Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is generally diagnosed in childhood, particularly once the child begins elementary school. The disorder is characterized by behavior that makes it hard for affected individuals to function effectively or mature and develop as other children their age. ADHD is known to affect adults as well and can be diagnosed during adulthood also. As the prevalence of ADHD has increased drastically in recent years, so have the production of ADHD medications. Medicating for ADHD usually means keeping your children ‘drugged’ up throughout the day. Many people are often very uncomfortable with treating this disorder with the use of heavy medications. Increasing number of children or adults suffering from ADHD have to deal with the many side effects of ADHD medication. Children often pass their days being ‘drugged’ up on heavy medications. Some of the common side effects of these medications include dizziness, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, and digestive issues. In fact, one of the main medication used in ADHD – Ritalin, often does not provide much relief to many patients.
There are many alternative treatments out there for ADHD, but there is limited evidence that points to their success. Special diets, yoga, meditation and neurofeedback training are some of the options that can be explored. Furthermore, a combination of all these reportedly has proven to be effective in reducing the symptoms of ADHD. Herbal supplements are also one of the options that are known to work. Let us see how herbal remedies can help in improving ADHD symptoms.
Herbal Remedies for ADHD
Most researchers and doctors agree that the severity of ADHD symptoms is directly linked to the food that we eat. Dietary habits are responsible for not only increasing the risk of ADHD but also worsening the symptoms. For example, refined sugar, chemical food additives, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives are all known to aggravate the symptoms of ADHD.
If you suffer from ADHD, then incorporating herbal remedies may prove to be a key turning point in managing your symptoms and having a better quality of life. Let us take a look at some of these remedies that could help improve symptoms of ADHD.
A recent research has discovered that children suffering from ADHD have trouble falling asleep, having sound sleep, and also in waking up in the morning. Herbal teas containing spearmint, chamomile, lemon gars, as well as other herbs and flowers are considered to be a safe option to give to children, and even adults, who want to relax.
In order to explore the benefits of herbal teas, let us take the example of chamomile tea. Chamomile tea has been used throughout history for its healing properties. In fact, the flower that produces chamomile contains a compound known as bisabolol. Bisabolol is known for its general anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties.
Chamomile tea is a known remedy for insomnia, anxiety, and stomach aches as well. As this tea does not contain caffeine or other stimulants, it is considered to be a safe therapy for children. Chamomile tea is also known to help in improving the mood in ADHD patients. As ADHD is often associated with anxiety and negative moods, the tea helps calm down the patient and has been proven to be helpful in these areas.
Herbal teas are recommended by many doctors to encourage sleep and a resting period for the brain. A bedtime ritual of having a cup of warm herbal tea will help your body sleep better. Keep in mind that these herbal teas are best used before going to sleep in the night.
Brahmi, commonly known as water hyssop, has been used for improving the brain’s functioning in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. It is a perennial herb, found in wet and marshy regions through India. It is classified as a memory enhancing and rejuvenating herb. Many Ayurvedic practitioners claim Brahmi to be an adaptogen, meaning an agent that can naturally increase a person’s ability to tolerate emotional and physical stress. It acts as the primary revitalizing herb tor the nerves and brain cells.
Brahmi is recommended by many doctors as an alternative herbal remedy for ADHD today. Research on Brahmi is also increasing because of the known effects it has on the brain cells. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 found that adults who were taking Brahmi showed immense improvements in their ability to retain new information. A separate study found that individuals taking Brahmi extract displayed significance improvement in their memory and brain function.
In several animal and human studies, Brahmi and its constituents, Bacosides, have shown to have positive effects on the central nervous system. Benefits included a boost in learning ability and cognitive functions.
Ginkgo biloba is not a new remedy for ADHD. This herb has been used since ancient times for increasing mental sharpness/awareness and also for improving memory. The leaves of Ginkgo biloba have used to make herbal remedies for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety, hearing loss, and asthma as well. It is often used as an herbal remedy for ADHD as it contains a wide variety of biologically active compounds such as flavonoids, phenols, and alkaloids. Constituents like bilobalide and ginkgolides are particularly important in lending this herb its therapeutic properties.
Recently, a study was conducted in which children were made to take 240 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract on a daily basis for three to five weeks. The majority of the children who participated in the study showed a reduction in their ADHD symptoms and had fewer negative side effects from their usual ADHD medications as well.
