ADD or ADHD? Diet or Drug? Drug Side Effects

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a disorder in which one is not able to fix their attention on what one should have their attention fixed to, with or without hyperactivity. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the same thing, but with a new name. ADHD came into view in 1994 and is the label currently used today though some doctors still use ADD denoting hyperactivity is not present in a particular diagnosis. You see, one day The American Psychiatric Association realized they were basically the same thing and got together and decided to give it one name. Unfortunately, some people had already been diagnosed with one or the other. This caused confusion, to say the least. In reality this happens all of the time. The psychiatric industry tends to make up things as they go along. This is not unusual.

If a person is labeled with either they would have a hard time sitting still, paying attention or controlling their behavior.

At first children were the only ones diagnosed with this disorder. Then, I suppose, the drug manufacturers of these drugs became greedier and decided to start diagnosing adults with this disorder as well.

There are 3 types of ADHD:

Inattentive Only

This type of patient is able to sit still. He does not show signs of hyperactivity nor does he interrupt the class. In Inattentive ADHD, the main symptom is that the patient cannot pay attention. In the past, this condition was known as ADD. Hyperactive/Impulsive:

These patients are able to pay attention, but they are unable to sit still. They may blurt out answers without raising their hand. They may make animal sounds or tap on their desk while the class is in session.

They may show impulsive behavior such as throwing books out of the window or running out into the street. These patients cannot play quietly and seem to be in constant motion.

Combined Inattentive/Hyperactive/Impulsive:

Kids with this condition show all three symptoms; the inability to pay attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. This is the most common disorder.

It is ordinary for children and adults who have been diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD to be prescribed a sychostimulant drug such as Adderall, Adderall XR, Concerta, Detxroamphetamine, Focaline XR, Methylphenidate, Methylin, Metadate CD, Strattera, Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Vyvanse and more.

Vyvanse came on the market in 2007 and is classed as a Schedule II Drug along with Cocaine and Morphine having a high potential of abuse as is with the other amphetamine based ADHD drugs such as Ritalin, etc.

Drug or Not to Drug?

That is the real question! Can you imagine drugging a child because he/she won’t sit still in class and taps on his desk? I had a child who wouldn’t sit in her desk in second grade and was considered to have a bad attitude. The teacher stuck her and her desk in a corner for one month. After the one month was over she still wouldn’t sit in her desk all the time and the teacher wanted to keep her there another month. At a parent-teacher conference she suggested that I put her on a psychostimulant drug. I pulled her out of that school! It turned out that she had a back problem and it was uncomfortable for her to sit down for long periods of time. I would have a bad attitude, too, if I were in pain. No wonder why she preferred sleeping on the floor instead of her soft mattress. A chiropractor was the answer there, NOT DRUGGING! She is now 27 years old, married to an attorney and has given me 3 wonderful grandchildren. She has thanked me for not drugging her when she was young.


ADHD in many cases has been linked to diet, which includes food allergies and nutritional deficiencies. Simply eliminating certain foods or adding others may reduce symptoms or eliminate them altogether. Hyperactive children are especially vulnerable as they are hypersensitive (instant reaction) to sugar and other stimulants. Have you ever noticed how your child’s behavior changes very shortly after he or she consumes a soft drink, sugary cereals or chocolate? Address the root of the problem first, if it is indeed nutritional, before ingesting toxic pharmaceutical alternatives that merely mask the symptoms. Making healthy food choices for you and your child is not difficult. There is no downside to adopting a healthy eating program and huge benefits for everyone, whether dealing with a current health issue or preventing future ones.

You can find the Allergy Elimination Diet at


For overcoming educational barriers visit Applied Scholastics which can be found in the right-hand navigation panel under “Education”.

“Brand Name Psychostimulants




Cylert (now removed from the market)

Daytrana (skin patch)










Side Effects

Abdominal pain, aggression, angina (sudden acute pain), anorexia, blood pressure and pulse changes, blurred vision, depression, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, fever, hallucinations, headaches, heart palpitations, hypersensitivity, increased irritability, insomnia, Tourette’s Syndrome (involuntary tics and twitching), liver problems, loss of appetite, mental/mood changes, moodiness, nausea, nervousness, psychosis, restlessness, seizures, stomach pain, stunted growth, suicidal thoughts, tachycardia (irregular heart beats), toxic psychosis, unusual weakness or tiredness, violent behavior, vomiting, weight loss and zombie demeanor.

