24 answers

Herbal/natural Alternative to Strattera

Hi moms,
I have an almost 5 year old daughter who has recently been diagnosed with ODD which is the acronym for Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and now they're thinking that she also suffers from ADHD. She is not the only one who is suffering. Everyone in the house is because she is so out of control. She opposes any and all authority, and my hubby and I go to bed each night utterly exhausted, both physically and mentally. Her counselor is looking into some treatment options, with medication being one of them. I am not too excited about medication, and I'm wondering if anyone who also deals with these kinds of issues can give me some info on natural alternatives, because I don't want to pump my child full of medication that may have disastrous side effects. Please refrain from judgemental, rude, and ignorant comments. Unless you are in this situation, or have been, you have absolutely no idea, so keep it to yourself if it's not helpful. Thanks ladies.


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Featured Answers

Hi K.,
When my son was having difficulties someone told us about Blue Algae. We ordered it and tried it and it does have a 'calming' (not in a weird way) effect. You order it online. I found it in a powder that I could mix with his juice. Just a warning though that it is blue/green in color too and is visually odd looking to drink. Mixing it with the V8 Splash juice seemed to work the best so that he could drink it. There are pills too but at 6 I didn't think he was ready for that yet. Good luck....

3 moms found this helpful

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Most "natural" options for adhd either don't work, or will help ANYONE -like good nutrition, or have FAR more side effects than medication does.

((Before I go on, I should probably mention I'm adhd-c, quasi-medicated (meaning I go the OTC route with caffeine and nicotine... but have tried most of the meds out there, and just don't like any of them enough / found my *magic wand* that lets me keep the gifts while getting rid of the annoying bits), and have a quasi-medicated adhd-c 8yo (caffeine via coffee or soda). I have no bias for or against adhd meds. They're a tool, and like any tool can be useful or not depending on the situation.))

People get all up in arms about adhd meds, for some very good reasons, but most of those reasons are looooooong out of date (from back when kids would be medicated into zombies, which does NOT happen... you know you have the *right* med when you're exactly as you are not on meds, but with a degree of control that was previously lacking. NO personality shifts allowed. Although it can seem that way if you're dealing with a child in constant tantrums who no longer has to fight the tantrums, and just gets to be themselves). No one gets up in arms about a diabetic taking insulin (instead of controlling their diabetes with diet, which isnt always possible) or looks down on them for it... no one gets up in arms about a patient prone to blood clotting taking coumadin... or a PPD mum taking antidepressants. Yet for some reason, people who have no experience with adhd, or any medical background, feel they have the right to decide that adhd meds should be made on moral grounds. It's baffling to me.

There are only 2 reasons we DON'T medicate our son. 1) It's not any kind of problem in our house (adhd house, he fits right in), and since we homeschool we have the luxury that we can structure our day so that it's the most optimal for him, bringing out the benefits of adhd instead of the negatives (NOTHING could be better designed to bring out the negatives of adhd than our current schooling system). And 2) Because I *am* adhd, I'd rather teach all the tedious coping mechanisms *first* (like emotional monitoring and regulation, sensory integration, fine muscle movement to avoid annoying others with large muscle movements and about 1000 other tips/ tricks/ and foundations) and then let him decide if, what, and how much he wants to medicate his adhd later, when he's more self aware and can have a better voice in the process. But that's based purely off of my having already done it for over 20 years.

In the meantime, like I said, we use caffeine. Our espresso machine is *golden*. While not as effective as meds, it takes the edge off. Which is just enough to get through anything boring.

Aside from caffeine... we also use a LOT of sensory things (like massage before bedtime, full body immersion in water -swimming, or baths- to calm the mind or body, LOTS of physical activity -since he's combined, like I am, he needs both mental stimulation AND physical stimulation to keep from going bonkers), LOTS of mental activity, just tons of things. All of which is in addition to those "things that help everyone", like good nutrition and sleep.

To research all the tips/ tricks/ foundations... the phrase you'd be looking for are "coping mechanisms". Of which, like I mentioned, there are thousands. Everything from playing music when you have to concentrate, to creating patterns so solid that you follow them without thinking about them, to using things like swimming in order to relax, to never touching a piece of mail twice (because the "I'll do that in a minute" actually gets translated to "It will *actually* get done the 3rd or 4th winter after hell freezes over"), to positive discipline instead of punishment (emotional regulation + figuring out what went wrong + what to do next time = solution based things working about a gazillion times better instead of guilt+shame), to gazillions and gazillions of others.

Here, as well, are my 2 favorite resources I like to hand out:

"You Mean I'm not Lazy Stupid or Crazy ?!?" by kate kelly & peggy ramundo



5 moms found this helpful

I don't know any good herbal remedies but I just wanted to say that I know where you are coming from. I am generally against medicating kids unless absolutely necessary. That said I just wanted to let you know that as a teacher I feel the same way would rather deal with problem child than see on meds....but occasionally it is the right thing to do. I have seen some amazing results that have really saved kids who were beginning to ostracize all the kids around them with their behavior and struggling academically due to extreme behavior/attention issues. The meds made it possible for them to really feel success and part of class. It might be something worth trying....if you don't like results or feel child is overmedicated you can have Dr. adjust dosage or u can take her off of them. If you do end up trying meds give them a few weeks for her body to adjust before making decisions. I would also get familycounseling. Good Luck

