Natural or Other Remedies for ADD in Children?

Updated on May 08, 2014
C.M. asks from Surprise, AZ
23 answers

My daughters recently got diagnosed with ADD. They were prescribed Straterra to help with the issues and difficulties that ADD brings. I'm a rather open mother. I don't mind medications as long as my daughters "feel" okay and are also in agreement with me. Makenzie my 7year old is a PRO at swallowing pills (even better than me), My 6year old daughter Emily however is NOT (just like her mother). So because these capsules are time released they cannot be opened. Which obviously poses a problem! I called the doctor yesterday and explained to her that Emily cannot swallow pills yet (We have tried everything) and went on to ask her what now? She said "if Emily cannot swallow the capsule, you'll have to wait until she can." So that's it? That's all they can say or even do? I have a hard time believing that MY daughter is the only child out there that can't swallow pills. Emily is to the point in class that she has to have a PARA assist her in class and her teacher is concerned with Emily moving onto 1st grade. So because Emily cannot swallow pills she has to struggle in school until she can? I'm literally open to any ideas, suggestions or even other mothers that deal or previously dealt with the same issue. I'm becoming quite frustrated with the entire thing and I just NEED HELP! Please, moms or anyone that can bring a little light to the situation... Are there even ADD specialists or anything down that line? Thanks so much in advance!

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So What Happened?

Just for starters, thank you to everyone that has commented and please, please keep them coming! I just got off the phone with Emily's physician and suggested that I see a more educated doctor that is not so lazy and is open to research. I informed the previous doctor that she needs to maybe live up to her title and "practice more" I wasn't trying to be rude, but my daughter is not just a patient, she is my world and I'd crumble without her! :') I want the absolute BEST for my daughter and I want her to know that I'd do absolutely anything in my power to help her be a better person. I raise my children with the mindset that they can do anything. I don't want Emily to feel like she has a complex because she has ADD. I can only understand how frustrated parents get with other people when it comes to their opinion on their children and whether or not medicating is a good idea. I do what I think is best for my children. And if that isn't showing results OR my daughters "feel worse" being medicated then we would definitely research and find a different alternative (hence me posting this question) so please don't think that we mothers that medicate are "lazy" or take the "easy route" in treating our children. Just because we medicate doesn't mean that we love our children any less. It just means that we've found something that works better for our children. Just remember, if you don't like someone's opinion, it's just one opinion and it does not define you as a person!! I will continue to research and look into the pros and cons with ADD!

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answers from Norfolk on

Have her practice with Tic Tacs or M & M's.
When she's learned to swallow candy, she'll be ready for swallowing her medication.

Leah, some people medicate when they don't need to but some people don't medicate when they should.
If you've got a child who's floundering and having so much trouble in school with behavior, has no friends and nothing else is helping would you just sit back and let the kid flounder?
'Never' is such an absolute term and there are no absolutes - every case is different.
Sometimes medication is the right answer.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

That is a rediculous answer that you got from the doctor....I hope this doctor is not an expert at treating children with ADD/ADHD....
Contact a compounding pharmacy to see if they can be if help. I suggest Potters House Appothecary.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Jacksonville on

There are other meds that can be used if your child cannot swallow pills. My daughter is on adderall xr and cannot swallow pills. We open it every morning and sprinkle the pill on sorbet. For your ped to say that tells me she isn't well versed on adhd meds. I'd go elsewhere.

ADDED: Leah, do you even have a kid with ADHD? I always said I wouldn't medicate, either, until I actually had a child with ADHD. Choosing to medicate is not popular and it is not easy, so don't insinuate that those of us that do choose it are sheeple who don't do their research.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

Who is your prescribing doctor? Pediatricians shouldn't deal with ADHD and a psychiatrist should know better.

Trust me you cannot mix Straterra with anything! Not because it is time release but because it has the most god awful taste ever!! We tried it with my son at 3. I could put one pill in 20 ounces of milk shake and you could still taste it!! Wretched stuff!!

Plus it generally doesn't work.

I would get a good psychiatrist and get her on stimulant meds. I take them, my kids take them, you just have no idea how good it feels when your brain works correctly. They have patches if she can't master the pill.