Suicide is a major complication of withdrawal from Ritalin and similar amphetamine-like drugs.

Note: The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies methylphenidate, the generic name for Ritalin and Concerta, as a Schedule II narcotic in the same abuse category as morphine, opium and cocaine.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) is amphetamine-like as it is very similar in chemical structure to amphetamine and its effects on the body. An amphetamine’s chemical structure resembles natural stimulants in the body, like adrenaline. However, as a drug, it alters the natural system in the body and can reduce appetite and fatigue and “speed” you up. A stimulant (psychostimulant) refers to any mind-altering chemical or substance that affects the central nervous system by speeding up the body’s functions, including the heart and breathing rates. Stimulants are most often prescribed to children for the so-called condition Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In children, stimulants appear to act like suppressants but psychiatrists and doctors have no idea why. A 1999 study published in Science Journal, determined: “The mechanism by which psychostimulants act as calming agents…is currently unknown.”

Note: Strattera, a non-stimulant ADHD drug, is an antidepressant and is covered below.


June 28, 2005: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified possible safety concerns with methylphenidate (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta) drug products. Specifically noted were psychiatric adverse effects linked to stimulants prescribed to treat children “ADHD,” such as visual hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychotic behavior, aggression and violent behavior. The FDA announced its intention to make labeling changes and to examine other stimulant drug products approved for the treatment of ADHD.

September 13, 2005: The Oregon Health & Science University, Evidence-Based Practice Center published the findings of its review of 2,287 studies-virtually every study ever conducted on “ADHD” drugs-and found that no trials had shown the effectiveness of these drugs and that there was a lack of evidence that they could affect “academic performance, risky behaviors, social achievements, etc.” Further, “We found no evidence on long-term safety of drugs used to treat ADHD in young children” or “adolescents.”

January 5, 2006: The FDA said it had received reports of sudden deaths, strokes, heart attacks and hypertension (high blood pressure) in both children and adults taking “ADHD” drugs and asked its Drug Safety and Risk Management advisory committee to examine the potential of cardiovascular (heart) risks of the drugs.

February 4, 2006: A University of Texas study published in Pediatric Neurology reported cardiovascular problems in people taking stimulants.

February 9, 2006: The FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee urged that the FDA’s strongest “black box” warning be issued for stimulants stating that they may cause heart attacks, strokes and sudden death.

March 22-23, 2006: Two FDA advisory panels held hearings into the risk of stimulants and another new “ADHD” drug called Sparlon. Between January 2000 and June 30, 2005, the FDA had received almost 1,000 reports of kids experiencing psychosis or mania while taking the drugs. The first panel recommended stronger warnings against stimulants, emphasizing these on special handouts called “Med Guides” that doctors must give to patients with each prescription. The second committee recommended not to approve Sparlon, which the manufacturer, Cephalon, estimated would lose them $100 million in drug sales.

March 28, 2006: The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration announced its review of reports of 400 adverse reactions to stimulants in children taking them, including strokes, heart attacks and hallucinations.

Abuse of Stimulants

August 2001: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that methylphenidate is chemically similar to cocaine. Children who took stimulants were more likely to start smoking or use cocaine and continue these habits into adulthood.

May 2005: Partnership for a Drug-Free America released the findings of its survey, which determined that 10% (2.3 million) of teens had abused Ritalin and Adderall.

February 25, 2006: A study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that seven million Americans were estimated to have abused stimulant drugs and a substantial amount of teenagers and young adults now appeared to show signs of addiction.



Adderall has been linked to violent behavior when, in 2000, a North Dakota judge acquitted 26-year-old Ray Ehlis of murdering his 5-week-old daughter after two independent psychiatrists testified he was suffering a severe psychosis induced by Adderall.

June 2004: The FDA ordered that the packaging for Adderall include a warning about sudden cardiovascular deaths, especially in children with underlying heart disease.

February 9, 2005: Health Canada, the Canadian counterpart of the FDA, suspended marketing of Adderall XR (Extended Release, given once a day) due to reports of 20 sudden unexplained deaths (14 in children) and 12 strokes (2 in children) in patients taking Adderall or Adderall XR. However, in August 2005, Health Canada agreed to reinstate the marketing authorization with a number of revisions to the labeling. The labeling was revised to include warnings against the use of Adderall XR18 in patients with structural heart abnormalities and advised about the dangers of misusing amphetamines.