5 moms found this helpful


My parents were told to put me away and forget they ever had me by a highly placed east coast psychiatrist. There was no drug treatment for my unlettered diagnosis. They hadn't invented ADHD, or executive command disorder, Dyslexia et al.
My father told my mother if they couldn't rise to this challenge they weren't worthy people so they never put me away.
Through dance which I put myself in at age 8 I found where my body stood in space and time. I became a modern dancer. It saved me.
When my father at a party remet the famous psychiatrist he asked what they had done with me. He replied that I was graduating high school had won several national awards and was a dancer.
The learned and lauded man nearly fell over.
I wonder how many lives he ruined before he found out that each person takes a different road when brilliant.
I am the author of many books in a dozen languages among my achievements.
Stick with your guns no medication. Do not ruin your child.
Take her to gymnastics, or karate. One of my daughters had gymnastics three days a week. She is just fine. My grandchild had karate lessons. He is an honor student.
Art also helps. My father taught me how to paint when I was seven.
Take your daughter to an eye doctor to see if anything is wrong with her eyes. She may not have depth vision or some other problem you are not aware of.

4 moms found this helpful

I have kids who need medication for neurodevelopmental disorders, which is what you are talking about with both ADHD and ODD. You should first have a complete evaluation from a developmental pediatrician and get good, solid, medical treatment from a board certified child psychiatrist who can explain medical intervention and how that will assist your child with all the therapies, behavioral and educational interventions she should be getting. Counselors are not the right professional to give you the care she needs, and are just one of the ancillary therapist she should see for either play or cognitive behavioral therapy, but should neither diagnose nor serve as a case manager for a.comprehensive treatment program.

Strattera is a medication that adjusts norepenfphron, and there is not an herbal or natural replacement. Find a trusted prescribes, and listen to their advice because the side effects that you anticipate are a myth, children don't stay on any drug that cause them side effects when they are treated by responsible physicians. Kids.don't become zombies, lose their personalities, or have long term effects. Like all medications, some work better for any given individual than others. Finding the right medications is a.process, but these are.safe and effective treatments. Untreated ADHD has much worse side effects than any medication. Check out what the future holds by refusing standard treatment before you shun what works.

Read about the medical conditions (often comorbid) of ADHA and ODD in books by Dr. Mel Levine and Dr. Russell Barkley. They will give you factual medical information and many good strategies for living with this condition.


3 moms found this helpful

What about a food allergy? I have a friend who was going through the same thing with her daughter...the teachers and doctor swore she had ADHD and other problems and it turned out she had a wheat and red-dye allergy. Just a thought!

3 moms found this helpful

My younger daughter did not have ODD -- that is supposed to be a discipline/parenting issue which cannot be medicated away -- but she was (mis)-diagnosed with ADHD.

There was no one simple herbal solution - like an OTC replacement for prescription medication. What we did find, eventually, was that she had several body-wide issues going on which needed to be addressed. Sleep, hormones, food sensitivities - needed to be addressed in her.

You may want to look at http://www.itsnotmental.com which talks about the medical aspects of some of the things which may have symptoms of ADHD (http://itsnotmental.blogspot.com/2009/04/is-it-adhd-atten.... However, if there are parenting issues, emotional issues, etc. nothing can medicate that away.

On the other hand, I have taught some kids with a diagnosis of "ODD" that seemed to me not "ODD", but rather, they COULD NOT always comply with what was requested because of learning issues, attentional issues, etc - and it was NOT willful behavior, imo. They would get frustrated. But then, I only got a glimpse, and kids behave differently with different people and in different environments.

I hope you do not feel I am being judgmental. I am not. I am saying it is complicated to really know what is going on, but no matter what it is, I do not think you will find a single herbal remedy for the ADHD, although I have heard many parents say things like Hyland's remedies help calm things down. My child took Hyland's Calms and Hyland's insomnia for a while, and it did help minimally, which was better than nothing. She is doing fine now, but like I said, we had to treat all of her - getting closer to the root of her problems. Not just physically, of course - we also addressed learning issues, and therapy helped her cope with her own nature as well.

3 moms found this helpful

I don't know any herbal replacements for ADHD medications but add flax seed oil (omega-3) to the child's diet does seem to help in the long run. My oldest was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD when he was 5 years old and later (after years of ruling out this and that) he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well. His behavior was so out of control (and still is at times) that I would be so exhausted running interference with him all day long it seemed nothing else would get done during the day. IF I had a free moment without dealing with a metldown the last thing on my mind was doing the sinkful of dishes.

I know its hard but when you have children like ours its soooo important to take care of yourself. The best advice I can give you is, if you have a relative that would be willing to take your daughter even for a few hours it really helps us mommies to restore ourselves.

3 moms found this helpful

My best friend's son was diagnosed with ODD, extreme anxiety, and also with "something else going on" so they are in an ongoing analysis situation (almost 2 years, no joke).

Counseling is helping somewhat. Medication made things (frighteningly)worse and they took him off after a couple of days. My friend was so worn out she was really hoping that medication would do it. Now they are starting neuro/biofeedback. Personally I think this has the best chance of a real solution. It basically rewires the brain. There is information on it at Dr. Amen's website, you can do some searching on there. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&domains=http://www...


I wish you the best. I really mourn for my friend, she has none of the motherly joy she and all mothers deserve. I hope you find a good solution for your daughter so she can have a happy fulfilled life.

3 moms found this helpful

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