Over the course of my teaching career, I was directed to fill out many “confidential” forms from family doctors (channeled through my school administration and into my classroom mailbox) asking me to rate a student’s behavior on a scale in order to determine whether the child may have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These forms were never presented to me as voluntary.

Let’s be honest: that form really only served one purpose: Educators are being asked to give “evidence” that would potentially put a kid on drugs. All we had to do was mark the right boxes.

It is doubtful any of my students’ physicians were prescribing vegetables, fruits, fresh air, a functional, happy home environment, vitamins and minerals. Too often, medications are given as first-line treatment when the root of a suspected behavioral problem is not known. Children may suffer irreversible and dangerous side effects.

Finally Focused challenges current practice for the treatment of ADHD. Dr. James Greenblatt, MD, is a conventionally trained physician, board-certified in both child and adult psychiatry with 27 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with mood disorders. He clearly respects the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.”

Physicians and parents alike would do well to listen to Dr. Greenblatt. Here’s why:

Of all the underlying causes of ADHD “the one that is most overlooked by conventional doctors” is nutrient deficiency, says Dr. Greenblatt. The bottom line, he says, is “a well-nourished brain is a well-balanced brain.” He makes a point to explain that nutrients work best together: there is no one pill solution.

The book begins with a guideline for how to use the book, and each chapter walks you through the research, case studies, and Dr. Greenblatt’s clinical experience, answering common questions the reader may have and providing a focus and practical application of non-invasive natural treatments for ADHD.

Chapters are presented in the order that they are “most effectively applied.” It is no surprise to orthomolecular physicians then that the very first chapter delves into the importance of supplemental magnesium for children with ADHD. The author points out that half of US children and adults are low in magnesium and nearly all ADHD children are deficient.  The author references studies showing hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and oppositional behavior can be reduced with 200 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day. He tells you why it works, why supplemental B6 is also necessary, and then he tells you how to do it. Readers will feel comforted and empowered by the end of each chapter because a helpful, convenient, and clear action list including age-based dosage guidelines is provided. In the author’s own words, “Each chapter delivers all the information you need. Why the treatment works. What it does. How to use it, safely and effectively. To practically apply that information, go to the end of the chapter, where you’ll find a ‘Step-by-Step Action Plan.’”

While I am wary of brand recommendations, and there are several, the author by no means bludgeons the reader with advertisement but instead offers an idea or two to help guide folks to a supplement that may fit their needs.

Dr. Greenblatt further explores the benefits of OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins), low-dose “nutritional” lithium, the power of supplemental probiotics, omega-3s, vitamin D, the benefits of dietary modifications including, if warranted, the elimination of dairy, gluten, casein, artificial colors, and excess sugar, and the importance of sufficient sleep, exercise, mindfulness and strategies for parenting.

The author does not oppose the use of medication when warranted, but like Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, strongly encourages natural, nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes first. He emphasizes the importance of nutritional supplementation in conjunction with drug treatment. The author strongly states “do not give [ADHD] medications to a child age six or younger” as they are, in his experience, “rarely necessary.”

The beneficial role of vitamin C is mentioned only three times, and briefly, with a single dose recommendation of only 100 mg (suggested in order to help better absorb iron). High-dose vitamin C is a natural mood enhancer, and as Dr. Frederick R. Klenner and Dr. Robert F. Cathcart indicated, an effective alternative to antibiotics, and a potent anti-inflammatory. Vitamin C is also an effective treatment for allergies, including food sensitivities, and it is an effective antitoxin, for example, in its ability to neutralize pesticide exposure. All of these are discussed as areas of concern for the ADHD child.

In addition, the benefits of supplemental niacin (B3) for ADHD children is not mentioned. Parents and physicians interested in niacin’s role in the treatment of ADHD may want to look into the work of Dr. Hoffer, specifically Dr. Hoffer’s ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children.

Easy to follow, practical, and research-based, readers will be confident that natural treatment options for ADHD are effective, safe, and doable. Finally Focused is a book for anyone, physicians and parents alike, who wish to explore natural options first for the treatment of ADHD.

-Review by Helen Saul Case, M.S., Ed.