The most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a developmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD is very controversial and as likely misunderstood as understood.
A groundbreaking and controversial book recently published, by behavioral neurologist Dr. Richard Saul, MD, draws on five decades of experience treating thousands of patients labeled with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder—one of the fastest growing and widely diagnosed conditions today—to argue that ADHD is actually a cluster of symptoms stemming from over 20 other conditions and disorders.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 6.4 million children between the ages of four and seventeen have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While many skeptics believe that ADHD is a fabrication of drug companies and the medical establishment, the symptoms of attention-deficit and hyperactivity are all too real for millions of individuals who often cannot function without treatment
Typical treatment for ADD/ADHD involves drugs that increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain – two key nuerotransmitters that improve behavior. We believe most doctors are not fully aware of natural nutrients that target brain performance and nuerotransmitter balancing and production. These brain targeted nutrients should be considered before prescribing drugs when possible. These same nutrients that may help ADHD also support improved memory and better decision making and therefore have application for addiction and age related brain performance decline conditions.
Click here to read about addiction treatment breakthroughs by improving brain neurotransmitter performance naturally (without drugs) with targeted essential amino acids nutritional therapy and more related breakthrough information
Some of the better known natural nutrients and herbs that can help brain function include:
Vitamins and Minerals
- Magnesium (200 mg per day) — Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability, decreased attention span, and mental confusion. Some experts believe that children with ADHD may be showing the effects of mild magnesium deficiency. In one preliminary study of 75 magnesium-deficient children with ADHD, those who received magnesium supplements showed an improvement in behavior compared to those who did not receive the supplements.
- Vitamin B6 — Adequate levels of vitamin B6 are needed for the body to make and use brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, the chemicals affected in children with ADHD. One preliminary study found that B6 pyridoxine was slightly more effective than Ritalin in improving behavior among hyperactive children. However, the study used a high dose of B6, which could cause nerve damage (although none occurred in the study). Other studies have shown that B6 has no effect on behavior. Because high doses can be dangerous, do not give your child B6 without your doctor’s supervision.
- Zinc (35 mg per day) — Zinc regulates the activity of brain chemicals, fatty acids, and melatonin, all of which are related behavior. Several studies have found that zinc may help improve behavior, but only slightly. Higher doses of zinc can be dangerous, so talk to your doctor before giving zinc to a child or taking it yourself.
- Essential fatty acids – Fatty acids, such as those found in fish and fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) and evening primrose oil (omega-6 fatty acids), are “good fats” that play a key role in normal brain function. Experts have suggested them as a treatment for ADHD. The results of studies are mixed, but research continues. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed good for heart health in adults however there is evidence the manner of getting these good essential omega fatty acids into your body is crucial. If you want to try EFA supplements to see if it reduces ADHD symptoms in you or your child, talk to your doctor about the best dose.
- L-carnitine – L-carnitine is formed from an amino acid and helps cells in the body produce energy. One study found that 54% of a group of boys with ADHD showed improvement in behavior when taking L-carnitine, but more research is needed to confirm any benefit. Because L-carnitine has not been studied for safety in children, talk to your doctor before giving a child L-carnitine.
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body’s systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to get your problem diagnosed before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, you should make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 – 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 – 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 – 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Several herbal remedies for ADHD are sold in the United States and Europe. But few scientific studies have been done to see whether these herbs improve symptoms of ADHD. One or more of the following calming herbs may be recommended for people with ADHD:
- Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
- Valerian (Valerian officinalis)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
- Gingko (Gingko biloba) — used to improve memory and mental sharpness.
- American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium ) and gingko — One study suggests that gingko in combination with ginseng may improve symptoms of ADHD
Brad Chase, President of ProgressiveHealth.com, contributed an article to Natural News.com on natural herbs used to treat ADD/ADHD by practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine. According to Brad Chase, the following six Chinese herbs are beneficial in treating both children and adults:
Thorowax root has cell-stimulating, anti-inflammatory, and sedative effects. When used to treat ADHD, the sedative effects of the herbs can help control impulsive behavior and prevent hyperactivity. The sedative effects are extremely mild, and provide just enough sedation to benefit ADHD – not remove all personality from the child or adult taking the herb.
Ginseng is an herb known for its concentration-boosting effects, which is why many memory-boosting supplements contain ginseng. Ginseng also increases endurance and relieves stress. The herb is known for its ability to improve oxygen flow to the brain, which encourages normal brain development. As some children with ADHD have a developmental delay of about three years, this is an effective herb for treating ADHD.
Skullcap root is an herb that protects the nervous system. In many children with ADHD, the balance of the chemicals in the brain controlling the nervous system is off. Skullcap root can help retain the normal balance of chemicals in the brain. Skullcap root is particularly helpful for preventing hyperactivity and calming the nerves.
The jujube has many helpful properties, but for ADHD, the herb is more effective for calming the nerves and mind and creating a peaceful effect in the body.
Ginkgo biloba is an herb that is known for its ability to boost cognitive function in the brain. Ginkgo increases the amine neurotransmitter substances in the brain, which helps counteract some of the chemical deficiencies often seen in children with ADHD. Ginkgo can calm the mind and promote a peaceful spirit.
Poria has many benefits, including improving digestion and soothing the nerves. Many children with ADHD have poor digestion, and supplementing with poria can improve the health of the intestines and promote the elimination of toxins that can contribute to ADHD symptoms.
Chinese herbs in scientific studies
The theory behind Chinese herbs for ADHD sound beneficial, but without scientific backing, it is all postulation. However, several studies have looked at Chinese herbs and how they can benefit ADHD.
In 1990, the Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou College of TCM looked at 100 children with ADHD. Eighty children were given Chinese herbs. At the end of the three-month study, 23 children were completely symptom free, 46 children showed significant improvement, and 10 had higher IQ scores.
In 1994, the Shaanxi College of Traditional Chinese Medicine examined 66 children with ADHD. The children were given Chinese herbs to help control their ADHD symptoms. Eighty-five percent of the children who took the Chinese herbs had improvements in symptoms.
The Affiliated Hospital of Shandong College of TCM looked at another group of children with ADHD in 1995. This time, the children took liquid Chinese herbs. The effectiveness rate of the herbs was 94 percent.
More information on Chinese Herbs for ADD/ADHD if you are looking for alternatives to Ritalin and other ADHD medications
Sleep disorders are also often associated with other brain performance issues such as ADD/ADHD.
For an article listing sleep nutrients [CLICK HERE].