ADD/ADHD Natural Treatments?

Updated on December 11, 2007
L.B. asks from Bonduel, WI
11 answers

My 6 year old son has been diagnosed ADD/ADHD after a ton of testing (all test were done at school) I am not ready to put him on stimulants yet and would really like to try some "natural" alternatives vs. meds. I did ask his doctor but she gave me very little info. about diet and vitamins and instead gave me a packet of info put out by aderal(sp?). A friend suggested we try a liquid vitamin called "added attention" that is availabe at GNC but she was just beginning with this as a treatment and didnt know of anyone that had been on it long enough to see results. Has anyone ever used/heard of this? Any other alternatives to stimulants?

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H.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

DO NOT DO THE ADDERAL!!! my son was diagnosed with ADHD through school and psyciatrist... he was put on adderal first and went straight from a completely potty trained, no accidents even at night at age 3 to peeing his pants and bed everyday and night. Basically as if we never potty trained him. Embarrassing since he's 6 now. He's getting better and more calmer now that I have him on Concerta, but I am looking into other ways to help him instead. I am just going to wait until out of school for summer before taking him off the Concerta.

Good Luck,
H.

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D.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Another resource for natural holistic options to presecriptions might be for products from a company called Symmetry. I would recommend calling Beth Schupanitz (super nice, very knowledgable and a mommy to CJ) at ###-###-#### and she can tell you which product or products might be helpful and worth considering and you can research them further on their website or their literature. The website is www.healthwellnesslongevity.com.
Also, I saw the post from Nichi Hirsch and I can state she is a great resource for holistic alternatives for kids and families.
There's a lot of different options and you may need to go through a few or combine a few to get to results that work for you and your child.
Good luck.

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J.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

I'm no expert about ADHD but I know people who will give their child a cup of coffee or tea (or something else with caffeine that is not super sugary) in the morning with their breakfast. It has worked wonders for some of them. Caffeine has the opposite effect on kids and adults with ADD/ADHD than it does with the rest of us. Why not try it? Most of us live off caffeine most of our lives anyways and it hasn't killed us yet :o)
Best of luck,
J.

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N.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

First I would suggest chiropractic-check the ICPA4kids website for a chiropractor who specializes in children.
You could also use homeopathy, many use it and are successful under the supervision of a homeopath and the other option is naturopathy. Dr. Amy Johnson-Grass of Health Foundations: ###-###-#### is a great resource.
Nichi Hirsch
MyHealthyBeginning.com

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L.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L. B,
I'm a L. B too. My 8.5 year old son has never officially been tested for AD/HD but he fits the bill. I started him on an antioxidant called Pyconogenol. Also available at GNC. It is derived from the Meritime pine tree and has been around for over 30 years. Do a Google and there is a lot of information about it. It does help and there aren't any negative side effects. My son is more calm and seems easier going.
By the way, does your son still wet the bed? How is school going? Best of luck, L. B

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A.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

Ginko Biloba has stimulating, attention focusing properties. I don't know if it's a good idea to use for ADHD or on children, but it might be worth checking out.

My brother has ADHD and I remember him going to sessions of biofeedback. They put electrodes different places to detect brain and/or muscle activity. It fed out on a screen that he could see and then they made suggestions to help him change what was on the screen. It basically was suppose to teach him how to settle down and focus and to know the difference. I'm not sure if it really helped him and I imagine it was spendy. There might be some trial programs going on at the U of M. I know biofeedback is something that has been researched a lot in the last 5 years.

I agree with your hesitation to medicate a 6-year-old. Why was he tested at school and by whom? How qualified was this person? I think the list of ADHD symptoms is similar to a lot of completely normal 6-year-old behavior. If I were you I'd get a second opinion before treating him at all. If your doctor isn't very helpful, maybe you could request a specialist or have him go see a behavioral therapist. Good luck!

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W.T.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L... Have you heard of Melaleuca?? It is an awesome company that has better safer products for your home and A vitamin you can try that might help your son. I have a live web cast available for you to see on your computer, If your interested?? Let me know by emailing me with your Full name, Phone number and email address. Once you get the toxins out of your house and replace with safer, non toxic products, you will see the difference in your son Guaranteed!!
Thanks W.
[email protected]____.com ###-###-####

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C.O.

answers from Minneapolis on

HI L.

