Drugless Healing for ADHD

March 16, 2016
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Find the underlying cause to effectively treat symptoms.

In the United States, about 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD – a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent increase over the past ten years. On average, a child is 7 years old when they’re diagnosed, with symptoms beginning to manifest around ages 3 to 6.

Those are not only staggering statistics, but an awfully young age to begin potentially a lifetime of taking medication.

Two of the most “popular kids” in the world of ADHD medication are probably Ritalin and Adderall, both Schedule II drugs. A Schedule II drug is defined as a drug or other substance that has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States (or accepted with severe restrictions), has an elevated potential for abuse, and that abusing it may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Other Schedule II drugs include cocaine and methadone.

These ADHD medications are certainly not without their side effects, but many parents prefer the benefit of increased academic performance against the possible consequences including induced insomnia, depression, suppression of growth, stomach aches, lack of appetite and excessive irritability, just to name a few.

What was once a growing epidemic now seems to be an accepted norm.

Plain and simple, modifying children’s behavior with medication, no matter how effective the results may be, is still treating symptoms without searching for the underlying cause. The truth is that there have been many nutritionally oriented physicians and researchers over the years who have presented highly successful alternative approaches for controlling ADHD using diet and yeast-controlling programs.

Sadly, I believe that parents are simply unaware that there are practical and natural options available for ADHD treatment.

By the way, these programs aren’t just for kids, they work for adults, too.

Eating for the Mind

The Feingold Diet is an eating plan that advocates only natural food and no additives – a great idea, anyway. It first became popular in 1974 when a San Francisco pediatric allergist named Dr. Benjamin Feingold wrote a book entitled Why Your Child Is Hyper-Active.

In it he discussed how the majority of his hyperactive pediatric patients were negatively affected by artificial food colorings and flavors in processed foods, including identifying nearly 3,000 additives in food and drinks which could create hyperactive behavior.

Salicylate, a main component of aspirin and a chemical that occurs naturally in some foods, was especially found to trigger hives and nasal congestion as well as hyperactivity in young children.

The Feingold Diet

I’ve successfully used The Feingold Diet techniques for over 25 years to treat my child clients and highly recommend it as a drug-free treatment for ADHD.

Stage one is the initial phase and eliminates foods from Groups I and II.

Group I – Eliminate foods which contain:

– Artificial colors. This is otherwise known as “food coloring,” “U.S. Certified Color,” “Color Added,” or by its Food & Drug Administration number, including Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Green 3, Red 3, and Red 40.

– Artificial flavorings. These may be listed as “flavoring” or “artificial flavoring.” Vanillin is the only synthetic flavoring clearly labeled by name.

– Artificial fragrances. This is a comprehensive list of anything that contains fragrance, including cleaning supplies, toiletries, and even some toys.

Artificial sweeteners. Think Sucralose (Splenda, Equal) and Aspartame (Sweet’N Low).

– Three antioxidant preservatives, BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene), and TBHQ (Tertiary butylhydroquinone). Be careful because these are not always listed on product labels. This is because if the product contains oil and/or other secondary ingredients, they may not include the ingredient breakdown.

Group II – Remove these foods which contain natural salicylates:

Almonds, apples (including cider and cider vinegar), apricots, all berries, cherries, cloves, coffee, cucumbers and pickles, tomatoes, currants, grapes and raisins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, peppers (bell and chilies), plums and prunes, tangerines, tea, oil of wintergreen (Methyl salicylate), wine and wine vinegar.

Aspirin and medication containing aspirin should also be eliminated.

Stage two should begin after a favorable response to stage one has been observed for 4 to 6 weeks. The foods in Group II may be carefully reintroduced and tested one at a time.

Please note that Group I foods are never reintroduced!

While this protocol may seem overwhelming at first, there’s still a very long list of delicious foods remaining that are “cleared” to eat, even in stage one. Plus, much of this list you should be avoiding whether you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or not – such as artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

This elimination style diet gives you the opportunity to get to the specific root of the cause, allowing your child (or yourself) to get focused and healthy.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. diana

    group II – wow! that is a big list of fruits to be eliminated…

    • Ann Mehrman

      That was my first reaction also but as I took some time I could see opportunities. It would be very helpful to have a list of what is permitted or substitutions. Peanuts; walnuts; pecans for nuts. Bananas, kiwi (?), melons, mango, pineapple and other tropical fruits. Cinnamon is permitted. Coffee and tea and wine (beer ok?) for children shouldn’t be hard to eliminate…water is a good drink…I don’t see cocoa or carob or milk being restricted. Hazelnut, rice and (good) soy milk??? Daikon radish; jicama; celery, carrots.
      Wine vinegar is mentioned but I would assume that cider vinegar would also be taboo. Rice vinegar is easily available. Citrus as a group is not prohibited…are lemons and grapefruit ok?
      Also wheat is not mentioned…that is on many lists.
      Let’s have a list of what “can” be eaten for snacks; made into meals, etc.
      For people dealing with “active” children…make it easy to follow and implement.

      • Team ALG

        Dear Ann: We sincerely suggest that you contact the Feingold Diet organization for more specifics on the program. http://feingold.org/ is the link we would use to connect with parents and professionals who are well versed in all the nuances of the program. Our intent in publishing this piece was to introduce this program as a viable and time-tested program for ADD.

    • Team ALG

      Hi Diana: Yes — this looks quite formidable but it has worked miracles for so many children so definitely worth a try.

  2. Elaine Therese Andrepont

    My heart goes out to the children and the parents that have suffered and stressed over children’s negative reactions to additives, coloring and preservatives. We are learning more each day how products, chemicals and our environment are affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally.
    I am so thrilled that the black label bill did not pass today. We have a right to know what is in the products that we purchase and consume.
    Yes, and you are so right about introducing Rx Pills to control children. It’s a life long struggle and negatively alters ones chemistry, trains as well as feeds addictive manipulative behaviors.
    The humane thing to do is to eliminate in order to identify what triggers ones behaviors negatively.
    It is not the easiest to do but long term it is the most decent way to heal a child for their future prosperity.

  3. calle

    We did a blood test, MRT to find out our food and chemical sensitivities, wow what a huge difference
    Also Gluten and Yeast can make a difference.
    We have also just started to look into acupuncture to heal the nervous system.
    Removal of artificial gunk is so important.
    When we read labels it seems like their is more food value in the packaging than in the fake food in side.
    Chemicals, junk and no wonder Americans are so sick.
    Thanks Ann Louise for your great posts.
    Have your “Zapped” book, telling everyone about it.

    • Team ALG

      Thanks for your post, Calle. We think ZAPPED is as important for people to know about as removing all preservatives, colors, and artificial flavors from our diets.

  4. Marie

    I will definitely check out the Feingold protocol for my ADHD CHILD. Thank for the info


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