The French Secret to Healing ADHD Without Medication


In conventional psychiatry, stimulant medications are typically the first-line treatment for children and adults with ADD/ADHD. In 2009, the U.S. was the #1 prescriber of stimulant medications, representing 80-85% of the world’s consumption! In the decade since then, total stimulant usage in the U.S. has doubled, according to a 2018 study in Plos One.

Although stimulant medications are helpful for some people with ADD/ADHD, they make symptoms worse in other people with the condition. This is no secret in the medical community. So why are stimulant medications are so prevalent in the U.S.? A couple of comparisons between the U.S. and France may help shed some light on the subject.


In the United States, conventional psychiatry views ADD/ADHD as a simple biological-neurological disorder with biological causes.

  • Diagnosis is made using DSM criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
  • DSM uses a checklist of symptoms and behaviors only—then classifies within a narrow definition.
  • Social circumstances, emotional traumas, and food allergies may be dismissed as “chemical imbalances.”
  • American doctors largely ignore dietary factors.
  • ADD/ADHD is commonly treated with psychostimulant medication alone, or in combination with behavior modification therapy (with low success rates).
  • In a 5-7 minute office visit, it is hard to assess all the factors.

In France, child psychiatrists view ADD/ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes.

  • Diagnosis is explored using CFTMEA criteria (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent).
  • CFTMEA first looks at underlying social issues that may be causing ADHD behaviors and symptoms.
  • Doctors help patients identify, understand, and work through psychological disruption that may surface as ADD/ADHD symptoms.
  • Dietary factors are explored and addressed by doctors.
  • Using a holistic approach to treating ADD/ADHD, the French dramatically reduce the number of psychostimulant medications given to children.

Cultural Differences Impacting ADD/ADHD

Cultural differences such as parenting style should be included in this comparison as well. According to experts:

  • French parents have a more stringent philosophy on discipline and are more likely to provide firm structure while enforcing clear limits.
  • American parents no longer set limits and allow children to control them instead of the other way around.

Some people would like to believe that ADD/ADHD is “just an excuse for bad behavior” and that restoring “old-fashioned values” will eradicate over-diagnosis. Those beliefs are myths – ADD/ADHD is real. It can be seen in the brain, as evidenced on functional brain imaging scans called SPECT. On SPECT, ADD/ADHD is associated with low blood flow in the frontal lobes. “Bad parents” do not cause ADD/ADHD, nor can parents be expected to fix their child’s ADD/ADHD without help from professionals.

Dietary Factors in ADD/ADHD

Mealtime habits and dietary factors provide yet another point of comparison between the U.S. and France. In the last 30 years, both the quality of food and mealtime habits has changed dramatically in the U.S. These days, junk foods and fast foods are frequently consumed. Families have fallen away from eating together and meals are often eaten while on the go. Children’s diets, even at school, are high in simple carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, white-flour food products), poor in protein and healthy fat, and deficient in vegetables. If a person is vulnerable to ADD/ADHD, a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet typically makes their symptoms worse.

In the United States:

  • Children are allowed to snack throughout the day instead of waiting to eat with parents – processed snack foods are high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, gluten, dairy, and artificial dyes and flavors.
  • Separate “kids menus” are expected and encouraged – children do not eat the same foods as their parents. Macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not brain healthy.
  • Doctors do not make a practice of addressing nutritional deficiencies or food sensitivities during the diagnostic and treatment process.
  • Parents and doctors are less aware of how foods affect ADD/ADHD – then rely on medications to suppress symptoms.

In France:

  • Children do not snack all day and must wait to eat with their parents – this encourages better self-control and greater nutrient density in the foods they eat.
  • There are no “kids menus” in France – children eat what their parents eat.
  • French doctors consider diet as a reason for behavior changes.
  • Dietary interventions that explore and remove culprit foods are part of treatment – thus reducing medication use.

Consideration of dietary factors is a critical area where U.S. doctors have fallen short when diagnosing and treating ADD/ADHD. Through research, we have found that:

  • People who eat high-sugar and high-fat diets are more impulsive, based on a 2017 study in Plos One.
  • Foods such as gluten, dairy, and sugar cause inflammation, which decreases blood flow to the brain.
  • Eating more lean protein and high-quality fats generally reduces impulsivity by stabilizing blood sugar levels and supporting the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Brain SPECT imaging studies at Amen Clinics show that low activity in the PFC, which is involved in focus and attention, is common in people with ADD/ADHD.
  • Multiple studies have shown that frequent consumption of artificial dyes may worsen irritability, hyperactivity and disturb sleep in children.
  • In a study in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 70% of ADD/ADHD children showed greater than a 50% reduction of symptoms on an elimination diet. This clearly shows that food intake can make ADD/ADHD symptoms better or worse.

