Complementary and alternative medicine has become very popular for the last decades. It caused the appearance of alternative methods of ADHD prophylaxis and treatment. This review will provide you some natural treatment methods of ADHD and other behavioral disorders.
Natural remedies for ADHD are used as monotherapy and are highly effective in the treatment of mild and moderate neuropsychiatric disorders. For severe forms of ADHD, doctors recommend using some natural remedies as a supplement to the psychostimulant or non-stimulant drugs.
Most alternative methods of ADHD therapy are quite affordable, effective and safe. Some of the natural remedies for ADHD in children and adults give a real opportunity to control the treatment and actively participate in making decisions regarding health of the loved ones.
In some cases, natural remedies for ADHD and anger treatment can improve the overall health, yet slightly affect the mental health of people. Therefore, it is very important to control the treatment process and change it if needed. Such methods should be discussed with specialists, before using them in practice.
Food plays an important role in the functioning of the entire body of both healthy and sick people. If symptoms of mental disorder occur, it is not necessary to use the prescription medications immediately. At the initial treatment, you can use some natural remedies for ADHD treatment and change your diet.
If symptoms of ADHD have decreased a few weeks after the use of natural remedies and a diet therapy, then it is possible that ADHD is caused by the lack of nutrients or excessive amount of chemicals (for instance, colorings and preservatives) in the body. It is believed that a proper nutrition can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in about 65% of patients.
A balanced diet must include foods high in proteins and complex carbohydrates. In addition, people should limit the consumption of sugar and artificial additives. ADHD can be cured quickly and easily if you have normal metabolism.
Microelements and other natural remedies
People can use natural remedies for ADHD and depression treatment without experiencing the deficit in vitamins and minerals. Microelements are effective in elimination of many signs of behavioral disorders, for example, irritability and poor concentration.
There is a long list of nutrients that you can use as natural remedies for ADHD treatment. For instance, vitamin B6 – improves the brain function and provides the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters. Moreover, Vitamin B6 helps to digest magnesium in the gastrointestinal tract, keeping it inside the cells.
The magnesium ions take part in the work of all systems and organs of the human body. Besides that, this microelement plays the main role in regulation of the nervous activity. The compensation of magnesium shortfall increases the stress resistance and strengthens the nervous system.
The list of natural remedies for ADHD contains: zinc, L-carnitine, essential fatty acids and vitamins of all groups. It depends on the symptoms of ADHD which natural remedies you will choose. Please note that not all microelements can be used in unlimited quantities.
Herbs may help to tone up and strengthen the psychoemotional state of a person. Some herbs contain potent biologically active substances; therefore, you should better consult a doctor before using any of them.
Natural remedies for ADHD are available in various forms – dry extracts (pills, capsules or powders), tinctures (alcoholates) and glycerites (without alcohol). You can use them alone or in combination with other remedies.
Usually, herbs are recommended as sedative means for people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders. The most popular herbal remedies for ADHD contain – Passiflora incarnata, Valeriana officinalis, Roman chamomile and Melissa officinalis.
Herbal remedies for ADHD are often used to improve memory and mental acuity. Numerous studies confirmed that herbal supplements do not only reduce the ADHD symptoms, but also improve people’s physical health.
Change of lifestyle
Medications are not the only way to solve the problem of behavioral disorders. Natural remedies for ADHD along with physical exercises are one of the most effective alternative treatments these days.
Various relaxation methods reduce the level of anxiety and impulsiveness in all the age categories of patients with ADHD. A massage within 10-20 minutes a day can improve the behavior and concentration of people, comparing to those who did not have one.
The lifestyle change must provide a calming and relaxing effect. The regularity and structure allow to resist the natural tendency of people with ADHD to create chaos. The daily regimen must be stable. Physical exercises, relaxation, food intake and sleep must take place at the same time every day.
Psychostimulants, non-stimulants or other medication for ADHD treatment should be used if prescribed by the doctor only. Due to many potential side effects of these drugs, the number of people who want to use natural remedies for ADHD is increasing annually.
Overprescribed? There are other options
Production of the medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has skyrocketed in recent decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that ADHD diagnoses in children increased by about 41 percent between 2003 and 2011. It was estimated that 11 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 years old had been diagnosed with ADHD, as of 2011. That is 6.4 million children in total.
If you’re not comfortable with treating this disorder with drugs, there are other, more natural options.
Medications may cause side effects
ADHD drugs can help improve symptoms by enhancing and balancing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals between neurons in your brain and body. There are several different types of medications used to treat ADHD, including:
- stimulants, such as an amphetamine or Adderall (which help you to focus and ignore distractions)
- nonstimulants, such as atomoxetine (Strattera) or bupropion (Wellbutrin), can be used if the side effects from stimulants are too much to handle or if other medical conditions prevent use of stimulants
While these drugs can improve concentration, they can also cause some serious potential side effects. Side effects include:
- sleep problems
- mood swings
- loss of appetite
- heart problems
- suicidal thoughts or actions
Not many studies have looked at the long-term effects of these medications. But some research has been done, and it raises red flags. An Australian study published in 2010 found no significant improvement in behavior and attention problems in children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old who took medications for their ADHD. Their self-perception and social functioning didn’t improve either.
