Many disorders are related to neurotransmitters
The person with ADHD is likely to have several of the symptoms we have listed on the home page. One of these conditions is OCD or "obsessive compulsive disorder."
The literature on these dysfunctions often refers to problems with neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers that enable nerve cells to communicate with each other. The three neurotransmitters often associated with ADHD and related problems are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Serotonin is called an inhibitor. It prevents us from doing things that are inappropriate or dangerous. In his book, Tourette Syndrome and Human Behavior, Dr. David Comings states, "Low levels of brain serotonin are associated with aggression, depression, violent suicide, alcoholism, arson, borderline personality, bulimia, and other impulsive behaviors. Low brain serotonin may also cause panic attacks. The Food and Drug Administration connects serotonin with migraine headaches. "Working with other chemicals, serotonin regulates blood vessel constriction and dilation. It can both sharpen and deaden pain."
Neurotransmitters and OCD
"When utilized by the brain's neurotransmitters at normal levels, serotonin is believed to impart a feeling of certainty, so that people don't experience excessive doubt about what they think and do. If his serotonin level is out of whack, an individual may have no confidence in his decisions or actions, leading him to repeat actions over and over."
- Brown Alumni Monthly, 12/88
Another area where serotonin seems to play an important part is obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD -- where a person feels compelled to repeat an activity over and over, and feels very anxious when they do not.
Researchers at Brown and Yale have found that drugs that increase serotonin can help OCD sufferers, but such drugs may have very troubling side effects.
Other research has shown that vitamins and minerals - precursors to serotonin and other neurotransmitters - can also be helpful. Lakham (2008) believes that psychiatrists should become educated about nutritional treatments, since many patients don't tolerate the side effects of the drugs.
Low zinc can be another factor. Not only is the modern diet often deficient in zinc, but zinc is lost through the urine when food dyes are ingested. Some people apparently lose it much easier or faster than others, according to Ward (1990, 1997), and low zinc can lead to both physical, immune, and mental disorders.
While there isn't much information on how foods or food additives can affect serotonin and lead to OCD symptoms, we have heard back from people using the Feingold Program that OCD is among the problems that were helped.