Integrative Healthcare for the Whole Family

Ritalin? Remarkable Autism Results Achieved with a Well-Prescribed Diet

Mindd Foundation

Boy to Adult - Ritalin

Sydney-based GP, Dr Robyn Cosford has been compiling research over many years including the use of Ritalin. As a mother of five, she recognised the association between diet and behaviour long before she had the chance to start studying it.

The Dietary Link – How Childhood Conditions carry into Adulthood

However, the most significant trigger for her research came with the shock arrival at her surgery of a mother, and the carer of her 28-year old son, with the dual diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and Autism.

“I don’t know what you’ve done!” said the mother. One year earlier Dr Cosford had met the young man and his mother and suggested correcting his diet and giving him baseline nutrients to help his behaviour.

“I looked at them sitting in front of me and I thought, “Oh Oh, what have I done?” says Dr Cosford.
“When he first came to me he had extreme behaviour – he was irritated, aggressive, violent, he only spoke one or two words and had marked rituals like headbanging and rocking. He wouldn’t sleep till 3 or 4 am every morning and he was on multiple medications that weren’t making the slightest difference.”

The Value of a Well-Prescribed Diet

During that year the mother had adhered strictly to the diet Dr Cosford prescribed. Her son’s behaviour had settled, he had stopped all the rituals and he was sleeping at normal times. However, the biggest surprise to everyone, including Dr Cosford, was that he had started spontaneously speaking – he had progressed from a few words up to whole sentences.

Specific Food Connections with Childhood Diseases

“That really challenged all the medical paradigms,” Dr Cosford says, “the belief that conditions like Down’s Syndrome and Autism are fixed and you cannot alter mental function. That incident encouraged me to start searching the literature and studying it much more closely. And the work has just gone on from there.”

According to Dr Cosford, there are correlations between certain foods and the onset of childhood diseases. “There is a direct connection between the early introduction of cow’s milk and the development of recurrent ear infections and a further correlation between recurrent ear infections and ADHD.”

Questions about Ritalin

Currently, children with symptoms of ADHD (nearly one in three children with Autism also have some ADHD symptoms – June 2013 edition of the journal Autism ), have routinely been prescribed an amphetamine known as Ritalin.  This stimulant increases levels of specific neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in the part of the brain responsible for attentiveness and has the effect of calming kids with ADHD and improving their concentration levels.

The downside is that it’s a drug of addiction. According to Dr Cosford, it does give symptomatic improvement but usually at the expense of appetite and sleep disturbance. Its effects are known to wear off over time and there is mounting evidence indicating that amphetamines do cause brain damage. Despite the surrounding uncertainties, Ritalin prescription has risen 150% since 1995. In Australia, over 50,000 kids with ADHD are using prescription drugs to cope with their symptoms, with the greatest growth in use in WA.

In certain school districts in the United States, where Ritalin is positively encouraged by educators, its use has soared to 40% of all school-age kids.

RobynCosford100_dsDr Robyn Cosford is an integrative medical practitioner of many years standing, having lectured to post-graduate medical practitioners for over 20 years as part of the ACNEM faculty. Her interest in brain-immune-gut concepts dates nearly 20 years.

She has been a valuable presenter at the Mindd International Forum 


Mindd Foundation