6 Natural Ways to Treat ADHD
Back to school can be especially challenging for parents of kids with ADHD or ADD. In addition to navigating the new routine, you're trying everything to manage the symptoms and give your child the best tools for success. Here are some natural treatments that can make a difference...
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are behavioral related conditions that are associated with difficulty concentrating, impulsiveness and trouble sitting still. ADHD most commonly onsets at the age of 7, but the disorder can continue into the teen years and adulthood. It is estimated that ADHD affects up to 10% of children between the ages of 13 and 18 while over 4% of adults suffer from symptoms as well.
ADHD has a genetic link, but also can be connected to sugar and food additive consumption, food allergies, and disruption in the gut flora. It’s also estimated that up to 10% of cases are actually misdiagnosed sleep deprivation.
Most commonly, doctors prescribe psychotropic medications such as Ritalin or Adderall to combat symptoms. Although these drugs may be successful at managing symptoms, they also come with risky consequences including increased risk for heart disease, growth retardation, and increased suicidal thoughts.
More than ever families are seeking natural approaches to treat ADHD and ADD and luckily there are an ever increasing number of scientific studies that back a number of natural therapeutics including:
Magnesium. Mild magnesium deficiency is common in children of ADHD. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability, decreased attention span, and mental confusion. Sound familiar?! Talk with your doctor about age/weight appropriate dosing to avoid possible gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, flaxseeds and fish have mounting evidence in the treatment of ADHD. Studies show that children with ADHD have very low blood levels of Omega-3s, and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) in particular. In one study 130 children with ADHD were given fish oil capsules daily and had dramatic improvement in behavior within 3 months. By 7 months, they were not as restless and had longer attention spans. The effects continued after the study ended suggesting that fish oil provides long-term benefits.
Vitamin B6. We also have seen recent data that dietary supplementation of vitamin B6 improves symptoms of ADHD. This is likely because the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain requires sufficient B6 levels.
Probiotics. A few controlled studies have evaluated the connection between probiotics and ADHD. In one study of 75 children with ADHD the majority had little or no friendly bacteria in their gut coupled with overgrowth of harmful bacteria and/or yeast. Replacing the bad with good bacteria can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in those who have a disruption in good flora.
Herbal medicines. A few studies have shown benefit from using nootropic and adaptogenic herbs. Nootropic herbs improve circulation and brain function and adaptogens improve the body’s response to stress. Herbs like gotu kola and bacopa have been shown to decrease hyperactivity and decrease social problems. Rhodiola and ginseng have been proven effective at improving focus.
Testing. You can ask you doctor to test nutrient levels to see which nutrients might be most helpful for your child. Stool testing also can be helpful to determine the health of the microbiome. Amino acid testing also may be useful as depletions in amino acids can lead to imbalances in neurotransmitters that contribute to symptoms of ADHD.
Want more information? Make sure to attend my free Natural ADHD Treatments for Kids Workshop on Saturday, September 29th at 10:00 AM.
This empowering presentation explores a more holistic approach to the problems of attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. In addition, we will discuss how to address a child’s individual needs through nutrition and supplements, herbal medicine,and lifestyle changes that support self-esteem and self-discipline.
Plus, teacher and professional tutor Rachelle Bryant will present organizational and study strategies for kids with ADHD. As the founder of ROAR Tutoring, Rachelle’s mission is to help each student discover their own individualized best practices for learning.
If you’ve been struggling to find ways to help your kiddo succeed in school, don’t miss this free and invaluable workshop! RSVP here.
Work With Dr. Hillary Roland, ND