Attention deficit Bernie

Dr Barrie Lewis at his desk in the Netherlands; his nom de plume is Bernie Preston.

Attention deficit Bernie relates how he has suffered all his days from this condition. Nevertheless he's had at 68 a wonderfully full tilt at life and shudders at the thought that now, at the whim of teacher, psychologist or doctor, he would certainly be treated with mind altering drugs.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 3rd December, 2018.

It's no secret now that my alter ego, Bernard Preston, is my nom de plume. I started using the name to protect the identity of the very real people lurking between the pages of my books.

It's only fairly recently that I've realised that I too suffer from ADD. What is it, and are there other solutions than mind altering drugs for your child?

There's a loose association of three mental states that make up the diagnosis of ADHD; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They are, not surprisingly,

  1. Inattentiveness
  2. Impulsivity
  3. Hyperactivity

Each child with ADHD has a mix of these disorders; usually one predominates over the others.

Attention deficit Bernie

Attention deficit Bernie expresses alarm that if he was a child today he would certainly be treated with mind altering Ritalin.

One of the physiological signs is that the brain of a child with ADHD uses less glucose than normal; and so if, because of a poor diet, the blood sugar is already low, and he is already predisposed, then one or more of these symptoms will begin to show.

If regularly the child is on a poor diet, then this behaviour becomes habituated, and soon he or she becomes labelled as disruptive, or of low intelligence, or some such.

My nickname at school was Dopey, and frankly it fitted. My mind was frequently in another world as it flitted from one subject to another; I was easily bored, and would move on rather than finishing the job in hand.

Inattentiveness was the main feature of attention deficit Bernie in those early days, and it's still a problem. For example, three seconds after being introduced to someone, I cannot recall their name.

However, hyperactivity is now a large part of the condition too. I am unable to stop, even for a moment. I have to be continuously busy with something, often moving from one job to another as soon as the first bores. Procrastination is a large feature of the problem; chores are finished at the last moment.

Interestingly, the first part of my schooling had little to report; I was average, or below par, despite coming from a highly academically successful family. I recall being told in grade X that my mathematics was so poor, having failed three years in a row, that they were going to push me through again to the next form; holding me back in their opinion would not achieve the desired result. There was no hope of me ever gaining a university entrance, at least in the sciences, and languages were in any case weak too.

Well, the rest is history. Something changed, and I for one have no idea what it was. I went on to achieve a university entrance, completed two years of mathematics, graduating in physics and chemistry.

Five years later I completed a bachelors in education, and then a doctorate in chiropractic. But I still had ADHD; somehow I learnt to cope with it, largely through a dramatic change in diet, I believe.

Apparently about four percent of children have attention deficit, or one of its many variants. Inattention is the major feature of my problem, and it remains so to this day. For example, when hunting for a book on a shelf, or a tool in my workshop, I have to deliberately slow my mind down, and concentrate on each item, one by one, until I find what I'm searching for.

So many times, to my great embarrassment, my brain has flitted from one item to the next, missing what I needed, only later to be told, that it was right there, staring at me in the face.

Mental illness in its many and varied forms is so common place, that it might even be said to be the norm. All the world's a bit queer, except for me and thee; and I'm not so sure about you.

Some of them are mild, such as that which afflicts me. Others are serious such as the manic depression that George Frideric Handel and Winston Churchill suffered from; both were geniuses, but the lows were very deep.

I totally reject out of hand that all of us, and particularly children, who suffer from some form of mental illness should be on drugs. If that were the case in former times there would have been no Hallelujah Chorus, to my mind probably the greatest piece of music ever written, and no leader to carry Britain through the second world war.

For myself, attention deficit Bernie has managed to control his disability, sometimes it's true with great difficulty. That hyperactivity has been satisfied with a deep and profound interest in many varied things.

Firstly there has been beekeeping, a hobby that has never ceased to amaze for my whole life; I still have seven colonies at the bottom of the garden. Then there has been an interest in all things to do with wood. Today I have two chainsaws that I use regularly and a well equipped carpentry shop.

Beehives in autumn keep Bernie enthralled.

I could add to that soaring amongst the clouds most Saturdays, a fascination with collecting solar energy and building a large collector on our roof that provides most of our electricity, and gathering and storing rainwater for our home and garden.

4 90W solar panels keep Bernie busy.

Add to that a fascination with organic gardening, worm farms and chicken tractors, hiking mountains and trout fishing, the great outdoors always beckons.

And then lastly my books; six are published and the seventh is on its way. Chiropractic Help is listed at one or two on Google's front page; it's entirely my creation. The fact that few extreme Sudokus can beat me and I spend at least a quarter of hour every day enjoying internet chess at a tolerable high level, confirm that I'm not mentally challenged after all.