April 21, 2005: Partnership for a Drug-Free America, released its findings of a study that determined that 10% of teens (2.3 million) had abused the stimulants Adderall and Ritalin.


In 1999, the Ontario Medical Association Committee on Drugs and Pharmacotherapy reported that sales of Cylert were to be suspended in Canada, after a risk benefit assessment concluded that Cylert posed a threat of serious liver complications, including liver failure resulting in death or liver transplantation. The findings said that the risks far outweighed the benefits of continued use.

Britain and Canada removed Cylert from the market after reports of death related to liver problems in people taking it.

October 24, 2005: The FDA finally withdrew Cylert from the market because of its “overall risk of liver toxicity” and liver failure.


The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) warns, “psychotic episodes can occur” with abuse. Suicide is the major complication of withdrawal from Ritalin and similar drugs.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says Ritalin could lead to addiction and that “psychotic episodes, violent behavior and bizarre mannerisms had been reported” with its use.

2002: Researchers at the University of Buffalo conducted studies that showed Ritalin might cause long-term changes in the brain. Conducted on rats, the study revealed the changes to the brain are similar to those seen with cocaine.


December 17, 2004: The FDA required that packaging for Strattera carry a new warning advising, “Severe liver damage may progress to liver failure resulting in death or the need for a liver transplant in a small percentage of patients.”51 The drug should be discontinued in patients who develop jaundice (condition that causes yellowness of the skin, eyes and body fluids) or liver injury. The FDA noted, “The labeling warns that severe liver damage may progress to liver failure resulting in death or the need for a liver transplant in a small percentage of patients.”52 Signs of the possible liver problems include jaundice, dark urine, unexplained flu-like symptoms, upper right-side abdominal tenderness and a form of itchy skin known as pruritus (caused by irritation of the sensory nerve endings).53 Other common side effects are headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, anorexia (eating “disorder”) and weight loss, nervousness, somnolence (drowsiness).

September 29, 2005: The FDA directed Eli Lilly & Co. to revise Strattera labeling to include a boxed warning about the increased risk of suicidal thinking in children and adolescents taking it.”

The section in quotes is from Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights. For the entire white paper go to

This website may contain some copyrighted material. We reserve the right to reproduce such material under the Copyright Act, Title 17 US Code, Section 107, “Fair Use”, as we believe the public should be informed of such information so they can think for themselves rather than rely on advertisements. We gain no profit from such articles.


6 Responses to “ADD or ADHD? Diet or Drug? Drug Side Effects”

  1. Jane Hersey Says:

    You refer to children reacting to sugary cereals and soft drinks, but there’s a much greater chance that they are reacting to the synthetic dyes, flavorings and preservatives. Most of these chemical additives are derived from petroleum and have been found to trigger ADHD symptoms in most children, not only those diagnosed with ADHD. The non-profit Feingold Association shows families how to find the foods they enjoy, but minus the harmful additives. See
    Another note about that “sugar” — few processed foods actually contain sugar; companies prefer to use high fructose corn syrup since it is cheaper. And there are many reasons why a person could be reacting to that additive.

  2. Your Friend Says:

    Thank you for your comment. I would normally consider this spam because your comment sounds so much like an ad, but I wanted to point out to everyone that the link to the Allergy Elimination Diet goes over removing such things as artificial colorings and flavorings. The entire diet is so long to post, but I guess I will now. Thanks for pointing it out.

    I did visit your link while doing my research, but the information is not free and the Allergy Elimination Diet is. So I decided not to post it. But thank you for your input. This is such an important point.

    Your Friend

  3. Jane Hersey Says:

    Thank you for posting my note. I am the product of a generation that grew up with index cards and thought an electric typewriter was about as progressive as one could get, so I know very little about blogs, and about what should and should not be said. You write that our information is not free….well, there is a great deal of free information on the site, but the materials are not free. In order to pay for the costs of printing and mailing the rather large membership package, and the newsletters that are mailed out each month, we need to charge for this. (Unlike some ADHD support groups, we are not funded by Big Pharma!) But we will gladly send out free introductory literature, including a sample newsletter, to anyone who requests it. We have donated many books and films to libraries so these are available to the public.
    Also, part one of our book Why Can’t My Child Behave? can be read online at no cost.
    Thanks again for telling your readers about us.