Instead, the medicated group tended to have higher levels of diastolic blood pressure. They also had slightly lower self-esteem than the nonmedicated group and performed below age level. The authors of the study emphasized that the sample size and statistical differences were too small to draw conclusions.
1. Forgo food colorings and preservatives
Alternative treatments may help manage some symptoms associated with ADHD, including:
- difficulty paying attention
- organizational problems
- frequently interrupting
The Mayo Clinic notes that certain food colorings and preservatives may increase hyperactive behavior in some children. Avoid foods with these colorings and preservatives:
- sodium benzoate, which is commonly found in carbonated beverages, salad dressings, and fruit juice products
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow), which can be found in breadcrumbs, cereal, candy, icing, and soft drinks
- D&C Yellow No. 10 (quinoline yellow), which can be found in juices, sorbets, and smoked haddock
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine), which can be found in foods like pickles, cereal, granola bars, and yogurt
- FD&C Red No. 40 (allura red), which can be found in soft drinks, children’s medications, gelatin desserts, and ice cream
2. Avoid potential allergens
Diets that restrict possible allergens may help improve behavior in some children with ADHD.
It’s best to check with an allergy doctor if you suspect that your child has allergies. But you can experiment by avoiding these foods:
- chemical additives/preservatives such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), which are often used to keep the oil in a product from going bad and can be found in processed food items such as potato chips, chewing gum, dry cake mixes, cereal, butter, and instant mashed potatoes
- milk and eggs
- foods containing salicylates, including berries, chili powder, apples and cider, grapes, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, and tomatoes (salicylates are chemicals occurring naturally in plants and are the major ingredient in many pain medications)
3. Try EEG biofeedback
Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback is a type of neurotherapy that measures brain waves. A 2011 study suggested that EEG training was a promising treatment for ADHD.
A child may play a special video game during a typical session. They’ll be given a task to concentrate on, such as “keep the plane flying.” The plane will start to dive or the screen will go dark if they’re distracted. The game teaches the child new focusing techniques over time. Eventually, the child will begin to identify and correct their symptoms.
4. Consider a yoga or tai chi class
Some small studies indicate that yoga may be helpful for people with ADHD. Research published in 2013 reported significant improvements in hyperactivity, anxiety, and social problems in boys with ADHD who practiced yoga regularly.
Some early studies suggest that tai chi also may help improve ADHD symptoms. Researchers found that teenagers with ADHD who practiced tai chi weren’t as anxious or hyperactive. They also daydreamed less and displayed fewer inappropriate emotions when they participated in tai chi classes twice a week for five weeks.
5. Spending time outside
Spending time outside may benefit children with ADHD. There is strong evidence that spending even 20 minutes outside can benefit them by improving their concentration. Greenery and nature settings are the most beneficial.
A 2011 study, and several studies before it, supports the claim that regular exposure to outdoors and green space is a safe and natural treatment that can be used to help people with ADHD.
6. Behavioral or parental therapy
For children with more severe cases of ADHD, behavioral therapy can prove beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that behavioral therapy should be the first step in treating ADHD in young children.
Sometimes called behavioral modification, this approach works on resolving specific problematic behaviors and offers solutions to help prevent them. This can also involve setting up goals and rules for the child. Because behavioral therapy and medication are most effective when used together, it can be a powerful aid in helping your child.
Parental therapy can help provide parents with the tools they need to help their child with ADHD succeed. Equipping parents with techniques and strategies for how to work around behavioral problems can help both the parent and the child in the long term.
What about supplements?
Treatment with supplements may help improve symptoms of ADHD. These supplements include:
- vitamin B-6
However, results have been mixed. Herbs like ginkgo, ginseng, and passionflower may also help calm hyperactivity.
Supplementing without a doctor’s oversight can be dangerous — particularly in children. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in trying these alternative therapies. They can order a blood test to measure current levels of a nutrient in your child before they start taking supplements.
Top Foods For ADHD
Additive-free, Unprocessed Foods
Due to the toxic nature of food additives, it is best to eat unprocessed, whole foods. Additives including artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and colorings may be especially problematic for those with ADD/ADHD.
Foods High in B-Vitamins
B vitamins help maintain a healthy nervous system. Make sure to include organic wild animal products and lots of green leafy vegetables in your diet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Vitamin B-6 is needed for the body to make and use essential brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In fact, one preliminary study has found that B-6 is slightly more effective than Ritalin in improving behavior! Incorporate wild tuna, bananas, wild salmon, grass-fed beef, and other foods rich in Vitamin B-6 for the improvement of ADHD.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps the body to synthesize proteins and aid in the production of serotonin. Serotonin plays significant roles in sleep, inflammation, emotional moods, and much more. In many individuals suffering from ADD/ADHD, imbalances in serotonin levels has been indicated according to the University of Michigan Health System. Serotonin is related to impulse control, and aggression, two of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
For some people, and especially those with ADHD, breakfast helps the body properly regulate blood sugar and stabilize hormone fluctuations. Eat a breakfast that contains at least 20 grams of protein. Try my Thin Mint Protein Smoothie that has 20 grams of protein from whey. It is a tasty and filling way to “break the fast”.
Wild Caught Salmon and Tuna
Not only are they rich with Vitamin B-6, they are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a clinical trial indicated that lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems (like those associated with ADHD) than boys with normal levels of Omega 3s. Individuals, including children, should consume wild salmon or tuna at least twice per week.
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