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ADHD Parents Together
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Which Neurotransmitters Effect the ADHD Brain, and What Can We Do About it?

After researching ADHD for the last 4+ years whilst pursuing my PhD. as a Clinical Psych (currently in progress), I have researched neurochemistry and the role neurotransmitters play in the ADHD brain, and what we can do in order to help the deficiencies in lower levels of these specific neurotransmitters that give us problems. Stimulant medication only works with 2 of these neurotransmitters, but there are multiple other neurotransmitters that are of vital importance that are not being addressed. I created a video detailing this information in a comprehensible manner. If you click my pic, it will take you to my profile, in which in my bio section, you'll see a link to the video (the website will not let me link it in the post).

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Interested in what tests you recommend for this? We’ve tested neurotransmitters before.

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Neurotransmitter synthesis for certain neurotransmitters occurs in all sorts of different areas outside of the brain. In this manner, neurotransmitter levels outside the blood brain barrier are not accounted for, thus making testing for neurotransmitter levels difficult . Serotonin for example is thought to be produced mostly through the intestines, and some neurotransmitters are not produced by their own cells (which was very surprising to me). This and some other findings I've come across, make me skeptical about test kits for neurotransmitters. Too many receptor sites are also not accounted for.

The research I have done and seen demonstrates that specific neurotransmitter levels are usually low in people who have ADHD, much like the studies for other conditions have their commonalities in neurotransmitter levels, whether it be too little or too high levels of multiple or specific neurotransmitters at a given point.

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Hi, ccandyau. I think I missed this post when I first read the thread. My son has had numerous tests, but we've never tested neurotransmitter levels before. I googled a little about it, but can you tell me what you tested, if you used a lab with mail-in tests, and what your opinion of what you learned was? Thank you so much.

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Hi!

We tested through our naturopath. I can’t recall the lab used, but it was a unrine test done at home and sent in. Then, we had to go in for results. The second time we tested (to see if the protocol was working) was through Sanesco labs, but again we got it from the naturopath.

It helped us to get a good idea on why his behaviors were happening, possible mutations (MTHFR), and we added some supplements to his regiment.

I was told to retest every 3 months, but the test wasn’t cheap (200-300) and we also pay each time for a visit.

I hope this answered your question(s).

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Thank you. We've done so much testing...but first time I've heard of testing neurotransmitters. Yet makes sense now, surprised I didn't know about it sooner since we tested MTHFR years ago, etc. Learn something new every day on this board! Thanks!

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Hello. Thank you so much for your post! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to do all this research and post helpful information for others. I printed off a copy of all the supplements you take and recommend. My teen has ADHD and takes a few of the supplements you noted like COQ10, magnesium, Carnitine, NAC, whole foods multi, zinc, methyl B complex liquid, vitamin D, vitamin C and fish oil.

He has been on several different supplements over the years since 3rd grade. We took him off meds for about 8 months due to severe side effects. Put him back on a new one, Evekeo half way through 9th grade. His grades definitely improved after, BUT he is very agitated during the week when he's on meds. It appears that the medication is depleting his serotonin and dopamine causing him to be agitated, as he not as agitated over the weekend when he does not take his medication. He's been on it for about 2 months and his agitation and anger are getting worse.

Would you recommend he give N-Acetyl Tyrosine a try? Or add that with L-Tryptophan and PS100? Start with one and slower add another? So want to help him be more relaxed and happier, so hard to see him so angry on his medication.

Thank you so much for your feedback.

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You're very welcome, thank you for the kind words. I would recommend both N-Acetyl Tyrosine and L-Tryptophan to be taken both right before a meal and between 10 minutes of each other with N-Acetyl Tyrosine being taken first. The reason I recommend this is because if you feel those two neurotransmitters are being depleted, I would not recommend raising one neurotransmitter and not the other, because it is going to negatively affect mood and motivation. PS100 is a neuromodulator and can also be taken with the two I mentioned above. To help with mellowing out and lessen the agitation, I would highly recommend to also take the supplement R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, due to its help with Acetylcholine which people with ADHD lack levels of, plus it is a really strong source of antioxidants that fight stimulant medication's levels of oxidation that are not good for the body and brain.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Yesterday was not good. He is becoming increasingly angry. It has to be the stimulant medication. It is hard and frustrating to balance it all out--managing the oxidative stress while trying to get the focus benefit from the stim med so he can do his best in school.

