Controlled Trial of Oligoantigenic Treatment in the Hyperkinetic Syndrome

This is one of the earlier studies of dietary modification for the treatment of ADHD. Like many of the early studies, this had a very positive outcome. Kids got better when food dyes, preservatives, and “allergenic” foods were eliminated from the diet. The study was done in three phases; initially kids got diet of chicken or lamb, rice or potato, a brassica vegetable like broccoli or kale, fruit like banana or apple, water, and a calcium and multivitamin supplement. Most subjects improved. Then the subjects had potentially troublesome foods re-introduced to their diet and were also given fruit juice spiked with food colorants or preservatives to identify foods that seems to lead to symptoms. Finally in a third phase, there was a placebo-controlled portion of the trial that tested both foods implicated in exacerbating symptoms as well as food dyes. The authors conclude that diet can affect behavior and that it is often a mix of food sensitivities and the challenge of food colorants or preservatives that lead to symptoms.

Authors J Egger, CM Carter, PJ Graham, D Gumley, JF Soothill
Publication Name Lancet
Publication Date March 1985

76 selected overactive children were treated with an oligoantigenic diet, 62 improved, and a normal range of behaviour was achieved in 21 of these. Other symptoms, such as headaches, abdominal pain, and fits, also often improved. 28 of the children who improved completed a double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled trial in which foods thought to provoke symptoms were reintroduced. Symptoms returned or were exacerbated much more often when patients were on active material than on placebo. 48 foods were incriminated. Artificial colorants and preservatives were the commonest provoking substances, but no child was sensitive to these alone.

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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