Oh and the extended forms of Vyvance and Adderall have little pellets in them that can be opened and put into pudding or ice cream, whatever. The pellets dissolve at different rates so the capsule is unimportant.

Leah! the only sheeple here is you. Tell people you know more about ADD and medication because Dr Oz told you so! I have 21 years of hard data that meds work and have no negative long term side effects, and you have a few stupid links. Sheeple! Lord!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There are other options for medications that CAN be crushed or sprinkled on food.

My son is 7, and when he was 6 we tried Concerta, but he also can't swallow pills. It can't be crushed. So, the doc had us try the Daytrana patch, which worked wonderfully, but caused skin irritation. When Daytrana stopped being effective, instead of getting a stronger dose, he prescribed Vyvanse 20 mg, which comes in a capsule that can be opened and sprinkled on food. Now my son takes that every morning. Some days he wants it in his milk, others in his applesauce, or in yogurt or pudding. That's what is working for him right now.

By the way, to the all-knowing Leah M: I try to be polite to everyone on this board, but your ignorance and condescension have really pissed me off! You have NO idea what we try or do not try before we resort to using prescription medications. The info on the links you provided is good--but that's NOT enough for most kids with bone fide ADHD. Would you like to know how I know that? Because we DID try all that jazz before we resorted to medication. It was a decision arrived at after much tears and guilt, caused by know-nothing sanctimommies like yourself.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

We always put the pill on a spoonful of applesauce. Goes right down.

There's no natural cure. There are things that you can do to lessen the symptoms, but Also, I second the person below who questioned Strattera. Pay close attention. If you notice your child is depressed, please get them off it and use something else.

Finally, consider eliminating wheat to help improve symptoms. Read up on it. It's definitely not a cure, but studies show that there is marked improvement with wheat elimination in AD/HD patients.

ETA: Leah, you're right. You're no doctor or specialist. And you clearly have not had to live with an ADHD diagnosis since childhood, or had 2 wonderful boys who were diagnosed as well. You clearly have not had to wrestle through numerous "natural remedies" and lots of guilt before you finally chose to medicate. And you clearly have not seen the night-and-day difference between your child's attention, grades, and overall quality of life due to that choice to medicate. No, you're just another one of the judgemental, anti-medicine "SHEEPLE" who thinks that they can learn all about what it's like from WebMD and PsychCentral. So, dang right you aren't a doctor or specialist in this matter. You clearly haven't a clue.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I second the M&M tip. It is the big one that seems to work with families dealing with ADHD who need their kids to master swallowing pills.

Do you know why the doctor is set on Strattera? Non-stimulants are usually used as a last resort, if kids can't handle stimulants for any reason (stimulants have the "wow" factor in improving ADHD symptoms). There are some stimulants that can be mixed in with food.

Unfortunately, there are no "natural" treatments for ADHD. Omega 3 is showing some promise in studies, but never did a thing for our son's ADHD. It's healthy, though, so no harm in adding this in (although you'll be facing the pill dilemma again unless you add more fish into her diet).

Good luck! Hopefully practicing with candy will make a difference.

ETA: Leah, you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Those "experts" are people with medical degrees and board certification in psychiatry, who also happen to deal with ADHD day in and day out. Do you have that? I have yet to meet a parent dealing with ADHD who I'd remotely associate with the (lame word) sheeple. This is a horrendous condition I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It tears apart families. There is no easy fix for it, medication or not. Medication is an agonizing decision that's never made lightly. If you don't have a clue, please don't chime in on a serious medical issue.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!!

This is an often debated topic here and on Facebook.

After YEARS (3 to 5 to be more helpful) of hoping my two boys would grow out of it, trying Fish Oil (with a SMALL improvement) we FINALLY decided to move forward with medication. It's a hard decision.

Both my boys can swallow pills. However, when my youngest son had his tonsillectomy just last month, we put his pill in applesauce or pudding.

Talk with your PHARMACIST - not just the doctor that diagnosed and prescribed the ADD - and ask if the pill can be mixed in a drink or pudding or applesauce...they will have more information for you and maybe more ideas.

