The Pediatric Mental Health Controversy

Is Ritalin really necessary for American youth diagnosed with ADD or ADHD? Below, we’ll take a look at the drug and its effects, and look at some alternatives for better health.


The Pediatric Mental Health Controversy

One particularly large controversy in health care is over the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other related “mental health” issues in kids.  Millions of school aged children are currently diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD.

Part of the argument here is how vague the definition of these conditions really are and the complete lack of a viable way to measure whether or not a kid has a “problem.”

Questions arise like; What does this diagnosis really mean?  Is it the correct diagnosis?  Is it really even a “diagnosis” or is it something teachers and parents label a child whose behavior doesn’t fit in the box?  What, after-all, is “normal” child behavior?  Clearly, not every mega active child is hyperactive, not every shy or withdrawn child is clinical, and not every daydreamer is “inattentive.”

The greater part to this and many of these controversies in medicine is the drug machine they create and the profits the system then begins to churn out.  It becomes a major point of contention when you find that much of the information that supports the diagnosis and treatment of a so called illness is birthed from parties that have vested financial interest.

Being in a family practice for 20 years and working extensively with the Osceola County school system for most of that time, I’ve watched while many children received the mental health problem label.  Yet, in working with these kids, the explanation of these disorders never made sense.  First of all, it always seemed like a contradiction that children who could not attend to school work could still play computer games for hours even though both activities use the same areas of the brain and in many cases they could also sit still for T.V., movies, and keep their attention when doing something they were interested in.

I also found that the issue was far more complex than something you could write off as a chemical disorder.  There were generally family issues including the learning curve a parent has to deal with today when trying to raise children in what is often either a home where both parents work full time, a single-parent home, or a scenario where a child now rarely sees their father or mother, etc., etc.  Children are left to deal with a whole lot of emotional issues and are ill-prepared for that challenge.  If they act unusual as a result, it means they need help – not drugs.

The original medical solution for ADD, ADHD, etc. was RITALIN.   Ritalin (Methylphenidate) – a central nervous system stimulant, whose pharmacological properties are essentially the same as those of the widely-abused amphetamines like cocaine or speed.  The warning label on Ritalin states, “Ritalin should not be used in children under six years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.”
“In 1997 alone, nearly 5 million people in the United States were prescribed Ritalin—most of them young children diagnosed with ADD. Use of Ritalin, which is a stimulant related to amphetamine, has increased by 700% since 1990. And this phenomenon appears to be uniquely American:  90% of the world’s Ritalin is used in the United States.”  – Running on Ritalin by Lawrence H. Diller, M.D.
The side-effects of Ritalin are vast.  “The stimulant Ritalin causes long-term changes in the brain.  As it’s in the same class of drugs as amphetamines and cocaine, the effects are very similar.”


“The research suggests that it has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function.” – Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego November 11, 2001.   “The FDA found a link between Ritalin and cancer.  A University of Texas study showed damage to the chromosomes of 12 children who had taken Ritalin for three months.” – Cancer Letters February 16, 2005. Additionally, “Ritalin has also been linked to psychiatric events and heart disease.  The FDA has been considering labeling changes to all methylphenidates due to psychiatric events and cardiovascular side effects.” – New York Times July 1, 2005, Forbes July 1, 2005

As stigma developed surrounding your kid “Being on Ritalin” doctors solved the concern by moving to other equally potent, adult drugs like: strattera, adderall, concerta, metadate, and focalin.  Each with it’s own very extensive list of serious side-effects and all with little to no short or long term testing on children.

I don’t want to minimize the challenge of raising a child that would be labeled with these types of conditions even 1%.  As a father of 3, raising kids is a tough game to win in the best of circumstances.  I do want to offer solutions.  As you walk through the 5 Essentials of Maximized Living, there are extensive answers to this complex situation.  Here are 3.

1.    ESSENTIAL #3: There is a wide body of evidence that shows chemicals, preservatives, colorings, grains, and sugars (even healthy grains and sugars) will negatively affect mood and personality.  In our experience with 1000s of kids, it would be virtually impossible to see most of these severe types of cases if you had these kids eating not in a way that’s simply considered “Healthy” but the actual correct way to eat.

Our Maximized Living Nutrition Plans book shows an Advanced Diet that really is where everyone should lean.  These kids are more sensitive than the average person or child so following a plan like this that is very low on grains, bad fats, preservatives, chemicals, and sugars and higher in quality protein, good fats, fruits, and vegetables.  Follow the recipes for kid friendly breads, desserts, and other treats to make it do-able.

Sodas are particularly a problem – has it all; chemicals, colorings, and sugars or artificial sugars.  See Soda Webinar below for details on August 17th Webinar so you can learn more on this topic vital to your family’s health.

2.    ESSENTIAL #2: In 100s of clinics across the country, we’ve seen these kids respond incredibly well to rebuilding the integrity of their nervous system by correcting the structure and function of the cervical spine.  This is particularly true of balance structures in the upper cervical region that are incorporated so closely to brain stem function.  See below for August 18th free evaluation opportunity as part of our Back To School evaluations.

3.    ESSENTIAL #1: Not to judge, but to give an example.  In his book, American Victory, Henry Cejudo tells his story.  Barely more than a toddler, he had an alcoholic dad who sold his Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and was eventually put in prison and a mother forced to be completely absent being left to raise multiple children and work many jobs.  He saw more pain, hunger, and Rated R stuff before 10 than most will experience in a lifetime.

So, you can bet that when he went to school he didn’t act right.  However, when they went to put him on Ritalin, his mother said she had her own Ritalin.  It was called her fist.  Henry went on to be a gold medalist and write a best-selling book on the topic.  Neither of which would’ve been likely had he been put on Ritalin.