This morning, I gave him only a quarter of his Evekeo, since the pill is scored. I normally give him half. I also put l-glutamine powder and Garden of Life Whole Food Magnesium in his juice with his regular supplements and added a GABA tablet. I don't normally do this in the morning, but he used to take Epsom salt baths and I always notice he gets very agitated after a while if he does not; he must be depleted in magnesium.

I know for a fact that he carries two copies of the MTHFR gene. Several years ago, I had some testing done that showed he had:

low Carnitine

high lactic acid (his doctor said this points to mitochrondria issue)

high 8-OHdG (a biomarker for oxidative stress)

low glutathione

low vitamin D

low iron

high calcium

I had since retested his iron and vitamin D levels after supplementing and his levels tested in normal range.

A few months ago, I took him to his doctor as he was complaining of being fatigued easily at practice. Again, low carnitine and low glutathione. So we restarted the Acetyl l carnitine supplement, added NAC, selenium as well as other recommendations she made. Also, he has always had blood sugar issues. This may be due to diet and the medication. I am hypoglycemic, I suspect he is as well.

He seems to be responding with anger and behaving very agitated, unhappy most likely due to oxidative stress? I am very concerned about the stress this medication (and any stimulant) has on his brain and changes to his personality and well being. I've tried everything in the past, including non-stims with the stim. He keeps making remarks about all the pills he is taking and I don't want to further overwhelm him. Should I start with the N-Acetyl Tyrosine based on what I just described and then slowly add the others? I'm hesitant to start with all of it at once...the R-alpha lipoic acid, tyrosine, tryptophan, and PS100.

Thank you again so much for using what you have learned to help others! So appreciate it.

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Thank you for detailing all that you are doing for your son.

Do you know if the Evekeo, is extended release? If it is and you are cutting it then he is really not getting what the medication was intended. I ran into this with my son because he was not getting enough medication on the extended release because, while the mediation is in his system, it dispenses 3 times throughout the process. Therefore we needed to add more in the AM and take it away from the PM.

Just didn't know if you knew that. Once you get a dose that works you can ask them to give you that dose in pill form.

Thanks again.

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Hello, onthemove1971! Nice to hear from you again! Thank you for the feedback!

I don't think it's extended release...but I'm not sure. Prior meds he has been on, like Adderall had ER printed on the bottle but this does not. In fact, It was Evekeo and then was automatically switched to the generic. The pill is blue and 10mg. I originally asked his Ped to prescribe it and she started him with 10mg. My son told me upfront after the first two days that it was way too much, and based on the description of how he felt, I decided to cut it in half. He did very well on it after that. He's been on it for a few months, and like all his stim meds we've tried, he always gets moody and agitated and quite angry, honestly after a few months on it. One can see it in his face, in his eyes. The lab tests we've run on him in the past show a great deal of oxidative stress, so it seems that the meds are exacerbating the situation.

I won't stop until I get it right. He takes all these supplements like fish oil and methyl B vitamins, D, etc. but I have never introduced Tyrosine, Tryptophan, PS100, Alpha GPC or R-Alpha Lipoic Acid. Don't want to overwhelm him with all at once, and want to do it right....reading up on these, seems like it could be what he's missing. This time, I'm going to discuss it with him and get his feedback. Think all of us on this board are so determined to help them be the best they can be.

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Hello. I wanted to give an update. I did purchase all the supplements you recommended but I went with my gut instinct first. And, that was that he was low in magnesium. He used to take Epsom salt baths but stopped. I started adding whole foods magnesium powder in the morning about 10 days ago, and I want to report that it has made a HUGE difference in his mood!!! He appears less stressed, more relaxed, he's not angry, and he's more cooperative. He took a break from his ADHD med this weekend, and I continued the magnesium powder and his mood was even better! I asked him last night at dinner how he was feeling. He said immediately, "Happy. I feel happy." He never says he feels happy. Relief. Relief. Relief. Happy teen, happy family.

Posting this also so that if anyone recognizes any of these behaviors in their child to try magnesium (whole foods powder, magnesium calm or L-Threonate magnesium or Epsom salt baths. We do both Epsom salt baths and the powder in the am). The synthesis of dopamine requires magnesium, the body needs enough magnesium to create neurotransmitters. Many people are low in magnesium than ever before due to refined diets. Adding methylated B vitamins (B6 and B12) important also. Someone mentioned Agape multivitamin. I like Pure Encapsulations, just found a multi vitamin called One that has most of the supplements my son takes and just ordered it to cut down on the number of pills he takes. But will continue his carnitine supplement and additional fish oil. Hope this is beneficial for someone out there.