Good luck.. I know this is NOT easy!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Dr. Daniel Amen just published a new, updated version of his ADHD bible, Healing ADD. In it, he outlines 7 types of ADHD (so it goes way beyond in hyperactive, inattentive, combined classifications) and specific treatment protocols for each type. Each protocol addresses both medication and natural supplements, dietary changes, and other non-medicinal coping strategies. Assuming that you don't live near one of the Amen centers and have thousands of dollars lying around to spend on treatments that aren't covered by insurance, you can still use the info from the book to guide your children's treatment. The website has a questionnaire that can help assess which of the 7 types of ADHD your child's pattern fits into and then from there, you can read up (in the book) on what treatment protocols he has found to be most effective for patients with a similar profile.

I have a whole library of ADHD books (my oldest was diagnosed 8 years ago, my husband has it and my 10 year old looks like he possibly has it too) and this is by far the most informative and up to date book on the subject that I've read, to such a degree that my husband ordered the audio version and is listening to it in the car (because he can't focus long enough to read the book). While he is very pro-medication and openly talks about the positive changes he has seen from medication in his patients - including his wife and some of his own children - I like that he is also very open to the idea that medication isn't necessarily the first or best choice for everyone and there are supplements that do help patients manage their symptoms.

As an example of some of the supplement strategies, he recommends that everyone take a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (Catalyn by Standard Process is a good one made from whole foods and not synthetic ingredients) and an Omega-3 supplement, with the EPA/DHA ratio dependent on the type of ADHD. Then for classic and inattentive ADHD, he would recommend L-tyrosine, which is an amino acid involved in producing dopamine, but wouldn't recommend L-tyrosine alone for people who have over-focused ADD because it would exacerbate the over-focus symptoms.

In any case...I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of whether or not you want to continue with medication, because it is so informative. As someone else mentioned, a compounding pharmacy can sometimes work with you to create alternate versions of a medication that your child can take.

Do you know why your doc went straight to Strattera instead of trying a stimulant first? That's a bit of an unusual approach. Just curious.

ETA on the fish oil, Nordic Naturals makes a liquid fish oil that is really tasty. It's strawberry flavored and you just squeeze a dropperful into your child's mouth. They also make a strawberry flavored capsule that is yummy enough for the kids to chew on and then they can either swallow the chewed capsule or spit it out after sucking out the flavored oil. Catalyn is a chewable whole food vitamin (Standard Process only sells through naturopaths and chiropractors, you can't get their products directly).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

That answer came from the doctor or his staff?

There is ADD medicaiotn that comes in a patch - my son used it for a while and it worked - he jsut iddn't like the patch - he kept worrying that other people might see it. Also - time-released capsules can be taken with applesauce or pudding as long as she doesn't chew it.

Sounds to me like your doctor is a boob. Find another doctor. In the meantime ask your pharmacist to confirm that the time release medication can be poured into applesauce or pudding. My son's ADD medication even says that on the side - where it warns NOT to CHEW it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Dr William Sears wrote a book called The A.D.D. Book which is on Amazon. It's focused on diet and other natural ways to help with ADHD.

Also, have you tried having your daughter place the pill in her cheek, as opposed to on her tongue? Sometimes just the feeling of the pill on the tongue is enough to make someone gag or make the pill too difficult to swallow. But the inner cheek isn't so sensitive. So put the pill in her cheek and have her take several swallows of her favorite drink. She just might notice that the pill is gone.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would research other meds, but you may also just have to work with your daughter to help her learn to swallow the pills. I know some parents have had some success treating ADHD with diet changes (start with an elimination diet, and if symptoms improve then add back things like dairy and gluten one item at a time to watch for changes) but that only works in case where a food allergy is partly to blame for the imbalance, which is clearly not the case in all kids with ADHD. I hope you find what works.

As a side note, if you actually said what you say you said to your doctor don't be surprised is he drops you as a patient, but if he is not open to hearing your needs that may not be a bad thing in the end.

Best of luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My youngest has ADHD-Combined, and is not currently on medication. The ONLY reason we are able to not medicate her is that we homeschool, and I use a Waldorf curriculum (which is very hands-on and project-oriented, which is helpful for the child who absolutely cannot focus or sit still). My husband, who is also ADHD, but has never officially been diagnosed, feels very strongly that we shouldn't medicate her just so she can fit in in a public school setting. In his view, ADHD may be a liability in a traditional school setting, but it's an advantage out in the real world. I can see his point, as his inexhaustible energy allows him to do a fantastic job running our construction company, and he is quite successful (as are most adults who have ADHD, actually).

