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Will bacteria cause hyperactivity or aggression in children with ADHD or Autism?

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Children diagnosed with ADHD have increased by 43% in the last 15 years, with an incidence of more than one in 10 American children (1). Also, autism continues to rise to near 2% of all children in the United States. ADHD and autism show overlapping symptoms like reduce focus, impulsivity, etc. Can a bacteria be causing some of these symptoms?

High levels of clostridia bacteria have been associated with autism. Clostridia produces potent neurotoxins that may increase autism symptoms like hyperactivity and aggression (2). Reducing the clostridia population may be the reason why vancomycin, an antibiotic, can reduce the symptoms of autism(3).

*High levels of clostridia have been associated with autism

The physician James Greenblatt, professor at Tufts Medical School, reports that in his clinical experience, up to 20% of children with ADHD have high levels of a toxin produced by clostridia, called HPHPA. This metabolite causes an excess of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which increases agitation and aggression in children with ADHD (4). The gut is becoming a significant topic in children affected with ADHD and other psychiatric disorders like autism (5). The organic acid test (OAT) is a urine test that helps identify the presence of HPHPA, produced by clostridia, and other metabolites from different bacteria and fungus-like candida.

*Up to 20% of children with ADHD may have high levels of clostridia

What can you do?

*Testing for the presence of the clostridia toxin HPHPA with an Organic Acid Test (OAT).

*Eating prebiotic foods like eggplant, raw honey, organic apples, legumes, garlic, flaxseed, banana, etc.

*Eating probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, kefir, miso, plain yogurt.

*Avoiding inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates like bread, white pasta, and flour products.

*Eating more fruits and vegetables. Organic is preferred.

*Avoid sugary drinks

*Address nutrient deficiencies present like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

*High-dose probiotics (50 billion CFU) or the use of specific probiotics like Saccharomyces Bourladii (Florastor) or Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (Culturelle).

*The use of prescribed antibiotics vancomycin or metronidazole.

In summary, hyperactivity and aggression can be caused by high levels of clostridia species of bacteria in autism and ADHD.

It needs to be addressed for improvements in symptoms.

"ADHD medications are overused due to a lack

of awareness from nutrient deficiencies to bacteria/biochemical

imbalances present in these patients."

James Greenblatt, M.D.

Integrative Medicine Psychiatrist

Please, share this article with a friend. Thanks!

There is Hope for Autism and ADHD!!

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist/Consultant


(1): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2017. Data and statistics about ADHD. CDC. adhd/data.html

(2): Shaw, W. (2010). Increased urinary excretion of a 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA), an abnormal phenylalanine metabolite of Clostridia spp. in the gastrointestinal tract, in urine samples from patients with autism and schizophrenia. Nutritional Neuroscience, 13(3), 135-143.

(3): Sandler, R. H., Finegold, S. M., Bolte, E. R., Buchanan, C. P., Maxwell, A. P., Väisänen, M. L., ... Wexler, H. M. (2000). Short-term benefit from oral vancomycin treatment of regressive-onset autism. Journal of Child Neurology, 15(7), 429-435.

(4): Greenblatt, J., & Gottlieb, B. (2017). Finally Focused: The Breakthrough Natural Treatment Plan for ADHD That Restores Attention, Minimizes Hyperactivity, and Helps Eliminate Drug Side Effects. Harmony.

(5): Mathee, K., Cickovski, T., Deoraj, A., Stollstorff, M., & Narasimhan, G. (2020). The gut microbiome and neuropsychiatric disorders: implications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Journal of Medical Microbiology, 69(1), 14-24.

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