• Dr Shawn M. Carney

What do cats have to do with ADHD?

Updated: Nov 9

ADHD is often associated with imbalances of signaling in the brain called neurotransmitters. One key group of neurotransmitters are the catecholamines! They are a keen consideration among the natural medicine treatments for inattention and impulsivity concerns.


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Question: What do cats have to do with ADHD?


Answer: Catecholamines!


The ability to focus is a function performed by our brains. The brain is the master controller of nervous system, using chemicals called neurotransmitters to “talk” with itself. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of the nervous system. The brain uses neurotransmitters to maintain focus and concentration. Imbalances in brain chemistry can lead to inattentive and hyperactive behaviors. Excitatory neurotransmitters such as catecholamines, generally produce a stimulating effect.


Catecholamines act both as neurotransmitters and hormones vital to the maintenance of homeostasis through the body, and specifically the autonomic nervous system. Physiologic principles of catecholamines have numerous applications within pharmacology, including increasing blood pressure in acute hypotensive states, consideration for cardiac arrest, pain management and psychiatric treatment of some depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and panic disorders. It should be no surprise then that the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system is a direct result of the multisystem action of catecholamines.


Imbalances in brain chemistry are caused by genetics, stress, poor dietary habits, and toxins. A previous blog focused on some of the genes associated with ADHD; however, there is more to consider on that topic. Mutations in enzymes that degrade catecholamines to their metabolites, namely monoamine oxidase (MAO) and/or by catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT), were not reviewed in that article but are certainly of clinical consideration. Chronic stress can include busy schedules, emotional trauma, and personal issues. Poor eating habits that include a diet consisting of fast food, junk food, and sugars does not provide the body with the building blocks needed to make neurotransmitters while environmental, occupational, and recreational toxins can disrupt proper communication in the brain. Some of the neurotransmitters affected are Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and PEA.


So considering the underlying factors and imbalances that contribute to ADHD can provide multiple ways to support a person, without immediately resorting to stimulant medications like Adderall®, Concerta®, Vyvnase® and Focalin®. Sometimes the less invasive natural therapies are able to help just purr-fectly!




References:

Paravati S, Rosani A, Warrington SJ. Physiology, Catecholamines. [Updated 2021 Oct 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507716/




The content and any recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to replace the advice of the reader's own licensed healthcare professional or physician and are not intended to be taken as direct diagnostic or treatment directives. Any treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and/or health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a licensed naturopathic physician.