Ned’s Secret Weapon for Managing His ADHD

Ned’s Secret Weapon for Managing His ADHD

Dr. H is one of the minority of people with ADHD for whom medication does not work. Instead he drinks coffee to help manage his symptoms. And since today is International Coffee Day (and the start of ADHD Awareness Month), we thought it was the perfect day for Ned to share the details of how he uses caffeine for his ADHD!

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Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. That’s B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. It is the college of choice for students who learn differently, and I have an honorary degree from that college. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Today, October 1st, the first day of the month of October, is International Coffee Day. Isn’t it amazing? Every day has some designation to commemorate one thing or another. Well, today, October 1st, is International Coffee Day, not to be confused with National Coffee Day, which already happened on September 29th. But today, October 1st, we’re expanding the sphere of influence of coffee to include the entire world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We should maybe someday have a galactical coffee day, a universal coffee day, you know? Coffee throughout the universe. Is there coffee on a nearby planet? That’s a question to ask. But what can I say about coffee? Well, first of all, as many of you know, I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a terrible term, but I won’t go off on that riff, but I have that condition, which is poorly named ADHD. It’s a surplus of attention, believe me, not a deficit of attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In any case, the medications that we prescribe, the stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall, don’t work for me. They work for about 80% of people who have this condition, but they don’t work for me. They just give me side effects. But I do have a medication and it is coffee. It is caffeine. And the way I get my caffeine is through coffee, and I get whole bean coffee. I put it in our little … don’t remember the name of the maker, but you put in the coffee beans and it grinds them up and spits out … not spit, that’s the wrong word, it drips out coffee, freshly brewed hot coffee. And that’s how I start my day, every day, with two cups of that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now I put milk in it because I’m one of those people, number one, who doesn’t like my coffee really hot, and number two, doesn’t like the taste of pure black coffee. My wife, on the other hand, likes her coffee very hot and black, so she gets the first cup out of the machine, and then I get the next two. I don’t understand people who say, “I want a piping hot cup of coffee.” It makes no sense to me. Doesn’t it burn your mouth? Doesn’t it burn your tongue? I can’t drink it if it’s piping hot. And there was that person who sued McDonald’s because she spilled a cup of coffee in her lap and burned herself and she said, “They made it too hot.” And she won the lawsuit and McDonald’s had to pay her for making their coffee too hot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I’d like that. I want it to cool off and I drink mine usually lukewarm. Well, that’s … would make my wife vomit. She can’t stand that. In fact, if her coffee gets too cool, she takes it and puts it in the microwave and warms it up, heats it up, makes it piping hot. I still don’t understand how you can drink piping hot coffee. If any of you listeners have an answer to that, please let me know, because when I try and do it, even if I just take a little sip, it burns my tongue. It burns my cheek. That’s not pleasant. I don’t like to be burned to start my day. And I don’t want to walk around with that feeling you get on your tongue after you’ve burned it. Why do people want piping hot coffee? Why? I mean, it’d be like drinking boiling water. Why would you … I don’t get it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So in any case, my medication is caffeine, and the way I get it is in the form of coffee with milk so it’s not too hot and so it tastes better. I don’t put sugar in it. I used to put sugar in it, but I’ve been persuaded that sugar is bad for us so I don’t put sugar in it. It’s an amazing bean, this coffee bean. The entire world is caffeinated now. If you add in tea and Red Bull and Mountain Dew and cola drinks, it’s hard to find a corner of the world where there is not the presence of caffeine in the form of coffee or cola or a so-called energy drink.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, some people claim or have claimed that coffee is bad for you. Well, the fact is anything in excess is bad for you. Too much oxygen can be bad for you. Too much water can be bad for you. Too much sunshine can be bad for you. So, all these things that we associate with goodness, sunshine, water … What was the third one? See, my mind is leaving me. Sunshine, water, and something else, things that we think of as good, if in excess … Oxygen. Sunshine, water, and oxygen in excess become bad for us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the same is true with caffeine. And yes, if you drink too much coffee, you can get very jittery. Your heart can race. Your blood pressure can go up. You can get terrible kinds of GI complaints and ulcers and craters and bad juices flowing, and you can just be jittery like a cat on a hot tin roof. You can just be all over the place, so you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to develop what’s called caffeinism. And also if you abruptly stop coffee, if you are a regular coffee drinker and you decide one day, I’m going to swear off coffee because I read that it’s bad for me, you’re going to get our wicked headache, a wicked headache. So, don’t abruptly stop coffee. If you want to cut back, do it slowly, taper off the coffee, switch to decaf, something like that. And remember, even decaf has a little bit of caffeine in it, so don’t drink too much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I would say don’t drink too little because I would be lost without my daily coffee. It really does help me focus. And be grateful that we have this wonderful medicinal available element to our diet. I think of caffeine as my medication. Why not? I take it to improve my performance, and so does the rest of the world. Just don’t drink too much of it. Don’t stop it abruptly. And today, give thanks for your favorite coffee.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Our producer, Sarah Guertin, asked me what’s my favorite coffee, and I said, “Any coffee, as long as it’s strong enough.” I don’t like weak coffee, coffee that tastes like dishwater. Not that I’m in the habit of drinking dishwater, but what I imagine dishwater would taste like. So I don’t like really weak coffee, but other than that, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Homebrew, I like them all. And just so long as it’s strong enough, and I like to drink it with someone else, but when I’m writing, I’ll drink it alone. But I don’t think of writing as being alone. I’m with the work. We’re a team. We’re trying to conquer the forces of chaos.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, there you have it for International Coffee Day today, and in memory of the September 29th National Coffee Day, here’s to coffee everywhere, and here’s to all of you who drink it. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell. That’s our show for today.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there a special day you’d like me to acknowledge in a mini podcast? Email your ideas to [email protected] We’d be very glad to acknowledge your special day. Well, I want to, once again, thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their Omega-3 supplement for years and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, a Harvard Medical School graduate. She’s very fussy about quality efficacy, and always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And Distraction listeners can save 20% off of their first order with the promo code podcast, 2020, at omegabritewellness.com. And remember to look for Distraction on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and soon Tik-Tok. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our sound engineer is the wonderful Scott Persson with two Ss. He loves his second S. And our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin, and you spell that U-E-R, not like curtain, like Guertin. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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