The Future of Healing ADD/ADHD in the U.S.

It’s clear that mental health treatment in the U.S. needs a make-over. The secret to healing ADD/ADHD without medication is to treat the whole person, rather than treating symptoms alone. Similar to the French method, this should include looking at biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that may be contributing to symptoms.

Biological: How the physical brain and body function (the brain and body). Looking at the brain with SPECT to understand any underlying dysfunction and to discover which of the 7 types of ADD/ADHD a person has is critical.

  • Treatments: Diet, exercise, supplements, neurofeedback, and medications (if necessary).

Psychological: Developmental issues and thought patterns (the mind).

  • Treatments: Learning about how to heal past hurts and thinking honestly and clearly.

Social: Social support and current life situation (connections).

  • Treatments: Managing stress and improving your relationships.

Spiritual: What life means (spirit).

  • Treatments: Getting in touch with a deep sense of meaning and purpose.

ADD/ADHD and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I’m so very happy to share my testimony,my little Son suffered from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It was so embarrassing for me seeing my son not being able to focus and be responsible for once, i have prayed and tried doctors prescription and advice but nothing worked. I was very lucky i found a spell caster from the shango temple, some one referred me to him that i need a spiritual help because ADHD is not normal and i was happy he responded to me, i was assured that he will be cured and after he performed everything in his temple in just few days later i noticed changes in my Son, he is doing great now and i am proud of him. His father is happy now, back then i used to call him a useless son but now every one in the family is happy for what Priest Okojie have done in the life of my family.

    Comment by mr Aderson — August 4, 2016 @ 10:31 PM

  2. Parents should try Crystal therapy! I found out how crystals have certain energies that helps with calming and focusing children. This site have a crystal kit especially for children ( or just copy and paste this link to be taken to the exact page

    Comment by Meka — December 19, 2016 @ 4:14 PM

  3. Sure, along with essential aroma oils, grabovoy-numbers, homeopathy and prayers.
    Or, you know, maybe visit a clinic instead.

    Comment by Ádám Zovits — March 14, 2017 @ 12:41 PM

  4. This is a cool article. I think that a non healthy diet is linked to so many different illness, and making dietary changes can help with pretty much everything. As a kid, having ADD, my mom made me eat really healthy and take my vitamins as well as magnesium, and that helped a huge amount. Nowadays, i try to take CBD (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana) regularly, and I find it makes a huge difference. There are some studies about that at

    Comment by Judah Hanh — November 14, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

  5. Dr Amen ,
    I tried everything with my kids and their self control and learning how to calm themselves and how they learn and test ! I then as they were going to college, heard your story on new life about your daughter so I finally ….stopped worry about putting my kids in medicine for ADD …
    They have been doing well in college and my son even has close to a 4 point and wants to go into a med field !
    But now you seem to go in other directions from meds both both my kids and myself finally feel normal in this world on medication! Should I take them off ? I am like your biggest fan and trust you so much !

    Comment by Camille Williams — December 23, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

  6. Chosen to supervise and take care of a child with ADD at the school that I work at because of the progress that the child and I have reached and because of how I approach challenges that I enjoy to face and because I have the energy to remain calm in challenging situations that involve working in a school that is known to be a challenging environment to work in. The school has a challenging environment to work in because of the amount of challenges that are being faced on a daily basis. The school is one of three schools with the highest amount of challenges out of at least 1000 schools that exist in the same state within Australia. I highly recommend this site for others to get help from especially those who are spending time with someone or people who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

    Comment by Amber-lee Philpot — February 20, 2018 @ 12:36 AM

  7. I am American and I agree completely. I have ADHD as an adult and I research and self assessment to try to explain it all the time. I know there is a holistic way to beat it. I can help you and you can help me. Let’s change America’s thinking and stop ADHD or at least treat it without medication:)

    Comment by Amanda Wood — April 9, 2018 @ 11:26 PM

  8. ok look, i am inattentive subtype, my parents raise me fine, i was never defiant, I personally think the american side of this article is focusing on stereotype. I take meds and see a therapist. I have and still deal with my attention problems in a good way, but by no means is there a cure. There are obvious symptoms that will never go away when i get off meds. There is no cure, just ways to cope. BTW i have no troubles with meds, as i usually just take it for work as im home the rest of the time and i have no trouble taking more or whatever.