The intention is not to blow my own trumpet; it's simply to make the point that attention deficit Bernie has done it all without Ritalin; yes, I was a trial to my parents and teachers, I'm sure. But I'm convinced that if I had been put on mind altering drugs as a child, little of this would have transpired; I would today be hooked on medication.

Ritalin is highly addictive.


The chiropractic coalface continues to challenge and excite me. Attention deficit Bernie continues to be a challenge, but a manageable one, with Ritalin side effects.

The inspiration for this page was a young lad of about ten with a problem with his gait; a notable sportsman he has been unable to run recently. Fortunately his problems were relatively minor, but what disturbed me greatly, is that he is already on Ritalin. Joint pain is one of the Ritalin side effects. 

Behind his glassy stare, and drugged appearance, I identified with a lad who could have been me. A boy of many talents apparently, and highly intelligent, he became disruptive in class and his teacher insisted they consult a psychologist. I fear for him; I don't see the happy ending as attention deficit Bernie has experienced as I gaze into his crystal ball. A lifetime of medication lies ahead. 

I take virtually no medication. Let your food be your medicine is our motto; that's not original. Thomas Edison, I believe. 

Ritalin side effects

Ritalin is a powerful drug; it's listed as a schedule II substance, along with cocaine and morphine. It is highly addictive and has a significant risk of serious and even life-threatening side effects. Attention deficit Bernie is so pleased that his childhood was long before this nasty new fad.

The most common Ritalin side effects include addiction, exactly what Henry Gadsen, chief executive of a large drug company would want, and anxiety. He told Fortune magazine that he wanted his company to be more like chewing gum manufacturer, Wrigley.

The list of Ritalin side effects make scary reading; for example it includes headache, nausea, insomnia, joint pain and slowed growth in children. Read them rather at a medical site such as Ritaline side effects at Web MD.

The alternatives

Okay, so your child is not performing well at school, but you know he or she is bright. Worse, he may be disruptive and unruly in class; there may even be suggestions that you take him to another school.

What are the alternatives? Is there something else you can do for him or her, before getting them onto the path of mind altering drugs?

  • Become a healthnut; make sure your child is above all having a proper breakfast, with low glycemic index starches, fruit and protein. Absolutely none of the junk cereals, and sweetened fruit juices to start the day. It may sound crazy but consider starting with eggs Florentine every day. On a slice of low GI toast with butter it makes a wonderful breakfast.

Become a healthnut; make sure your child is above all having a proper breakfast, with low glycemic index starches, fruit and protein. Absolutely none of the junk cereals, and sweetened fruit juices to start the day. It may sound crazy but consider starting with eggs Florentine every day. On a slice of low GI toast with butter it makes a wonderful breakfast.

If I have one recollection of my diet at boarding school is that it was very high in starch. Whether it was highly refined and glycemic or not, I have no idea, but an excess of carbohydrate stresses the pancreas and plays havoc with blood sugar. Do you remember that one of main findings with ADHD children is that their brains have difficulty getting enough glucose?

  • Consider home schooling. Children with ADHD are often highly intelligent but they find the classroom slow and boring; either their minds flit to more interesting subjects in the air, or the devil finds work for idle brains and hands.
  • Find or even create a school that has small classes where the children get plenty of individual attention.

Try everything, everything, everything before you agree to put your child on mind altering drugs. I am absolutely and totally convinced of the merit of these words. If attention deficit Bernie can make it through ADHD, then the chances are good that your child can too. Good luck!


Sixty percent of the brain is made up of fat. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured in the body and must be consumed in the diet; this is especially true of the omega 3 fatty acids. If you child doesn't get them he'll be like attention deficit Bernie.

There are three of these fatty acids; two are obtained from fatty fish, and one from vegetable sources such as freshly ground flax seed, free range eggs, walnuts and herbs such as purslane.

The amount of omega-3 in free range cage free eggs is three times higher; it's entirely determined by access to greens that are rich in these oils. This is the stuff that will allow your child to escape what attention deficit Bernie went through. 

The amount of omega-3 in free range cage free eggs is three times higher; it's entirely determined by access to greens that are rich in these oils. This is the stuff that will allow your child to escape what attention deficit Bernie went through.


This is plenty of research showing that children suffering from a deficiency of folate, vitamin B9, perform poorly in school. Is your child getting enough greens in the diet?

High folate levels are vital for everyone of us from the elderly who will progress more slowly into frailty, the young woman of child-bearing age who could have an infant with a birth defect to children at school; I wonder if fed otherwise attention deficit Bernie would have grown up to be a very different person. It wasn't until my chiropractic education where I learned about the importance of our food that I started to get on top of this problem with concentration. Read more on the subject at high folate levels and what you can do to prevent it.

Useful links

› Attention deficit Bernie

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.