  4. Your Friend Says:

    I, too, grew up in the same generation. Your blogging manners are excellent!

    I suppose when I went to your site I was expecting the entire diet to be posted, but it wasn’t. You do have wonderful information at your site. I just don’t like filling my posts with many links. Often it is too much for everyone to absorb. I will dedicate a specific article just for the Feingold Diet. In this article I just chose the free Allergy Elimination Diet over the Feingold Diet. I found another link on the internet which gives an overview of the Feingold Diet: What are your thoughts about this link? Does it violate any copyright laws? If so I will remove it.

    I understand that the Feingold Association is a non-profit. Non-profits need to recoup their expenses, at least. Therefore I understand why you charge $82.50 for your materials. One idea, though is to post it on the internet for those who cannot afford it otherwise. Other than time it is free. Isn’t it? Does this not leave the organization other ways of receiving donations?

    I am just asking questions. There are no accusations meant here, at all.

    For those who can afford the program materials, perhaps you can leave a little teaser here for them with your link.

    I do want to acknowledge what your organization does. Any alternative to psychiatric medicine has my support! 🙂

    Best regards,
    Your Friend

  5. Jane Hersey Says:

    Hi and thank you for your response. I can see how our program and their materials can lead to a lot of confusion! Actually, we gladly provide the diet to anyone who is interested. It involves using foods that do not contain:
    Food dyes such as Yellow 5 and Red 40, etc.
    Artificial flavors, including vanillin
    The preservatives BHA, BHT and TBHQ

    At the beginning of the program we also recommend avoiding aspirin and “natural salicylates.” This refers to plants that create their own chemical, which is similar to aspirin. These plants include many common fruits like apples, oranges and grapes, and a few vegetables.
    Once you see a good response, you can begin to reintroduce the salicylates, one at a time, and test them out to see if you are sensitive to them.

    That’s the diet in a nutshell.
    But food labels are not always complete or accurate, so we research brand name foods in order to be sure that a product (that might look good on the label) is free of even trace amounts of the additives.

    We have been conducting this research for over 30 years and use it to publish books listing thousands of acceptable brand name foods. Our newest books are approaching 200 pages of just lists of brand name products that are okay.

    This way, you can just find the category of food you want — maybe mac & cheese mix, or cookies, or hot dogs — and the list will tell you which brands/versions/flavors are okay to use. We have 7 different books for the various regions of the US.

    We also research non-food products and supplements, and compile a list of menu choices at the major restaurant chains…this is to give our members a fighting chance!

    Now the complicated thing about food is that it changes, and labels don’t always tell you this. So when a new product is found acceptable and may be added, or when a current product is changed and must be removed, we provide this information so the Foodlists will stay up-to-date. We feel this is important since using the wrong product can mean a bad reaction for some people.

    This information is sent out to our members 10 times a year via our paper newsletter, Pure Facts, and our email newsletter. (The email newsletter is free.)

    The cost of membership goes primarily to cover the expenses of researching, printing and mailing this material. It is also used to do outreach, including renting tables at conferences, printing handout materials, and paying basis costs for volunteers who represent us but are not able to cover the travel and hotel expenses themselves.

    We mail free literature to anyone who asks for it, including doctors, teachers, students and parents.

    We do our best to raise funds, but even a non-profit organization has a lot of expenses to cover, including office rent, auditing, paying clerks, holding our annual meeting, etc.

    The good news is that anyone who is willing to make some of their food from scratch can easily use the Feingold diet. The Foodlist is a wonderful resource but is not essential. All of part one of my book (Why Can’t My Child Behave?) can be read on our website, and it provides a great deal of information, including a 4-day suggested diet, with brand name products (which have not changed in many years).

    Thank you for your interest in featuring the Feingold diet on your site, I would be more comfortable if we could write the description, rather than use the site you suggest, which I believe is a little to complicated.

    I’d be glad to mail you some of our materials, including the above book and various newsletters, which conver a lot of related topics. Each newsletter contains a blurb inviting people to reprint articles.


  6. Your Friend Says:

    Hello Jane,

    Thank you for all of the information. It is appreciated.

    I will contact you through your website to have you mail me information for review.

    In the near future I will do some research and post something using your website as a reference. I would love for you to do so, but then it would not be a fair review, if you understand. You may then correct anything if it is not correct.

    Thanks again.

    Your Friend

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