    Comment by Guy with ADHD — May 21, 2018 @ 7:50 PM

  9. How do you treat ADHD naturally?

    Comment by Sarah MacKillop — May 30, 2018 @ 2:16 AM

  10. I work with children with ADD, etc.. Unfortunately, there are no clinics in Lou. Ky!!!!! I am sure the Amen clinic could be very helpful, but does someone in Louisville offer similar help?

    Comment by Kim Higgins — May 30, 2018 @ 3:26 AM

  11. Just wanted to say I thought the article was full of useful info and was very well balanced. I was disappointed in the many answers that did not show such good reasoning. Seems like many are looking in the wrong places for help. That is too bad. Perhaps a reason might be the high cost of treatment at Amen clinic? I would love to take my granddaughter, who is ADHD just as I am. I have seen what it has done to my quality of life, my daughter’s life and would not like to see it repeated for a third generation. But the cost for treatment is prohibitive for a retired pastor and wife on a fixed income raising a child, so I use my knowledge and do the best I can. And yes, prayer does help.

    Comment by Rita — May 30, 2018 @ 7:58 AM

  12. Interesting article.
    I’d like to point out that “kids menus” very much exist in France. And I’m not talking about fast food restaurants, but good old French ones. They are filled with processed carbohydrates (french fries are almost always a part of the meal) , grilled meet (“steak haché” and no fish) and offer no veggies. To makes things worse, desert is always included filled with artificial colors and other additives (ice-cream or “mousse au chocolat” for example).

    One other thing, if you and your family are eating dairy be very careful of French yogurt. It’s mostly highly processed food. Instead of using just milk and good bacteria, they add milk in powder almost in all types, including the ones sold in organic shops (“magasins bio”).

    Read labels carefully. Gluten, starches and sugar/fructose/corn syrup are everywhere.

    Comment by Masha — June 5, 2018 @ 4:32 AM

  13. Hi, My son is 6 yr old and having ADHD. Could anyone tell where is this Amen clinic?

    Comment by sasmita — June 14, 2018 @ 9:30 AM

  14. Hello Sasmita, our clinic locations are listed here: To reach our Care Coordinators, please feel free to call 888-288-9834 or you can submit this form with questions online:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — June 14, 2018 @ 9:55 AM

  15. Meka amazing thank you for sharing. My kind of person natural answers for everything!!!!

    Comment by Janelle — July 5, 2018 @ 2:23 AM

  16. My daughter,has ADHD also I will reach out to him .Thank you

    Comment by My daughter, has the same ADHD .I will reach out to him.Thank you. — July 9, 2018 @ 4:35 AM

  17. I just sent him a email about my daughter sickness .He is asking for $350.00us dollars .Thats a lot of money

    Comment by Hello did he charge you money — July 9, 2018 @ 7:23 AM

  18. (“French parents have a more stringent philosophy on discipline and are more likely to provide firm structure while enforcing clear limits.

    American parents no longer set limits and allow children to control them instead of the other way around.”)

    This is absolute rubbish. I am an american, i have 4 kids and they have a very clear set, strictly enforced set of rules. I live in the Midwest in a city of very conservative values, and most everyone i know parents with authority. I’m not sure if the person writing this is American, but if so your FOS and if not then you’re obviously regurgitating misinformation based upon ignorant European cultural stereotypes of Americans.

    Comment by Joshua — July 26, 2018 @ 3:58 PM

  19. This article is written completely on bias and stereotypes of the American people. Shame on you! As a healthcare professional it is your obligation to report facts and support those facts with data and real statistics.

    Comment by Maureen Shaw — August 4, 2018 @ 4:48 AM

  20. I found this article informative. I didn’t discover I had ADHD until I was 59. The knowledge is liberating ! My whole past now makes sense ! I tried 7 different meds. Nones benefits’ over ruled the negative side effects. Now, I self monitor with some amount of success. Thank you, Dr.Amen 4 all your dedication!

