Tom Ballard, ND's blog


ADHD and Pesticides
December 9, 2010, 10:40 am
Filed under: Commentary, Research | Tags: , , ,

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is thought to affect 3 to 7 percent of U.S. children. Various reasons for the increasing incidence have been proposed, including mercury preservative in vaccines, food additives, dietary sugar, and the ubiquitous “genetics.”

New research out of Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley have added pesticides to the list of potential causes of ADHD. The studies found a striking correlation among children with ADHD and their level of organophosphate pesticides.

Looking at ADHD as a microcosm of how medicine is practiced is an interesting exercise.

1.   Few doctors ever ask why a child has ADHD. Treatments are designed to modify the symptoms, not treat the underlying cause.

2.   Rarely would a doctor read a journal such as Environmental Health Perspectives where the University of California study was published. They’re reading journals associated with their specialty which are heavily subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry.

3.   Of the list of potential causes, genetics is the one they usually cite, although the evidence for this is no better than any other. Furthermore, the latest genetic research shows that toxins and nutrition influence the expression of genes. That is, they turn genes off and on.

4.   It is counter to all we know about disease to propose a single cause. This is rarely the case. Most diseases are caused by a web of factors. Even bacterial infections are not merely the result of single bacteria, but also depend on the state of the victim’s immune resistance. Science supports a whole-system, wholistic, orientation to diagnosing and treating disease.

5.   The recommendation by the researchers was “…thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables…” That’s it? What about eating organic, detoxification therapies, eliminating the use of 73 million pounds of organophosphate pesticides sprayed annually onto our crops? These pesticides contaminate our soils, water and ourselves, while at the same time encouraging the growth of new and stronger pests.

Is it too “radical” to ban organophosphate pesticides? Too “unproven” to use detoxification therapies? Too” expensive” to eat organic? Not at all. These are the rational, whole-science  and, long-term, least expensive options.

Government policies currently subsidize millions of dollars for pesticides. Drug companies make billions treating symptoms. Doctors fall back on the old straw man “genetics” instead of asking “Why?” and treating appropriately.

ADHD, like the other chronic diseases, will not be cured by finding a single magic pill, but by a wholistic approach that forces the medical system to close the door on simplistic pharmaceutical answers and exploring what lies beyond the door marked “Environmental toxins – Beware!”