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By Corinne P. Bottrell, N.D., Ph.D.

Are you finding yourself late for meetings, unable to stay focused, bored easily, forgetful, fidgety, and not realizing your full potential? Perhaps you have been told you have an attention deficit? What can we do to alleviate these troublesome symptoms? The answer lies in the perspective that you take. 

In my practice over the past 35 years, people have asked me how they can stay more focused. Being present and attentive is very difficult unless we are able to calm our minds. Having taught meditation and Tai Chi for many years, I begin by recommending strategies for becoming more mindful. What we have learned is that being easily distracted is not our fault. We are at the mercy of our brain chemistry.

Being a holistic practitioner, I am interested in alleviating the root cause of people’s struggles, not just treating symptoms. It is now well established that ADHD is a genetic, neurological, nutritional, and environmental disorder resulting in an imbalanced brain that triggers imbalanced behavior. High dopamine levels and imbalanced norepinephrine levels can cause mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Dr. Daniel Amen of Newport Beach, California, the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) guru believes there are seven different types of attention deficit. Different parts of the brain are affected in each unique subtype. Therefore, depending upon the type of ADHD we have, will dictate the treatment that is likely to be most successful.

So if we are at the mercy of our brain chemistry, how do we change it? By exercise, diet, nutrition, and supplements. It is possible to balance our brain waves. One very simple strategy is by taking omega-3 fatty acids, which reinforce the structure of brain cells. Often times attention issues are a result of a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium nourishes the nerves that improves focus, reduces irritability, anxiety, and sleep problems. Also, many of us have a sensitivity to dairy products and by avoiding casein (ingredient) in milk we are quickly restored to better attention.

One of the questions that I wonder about when doing an assessment for attention issues is ‘does this person have an imbalance of the minerals copper and zinc, upsetting dopamine metabolism and triggering symptoms? Or is the excess of dopamine in the brain caused by intestinal bacteria causing hyperactivity and impulsivity?’ Even food sensitivities or food allergies can trigger symptoms of ADHD.

By supplementing diets with magnesium and vitamin B6 that helps cells utilize magnesium, I have seen a reduction of symptoms. I also have found that taking Pycnogenol (pine bark extract) balances neurotransmitters as well. Supplementing diet with neurotransmitter precursors such a tyrosine, B-vitamins, tryptophan, and folate (depending upon symptoms) has been shown to be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Additionally, Vitamin D, a neurotransmitter precursor that helps create serotonin, is known to increase executive functioning. There are other powerful precursors that can help support a calm and stable mind.

Sometimes ADHD symptoms are caused by brain inflammation. Curcumin, an extract of turmeric has been shown to decrease neuroinflammation and balances neurotransmitters. Often times symptoms are a result of digestive or intestinal issues. Digestive issues are very common with people who have ADHD. Symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea are a strong indicator of Clostridia overgrowth. Taking pro-biotics and treating bacteria that may have overwhelmed the gut such as Clostridia will significantly reduce negative behaviors.

So if you, or someone you know, are diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder, remember that they did not choose to have an imbalanced brain. We must be more compassionate and understanding. We also need to seek out healthy ways to reduce the impact that these characteristics have on our lives. I encourage you to do your own research, and consult a practitioner that is knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating the root cause of your symptoms.


The information and statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness. The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to information contained herein. You should take no action solely on the basis of this publication’s contents. Any action you take on the basis of the information provided is solely at your own risk and expense. Although the author has made every effort to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this article, we assume no responsibilities for errors, omissions, inaccuracies, or any inconsistency herein.