I have a son that has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD low on hyper and high in anxiety, since he was 5 yrs old. He is now 11. I tried treating him with out meds and just do therapy and home treatment with cutting out sugar and foods but didnt see much happening with that.

He was tested at school, his drs office and also by phsycologists and they all had the same outcome. My son is also ODD OCD High anxiety has PTSD. My ex husband also is ADD/ADHD more on Hyperside so I think some genetics play a role in here.

We have tried concerta, which didnt do a thing for him, just made him more hyper and had stomach aches from it. I then asked my dr about a non stimulant and she put him on straterra. He was on that for about 4-5yrs. We now just had him switched to something else since he is having alot of other issues and is now on wellbutrin, it is an anti-depressant. It has only been a month and maybe have seen a lil change, phsyciatrist said it will take awhile before we see change. This med take time to work then like ritialin with you start seeing results immediately...Meds can only do so much I also think the child needs to do his part as well. On that note, that is easier said then done!

I never heard of anything Natural that you listed nor do I know anyone that have tried it. Have you thought about talking to a phsyciatrist to see what there views are on natural remedies? I think ADD/ADHD can be treated or managed well by doing behavorial thereapy with a phsyciatrist or psychologist and either some form of meds or doing the therapy and treating it naturally witout meds.

We wanted to see if we could manage it with out meds and just do the behavorial thereapy part and home techniques, but we saw no change. In my opinion I would try out all your options first before you put him on meds. I was leary at first because I didnt want him all drugged up and all I known for drugs was ritalin and there was no way I would put him on that. There are TONS of meds out there to treat this with out all the side effects of stimulant drugs.

Research,research...I think I saw somthing out there that maybe chiropractice care could help with ADD/ADHD? Maybe that is something worth checking in to.

If you feel like you want to talk more feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com luck, Chrissy

How Is It Treated?

ADHD can't be cured, but it can be successfully managed. Your child's doctor will work with you to develop an individualized, long-term plan. The goal is to help your child learn to control his or her own behavior and to help families create an atmosphere in which this is most likely to happen.

In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. Any good treatment plan will require close follow-up and monitoring, and your child's doctor may make adjustments along the way. Because it's important for parents to actively participate in their child's treatment plan, parent education is also considered an important part of ADHD management.

Medications

Several different types of medications may be used to treat ADHD:

Stimulants are the best-known treatments - they've been used for more than 50 years in the treatment of ADHD. Some require several doses per day, each lasting about 4 hours; some last up to 12 hours. Possible side effects include decreased appetite, stomachache, irritability, and insomnia. There's currently no evidence of any long-term side effects.

Nonstimulants were approved for treating ADHD in 2003. These appear to have fewer side effects than stimulants and can last up to 24 hours.

Antidepressants are sometimes a treatment option; however, in 2004 the FDA issued a warning that these drugs may lead to a rare increased risk of suicide in children and teens. If an antidepressant is recommended for your child, be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor.

Medications can affect kids differently, and a child may respond well to one but not another. When determining the correct treatment for your child, the doctor might try various medications in various doses, especially if your child is being treated for ADHD along with another disorder.

Behavioral Therapy

Research has shown that medications used to help curb impulsive behavior and attention difficulties are more effective when they're combined with behavioral therapy.

Behavioral therapy attempts to change behavior patterns by:

reorganizing your child's home and school environment
giving clear directions and commands
setting up a system of consistent rewards for appropriate behaviors and negative consequences for inappropriate ones
Here are some examples of behavioral strategies that may help a child with ADHD:

Create a routine. Try to follow the same schedule every day, from wake-up timeto bedtime. Post the schedule in a prominent place, so your child can see where he or she is expected to be throughout the day and when it's time for homework, play, and chores.

Help your child organize. Put schoolbags, clothing, and toys in the same place every day so your child will be less likely to lose them.

Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, and computer games, especially when your child is doing homework.
Limit choices. Offer your child a choice between two things (this outfit, meal, toy, etc., or that one) so that he or she isn't overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and cajoling, use clear, brief directions to remind your child of his or her responsibilities.
Use goals and rewards. Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child's efforts. Be sure the goals are realistic (think baby steps rather than overnight success).

Discipline effectively. Instead of yelling or spanking, use timeouts or removal of privileges as consequences for inappropriate behavior. Younger children may simply need to be distracted or ignored until they display better behavior.
Help your child discover a talent. All kids need to experience success to feel good about themselves. Finding out what your child does well - whether it's sports, art, or music - can boost social skills and self-esteem.

Alternative Treatments

Currently, the only ADHD therapies that have been proven effective in scientific studies are medications and behavioral therapy. But your child's doctor may recommend additional treatments and interventions depending on your child's symptoms and needs. Some kids with ADHD, for example, may also need special educational interventions such as tutoring, occupational therapy, etc. Every child's needs are different.

A number of other alternative therapies are promoted and tried by parents including: megavitamins, body treatments, diet manipulation, allergy treatment, chiropractic treatment, attention training, visual training, and traditional one-on-one "talking" psychotherapy. However, the scientific research that has been done on these therapies has not found them to be effective, and most of these treatments have not been studied carefully, if at all.

Parents should always be wary of any therapy that promises an ADHD "cure," and if they're interested in trying something new, they should be sure to speak with their child's doctor first.

Parent Training

Parenting any child can be tough at times, but parenting a child with ADHD often brings special challenges. Children with ADHD may not respond well to typical parenting practices. Also, because ADHD tends to run in families, parents may also have some problems with organization and consistency themselves and need active coaching to help learn these skills.

Experts recommend parent education and support groups to help family members accept the diagnosis and to teach them how to help their child organize his or her environment, develop problem-solving skills, and cope with frustrations. Parent training can also teach parents to respond appropriately to their child's most trying behaviors and to use calm disciplining techniques. Individual or family counseling may also be helpful.

ADHD in the Classroom

As your child's most important advocate, you should become familiar with your child's medical, legal, and educational rights. Children with ADHD are eligible for special services or accommodations at school under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and an anti-discrimination law known as Section 504. Keep in touch with your child's teachers and school officials to monitor your child's progress and keep them informed about your child's needs.

In addition to using routines and a clear system of rewards, here are some other tips to share with teachers for classroom success:

Reduce seating distractions. Lessening distractions might be as simple as seating your child near the teacher instead of near the window.
Use a homework folder for parent-teacher communications. The teacher can include assignments and progress notes, and you can check to make sure all work is completed on time.
Break down assignments. Keep instructions clear and brief, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Give positive reinforcement. Always be on the lookout for positive behaviors. Ask the teacher to offer praise when your child stays seated, doesn't call out, or waits his or her turn, instead of criticizing when he or she doesn't.
Teach good study skills. Underlining, note taking, and reading out loud can help your child stay focused and retain information.

Supervise. Check that your child goes and comes from school with the correct books and materials. Ask that your child be paired with a buddy who can help him or her stay on task.
Be sensitive to self-esteem issues. Ask the teacher to provide feedback to your child in private, and avoid asking your child to perform a task in public that might be too difficult.
Involve the school counselor or psychologist. He or she can help design behavioral programs to address specific problems in the classroom.

Being Your Child's Biggest Supporter

You're a stronger advocate for your child when you foster good partnerships with everyone involved in your child's treatment - that includes teachers, doctors, therapists, and even other family members. Take advantage of all the support and education that's available, and you'll be able to help your child with ADHD navigate his or her way to success.

Reviewed by: W. Douglas Tynan, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2005

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M.V.

answers from Minneapolis on

I belong to another post forum and here is a response to one of the very knowledgable and trusted members there to a similar question:

"Saw Chunky's post on ADHD ADD and Ritalin. Will add my experience with my son, for the hope that it will help someone else avoid the same trap.

"My son was always hyper. When it interfered with his schooling, we had the "best"pediatrician in town. He put him on Ritalin and Melloril.

