For nearly thirty years I have written and spoken abut the dangers of psychiatric drugs used for ADHD symptoms. Most of these drugs are highly addictive, Class II Controlled substances. They are amphetamines and come with such potential side effects as psychosis, cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, seizures, visual disturbances, heart attack and death, tics, drug dependence, hostility, heart pain from constricted heart blood vessels, abnormal liver function, brain artery inflammation and blockage, depressed mood, hallucinations and delirium. The non-stimulants have their own set of serious and life threatening side effects.
Who wants to risk any of those side effects in order to possibly help their child sit still, focus and concentrate? It turns out that millions of parents are taking that risk, but may not even realize the risk is there. The FDA has said that less than 1% of doctors even know the side effects of the drug they prescribe. If the doctor doesn’t know the side effects, s/he certainly cannot inform the parent of what they are. Often I hear from parents that the doctor mentions one or two common, and not harmful side effects such as not eating or not sleeping as well. If the parent is not told those are the only side effects, I can see why they would go along with the prescription. Would they do so if they were told their child could die from taking it? I doubt it.
Informed consent means that the doctor tells you everything that could go wrong with the recommended treatment as well as what other options you have for treatment. If the doctor does not know the side effects, they can’t really give informed consent.
In my books and lectures, I speak about how to find the real underlying cause of the ADHD symptoms. These can be allergies, diet, learning problems, chronic infections and many others, including nutritional deficiencies. One of those nutritional deficiencies is omega 3 fatty acids. I have known for nearly twenty years that omega 3 fatty acids can help with the symptoms we call ADHD. It has been studied extensively and articles have been published about its effectiveness. While I have recommended its use for all those years, most doctors have continued to prescribe the prescription drugs that I mentioned earlier.
In the last couple of months I’ve begun to see children prescribed a new prescription, Vayarin. Vayarin is a prescription indicated for ADHD symptoms but it is made from omega 3 fatty acids and phosphatidyl serine, a phospholipid. Phospholipids are important for maintaining healthy cognitive and mental function. This function is aided by the omega 3 fatty acids of EPA and DHA. It is natural substances that the brain needs to function properly. There are no apparent, significant side effects known.
Vayarin has only been on the market for a short time but its affects have been known for years. I find it interesting that doctors did not recommend the omegas or phosphatidyl serine for their patients until it became a prescription.
Vayarin may take longer to take affect than the stimulants and other prescriptions for ADHD symptoms, but it is an effective and safe alternative to the others and at least the child won’t suffer from any of those serious and life threatening side effects mentioned earlier.
Taking a prescription, even a safe one such as Vayarin, does not preclude the search for the real underlying medical causes of the ADHD symptoms. If Vayarin works for a child, it could mean that they were deficient in one or all of its ingredients. Other underlying causes should still be evaluated so that the child can have a future free of psychiatric labels and psychiatric drugs.