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According to the
Treatment choices are difficult when facing an ADHD diagnosis. People with ADHD are being prescribed — and getting positive results from — methylphenidate (Ritalin) at an increasing rate.
Others are coping with side effects from the medication, such as dizziness, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and digestive issues. And some don’t get relief at all from the use of Ritalin.
There are alternative therapies for ADHD, but there is limited scientific evidence proving their effectiveness.
Proponents of special diets say you should eliminate sugary foods, artificial food colorings, and additives and eat more sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Yoga and meditation may be helpful, and neurofeedback training is yet another option.
All of these therapeutic options can work together to have some effect on ADHD symptoms.
What about herbs? Read on to learn whether they could help improve symptoms.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $11–$20
- $$$ = over $20
- Price: $$$
- Dosage: N/A
A 2015 cross-sectional case-control study looked at the sleep structure of 28 children with ADHD who had not received drug treatment. Fifteen healthy children were also involved in the study, serving as participants in the case-control group.
Results showed that children with ADHD had more problems falling asleep, sleeping soundly, and getting up in the morning. Researchers suggested that additional treatments might be helpful further evaluate the study findings.
Herbal teas that contain chamomile, spearmint, lemon grass, and other herbs and flowers are generally considered safe options for children and adults who want to relax.
They’re often recommended as a way to encourage rest and sleep. Having a nighttime ritual at bedtime (for adults too) helps your body better prepare for sleep. These teas may be best used before bedtime.
- Price: $$
- Dosage: 120 mg per serving
Ginkgo biloba has long been recommended for improving memory and increasing mental sharpness. Study results on the use of ginkgo in ADHD are mixed.
It’s important to note that Ginkgo biloba interacts with many medications, such as blood thinners, and would not be a good option for those with bowel diseases.
- Price: $$
- Dosage: 750 mg per serving
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is also known as water hyssop. It’s a marsh plant that grows wild in India. The herb is made from the leaves and stems of the plant. It has been used for centuries to improve brain function and memory.
Studies on humans are mixed, but some have been positive. The herb is often recommended as an alternative treatment for ADHD today. Research is increasing because of earlier studies.
Another study conducted in India also found benefits. Participants taking another specific brahmi extract showed significantly improved performance in their memory and brain function.
- Price: $$
- Dosage: 1,150 mg
Green oats are unripe oats. The product, also known as “wild oat extract,” comes from the crop before it matures. Green oats are sold under the name Avena sativa. They have long been thought to help calm nerves and treat stress and anxiety.
Early studies show that green oat extract may boost attention and concentration.
Results showed that participants taking the 1,600-mg extract made fewer errors on the color-naming component of the test.
- Price: $
- Dosage: 400 mg
Ginseng, an herbal remedy used for centuries in China, has a reputation for stimulating brain function and increasing energy. The “red ginseng” variety also has shown some potential to help calm symptoms of ADHD.
In one more recent
- Price: $$
- Dosage: 6,000 mg
Pine bark extract contains natural compounds called proanthocyanidins. The extract made from these compounds is commonly sold under the registered trademark brand name Pycnogenol.
Researchers gave 61 children with ADHD either 1 mg of Pycnogenol or a placebo once a day for 4 weeks in a
Some studies have indicated that combining some of these herbs may produce better results than using one alone.
|Price||Dosage (per serving)||Considerations|
|Herbal teas||$$$||N/A||If you’re taking medication, check with your doctor before using any herbal supplements, including herbal teas.|
|Gingko biloba||$$||120 mg||interacts with many medications, including blood thinners|
|Brahmi||$$||750 mg||may cause digestive side effects in some people|
|Green oats||$$||1,150 mg||may cause digestive issues in some people|
|Ginseng||$||400 mg||• may cause side effects such as insomnia, blood pressure changes, and diarrhea|
• can interact with certain medications
|Pine bark extract||$$||6,000 mg||may cause side effects such as headache and stomach upset|
Medications for ADHD include:
- central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall
- non-stimulants such as antidepressants and atomoxetine
Potential options for ADHD therapy include:
Can you treat ADHD naturally?
Natural treatment options for ADHD exist, but they may not work for everyone. It’s a good idea to talk with a healthcare professional about your treatment options and which one might work best for you.
How does valerian help with ADHD?
Valerian is an herbal supplement that may help with certain ADHD symptoms, such as hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, according to some
Which herbs should those with ADHD avoid?
To prevent dangerous interactions, it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional about any supplements or herbs you’re taking. You may also want to stop taking herbal supplements that cause unwanted side effects.
Can kids use herbal ADHD treatments?
If you’re considering trying herbal remedies for your child, it’s a good idea to talk with a healthcare professional first. Not all herbal supplements are safe for children, and some supplements may interact with medications your child is taking.
There are not many completed studies of the effectiveness of herbal ADHD remedies.
With so many options available, it’s best to talk with your doctor, an herbal specialist, or naturopath for more information.
Also, seek advice about reputable companies from which you can make your herbal purchases. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate or monitor the use of herbs, and in some cases, products may be tainted, incorrectly labeled, and unsafe.