Natural Remedies for ADHD Children

Lynsey Keep, RN
angry boy

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming a widely recognized problem. Natural remedies for ADHD children are also becoming a popular choice in an attempt to avoid prescribed medications which can cause undesirable side effects.

ADHD: A Brief Explanation

Attention deficit disorders such as ADHD are recognized by behaviors in children which display hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. This behavior is exacerbated when a child perceives a lack of attention. The symptoms are associated with:

  • Learning problems - Due to disruptive behavior in the classroom, children who suffer are prone to learning problems.
  • Behavioral problems - Behavior in the ADHD child can be challenging partly due to a lack of understanding of the condition by some.
  • Emotional problems - Children with the condition often feel isolated and perceived as different. This leads to feelings of low self esteem and frustration.

ADHD is often a difficult condition to diagnose. Children are often perceived as 'naughty', 'disruptive', or 'difficult to handle' when actually they are suffering from a well-documented problem, requiring intensive support and treatment.

Stimulant medications are the drug of choice when managing a child with ADHD. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed drug; however, its uses and ethical issues surrounding its uses remain controversial. Anti-depressants are classed as second-line treatment and are not required in every case.

When children as young as pre-school age are in need of strong medications in order to achieve acceptable and tolerable behavior, it is no wonder parents are seeking alternative treatments for this condition.

Natural Remedies for ADHD Children: A Step Forward

Parents who have a child suffering from ADHD naturally want the best for their child, and to obtain control over physical and psychological symptoms is a priority. Diagnosis can be made at a very young age, however it has been suggested that the effects of ADHD can carry into adolescence and adult life, despite gaining control of the symptoms.

Herbal remedies are becoming popular, in particular the use of:

  • Brahmi - This herb is renowned for increasing cognitive function. It can help to increase general learning abilities, and research has shown that it may be beneficial in protecting the brain from free radicals.
  • Gingko Biloba - Popular for its ability to increase blood flow to the brain gingko biloba can significantly help the brain to focus. Where the ability to maintain a reasonable attention span lacks in the ADHD child, this herb has obvious benefits.
  • Ginseng - An herb known to be a natural stimulant, it also increases endurance and concentration.
  • Skullcap - This is a natural sedative which helps to calm and relax.
  • Kava Kava - This is a natural reliever of stress and anxiety.
  • Chamomile - This herb is known to promote tranquility and calm.

Dietary Changes

Natural remedies for ADHD children can also include dietary changes.

  • Food Additives - Many parents of children suffering from ADHD insist that food colorings play a vital role in exacerbating the hyperactive symptom. This theory has been tried and tested and parents are becoming more aware of the possibilities of a connection between additives and ADHD behavior. The exclusion of food colorings is a positive and direct method of reducing some symptoms. Confectioners and food manufacturers are aware of parent's wishes and many traditional products are now free of artificial colorings and additives.
  • Sugar Content - It is also believed that a problem with the metabolism of glucose in the body has a direct link with hyperactivity.
  • Magnesium Deficiency - A deficiency of magnesium in the body is linked to many psychological problems such as stress, depression, anxiety and irritability. This link has also been suggested to ADHD sufferers and supplementation of magnesium is known to reduce hyperactivity in children.
  • Essential Fatty Acids - Omega 3 is a well known fatty acid, often linked to intelligence and brain power. It is believed that a reduction or poor metabolism of such fatty acids can cause problems for an ADHD sufferer. The presence of these fatty acids can be increased by eating good amounts of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines.

Seeking the Correct Advice

When coping with a child with ADHD, it is all important weigh the pros and cons of various treatments. Where prescribed medications often generate 'bad press' they too have benefits which some children (and parents) cannot live without.

When choosing alternative remedies, it is essential that the chosen remedy is safe to use with prescribed medications. In light of this, is it always best to seek the advice of a trained alternative therapist or practitioner. Not all children are alike. Therefore it is important that a thorough assessment be made before recommending an appropriate course of treatment.

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Natural Remedies for ADHD Children