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As many as 11 percent of children and adolescents ages 4 to 17 years old had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as of 2011, 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. These include 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 more to learn if they could help improve symptoms.
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.
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 also not be a choice for those with bowel diseases.
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.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) grows naturally in Asia, South Africa, and the South Pacific. It’s high in nutrients that are needed for healthy brain function. These include vitamins B1, B2, and B6.
Gotu kola may benefit those with ADHD. It helps enhance mental clarity and reduce anxiety levels. A
Although gotu kola and folic acid were equally beneficial in improving overall cognition, gotu kola was more effective in improving memory domain.
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.
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.
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.
There are not many completed studies of the efficacy of herbal ADHD remedies.
With so many options, 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 FDA does not regulate or monitor the use of herbs, and products have been reported tainted, incorrectly labeled, and unsafe.