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Hello Birdie7, I have been learning so much about neuro-feedback and the positive affects it can have on ADHD, or ADD both on children and adults. There are several video's on YouTube about it. I found it accidentally while looking into relief (without medication) from Complex PTSD. I am saving money to be able to afford it since insurance won't cover it, although there is a company that allows you to buy the machine to do it, they analyze it and tell you the best way to go forward with it (neurofeedback) from your home since you purchased the machine. I have ADHD, and C-PTSD so this is looking like something that is going to benefit me a lot. There are not a lot of studies on it b/c that requires funding and Big Pharma isn't involved so they won't research it. I've only gone by the people I've seen rave about this on youtube. Just curious if you've ever looked into it.

;)

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Hello, Waterfront, thank you so much for your message. We have not tried neuro-feedback but I did look into it at one point. I discussed it with his doctor last year. She said that she sees mixed results. Said with her patients, it seems to be a 50-50 positive result. I decided not to pursue it after that conversation due to her feedback and the cost....and my son's cooperation with the number of sessions he would have to do, but I haven't ruled it out completely.

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I wonder if you offer to try it for the company then , "advertise" for them like Youtubers...

Worth a try all they can do is say no..

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hi Eclecti, thanks for your post and detailed info. My adult son suffers from chronic frequent debilitating migraines. He has Adderall xr for his severe ADHD but when he takes it, it frequently brings on a headache. Both his psychiatrist and his neurologist are aware of this but have no suggestions as to supplements to help alleviate the headache situation with psycho stimulant medication. My son really can't function on the job without Adderall. Do you have any suggestions for supplements that might help my son?

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Hi there, I myself had some really bad headaches when I first started taking stimulant medication. What took them away was adding a good multivitamin with antioxidants to my regimine, and to be taken before taking the medication. The one I take is from the grocery store Trader Joes.

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thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately multivitamins never prevented his migraines. We are still searching.

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Sorry to hear. Hope you find the right remedy.

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Have you tried Magnesium? Epsom salt baths and Ionic Minerals liquid magnesium in juice or water...my son gets very edgy and has headaches if he doesn't take regular Epsom salt baths (they sell bags at Costco or any drugstore). The magnesium supplement also helps him to sleep better. Also, another one to try (we just started using this last week and finding it better than the liquid) is Garden of Life Whole Food Magnesium powder. Just a teaspoon in water or juice.

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thanks for suggestions, he has had migraines since childhood, we have tried just about everything

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I just found this amazing "summit", all of the leading experts in the migraine world.

migraineworldsummit.com

Best thing ever! Good luck

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thank you.

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Just curious are they in his head? Or stomach? Our son has them in his stomach. It took us over 4 years to figure it out. His GI doctor said at some point it may transfer to his head. They started when he was 8 years old.

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his head

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One more thought. There is a gene mutation called MTHFR (two variants C677 and A1298 with one copy or two or a combination of) that is linked to ADHD. For example, I have two copies of MTHFR gene mutation and so does my son. I have read research that links this mutation to ADHD.

This gene can cause high homocysteine levels, which in turn causes migraines. This mutation also prevents the body from metabolizing folic acid, so my doctor and my son's doctor told us to take Methyl-folate instead (Life Extension). This gene mutation affects the body's detoxification process.

You could have his homocysteine level checked. If it's high, then doctor recommended levels of Methyl B vitamins will help lower those levels. I give my son Pure Encapsulations B liquid Complex because it's all Methyl-B vitamins, active forms of B vitamins to help with the methylation process. My son's mood is better regulated with B vitamins even though he doesn't have high homocysteine levels. If your son takes methyl B vitamins, then you may not want to bother with checking homocysteine levels....was just a thought. Hope you are able to pin it down soon.

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that is very interesting, thank you for those details. I will give him this information so he can look into it.

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Where to get testing done? Like glutathione and carnitine? My son's pediatrician didn't do any blood work on him. Even if she does , it will be regular chemistry panel and CBC.

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A naturopath or a doctor who is trained in Integrative Medicine. My son's pediatrician, who is neither, ran the tests. I did some research in advance and actually requested specific blood work. She was very open to it and even recommended an additional test because of his complaints of tiring in sports so easily, for example. Genova Diagnostics is a lab that runs many of these tests.

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