In recent years, a growing number of professionals have been looking at ways to treat attention deficit disorder without relying on prescription drugs. These options can touch on everything from diet to physical (and mental) exercise - and even one's chiropractic alignment.
In Lynnfield, Dr. Peter Martone of the Atlantis Chiropractic Wellness Center is not your traditional chiropractor. His business features a broader range of healing techniques, including massage, healthy diet, lifestyle coaching and more.
"We are in the wellness business," said Martone. "We just happen to be a chiropractic office."
Atlantis Chiropractic works with Dr. Ned Hallowell's SHINE system to treat children and adults with attention deficit disorder. SHINE stands for "Special Help Integrating Neurological Experience."
"The way we look at ADD is that it's like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, with lots of horsepower - but with bicycle brakes," said Martone. What brings a chiropractor into the realm of ADD, he explains, is that when bones are out of alignment, it can disrupt the brain/body communication needed to build up the "brakes" for the brain. He added that ADD symptoms can be further exacerbated by a breakdown in communication between the left and right sides of the brain, and that by building up the vermis region of the lower brain, it can help improve function in the pre-frontal cortex, i.e., "the brakes."
"We want to improve the function of the human body," said Martone. "Nothing can happen in the body without a signal from a nerve." Balancing exercises and other aspects of the SHINE program that help develop the brain hemispheres, explains Martone, are "a bit like working out at the neurological level."
The SHINE system is less than a year old but is based on research that goes back two decades, and Martone believes it has the potential to become one of the most recognized ADD programs in the country.
"The idea behind SHINE is a strength-based approach that combines a chiropractic and medical approach into non-drug solutions for kids," said Martone.
In general, Martone explains that ADD is typically characterized by impulsivity, distractability, and hyperactivity - which can lead to unexplained underachievement and other problems in school for young people. These traits also tend to carry over into adulthood. However, these ADD traits can also carry advantages for some when managed properly, such as higher creativity, the ability to think faster, intellectual curiosity, and more energy overall. With this in mind, Martone says that the non-drug approach that SHINE offers children "helps them unwrap their gift."
Many ADD treatment regimens, including SHINE, also emphasize certain dietary changes to help address symptoms - particularly cutting down on gluten and sugar, as well as dairy and starches, with a greater focus on plant-based foods. Essential fatty acid (Omega 3) and probiotics are also pillars of nutrition in the SHINE program.
Right now the SHINE program is focused on those under age 16, but Martone reports that it should also be available for adults in 2013. It's a three-month program, although Martone says "I look at this as a lifetime program." Looking ahead, SHINE is also working to get involved with area martial arts studios and other places featuring physical activity for young people.
Dr. Martone has run his practice in Lynnfield for 12 years now and he lives in neighboring Wakefield. He has appeared on CBS News several times and is currently writing a book called "You Are What You Think." He also speaks regularly throughout the U.S. and Canada, and locally can be seen on a cable access show "Body, Mind and Spirit," out of Lexington.
To learn more about the Atlantis Chiropractic Wellness Center, click here.