    Comment by Christee Coleman — August 20, 2018 @ 10:24 PM

  21. This is absolute rubbish. I am an american, i have 4 kids and they have a very clear set, strictly enforced set of rules. I live in the Midwest in a city of very conservative values, and most everyone i know parents with authority. I’m not sure if the person writing this is American

    Comment by Alishy Hawak — October 16, 2018 @ 10:20 PM

  22. Mr. Anderson, you viewed your son as a useless son because of a mental disorder? You sound like one of those fathers that produce a drug addicted young man who wonders why he was never good enough.
    Glad your son got “cured” of adhd and your happy now.
    I’m also glad I have experience in mental health because of my past so I’ve been trying to get my son help since he was three but I’ve had to wait for the right age and for it to get worse for a doctor to listen and evaluate. Luckily for my son I’m not considering pharmaceutical medicine. Balanced diet, exercise, positive reinforcement and support, along with therapy if need be should do the trick.

    Comment by Lindsay — December 12, 2018 @ 8:36 PM

  23. My grandson is five years old his father and my daughter were both ADHD their teacher told me about a natural remedy Melissa supreme can be found at Whole Foods vitamin shops works good for my kids under five years old I can’t be diagnosed yet Melissa supreme parks good with helping to calm down the nerves one of my kids I finish four years in college Hopefully Melissa supreme will help my grandson as well and a good diet trying not to get fast food it’s healthy foods Cut out the sugar candy cookies take the icing off the cake that’s key

    Comment by Diane — December 15, 2018 @ 6:37 AM

  24. Hi Josh He is not wrong, a large percentage of both american and canadian families(im canadian) and lived in the usa. Do let their children run their lives. Its great you and your city have strict rules we do as well. Alot of families I have witnessed do allow their kids to run their lives its actually quite sad to watch. Mom Im hungry I want I want mom mom and mom caters to them every time cause she doesnt wanna hear it.
    Unfortunately Life in both countries has been designed that you have little to zero time with your family therefore extremely hard to instill good habits and rules in the family. First the brain washing education system gets them for 8 hours a day and they do not instill your rules and allows the child to recognize that they can get away with things outside the home. Then the Tv and or internet or crap video games like mind crap consume the rest of the Brain washing of the child. By the time I get home I get two hours with my child cause if you dont work they dont eat. And in those two hours I have to find away to break through the Crap my child has been fed from the time He got up.
    Now we have stopped the Tv and Noticed a big improvement at home still got to fight the crap the school has fed him. He Gets an hour a week on video games, thinking of stopping that to as He loses his Brain for the first hour or two after playing.
    We Used to teach our kids and had someone at home for most of the Day raising the Child Now in both countries its someone else raising your child and not the values you want installed. You cant get through if you only get 2 hours a day and the rest of them get 12.
    Good Luck

    Comment by scooter — December 18, 2018 @ 6:33 AM

  25. You have got to be kidding me?.. Useless son? You don’t deserve your son.

    Comment by Nicola mairs — January 3, 2019 @ 9:33 PM

  26. Natural remedies actually fix health problems rather than give a chemical induced bandaid that may or may not help, and can often cause more serious side effects. You are what you eat, and a lot of western society eats crap. Processed. Jesse is a good example-5% real chees. Wonder what the other 95% is?

    Comment by Natural remedies actually cure people rather than give a bandaid solution. You are what you eat, and most people eat crap — February 12, 2019 @ 2:36 PM

  27. Please, forward me info on ADHA treatments without medications.

    Comment by Sandra Mangrum — March 2, 2019 @ 10:43 AM

  28. Spiritual help isn’t going to mend the emotional damage done by you calling your son useless.
    You don’t deserve that child.

    Comment by shocked — March 3, 2019 @ 3:57 PM

  29. It was a woman, not a man, you don’t! Read it again and stop blaming nen your whole life!

    Comment by The Kandor — March 5, 2019 @ 2:58 PM

  30. One day I got extremely sick, could not keep anything down, had blurry vision, a rapid heartbeat, and began hyperventilating. My blood glucose level in the ER was in the high 500s and my A1C was 9.7. Since then, I have developed neuropathy, which makes life pretty difficult but I was able to get rid of it totally with the help of total cure herbal treatment .

    Comment by Jeremy moore — March 18, 2019 @ 7:32 AM

  31. I agree with you, Alishy Hawak! I found this to be a complete insult to the hard work I’ve done to parent my ADD son. To say the reason he is this way is because I let him parent me and allow him to eat uncontrolled amounts of refined foods (a blanket statement they made) is a slap in the face. My son has been on a strict organic low carb diet his entire life. He has always eaten what we eat. Sweets are a rare thing in our house. None of the rich saucy entrees or heavy pastries that the French seem to love. He is very well behaved and obedient due to a strict upbringing and rules. He is not a behavior problem.

