training has been researched by numerous professional and academic organizations since 1993. Please see a sample of these studies.
Retained Primitive Reflex (RPR) therapy: As infants, our cortex or ‘main-brain’ isn’t fully developed so we depend on instinctual reflexes from our brainstem or ‘primitive brain’ to keep us alive. Over the first year of life, the nervous system should develop in a manner that these automatic reflexes can be inhibited, or “integrated” into the brain. If this does not occur, or if these reflexes reappear, which can happen following physical, emotional, or chemical trauma, then they can impede normal cognitive and postural development. This can result in many of the developmental, learning, and behavioral problems that we recognize as the autism and attention deficits spectrum.
Using a variety of tools, we help these Retained (or Regained) Primitive Reflexes integrate into the Primitive Brain, which helps balance different parts of the nervous system, radically and quickly changing behaviors.
Retained Primitive Reflexes were first studied by INPP in England in the early 1980s, researched and developed further by the inter-disciplinary VMP Group in Australia from the mid-1980’s to the present, and most recently researched and developed by the Brain Performance Center in Los Angeles under the guidance of Dr. Jim Blumenthal.
Clinical nutrition and functional neurology: Delayed (IgG) food sensitivities can cause all sorts of havoc that advance either the inattentive or hyperactive forms of ADHD by disturbing digestion, impairing ability to absorb the nutrients that run our brain, and setting up an environment for yeasts and other pathogens to grow in our digestive system. Any of these, especially the yeast toxins, can cause the brain fog, fatigue, and inability to focus which are hallmarks of inattentive ADHD.
Imbalances in neurotransmitters or other brain and body chemistry all interfere with learning, attention, and behavior. For example, in order to create memories, we need the right amount of glutamate. To store memories we need dopamine, and to retrieve memories we need acetylcholine. We test neurotransmitters and other body chemistry to understand and improve our patients’ function in and connection with the world they live in.
Please describe your holistic treatment approach
By integrating Retained Primitive Reflexes, identifying and removing specific foods that create sensitivity reactions, detoxifying metals and chemicals, and eliminating parasites, yeasts, and other pathogens that upset digestion and elimination, we remove obstacles which get in the way of functioning at our highest potential. We then provide the building blocks and activation which turn on and support our natural functioning and the highest expression of our humanness with Interactive Metronome training, nutritional supplementation, and neurologically-directed chiropractic adjusting to restore the normal neurology of our joints and receptors.
References on biomedical approaches to Spectrum disorders including autism and attention deficits are available through several sources. Notably, the Autism Research Institute and Dr Robert Mellilo’s book Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders.
To contact Dr. James P. Blumenthal:
Phone: (310) 445-3350
Dr Blumenthal directs the Brain Performance Center at the Applied Kinesiology Center of Los Angeles where he practices drug-free functional medicine, working extensively with laboratory testing and drug-free therapies. He is a Doctor of Chiropractic, a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, and a Fellow of the American College of Functional Neurology. He specializes in treating children and adults with chronic and complex syndrome disorders (including autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Post-stroke and TBI); systemic imbalances involving the digestive, immune, and endocrine systems; and neurological imbalances (including learning difficulties, focus and attention; planning, sequencing, timing, and rhythm problems; and issues with balance, vertigo, and coordination). Since 1969, Dr Blumenthal has studied and worked as an herbalist, emergency medical technician, body worker, Doctor of Chiropractic, clinical nutritionist, and functional neurologist.