However, a study conducted in 2010 had found different results. In this study, participants were either given a dose of Ginkgo biloba or a dose of Ritalin (methylphenidate). Lasting for six weeks, both the groups experienced improvements in their symptoms. However, the study showed that Ritalin was more effective in the treatment of symptoms. Nevertheless, fact remains that the extract of Ginkgo biloba also showed benefits by reducing the symptoms.
Ginkgo biloba is to be taken either as an herbal tincture, herbal tea, or capsules and tablets are also available. It is generally assumed that nearly 120 mg to 600 mg is required daily to improve cognitive function in children suffering from ADHD. The required dose may also depend on factors such as overall health and age.
It is important to keep in mind that Ginkgo biloba interacts with medications such as blood thinners, and therefore if the patient suffers from bowel diseases, it is not suggestible to use this herbal remedy.
Green oats are basically unripe oats. It is also called wild oat extract. The extract is taken from the crop before it matures and sold under the name of Avena sativa. Green oats are thought to be an effective herbal remedy for ADHD as it helps calm the brain and the nerves. Green oats are also thought to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Studies have shown that the extract of green oats may also work in boosting concentration and attention levels. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 found that participants using the extract made lesser errors on a test that measured the ability to focus on a particular task. A separate study has also shown that individuals taking green oat extract show an improvement in cognitive performance.
Gotu kola is found abundantly across the South Pacific, Southern United States, South Africa, and Asia. Gotu kola is known as a non-Ritalin solution to treat ADHD in many countries. In fact, Gotu kola is used widely as an alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and many other diseases of the central nervous system. Gotu kola is rich in vitamin B1 (known as thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). These are the primary vitamins that are required for proper brain functions. Gotu kola is known to also help the brain process glucose and thus helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels. This benefit of Gotu kola is proven to help support your body against mental fatigue, depression, and hypoglycemia as well. Gotu kola is also known to enhance mental functions and improve learning capabilities, both a necessity for ADHD sufferers. A study was conducted on 30 children suffering from ADHD with Gotu kola. After the treatment, it was found that nearly all the children showed better levels of concentration and were also able to remain focused on the assigned tasks. Adults having ADHD are also known to benefit from Gotu kola because of its ability to enhance memory powers, improve focus and also brain function.
Lemon balm, also known as balm mint or common balm, is an herb from the mint family found across Iran, Central Asia, South-Central Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin as well. It is now available throughout the Americas as well. Lemon balm is well known for its ability to soothe psychological problems and sleep disorders as well. Lemon balm also relieves headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, nervousness, rashes, allergic reactions, etc. It is known to boost the overall health of the immune system. Some of the active ingredients of lemon balm include phenolic acids, citronella, flavonoids, selenium, tannins, etc.
Several clinical trials have shown that lemon balm helps hyperactive children by relieving their overactive behavior, promoting relaxation, soothing tension, and lowering their anxiety levels as well. Some studies have also shown that lemon balm increases mental performance, working memory, and attention span.
Lemon balm is available in the form of tea, dried leaves, capsules, tinctures, and essential oil as well.
Valerian is an herb and the root of this herb is used for making medications. Valerian is known to be a soothing herb that helps improve concentration, energy levels, reasoning abilities, and also enhances motor coordination. Recent studies have also shown that valerian root can be helpful in sedating and controlling the autonomic nervous system in people who have control issues. It is also known to regulate psychosomatic problems and therefore alleviates anxiety and restlessness. All these characteristics make valerian an ideal herb for providing relief in ADHD symptoms.
Valerian works by increasing a chemical in the brain known as GABA. GABA is a chemical messenger that works in a manner similar to the medicines Xanax and Valium. GABA helps to relax an individual’s entire system, thus proving beneficial in ADHD patients. However, there is no data available on what really is a safe dosage of Valerian or for how much time this herbal remedy ought to be used for.
For Best Results: Use a Combination of Herbs
While studies have shown the above herbs to have benefits in reducing the severity of ADHD symptoms, it has been indicated that combining some of these herbs will produce better results, rather than using them alone.
There are many other options as well that can be used as herbal remedies for the treatment of ADHD. However, it is always recommended that you check in with your doctor, an herbal specialist, or a naturopath, to gain complete information on what is the best option to be used. In any case, you should always consult your primary doctor before adding another remedy to the treatment protocol of ADHD. Also, buy herbs from companies that have a good reputation in the market as there are many fake products available on the market these days.