Daniel Amen: Can You Heal ADD?

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Jonathan: Hey everybody, Jonathan Bailor back – with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim Show and I am so honored to be sharing today’s guest with you. We have a gentleman whose work I’ve been a fan of for many, many, many years, has literally transformed the lives and the minds of hundreds of thousands of people all around the world. I think he has a spandex “S” on his chest that he wears underneath his medical garb because he is just all over it, doing all kinds of good stuff. He’s a physician, a psychiatrist, a teacher, a multiple New York Times bestselling author, more than 30 books. I can’t believe his hand just hasn’t fallen off. His most recent book topping the list was Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. He’s widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on applying brain imaging science to Clinical Psychiatric Practice Using the Mind, News Week Parade Year, Times Magazine, Washington Post, I mean basically everywhere and his new book is incredibly exciting, it’s called “Healing ADD The Breakthrough Program” that allows you to see and heal the seven types of ADD and there’s only one man in the world with that CV, Dr. Daniel Amen, welcome to the show, brother.

Daniel: Thanks Jonathan, what a pleasure for me.

Jonathan: Well, Dr. Amen, let’s just jump right into this. Your newest book, “Healing ADD,” revised edition, promises us an amazing amount of power over an amazingly growing epidemic. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

Daniel: Well, ADD is what a lot of people call ADHD, it is really the most controversial diagnosis in our society, yet when it is left untreated, it devastates people’s lives and everybody has an opinion on it. You should take medication, you shouldn’t take medication, it’s a fad, it’s an excuse for bad behavior, but if you look at the statistics, 35 percent of these kids never finish high school, 46 percent of untreated aggressive hyperactive boys will be arrested for a felony, it’s associated with an increased risk of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, divorce, job changes, it’s not a minor problem and treating it effectively, which does not always meaning medication is absolutely critical, however, you end up with a life that’s nowhere near your potential and at the Amen Clinics — I have six clinics around the country — we see about 3,000 patients a month, half of them have ADD and the most exciting transformational stories often come from our ADD kids, teenagers, adults, even older adults and we couldn’t be more excited to share this information with the world.

Jonathan: Dr. Amen, I so appreciate the framing you just gave, which is regardless of people’s opinions on ADD, the data around the quality of life and the quality of the impact individuals who have this diagnosis have on society is irrefutable and to know that whatever your opinion on ADD is, that individuals who suffer from it can do something about it and, therefore, potentially not have all those negative consequences you just listed out. That seems like a win no matter what one’s beliefs.

Daniel: Well, you know the exciting thing for us is that you can take a child or an adult who’s failing at school or at their job, in relationships, and look at their brain, so that’s we do at the Amen Clinics. We have built this database of 85,000 scans on people from 93 countries, you can see the trouble in their brain, but then through either natural means, including diet and exercise, natural supplements or medications, you can literally change their brains and when you do you change their lives. They can go from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’sor chronically fighting with their parents or with their spouse and really revolutionize their lives and you just can’t ignore that and it’s easy. The easy answer of course is always to blame the person or blame their parents. The more thoughtful answer is why is he struggling? Or why is she struggling and what is it that I can do about it? I have a wonderful case where I literally saw four generations of this family, but it started with a 15 year old girl who was cutting herself, failing in school, making really bad decisions, she Xeroxed inappropriate body parts in school and got suspended and then she ran away, which at point, I got to meet her and when we looked at her brain, she had overall low activity in the front part of her brain. Well, the front part of your brain is all about forethought, judgment, focus, planning, impulse control, learning from the mistakes you make and when we optimized that part of her brain, she went from D’s and F’s, lots of bad decisions, to straight A’s and we’re so excited, then I saw her brother, then I saw her father, then I saw her grandfather because ADD is clearly something that runs in families, and the transformation for that system was so much better, which is why I just love this work. Now, I realized a long time ago, not everybody can get a scan. So, based on thousands of scans, in the book, “Healing ADD,” we have a link where people can go online and take our ADD type questionnaire so they know what type they have. See, ADD, and the same thing is true for anxiety, depression, addiction, even obesity, they’re not single or simple disorders in the brain, they all have multiple types. So, knowing your type of ADD, and in this book I talk about seven different types of ADD, that leads to more targeted treatment and better outcomes and quite frankly, it’s the reason why Ritalin has a bad reputation. Ritalin’s a great drug for the right brain and it’s a nightmare for the wrong brain. It is literally like glasses for people who can’t see, for the right brain optimizing it and you give it to the wrong brain, specifically a type we call the ring of fire, you’ll make people suicidal or homicidal. I think one of the most unique aspects of my work, cause it’s all based on the imaging work that we do is ADD is not one thing. Stop giving everybody Ritalin. You help some people, no doubt, but you make people dramatically worse (Inaudible 00:08:15).

Jonathan: Dr. Amen, with the seven distinct types of ADD, it sounds like without question in your work, people can learn how to look, get the specifics, get a specific treatment, but have you found things across all types of neurological challenges that pretty universally if you do these three things, you’re going to live better.

