Click here to view next page of this article


Food-Additive Sensitivity

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition of childhood. It is considered a psychiatric condition characterized by excessive activity, inattention that is inappropriate to the stage of development, increased level of impulsivity, difficulty in discipline, and poor performance in school. It is not an uncommon problem of childhood. The natural history of the condition is unpredictable, with some children losing all symptoms during puberty and others continuing to exhibit some or all manifestations into adulthood. The cause is unknown, but it is believed to encompass some combination of constitutional, genetic, environmental.

The suggestion that ADHD is an allergic disease was first made in 1973 by Feingold, based on a fortuitous occurrence in one of his adult patients who had asthma with aspirin sensitivity in whom there was concomitant improvement in asthma and an unspecified psychiatric illness when she was prescribed a salicylate-free diet. Based on this single case, Feingold recommended elimination.

Virtually all plants contain some salicylate, and so it is likely that no plant food is truly salicylate free. Small amounts of salicylates are found in certain animal products and even in tap water.

Clinical Trials.

The Feingold diet continues to be enthusiastically endorsed by a few mental health workers, educators, and parents of hyperactive children. There have been several published controlled clinical trials, but they have yielded conflicting results, partly because of differences in protocols.


The hypothesis that naturally occurring food salicylates and artificial food additives cause ADHD.

An additive-free diet cannot be recommended for children with this condition. There is evidence at this time that any food additive affects behavior in children through an immunologic or allergic mechanism.