"A few months later I noticed psychotic behavior in things he would draw.
We took a trip to Las Vegas to visit my sister. She had given him some
candy. When we were at Bakersfield on the return trip after he had eaten in, he started acting like a wildman. Yelling and screaming, complaining I was making the car shake (bumpy road), etc. That made me realize the SUGAR was the cause of his behavior. The Dr had him psychiatrically evaluated.,they said he should be institutionalized. I refused to buy it. Went to the Library (no internet then), got out the Physicians Desk Reference
and read. A well known side effect of Ritalin and Melloril is to
CAUSE psychosis. I also noticed he was being vastly overdosed. The PDR had a case history that parallelled my son's behavior.

"Went to the Dr.'s office. Told him I believed my son was being overdosed, and tht the psychosis was caused by the medication and asked him to go into his office and read the Physician's Desk Reference.

"He did so, and when he came back he said "you are right, but I don't think we should cease all at once." I said I agree, so we phased him off of it,slowly over 2 weeks. We also cut out all sugar in his diet. The funny thing is, he said he felt better, and then became very conscious of watching his
diet.

"He would still get hyper, but found out that physical exercise like running would take care of it. We sent him to a school in the woods in CA at Hyampom for 2 years. He did very well there, they would send him out to
run when he got hyper. He was no longer on drugs.

"He graduated from High School in Modesto with bettefr than average grades, and joined the Marines (Something that really ovefwhelmed me, because he had to get Washington to give him a waiver for a loose knee, which he handled himself at 18.) He served two years in the Pacific, and thank God was never in combat. They made him into a cook. When he
got out he went into printing for 10 years."

Now my experinces: I hope this helps you as it did me. My 5 year old just started kindergarten this year and the teachers have been pushing me to ge thim tested. My mom was pushed to have me put on some drug when I was little for ADHD. She refused and so have I. I have found that my son is bored. He learns differently than the majority of kids, meaning he is very hands on and doesn't do well with just sitting. He is not hyper, but busy. And he is not naughty, but bored and then "gets into things". My experience with him is that I make sure to challenge him with activities at home and make sure he has plenty of time to "burn off" extra energy wit outside play, etc.

I hope this helps you. You can contact me if you want to chat about it more! :o)
M.

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L.R.

answers from La Crosse on

L.-

I don't know much about natural treatments, but I used to be a special ed teacher, and I commend you for your efforts. I just want to applaud you for looking for ways other than medication to help your child. It can be overwhelming when doctors and even teachers are trying to persuade you to put your child on meds. Meds are not the right choice for all children (in my opinion, most children). Good luck with your search for natural methods. In the mean time, try limiting his TV time and watching his sugar/caffeine intake. It's worked wonders for some children I've known.

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N.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

There is so much out there that you can try for your son and I greatly respect you for looking into additional options! However, retail vitamins may not be the best choice - they often contain preservatives or coatings that are challenging to digest. You might want to talk to a naturapathic physician who specialized in children (try Woodwinds Natural care center or MN Association of Naturapthic Physicians). An ND or a Licensed Nutritionist may also help with finding dietary balance, supplements, or identifying allergies. Also, you might want to look into parenting coaching (try Adler Graduate School Resource Page) to see if there is any behavior modication techniques you can learn, mind-body therapies, cranial sacral or energy therapies. There is so much out there the hardest part is looking through the research and information. The National Institute for Health has an office of complementary and alternative medicine that has some research online (as well as resources) and then of course research articles on PubMed CAM. Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Woodwinds Hospital, and the U of M Center for Spiritualiy and Healing have some amazing providers (I have studied with some)- each with their own gift. Plus, find support for yourself through this process. There is also some amazing research done in biofeedback at Hennepin County Medical Center for ADHD. I wish you the best - I have seen so many children benefit from alternative health care choices. Please support yourself throughout the process - we cannot be there for others unless we are first there for ourselves. Unfortunately, many doctor are unaware of available treatments, but some are turning around. There are refferal websites - holisticphyicians.org and holistic physicians.info that specializing in board certified holistic physicians. Take Care.

- N.

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