I would happily medicate her if he would agree, because even in a homeschool setting, she has a hard time getting through the day. So I totally get where you're coming from, and I understand your challenge here. I guess my only advice would be that if you can't find a way to get her to take the medication, would homeschooling be an option? I realize that if you're happy with her current school, this might not be an appealing option, but it is working for us so far. I hope you can find a solution that works for your family.

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answers from Springfield on

I would try being a little bit more persistent with the doctor. It's possible the doctor has had a lot of success with this particular medicine and is a bit reluctant to try a different one. But keep in mind that for some kids it takes trying 2 even 3 different ADHD meds before finding the right one. My point is, there really are other meds that could help your daughter.

You got some good suggestions about ways to help your daughter learn how to take a pill. I have never had trouble taking a pill, so I simply cannot relate. Hopefully one of those ideas will help. I think it's worth a try. Maybe your daughter really can learn to swallow a pill It would certainly make many things easier for her in the future.

If you really think this is simply not realistic, call the doctor's office again. Let them know that you have really, really tried and you are desperate for their assistance. Tell them that you know there are other options, and you really need them to give you an alternative.

Good luck!!!

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answers from New York on

Have you tried any of the "good" stuff like a milkshake or a a can of soda?

I agree with B. A can of coke and a few tic tacs will ease her into the pills. And a nice reward after a full week of swallowing pills will help, too!!

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answers from Rockford on

Have you considered taking them to a developmental pediatrician? They would be able to asses the girls fully and send you in the right direction in terms of medication and/or behavioral therapies to help. I would go that route before going to a psychiatrist or anything else as a specific doctor/therapist will only look for what they specialize in. A developmental pediatrician will look at the whole picture. Good luck!

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answers from Phoenix on

There is an expert - Daniel Amen - on ADD and ADHD that knows certain foods to help with and the different types of ADD and what kind of medications are out there. This is his website.

My husband has ADD, and it has helped us quite a bit. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

ask the dr for a different pill. there are many different kinds. my son had adderall and it was able to be opened and dumped in a spoon of applesauce which he just swallowed down. it worked great.

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answers from New York on

I am no specialist or doctor but I think there are many alternative approaches out there. Here's some insight on alternative approaches from the APA's own words:

And from webMD:

And there is so much more.

I would not medicate my child - I think it is a popular and easy answer and I'm sorry we do not have to be sheeple and say it is best just because the "experts" told us so.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

The pharmacist is the best resource you can have.

Doc's truly know very little about meds, they have some they favor because they've had kids that respond well to them. They may not want to vary from those meds at all. They aren't really really educated about the others very much. A pharmacist will tell you every single thing you need to know about meds and what might work well.

You should be taking them to a psychiatrist. They are the professionals in mental health issues and ADD is a mental health issue.

Our guy takes Depakote sprinkles and Ritalin. He takes them in applesauce. The Depakote sprinkles are taken out of the capsule and sprinkled onto the applesauce then covered with a bit more.

He takes it just fine and he can't swallow pills yet either.



answers from New York on

My question is why is a pediatrician involved. Not their specialty. Who diagnosed kids? Going to a pediatrician for ADD is like going to a cardiologist with a broken leg



answers from Phoenix on

Have you tried or heard of essential oils for ADD? If you are interested in this natural approach that is applied to the skin, I would be happy to get you more information.



answers from Atlanta on

Hi C.,

When my youngest daughter was five, she was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. At the age of seven she still wasn't reading. Through a series of events for my father who had Alzheimer's disease, we removed the synthetic chemicals from the house..completely detoxing it. Within 8 weeks, my daughter was on grade level reading. The removal of the synthetics was the only thing we could tie it to. At her next doctor visit, he removed her diagnosis. Since then, I have shared this story with quite a few people, not all, but most have seen results from removing the toxicities that our bodies can't handle. After much research, we added. Omega3s and an absorbable multivitamin to her diet and she has blossomed!

Detoxing was our answer. Hope this helps you as well!


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