AMMON, Idaho - Any parent who has a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder knows first hand how challenging the diagnostic process can be.
Hailey Richards has three kids. Two of them have attention deficit disorder, and her youngest, Caleb, has the hyperactivity component on top of that.
"He would always get called into the principal's office. I think they had me on speed dial," said Richards.
Caleb started showing symptoms at the age of 3, and when he started school, his behavior began to affect his self-esteem.
"It's really hard to see your kid struggle and when he told me, 'Mom, I'm not a bad kid,' it just broke my heart. Because I know he's not a bad kid," said Richards.
Richards says everyone pushed to put her child on medication, like the go-to drugs for ADHD, Adderall and Ritalin.
"Me as a mom, as his mom, I wanted to walk to the ends of the earth first to see every option out there before I'd consider doing medication. And that's when I found Dr. Buerger."
Dr. Monika Buerger has been in practice for 23 years. Her integrated medicine approach has gained a lot of attention in ADHD management. After a lengthy evaluation process, she homes in on the diet.
"I'll ask the parents and child what are your favorite three foods what could you not live with out?The top three, macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets and fries. So we look at that type of meal."
She educates parents on what's in those meals and how they affect the brain. The most toxic ingredients are sugar, gluten and casein- ingredients found in everything from soda to ketchup and dairy. Buerger said those ingredients create a morphine-like effect on the brain. Chemical dyes such as Red 40, found in cakes, candy and other sweets, also contribute to stimulating ADHD behaviors.
"Dyes are known to cause what we call 'brain bloat' the cell take that substance in and swell up and actually die," said Buerger.
Richards says it was scary to think of taking a dietary approach to managing her child's ADHD.
"I think every family that comes in here has a really hard time with that," said Richards.
Dr. Buerger suggests taking small steps in changing your child's diet. Richards started substituting coconut milk for regular and using gluten-free pasta. She said her children barely noticed a difference and even liked the taste of the gluten-free food. After one month, Richards noticed a difference in her son's behavior.
"We remove that toxic load, chemical, physical, emotional, those pathways can now work and fire like they're supposed to, I can start to learn properly socially, academically and motor-skills wise," said Buerger.
"He's more calm in the classroom. He still struggles, yes, it's a journey, but to see him now it's awesome. It's really hard to watch them struggle as a parent. What Doctor B has done for our family, I'm just eternally grateful for her work," said Richards.