As most parents with an ADHD child known, the usual treatment after psychiatric diagnoses is a prescription of one of several stimulant medications that are believed to bring the various spheres of the brain into sympathetic function.
These medications, Ritalin, Cylert, Dexedrine, or Adderall, have had some success in helping children to focus better and complete the required day at public school, but they have not come close to curing the problem.
For many, in fact, these medications have led to multiple side-effects or other problems which are further treated with other, sometimes hazardous, medications – like clonidine, tri-cyclic antidepressants, other, newer monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.
Because of these risks, and the current justified concern over the ever-increasing number of children on these prescription medications, many parents are looking to more traditional approaches for treatment.
People who have never had the good fortunate to live with an ADHD child often raise the question of whether or not we are medicating the joy and liveliness out of our school children, but the truth is that ADHD is about far more than whether or not a child can sit still through six hours of lessons.
To that end, many parents are trying treatment regimes which include vitamins, minerals, Essential Fatty Acids and amino acids, the building blocks for many of the components which make up of our brain. GABA, or Gamma amino-butyric acid, is one of those amino acids being tried. Do not start taking GABA before discussing it with your doctor.
In some research circles, GABA is referred to as the “anxiety” amino acid for its function in the utilization of one of the B vitamins, niacinamide, also known as B3.
In a normally functioning brain, niacin is encouraged to bind with the benzodiazepine receptors, and the body is better able to deal with stressors. If the diet is low in niacin, or the body cannot utilize it properly, stress plays a big factor in the brain function.
As many ADHD sufferers will tell you, stress causes them to blank out, and no amount of encouragement will allow them to recover normal function until the stressor is removed, or the sufferer is removed from the stress.
In the normal scope of untreated ADHD, the child may learn to arouse himself to anger to “jumpstart” his brain, one of the many reasons that about 80 percent of male child diagnoses with ADHD are also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder or ODD.
Does GABA hold out hope for the ADHD sufferer? If we can interrupt the stress cycle at the beginning of the brain’s inability to deal with it, we should be able to stop the blanking that often occurs for this particular group of people.
Is that sufficient to remove the need for Ritalin, or its cousins, in the drug’s arsenal? Not likely. But it is one more component in that arsenal and one more step away from total reliance on large amounts of a drug which can cause many potentially harmful side effects, including loss of appetite and stunted growth. It might not be a miracle cure, but it certainly is worth investigation and trial.