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Current ADD and ADHD research on nutrition and Depakote (valproate)

What You Should Know About Depakote

Depakote (valproate) is being prescribed with increasing frequency for children who have ADHD. Depakote (also known as Valproate or Valproic Acid) was once only prescribed for epileptics. But this anticonvulsant medication is now being prescribed to treat several disorders, including ADHD.

The use of anticonvulsants to treat psychiatric conditions is  not a new concept. N. Frank Feiner, Ph.D., M.D., writes that the original 'first-generation' antiepileptic drug which appeared in 1857 was also known for its tranquilizing properties. After phenobarbital came into use for epilepsy in 1912 there soon followed reports of its sychopharmacologic application. It is now common practice to treat Bipolar Disorder with Depakote. Depakote has been approved as an anticonvulsant for ages 2  and older, which means it can be used to treat younger patients.

Why is Depakote prescribed to people who have ADHD?
 Aside from being an effective anticonvulsant for patients who  have epilepsy, Depakote has demonstrated abilities as a mood stablizer. It is this property that leads doctors to prescribe  this medication for ADHD.

Most children who have ADHD are given either Ritalin  (methylphenidate), Adderall or some other stimulant medication. These medications control most symptoms of ADHD. However, they may or may not be effective in controlling mood swings or other behavioral problems. Depakote has been shown to be effective in treating severe disruptive behavior disorders, including explosive behavior in children, allowing these patients to have fairly normal lives.

New research on Depakote and Ritalin shows that Depakote  prevents sensitization to Ritalin (methylphenidate) in rats. While rats are not perfect models for human responses to medications, the study does have implications for patients who may develop sensitization to Ritalin.

But Depakote is not without its problems. Side effects include weight gain, loss of appetite, trembling hands and other problems. The drug has been known to affect the liver, and  regular blood tests are required.

 Some patients have reported valproate-induced tinnitus that   may be misinterpreted as psychotic symptoms. A study released in January, 2001 shows that Depakote has been associated with thrombocytopenia , or a low platelet count in the blood and can result in excessive bruising or bleeding. While this condition is more common among elderly patients, it is a potential risk for children who are using Depakote. Precautions for patients with this condition should be observed.

There have been reports of adverse reactions to the  combination of Ritlain and Depakote, including dental problems   resulting from bruxism, or tooth grinding. Other adverse  reactions have included dyskinesia, which looks like writhing or  wiggling movements similar to those seen in patients who have  Parkinson's.

 Research published in the January 15th issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics describes the cases of two siblings with fetal valproate syndrome and their long-term follow-up. It  also reviews cases of children born to epileptic women who took Depakote while pregnant. In all, the report cites 69 cases  could be attributed solely to valproic acid exposure to the  baby during the mother's pregnancy. Musculoskeletal abnormalities were found in 62% of cases, minor skin defects in 30%, cardiovascular abnormalities in 26%, genital abnormalities in 22%, and pulmonary abnormalities in 16% of   cases.

Fifteen percent of the cases had growth retardation and 9%  had an overgrowth pattern. Defects of the brain, eye, kidney, and hearing were less common.

Always Check With Your Doctor
Depakote has been shown to be helpful in treating some of the problems associated with ADHD, particulary in controlling mood  swings and behavior. However, like all medications, it has side  effects that will vary from patient to patient.

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Recommended reading if you wish to try safe, alternative treatments

THE LCP SOLUTION: The Remarkable Nutritional Treatment for ADHD, Dyslexia, and Dyspraxia

This book is getting rave reviews,and is worth your time looking into it further, if you wish to use nutrition as one of your tools to help ADHD and ADD
One reviewer writes, " This book provides an excellent integration and summary of the research pointing to the critical role of long-chain polyunsaturated (LCP) fatty acids (EPA, DHA, AA) in the development and function of the brain. Pulling together basic science, case studies, and clinical trials from a variety of fields, the authors take the reader on a journey of discovery that both educates and intrigues. The   authors not only make a compelling case for trying LCP supplements as a first line treatment for ADHD and other neurologically based disorders, they also provide a wealth of resources, product reviews, and protocols of immediate practical value. Millions of parents are desperately seeking ways to help children who are struggling socially, emotionally or academically, without resorting to drugs. I strongly recommend that they start their search for safe, natural, and research-based solutions by reading this book. "

Reviews, shipping details and to order all available here

$US12.00 available here

Rage-Free Kids:
Homeopathic Medicine
for Defiant, Aggressive,
and Violent Children 
US$12.00 available here
by Robert Ullman N.D., 
Judith Reichnberg-Ullman N.D.

By Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, Robert Ullman,
Having been fortunate enough to spend 2 days with the authors in February 2001, and talked in detail about homeopathy, the editors of the ADHD ezine, Tricia and Mike Legg, recommend  you investigate this couple and their techniques further  if you want to explore safe and natural treatments for ADD and ADHD.Although their book title suggests they only treat kids, they don't! Adults can be helped also!
They are available for telephone consultations worldwide, or from their clinic based in Seattle, and their series of six books are a very good introduction to their homeopathic practises.

A reviewer of their book, Ritalin free kids, agrees,
 Ritalin-Free Kids has changed our lives. I have taken my daughter to see Dr. Ullman and she is now a new person. She was border line ADD and the next step was Ritalin. There were so many things she was not able to do. Ride her bike, swim, go across the monkey bars, tie her shoes, control her emotions and more. She also had unusal dislikes. She could not stand the smell of any fruit product or bubble gum. She did not like any fruit drink or punch. At 18 months of age, she suddenly stopped speaking and did not start again until age 3. Her speech came only after I enrolled her in a special education class for speech. Traditional doctors have not been able to explain why this occurred, but
Dr. Ullman could. My daughter can do all the activities I listed eariler. It was truly a Godsend and I thank God for Physicians like the Ullmans. Everyone should consider this option before putting themselves or their children on addictive drugs like Ritalin. Homeopathy should be our first option,
$US12.00 available here

If you wish to read more visit the Ullman's own site at

 Nutrients in liver might be helpful with ADHD
Inositol, a nutrient found in organ meats such as liver, may be effective in the treatment of patients with depression, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) . This research  supports previous findings that inositol reduces depressive-like behaviors in  animals.

Hannibal Lechter would no doubt have some serving suggestions,  but you don't have to eat liver.Wheat and wheat bran, cantaloupe, and oranges are also excellent sources of inositol.

Depression, panic disorder (or anxiety disorders) and OCD are all more common among people who have ADHD than among the general population. Although there had been some claims that inositol supplements could help ADHD,  researchers found that the nutrient,part of the b-vitamin complex, was probably not an effective treatment  for attention deficits or hyperactivity. 

According to an extract of the study published in the January 2001 Journal of  Affective Disorders, inositol treatment was not observed to have any effect on
amphetamine-induced hyperactivity or on the performance of memory tasks by monkeys.

Inositol As An Option for treatment

Controlled trials using inositol on humans have shown that inositol  appears to have therapeutic effects in the spectrum of illness responsive to serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI), a class of medications that includes Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. While these medications are commonly prescribed to people who have ADHD, they are not considered to be first-line treatments for the disorder. Typically, SSRI medications are used to treat depression or some other diagnosis that is also present along with ADHD.

Reseachers warn that it is too early to tell if inositol can be used as a replacement for these medications.

Those in favor of nutritional treatments in lieu of medictions cite an extensive list of disorders treatable with inositol, claiming that the nutrient can cure everything from aging to vertigo.

So, enjoy some liver... along with  some fava beans and a nice Chianti!

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