Daniel: Well no question. I mean my focus is on brain health and I always say the three things to do are brain entity, you have to start caring, nobody cares about their brain, which is why you can let little kids put their heads in helmets, and start slamming them up against other people and that’s pretty crazy when you think about it. So, brain MD, and then you have to avoid bad things, like drugs and alcohol, brain injuries are obvious, but what’s not obvious is if you’re overweight, the size of your brain goes down, or if you have diabetes, or hypertension, the size of your brain goes down, so brain MD, avoid bad and then do good and those regular brain healthy habits, which include an optimal diet, which is different than most people think of an optimal diet. We were fed a lot of bad information, oh, you should be on a low fat diet, 60 percent of the solid weight of your brain is fat, if somebody calls you a fathead say thank you – you do not want to be on low fat diet, because low levels of cholesterol are associated with homicide, suicide and depression, but the right diet which we can talk about. Exercise helps everybody, but not too much exercise, so I am totally not a fan of extreme sports because it’s too much stress on people’s brains and then simple supplements, multiple vitamins, fish oil, but when it comes to ADD it’s not any fish oil that works, it’s fish oil that’s higher in a certain component called EPA as opposed to DHA. So, those would be the simple things and quite frankly, there’s a whole chapter on diet and ADD, and at the Amen Clinics, our best testimonials comes from getting people’s diets right. It works often quickly (Inaudible 00:10:48), the problem is, is in a war, you’re clearly in a war when it comes to food because there is so much bad food trying to be shoved down your throat, used by all marketing means possible, including Katherine Webb’s new girl on the curls commercials, she’s stunning and dripping ketchup all over her body. You’re in a war. It’s critical to get your food right.

Jonathan: Dr. Amen,if some of our listeners are parents and they believe their child may be struggling with ADD or just something related to it. Are there specific inputs like, if eliminate this, just like stop exposing your child to this, these point things where you’ve seen like with the elimination of let’s say, like soda. I don’t know, you’re the expert, not me – you could see just this one, two, three simple swaps or eliminations or replacements potentially a complete or major relief from symptoms.

Daniel: Well, you know I think it’s more complicated than that – I think it’s really important that people know if they have it, so that’s the first step and then what type and if we argue for one size fits all, then I think we generally lose, we lose the complexity because people will do the simple things, they won’t work and then they’ll demoralized. And if they have ADD, they’ll try it for it like two days and if it doesn’t work then they’re back to the fast foods. No child should be drinking soda. No child should be drinking fruit juice. No child should be eating foods that were raised with pesticide or hormones, you know I really – I know your interviewed (Inaudible 00:12:58), my wife, and the Omni Diet is actually the official diet of the Amen Clinics, 70 percent plant based foods, 30 percent high quality protein, add to that healthy fat and that’s just an amazing diet. We put our autistic and ADD kids on elimination diets all the time, eliminate corn, soy, gluten, dairy, sugar and get radical positive shifts, but even still it’s more complicated than that because a compulsive person or what we call over-focused ADD, where they have all the features of ADD, short attention span, distractibility, restlessness, impulse control, disorganization, procrastination, the classic ADD person has all of those, does really well on a high protein diet, but if you give the over-focused ADD person that diet you make them mean, because they focus better on the things that upset them and so the treatment really gets targeted to what your brain needs.

Jonathan: Dr. Amen this is so empowering and in all the thousands of people you’ve worked with, it seems like we have a bit paradox here because you made the excellent point that we’re in a constant war and this is so complicated and there’s so much specificity needed for each diagnosis and there are some common denominators like if our children are receiving poisonous inputs, 24/7/365, it’s going to be pretty difficult for other things to work and I know in large parts of our culture foods that compromise the Omni Diet, as well as the SANE lifestyle which are very, very similar, because they’re both rooted in the same science are just not available. We have these foods deserts and where can we start to see this societal change? It seems like we have must have to establish the baseline on which more specific treatment can be applied.

Daniel: The goal my wife and I have is really to create warriors for the health of their brains and their bodies because if you get the diet right and you get your brain under control you then influence your children to do that and then your spouse and then your friends and then your business and then your church. We have created many warriors and we’re so excited, but ultimately the transformation first has to happen inside you and then inside your system and we helped to plant these principles into one of the largest churches in America, and then one of the largest drug treatment programs in America, and we’re so excited by the number of lives changed, but you know often one of the things that gets in the way is people have undiagnosed ADD of one form or another and they can’t follow through and they get distracted and then they hate themselves because they know how to do better, but they can’t stay with it. They can’t stay focused.

Jonathan: Brilliant, well, Dr. Amen, I salute you with all that I have for the amazing work that you’re doing. I support you in any way that I can to create these wellness warriors to protect your brain and to manifest the unique glory that we were all put here to create, so tell us where we can get more information about your upcoming book and just you and your great work in general.

Daniel: Well, I’d love it if people went to website at amenclinic.com, so amen like the last word in a prayer, clinic.com and then the book will be available on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, in bookstores everywhere. We are just so excited, but if they go to amenclinic.com, they can actually take our healing ADD test for free and then get a lot of information about the book and other products we have. We have a new product coming out called “Healing ADD” at home in 30 days.

Jonathan: Brilliant. Well, Dr. Daniel Amen, thank you for doing so much for so many and for keeping up the passion and keeping the open faith alive. I so appreciate it as well as you sharing your time with us today.

Daniel: Thank you Jonathan.

Jonathan: Listeners I hope you enjoyed this wonderful and empowering conversation as much as I did. Again our guest today is the delightful Dr. Daniel Amen, you can learn more about him and his upcoming book, “Healing ADD”at his website, amenclinic.com, and remember, this week, and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.