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

Episode 29


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.

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
  • The effectiveness of meditation for treating ADHD
  • Patients with ADHD that Dr. Hyman and Dr. Papanicolaou have treated, see before and after handwriting samples from one patient below


This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley, and Farmacy. The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast works with a select group of sponsors to allow for ongoing production and allow it to be zero-cost to anyone who wishes to listen to and watch the podcast.

Resources Mentioned

Host & Guests


Automatically generated. Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Dr. George Papanicolaou (00:00): And you can bring 10 kids in here with ADHD, or the label of ADHD, and each one of them is going to be treated differently because they're all going to be different. Their genetics are going to be different, their environments are going to be different, their supports are going to be different. Dr. Mark Hyman (00:18): Welcome to The Doctor's Farmacy. I'm Dr. Mark Hyman. That's Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversation that matters. If you have ADD or ADHD, or know someone, or have a kid who has it, this conversation's going to matter to you because it's a special episode of House Call with none other than Dr. George Papanicolaou, who's a colleague of mine here at the UltraWellness..

Want to read the full transcript for free?

Enter your name and email to sign up for our newsletter and unlock the transcript

Back to Content Library
Ep. 29 - Why ADHD Is Not A Psychiatric Disorder Or Brain Disease with Dr. George Papaicolaou