Natural remedies for ADHD
In this article I am going to discuss about ADHD in children and the usefulness of certain herbs and natural remedies.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, is a syndrome of learning and behavioral problems that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder, yet is characterized by difficulty in sustaining attention by impulsive behavior (as in speaking out of turn) and usually by excessive activity. It affects about 3 to 5 % of children.
ADHD affects the child’s ability to learn and to get along with others. It is very difficult to distinguish, whether the behavior of child is normal or if he or she is suffering from ADHD, as many children do not generally pay attention to the instructions of parents or teachers. But if a child shows these type of symptoms frequently, then it is a case for analyzing the child for ADHD treatment.
Some children suffering from ADHD may be hyperactive and some may put more focus on the tasks given to them, but they find difficulty in shifting their attention from task to task.
Here are some noticeable symptoms of ADHD:
Hyperactivity: Moves around constantly, stands where one should sit, may often leave one’s seat, and talk excessively. Hyperactivity symptoms are usually obvious by 5 years of age and peak severity at the age of 7 to 8 years.
Lack of Attention: Makes silly mistakes, is not able to focus on the work, has difficulty in remembering things or in organizing tasks etc. Inattention symptoms are most likely to manifest at about 8 to 9 years of age and commonly remains lifelong.
Impulsiveness: Acts without thinking, gives wrong statements at wrong time, impatient most of the times. Impulsive behavior is commonly linked to hyperactivity and peaks at the age of 7 to 8 years.
Genes that control the relative levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain seem to be different in ADHD children and levels of these neurotransmitters are out of the normal balance.
Children suffering from ADHD are not seen to be bad, lazy or stupid, but it is difficult for their teachers, parents and classmates to manage them. Children suffering from ADHD find difficulty in following instructions. ADHD affects the academic performance of children. This disorder was first described by Dr. Helnrich-Hoffman in 1845. The story of fidgety Philip was an accurate description of a little boy who had ADHD. After this several scientific papers have been published.
Probable cause of ADHD:
The exact cause is unknown. It is observed that ADHD is passed down from one generation to another. So it may be an inherited genetic tendency. Some researchers stated that in the key area of the brain of the children with ADHD, chemicals which are necessary for controlling hyperactivity and impulsiveness are not produced properly.
Natural remedies for ADHD -
Some researchers stated that food and environmental allergies as well as immune response to nutrients such as vitamins and amino acids affect the functioning of nervous system and deficiency of neurotransmitters.
Some food-based ADHD remedies include: making children eat protein-packed breakfasts such as scrambled egg and yogurt, as well as fruits like apples, grapes and Brazil nuts.
Some studies suggest that children with ADHD may have low levels of zinc in their body. Some scientists reported an ADHD treatment of children with traditional treatment along with zinc. Again, foods rich with zinc include oysters, other seafood, beans, and whole grains.
Omega 3 fatty acid has a beneficial effect on children with ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids have shown good results in learning problems and other neurological problems. Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid, which plays an important role in optimal synaptic functioning. Fish oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids. There are some studies that have shown, ADHD children of 8 to 12 years of age improved their mental skills after taking fish oil.
Caffeine, as found in coffee, and other herbal stimulants are proposed as an alternative to stimulant drugs in the treatment of ADHD in children. In India, Herbal Practitioners safely use caffeine. Studies in context with ADHD have demonstrated significant benefits with the administration of caffeine. However, caffeine also has its side effects. Ref. Schechter MD, Timmons GD. J. Clan pharmacology 1985 may Jun; 25 (4) 276-80
Bacopa Monnieri: From ancient times it has been used to improve concentration. It can be used for ADHD. But a more research work and clinical trials are required to establish the efficacy of Bacopa Monnieri in the treatment of ADHD.
Wood Betony: This plant is indigenous to Europe. Using its leaves is effective and is one of the ADHD herbal remedies.
Pinus Pinaster: French Maritimpine, its bark is useful as an ADHD remedy. During the studies, in one case, mild gastric discomfort was observed. More research work is required for this. Ref. Trebaticka J, Kopa Sava S, Hradecna Z etc al. Treatment with French maritime pine bark extract : 2006; 15; 329-335. Psychiatric times.com
Ginkgo Balboa: contains ginkgolide and flavones glycoside. Extract of this herb increases local blood flow to brain, bringing greater oxidation to the tissues.
Siberian Ginseng: Eleutherococcus senticosis, the extract stimulates brain activity and causes a more economical release of body energy.
Green Oats: It is one of the healthy foods for ADHD. It helps in soothing and relaxing the nervous system. Its tonic effect has not been seen immediately but continuous intake of Green oats has a cumulative and restorative effect.
Centella Asiatica: This herb is considered to be the food for the brain. Studies show that the herb has a positive effect on the circulatory system and is said to improve blood flow while strengthening the veins and capillaries. Ref. (Marie Nandine Antol, Healing Teas, 1996). The effect of aqueous extract of Centella Asiatica fresh leaves on learning and memory was studied at Kasturba Medical College Manipal in albino rats, using two (compartment passive avoidance task.) The effect of extract on the contents of norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) ,5 – HT in the brain and on the levels of their metabolites both in the brain and urine were also assessed. Significant improvement was observed in 24h retention in the drug treated gr. The concentration of NE, DA and 5 – HT and their metabolites in the brain were decreased significantly in the drug treated group. The results indicate that Centella asiatica causes an overall decrease in the turnover of Central monoamines, implicating the involvement of NE, D
A, 5 – HT system in learning and memory process. Ref. Nalinik et al Fitoterapia, v63 (3) 1992, 232, 237.
Convolvulus Pluricaulis: Psychotropic effect of the herb was studied. A significant improvement in memory span was observed and significant reduction in the neurotic features was observed. Ref. Singh RH and Mehta AK. J. Res. Indian Med 12(3), 1977, 18-24
Scuttellaria Laterifolia (Skullcap): Helps to maintain healthy attitude. Useful as an effective nerve tonic
In my practice I have used many herbs for treatment of ADHD in children. I am generally comfortable using Bacopa based products or supplements in the first phase and try other herbal remedies, based on the progress of the individual. Still, to prove the efficacy of all these Herbs a lot of research is required. However having said all this, one must not stop taking medicines prescribed for ADHD without the consultation of one’s physician and also one must take natural supplements with the consultation of one’s physician.
I hope my above ideas would help all address ADHD conditions using the natural remedies.
By Satya Narayana
Dr. Satya Narayana is the moderator and editor of this article originally written by Dr. Veena Deo, an Ayurvedic Doctor in India. All the information provided above and opinions expressed above should not be construed as medical advice. This information is provided for educational purposes only. Any statements made above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products discussed above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. To consult Dr. Satya Narayana, please send an email to email@example.com