Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a widespread affliction that we are just beginning to understand. Affecting 3-4 million children in the United States, and probably a larger number of adults, ADHD is considered the most common pediatric disorder. ADHD is a compulsive disorder, usually genetic in origin, caused by imbalances of neurotransmitters, the messengers that communicate between the neurons in the brain. It strikes in childhood and continues into adulthood. Fortunately, chiropractors have documented instances of effective treatment for children diagnosed with ADHD.

Up to 6 million children display symptoms and learning disabilities that are labeled as ADD/ADHD. They are often prescribed medications that have not been proven safe and effective, and may even have serious side effects. Research shows that many of these children may be pre-disposed to addictive behavior and obsessive/compulsive disorder due to a genetic variant, and that the medications can exacerbate substance abuse and other dangerous behaviors. Family chiropractors frequently see these children in their offices and correlate symptoms with both vertebral subluxations and lifestyle factors, including diet, lifestyle, and emotional stressors. As chiropractors, the ultimate goal of care is to improve overall function by reducing vertebral subluxations that interfere with life expression.

In one compelling case, a mother brought her seven-year-old daughter in for chiropractic evaluation. Her primary concerns were her daughter’s hyperactive behavior, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating in school, and aggressive behavior toward her sister.

After the mother filled out a behavioral and personality assessment and general health history form, the Torque Release Chiropractic technique was used to determine the location of vertebral subluxations. The patient began a regimen of chiropractic adjustments to her vertebral subluxations three times a week, along with craniosacral therapy. The mother and child were instructed on dietary changes and nutritional supplements that would support neurological function, and the mother received instructions on visual and kinesthetic communication techniques. During the course of the girl’s chiropractic care, her mother completed a weekly monitor of the child’s sleeping and appetite patterns as well as behavioral traits, rating them on a 1-10 scale. Over the course of her 90-day treatment schedule, these assessments reflected improvements in the daughter’s behavior.

Many chiropractors report anecdotal success with ADHD patients who have received subluxation-based chiropractic, and present research is revealing how subluxation-based chiropractic works. This is more understandable by taking a closer look at the pleasure center of the brain.

A State of well-being is manifest when the mesolimbic system’s brain reward cascade (Figure 1) of neurotransmitter mechanisms is expressed without interference. The vertebral motor units are in intimate relationship with the brain reward cascade mechanism by virtue of the nociceptive reflex from vertebrae to limbic system. This may explain a recent finding that only vertebrates have opiate receptors, suggesting that only vertebrates experience a state of well-being as we know it. Thus, if a subluxation is manifest, it interferes in our ability to experience a state of well-being. As research continues, new information will allow us to understand why subluxation-based chiropractic affords us the ability to develop greater self-confidence and improve our physical and mental well-being.