Welcome to Thrive! Our goal is to help provide you with current and well-researched data that will help the families in our great community reach their health goals.

We titled this column “Thrive” because much of the health-related information presented to the public in the mainstream media is about surviving. But in my opinion, health is all about thriving. Health is not merely the absence of disease or pain; health is about growing, developing and functioning at your optimal potential.

For the last seven years as a chiropractor in our community, I have seen many kids and their families struggle with neuro-behavioral problems, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety, autism, sensory processing disorder, etc. With the rates of children diagnosed with these conditions rising every year and the school year fast approaching, I felt it was of the utmost importance to start a conversation about what we can do to help these kids and their families thrive. It is far more important to understand the cause of these disorders than it is to diagnose (label) it.


ADHD is rooted within the brain or central nervous system. Medicine treats ADHD by attempting to manipulate chemicals called neurotransmitters, but it is important to note these chemicals are simply messengers for the central nervous system. It is a neurologic problem, not a genetic or chemical problem.

If the brain is taking in too much stressful stimuli, it reacts with what is called the stress response. When that fight-or-flight stress response is activated, it forces the body to create more stress chemicals, such as cortisol and epinephrine. It is exactly the same as if you stomp on the gas pedal of your car: Your car’s engine (brain) gets more gasoline.

ADHD is an input problem. The symptoms of hyperactivity and poor focus are actually the brain’s natural reactions to disorganized input. If you calm and organize the input going into the brain and nervous system, you calm and organize its output. If you reduce the fight-or-flight activity of the brain and nervous system, you can reduce the production and output of stress chemicals like cortisol and epinephrine.

The good news about all this is that our brain and nervous system come equipped with a brake pedal, called the parasympathetic nervous system. Its job is to promote healing, growth, relaxation and focus.

The health and strength of the brain and nervous system is in the balance of the gas pedal (sympathetic) and the brake pedal (parasympathetic) and the ability of our children to respond and adapt appropriately to what the world around them is communicating.

In caring for kids in my office I have noticed many common denominators in their case histories, which, when added up, tends to be a recipe for ADHD and other neuro-behavioral disorders.

The key to helping our kids is not medicating their symptoms; it is restoring normal input and function to their brain and nervous system. We must get their brake pedal working again, so they can calm down, balance and focus. By improving the input (cause) we can improve the output (effect).

With the rates of ADHD and other neuro-behavioral disorders becoming more prevalent every year, it is obvious that the prescribed path of medication is not solving the problem. We need to look to the cause, which is neurologic interference and not a lack of Ritalin and other Class II narcotics. 

Now what?

As a chiropractor, I have witnessed great success by removing the neurologic interference that is restricting proper growth and development.

Other valuable resources to utilize are the following:

•Have the child evaluated for neuro-sensory challenges, such as poor balance/coordination and motor skills, retained primitive reflexes and poor posture and gait.

•Begin neuro-integrative exercises — This can be done at an occupational/physical therapist’s office that specializes in working with kids.

•Clean up the diet and environment — Start by adding more fruits and veggies, and removing pesticides, preservatives, dairy and sugars. Seek professional help and guidance as needed in this area. 

•Supplement their diet with things such as a good multivitamin, fish oil, probiotic, vitamin D and an antioxidant.

•Get the child more exercise and outdoor play activity, or even enroll them in activities such as swimming and martial arts.

•Significantly limit or remove time spent watching TV, on the computer, playing video games and around electronics of any kind.

Do EVERYTHING consistently and for as long as it takes. Remember, “nerves that fire together, wire together,” so it may take a while to get things under control. Momentum is the key! 

DR. NATE CLEM is a chiropractor specializing in pediatrics and family wellness at Discovery Wellness Center (www.discoverywellnesscenter.com) in Queen Anne. To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.