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ADD/ADHD, and Chiropractic
Dr. Christopher Kent
(Reprinted with permission from The Chiropractic
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Controversy surrounds the medical
treatment, indeed the very existence, of Attention Deficit Disorder
(ADD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Psychiatrist Peter Breggin wrote, "Hyperactivity is the most
frequent justification for drugging children. The
difficult-to-control male child is certainly not a new phenomenon,
but attempts to give him a medical diagnosis are the product of
modern psychology and psychiatry. At first psychiatrists called
hyperactivity a brain disease. When no brain disease could be found,
they changed it to 'minimal brain disease' (MBD). When no minimal
brain disease could be found the profession transformed the concept
into 'minimal brain dysfunction.' When no minimal brain dysfunction
could be demonstrated, the label became attention deficit disorder.
Now it's just assumed to be a real disease, regardless of the
failure to prove it so. Biochemical imbalance is the code word, but
there's no more evidence for that than there is for actual brain
The use of psychotropic drugs in children has exploded in recent
years . The number of prescriptions written for methylphenidate
(Ritalin) has increased by a factor of five since 1991. The
production of Adderall and Dexedrine, also used to treat ADHD, has
risen 2,000% in nine years. The increased use of these drugs in the
U.S. is at variance with the rest of the world. According to the
U.N., the U.S. produces and consumes 85% of the world's production
of methylphenidate. (3)
The use of Class II controlled substances to alter the behavior of
children is disconcerting to many parents and chiropractors, as is
the issue of whether ADD/ADHD can be properly considered a disease.
While chiropractors do not "treat" ADD/ADHD, the effects
of chiropractic care on children diagnosed with learning disorders
and hyperactivity have been described in a growing body of scholarly
A study published in 1975, compared chiropractic care with drug
treatment in children with learning and behavioral impairments due
to neurological dysfunction. It was reported that chiropractic care
"was more effective for the wide range of symptoms common in
the neurological dysfunction syndrome in which thirteen symptom or
problem areas were considered." The author also reported that
chiropractic care was 24% more effective than commonly used
Giesen at al conducted a study involving seven subjects. All
subjects were of school age and had clinical findings evidencing
vertebral subluxation complex. Following chiropractic care, 57%
showed an improvement in chiropractic radiographic findings; 71.4%
showed a reduction in overt behavior activity; 57% showed
improvement in level of autonomic activity, and 57% showed
improvement in parental ratings of hyperactivity. 
In addition to these small studies, case reports have been published
which describe improvement of objective and subjective findings in
children with ADD/ADHD and related disorders. [6-14].
More research exploring the relationship of subluxation correction
to brain function is needed. Yet, the dramatic changes that have
been reported in children medically diagnosed with ADD/ADHD
following chiropractic care must not be ignored.
Every child with a vertebral subluxation needs chiropractic care,
regardless of whether or not symptoms are present. By correcting
nerve interference, function is improved, with greater expression of
human potential. Many report terminating drug therapy, and seeing
the personality, will, and soul of the child unfolding.
As Maria Montessori wrote, "It is easy to substitute our will
for that of the child by means of suggestion or coercion; but when
we have done this we have robbed him of his greatest right, the
right to construct his own personality." 
1. Breggin PR: "Toxic Psychiatry." St. Martin's
Press. New York. 1991. Chapters 12 and 13.
2. Zito JM, Safer DJ, dosReis S, et al: "Trends in the
prescribing of psychotropic medications to preschoolers." JAMA
3. Statistics confirm rise in childhood ADHD and medication use.
4. Walton EV: "The effects of chiropractic treatment on
students with learning and behavioral impairments due to
neurological dysfunction." International Review of
5. Giesen JM, Center DB, Leach RA: "An evaluation of
chiropractic manipulation as a treatment for hyperactivity in
children." JMPT 1989;12:353-363.
6. Arme J: "Effects of biomechanical insult correction on
attention deficit disorder." Journal of Chiropractic Case
7. Hospers LA: "EEG and CEEG studies before and after upper
cervical or SOT category 2 adjustment in children after head trauma,
in epilepsy, and in 'hyperactivity.'" Proceedings of the
National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics (ICA)
8. Barnes TA: "A multifaceted approach to attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder: a case report." International Review
of Chiropractic Jan/Feb 1995; pp. 41-43.
9. Phillips CJ: "Case study: the effect of utilizing spinal
manipulation and craniosacral therapy as the treatment approach for
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." Proceedings of the
National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics (ICA),
10. Langley C: "Epileptic seizures, Nocturnal enuresis,
ADD." Chiropractic Pediatrics April 1995, Vol. 1, No. 1.
11. Thomas MD, Wood J: "Upper cervical adjustments may improve
mental function." J Man Med 1992;6:215.
12. Araghi HG: "Oral apraxia: a case study in chiropractic in
chiropractic management." Proceedings of the National
Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics (ICA), 1994, beginning p.
13. Manuelle JD, Fysch PA: "Acquired verbal aphasia in a
seven-year-old female: case report." J Clin Chiropr Ped
14. Peet JB: "Adjusting the hyperactive/ADD pediatric
patient." Chiro Pediatr 1997;2(4):12-.
(Dr. Christopher Kent, president of the Council on Chiropractic
Practice, is a 1973 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. The
WCA's "Chiropractic Researcher of the Year" in 1994, and
recipient of that honor from the ICA in 1991, he was also named ICA
"Chiropractor of the Year" in 1998. Dr. Kent is director
of research and a co-founder of Chiropractic Leadership Alliance.
With Dr. Patrick Gentempo, Jr., Dr. Kent produces a monthly audio
series, "On Purpose," covering current events in science,
politics, and philosophy of vital interest to the practicing
chiropractor. For subscription information call 800/892-6463.)
1986-2003 The Chiropractic Journal
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