Why ADHD Is Not A Psychiatric Disorder Or Brain Disease with Dr. George Papanicolaou

Why ADHD Is Not A Psychiatric Disorder Or Brain Disease | This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley and Farmacy

The rates of attention deficit disorder (ADD), today referred to as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have skyrocketed in recent years. But what is ADHD? ADHD is just a name we give to people who share a collection of symptoms: They can’t focus or pay attention, they’re inattentive, and they are hyperactive. These are symptoms. So, what are the causes?

In this episode, Dr. Hyman sits down with Dr. George Papaicolaou to discuss the common drivers of ADHD, and why it is so important to identify and treat its causes, rather than its symptoms. They also share specific cases in which they have treated patients for ADHD.

George Papanicolaou is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is Board Certified in Family Medicine from Abington Memorial Hospital. He is also an Institute for Functional Medicine Practitioner. Upon graduation from his residency he joined the Indian Health Service. He worked on the Navajo reservation for 4 years at the Chinle Comprehensive Medical Facility where he served as the Outpatient Department Coordinator. In 2000, he founded Cornerstone Family Practice in Rowley, MA. He practiced with a philosophy centered on personal relationships and treating the whole person, not just not the disease. He called that philosophy “Whole Life Wellness”. Over time as the healthcare system made it harder for patients to receive this kind of personal care Dr. Papanicolaou decided a change was needed. He began training in Functional Medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. In 2015, he established Cornerstone Personal Health – a practice dedicated entirely to Functional Medicine. Dr. Papanicolaou to join The UltraWellness Center in 2017.

This episode is sponsored by Paleovalley and Farmacy. 

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In this conversation, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Papanicolaou discuss:

  • The prevalence of ADHD in our society

  • Understanding ADHD as a cluster of symptoms, rather than a psychiatric disorder

  • The most common drivers of ADHD, including genetics, environmental influences, diet and lifestyle

  • How improving gut health, and addressing food sensitivities can improve ADHD

  • Testing for toxins and heavy metals in the body, including lead, mercury, and arsenic

  • Patients with ADHD that Dr. Hyman and Dr. Papanicolaou have treated

  • The effectiveness of meditation for treating ADHD

Additional Resources

Getting to the Root: A Functional Medicine Approach to ADHD


ADHD and Negative Self-Talk


Here’s How I Treat ADHD: A Functional Medicine Doctor Explains


7 Strategies to Address ADHD


How To Improve Your Handwriting Simply By Changing What You Eat


The Myth of Diagnosis


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