TIPU SULTAN, MD
Dr. Tipu Sultan is director of the Environmental Health and Allergy Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Board certified in pediatrics and environmental medicine, his primary approach to medicine is to determine and treat the underlying cause of symptoms.
Editor: We requested Dr. Sultan to share a case report on successful treatment of ADHD through an environmental medicine approach.
Dr. Sultan: A 9-year-old adopted boy, Victor, was brought to my office by his mother. The family was concerned about his behavior, which at the time included symptoms of ADHD with hyperactivity, uncooperative acting out, short attention span, and aggressiveness. The boy’s mother said that the problematic behavior had been worsening since the age of five.
Additional complaints included mild asthma, headaches, stomachaches, a coated tongue, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, a tendency to fly-off-the-handle, reduction in memory and concentration, learning difficulties—and a craving for sweets.
Of course, typically most of these problems are treated with Ritalin or similar medications, and while they may help, they cannot reverse the condition.
In light of Victor’s clinical presentation, I conducted a skin test for Candida albicans during the initial visit. Candida albicans is a common form of yeast (fungus) that we all have, but when there is an overgrowth, it can cause a number of undesirable reactions and symptoms. The testing was positive, and I prescribed Nystatin. The Nystatin would help destroy any overgrowth of candida in his intestinal tract, helping to balance the child’s gut flora.
The patient was also instructed to reduce sugars and yeasty foods dramatically, since they can “feed” the candida.
Symptoms started to improve with the Nystatin medication. Meanwhile, the family began an elimination diet with Victor so his sensitivities could be tested. One month later, challenge feeding tests showed the boy was reactive to sugar, preservatives, soy, and Xylitol.
My recommended treatment plan for Victor at this point was for him to avoid the offending foods. After five months, his mother happily reported that she saw a 75% to 90% improvement in her son’s behavior. She also said that he was much more emotionally stable, and his overall mood had improved. Another plus—headaches and stomachaches were gone.
I am hoping that on further treatment the residual symptoms will also resolve.
Readers should be aware that there is a strong gut-brain connection. It can often be helpful to look for a biological cause before assuming behavior problems are due to parental or emotional issues—although these can of course play a role. In addition to a fungal overgrowth and food intolerance, note that additional causes of symptoms may include factors such as exposure to inhalant allergens, mold or chemical toxins, as well as nutritional issues and endocrine imbalances.
A stock image was used for this article