TBHQ and ADHD - What do they mean?

TBHQ is a preservative found in many of today's foods and especially convenience and snack items.  This preservative helps the food to not go rancid too quick.  Shelf life is an important part of our food manufacturers.

TBHQ stands for Tertiary Butylhydroquinone.  This is a chemical preservative in the form of butane. The risks and side effects of this chemical creation far outweighs the benefits.

ADHD.  ADHD stands for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.  ADHD is a behavioral disorder that effects 8 - 10% school age children.  I believe it effects far more and reaches far beyond childhood.  Boys are about 3x more likely to exhibit ADHD.  Kids with ADHD act without thinking, have trouble focusing and are hyperactive.  Some kids can display rage.

We were out and about this weekend and although I limit purchases from vending machines, I gave in on a Payday.  This is a peanut, caramel candy bar.  I glanced at the ingredient list and somehow missed TBHQ listed but there it is:

Peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, nonfat milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean and cottonseed oil), salt, carrageenan, mono- and diglycerides, TBHQ (preservative), egg whites, and soy protein.

My son is paying the price for eating that .90 cent candy bar.  He is restless, impulsive and not feeling strong in balance.  He is having a hard day at school and got in to it with one of his best friends at recess.  I so hate seeing the effects of chemical reactions in my kids.  One of the worse parts is the after effect.  His self esteem plummets.

You may be interested to know that TBHQ is in fast food fries.  It is in the oil which allows food preparers to heat the oil at super high temps and use the oil over and over again.  There are just 3 fast food places I know of that do not use TBHQ in their french fry oil and they are 5 Guys, In n Out, and Wendys.

A home remedy that works for us is a warm Epsom salt bath.  The magnesium in the salts help restore balance.  I am also using essential oils and am seeing success.  More on that to come!

We avoid artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, Blue 1, artificial flavors like VanillinBHABHT and TBHQ, as well as high fructose corn syrup.  Its not as hard as it sounds, and if I would have held my own and not caved at the vending machine, I would not have been reminded how miserable these chemical additives are.

Studies on BHT, BHA and TBHQ


  1. Very interesting read. I have read many things about diets as I have a child on the Autism spectrum and many of my fellow mom friends in this community swear by different diets. I do my best to avoid some drinks and snacks, but always looking for new things I should be avoiding.

  2. Thanks for stopping by C.A.K.
    I am a big advocate for diet therapy. I have seen the effects of dye, srtificial flavors like vanillin and preservatives first hand. My children have different levels of sensitivity and it is very obvious when they have had something unbeknownst to me. We are a feingold 1 family (feingold diet) and also co op shop for organic meats and such.

  3. Hi! This topic has caught my attention since I’ve been searching the net for valuable information and advice pertaining to ADHD diets for children who had this disorder. Thanks for spreading awareness on food containing this substance called TBHQ. This will help us parents with ADHD kids. Also, I wanted to share these helpful facts I found on this page. It also cited some DOs and DON’T’s on diets for kids or event adults with ADHD.

  4. Thank you for the link glad. Lots of interesting stuff. We are what we eat, in more ways than 1. 50 years ago fast food was a treat. Candy was handed out for ocassions, pop the same. Today, fast food is darn near on every corner and consumed many times daily. Candy is easily available. And processed and convenient foods are rampant. Preservatives like TBHQ are so dangerous.

  5. One night my daughter had a major ADHD / panic type attack. My wife and I have been thinking for a while maybe her meltdowns were from having sugar late at night. Well right before my daughters reaction she had a snack. This morning I looked through the ingredients and found TBHQ in the list. I googled TBHQ and found information such as this blog. It definitely effected my daughter negatively.

  6. hi johnp. thank you for your post. TBHQ ia awful, as is BHT and BHA. More on those in an upcoming post. My son was given a Reese's peanut butter cup the other day and I was shocked to read TBHQ is in the ingredient list. My family has come a long way. I impress on my kids the importance of reading labels and not putting foods and drinks with these dangerous chemicals in their bodies. Still, its hard. I'm glad you are are discovering the negative effects TBHQ can have and I hope your daughter can avoid these kinds of meltdowns. They are awful, I know. TBHQ, BHT and BHA have some of the strongest effects on my kids. Vanillin, red 40, yellow 5 are other awful chemical additives we avoid. I've blogged here some of our experiences.

  7. My experience started over 4 years ago. It started with a rash. My gyne kept telling me it was a yeast infection. After a year and 1/2 of trying every and anything out there and it failing I was beyond frustrated. A friend of mine asked me if I had been eating cereal with BHT in the ingredient list. Sure enough it was in there. Within a few days of not eating this cereal the rash was gone. About 6 months after that my hands broke out with eczema and I have been trying to figure out what is causing it. I went to an allergist. They sent me to the dermatologist with what they said was psoariasis...dermatologist said it was ezcema. 3 years later I still have the rash. Couldn't figure out what was causing until I found out BHT is also in hand soap, gum, make-up, the list goes on. It is now finally going away on its own. Also, my son and I have had bad allergies the last few years, this BHT & BHA makes it worse. I'm afraid to eat anything but whole foods at this point.

  8. For over 4 years I have had one rash after another. Gyne couldn't figure out what was causing it. A year and 1/2 later talking to a friend she asked if BHT was in my cereal. Two days after I stopped eating the cereal the rash was gone! 6 months later I started getting a rash on my hands. The allergist was no help he in fact misdiagnosed it as psoariasis. Dermatologist diagnosed as eczema. I changed every detergent, dish soap, bath soap, hand soap...nothing helped. Everytime I thought I had it figured out and narrowed down it would flare up again. Over 4 years later and tons of time researching I am confident it's the BHT. I found out a few things, they are adding it to just about everything now. When I wouldn't ingest it, it would be in the hand soap, makep, potato flakes, medication, gum, children's pain reliever...the list goes on. I also have had the worst asthma symptoms of my life, my son as well. Now that I know to avoid it my hands are clearing up on their own. BHT is to be avoided at all costs, it's only good point is it helps people with HIV & AIDS. So why are we feeding it to our children?

  9. Wendy, I am so glad you figured out the BHT was challenging your system. It's a scary additive, isn't it? I wish early educators taught this basic science in the classrooms. So many adults have never heard of these connections before and just assume, if it's on the shelf, it's gotta be ok.


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