    Comment by Anna Cline — April 19, 2019 @ 10:24 AM

  32. It is disappointing to see Amen Clinics promoting this narrative. It appears to have been based on a widely shared article by a family therapist called Marilyn Wedge which was published in Psychology Today and has been debunked many times, including through several articles on the very same website. It contains a variety of dubious claims, some of which amount to some rather racist stereotypes, uncited statistics, and factual inaccuracies. There is no evidence to suggest the ADHD is treated any more effectively in France in comparison to the US or other countries. Quite the opposite

    Comment by DT Braven-Giles — June 2, 2019 @ 8:35 AM

  33. What kind of herbal treatment were you on. Can you be more specific. Thank you.

    Comment by Barbara Shaw — July 8, 2019 @ 1:51 AM

  34. Joshua, you are very fortunate you live where you do and if you live in Iowa, you are blessed! But, I’m very sorry to disagree with you but overall in our country life is not what it used to be. This person may be from France or wherever but his conclusions are accurate. We have seen the demise of the all American family, parents ARE being ruled by their children. Discipline is a thing if the past for a few reasons, one of which is the fear of being reported for “child abuse” when out in public (believe there are very real situations that have resulted in a negative way for the parents). Our culture is shoving their beliefs and ideologies on us through the use of media, in the schools and unfortunately politically, stripping the rights of parents away and replacing them with “the village” mentality. As we as parents are being bombarded with this information our children are also being assaulted by it, and again unfortunately they are being indoctrinated into this mind set. This has caused strife and chaos in families that are trying to maintain a traditional family life with structure . That’s why there is a deterioration in our culture, kids today are entitled, selfish, and disrespectful. I have friends that are teachers and the stories I hear makes me thankful I never considered entering that profession. There is no sense of authority, God has been removed as the ultimate authority, and once you do that the family is the next to go, and it has. Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many good kids and families fighting to maintain the traditional family life, but it is not an easy road. There is a rise in homeschooling for this very reason, maintaining control without interference from secular mindsets and government. But we have to face the fact that kids today are not the kids if the 50’s and 60’s where no ma’am and no sir were the norm. I have had kids that I have met for the very first time speak to me as if I was in their level, I was shocked at what came out of their mouths.
    So, in conclusion this person is not wrong and actually has a good handle on our country!

    Comment by Beverly Trejo — October 15, 2019 @ 8:20 AM

  35. Please tell me how to help my grandson without medication hes not a bad child just needs focus in school more pleade

    Comment by june jones — November 7, 2019 @ 10:55 AM

  36. Can you please give me info about it. I believe in what u r saying thanks

    Comment by Guerdy — November 24, 2019 @ 5:08 PM

  37. Actually it is a man… reread… “His father (he’s referring to himself) is happy now, back then i used to call him a useless son but now every one in the family is happy for what Priest Okojie have done in the life of my family.”

    He’s speaking of himself, or the following sentence would not make sense. Plus, it doesn’t matter man or woman, it was awful to hear. I think you are the hypersensitive one.

    Comment by Lilli — January 13, 2020 @ 6:29 AM

  38. I do believe that Americans have been eating poorly for decades. BUT, I’m Italian and if gluten and carbs were a cause for ADD then all of Italy would be suffering from it. So it can’t be that… agreed that these ingredients may exasperate symptoms for some, but it’s not a sure thing.

    Comment by Lilli — January 13, 2020 @ 6:34 AM

  39. Does goingborganic make a difference to ADHD or ADD?

    Comment by Jason — January 15, 2020 @ 10:22 AM

  40. They might ask: “Why bother? These medications obviously work and therefore they should be the first line of treatment for any child with ADHD.” In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics supports this viewpoint, although with lip service to concurrent behavioral intervention.

    Comment by Wiseacre — July 31, 2020 @ 7:14 AM

  41. . I wish my parents would have believed me when I told them I had trouble learning and understanding how to study. Fortunately, my husband believed me and has been the biggest supporter. If your child asks for help, listen and provide the help they need. Also if you think your child is useless, I hate to break it to you but the world would be better off with you never being even a fish owner.

    Comment by Nohely Pimentel — March 3, 2022 @ 10:31 PM

  42. I know now that ADHD can be cured without medication.

    Comment by Shivam Kumar — December 9, 2022 @ 11:19 PM

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