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Natural Remedies for ADD and ADHD

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Health & Healing

Natural Remedies for ADD and ADHDADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. This neurobehavioral developmental disorder (ADHD) affects about 3-5% of the world’s population under the age of 19.  It becomes evident during early childhood.  Children with ADHD are usually inattentive and/or hyperactive.  They sometimes have difficulty remembering things and can have poor control over their impulses.

Of course there is a segment of people that feel ADD/ADHD is a myth and label given to overly active but otherwise normal children. There are many doctors and parents who feel that ADD and ADHD behaviors could be caused by environmental factors (vaccines, pesticide and chemical exposure) poor nutrition (insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, food coloring) or even allergies (intolerance to dairy or wheat for example). Social, emotional, and educational influences could also play a part. If the causes of ADHD and ADD are environmental or social then using drugs to “treat” them would be merely masking the symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem.

Much has been written about the unhealthy side affects associated with the use of one of the more popular medicine’s prescribed for ADHD children – Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine).  Not all children react well to these medications. Some react in some pretty terrible ways though. I have a relative that was on Ritalin and it caused huge bursts of anger and physical violence. My own son was on an anti-seizure medication for a couple years that is also used by some Doctors as a medication for ADD. Side effects for my son were drastic weight loss, gray coloring, and he used to scratch his arms until they were a mass of bloody scabs.

The nasty side effects as well as the possibility that the drugs mask the problem and do not treat it have left MANY parents scrambling for natural alternatives. There are some natural medications that can be suggested. Of course any changes to your child’s treatment (if he or she is being treated for ADD or ADHD) should be discussed with your health professional first.

St. John’s Wort (Klamath weed, above) is said to have properties that can help with the symptoms of ADHD.  It was first used in ancient Greece to treat many ailments, including poisonous reptile bites.  The active ingredient in St. John’sWort is hypericin and dianathrones and flavonoids.  Research shows that St. John’s Wart acts as an anti-depressant in the body.

Fresh Lemon Balm or Melissa officinals is an aromatic herb with a lemony taste.  In traditional medicine it was considered a cure-all for various conditions including nervous problems.  This natural remedy has had a long history with families affected by ADHD. It is felt to have a particularly positive effect on hyperactive children.

Melotone Syrup is a natural substance promoted mostly throughout the internet as a “natural alternative to Ritalin.”  It is essentially a liquid nutritional supplement that has Omega-3s (which are the good fats) the form of salmon oil and evening primrose oil.  It also includes several vitamins and minerals that have been found to be low in ADHD children (magnesium, B6 and others).

Super Blue Green Algae is what is a considered a super food.  It is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the earth and apparently there is nothing else like it.  There have been two studies done using algae to research its effects on children who struggle with learning, social and behavioral problems.  The Center for Family Wellness Study examined whether or not the addition of Algae to children’s diet would help alleviate these behavioral challenges.  Based on their reports, it was concluded that eating Algae appeared to have had a notable positive outcome in those areas where parents were concerned about behavioral extremes or challenges.

The other study, the Sierra Vista Study showed early indications that Algae eaters demonstrated significant improvement in their behaviors. Slip some Super Blue Green Algae inside a smoothie and you have a superfood smoothie sure to help give your kids a brain power boost.

Ultimately alternative options for treatment can focus on making simple changes in diet, sleep, exercise and routine.  The Feingold Diet is praised by many parents of children with the an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. It eliminates certain foods that hyperactive children might be sensitive too and in general it is a diet without preservatives, additives, or food coloring. I am a big believer in the Feingold Diet as all three of my kids are at their best when on a diet like this one. Giving kids junk food and other nutritionally void foods and then expecting good behavior is unrealistic. The brain needs REAL food to function properly so parents of hyperactive children need to make sure they aren’t “stacking the deck” against their child with an unsatisfactory diet. In fact, I can’t fathom why ANY parent would medicate before diet is fully evaluated and adjusted first.

The materials for the Feingold Diet are pretty pricey but they are well worth it. If you feingold cookbookcan’t swing it though there is an awesome Feingold Diet cookbook that you can buy. Ben Feingold also wrote a book called Why Your Child is Hyperactive.

Don’t underestimate the value of good old fashioned exercise too. Hyperactivity could be a manifestation of boredom and restlessness. Kids need activity and exercise.

Supplements may help too. Fish and flax seed oils are rich in Omega-3s. Greens powders can be slipped inside fruit smoothies to help kids get more nutrition from those all important leafy green veggies. Green smoothies can also be made with actual veggies and kids can’t even taste them. promise.

Natural and homeopathic remedies try to address the unbalance in the body without the side effects of sedation.  The goal of these remedies is to improve the balance and health of the whole child – mind and body.

Books worth reading:

The Myth of the ADD Child

The Out of Sync Child

The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook

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  • I know my 8 yo has some pretty weird behavior problems with concentration, frustration, and anger management (he’s just overall way more emotional) when he gets any sort of gluten in his diet.
    So people who have children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD might want to get tested for Celiac Disease, which is an intolerance of gluten. They just can’t have it at all in their diet. While we’ve just recently started eliminating all gluten from our diet, it’s OBVIOUS when my 8yo (or myself) has accidentally ingested some. I get super emotional, and he gets ADHD

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  • Tiffany,

    Great post! I’ve been a teacher for years and worked with kids for 15 years and ADHD and ADD does exist and is real but not all hyper kids have it or kids who cannot concentrate. Yeah, it’s the doctors sometimes but I’ve had parents who have insisted on it even when the doctor and the teachers are saying no. It’s tough. Using natural remedies as a first alternataive is the best idea. I’ve noticed a good sleep schedule solves a lot of problems too! Many young kids are sleep deprived and cannot concentrate or they’re hyper because they’re trying to stay awake.

  • Tara

    I’ve also heard that ionic footbaths can be helpful. One thing to note with some of the green supplements: they can contain things like spirulina, which are chelating agents and release toxins. That release, depending on many factors, can trigger a variety of emotional and physical responses that are quite extreme. Best to use those supplements under the guidance of a trained professional.

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    • Melinda

      Thank you for this info…I have been giving my child 4oz of “green food” drink and it has this in it. I will watch to see how he reacts.

  • Casey

    Thanks for posting this, this is really interesting. My nephews 4 & 6, are going through this right now, and have started some prescribed medications. Now I have some inforamtion I can send my sister in law, that might provide some other alternatives.

  • Julia

    I grew up with a “ADHD” brother in the 70’s and at that time no treatments were readily available or much less diagnosed. My brother had awful sleep habits due to my parents lack of fortitude in enforcing proper night time sleep or naps for that matter. After having my own son I can see how the characteristics and behaviors of ADHD could develop in a child if they are not properly slept and napped. I have adhered to a strict sleep regime with my kids since birth and think if I did not do so I would have a kid who would be diagnosed as ADHD. Our “modern” lifestyles include too much adult activity which compromises kids sleep. With good nutrition, outdoor play time, consistent parenting, and alowing your kids to sleep as much as they can, many of the kids who are now diagnosed with ADHD would improve or even not manifest into treatable children. They would just be active, busy kids. In Dr. Weisbluth’s book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child, he discusses the potential link between lack of sleep and the ADHD child. I think he is right on the money. I feel really bad for the kids who develop ADHD and the parents who have to work with them but it really all starts in the home with good parenting skills. There is probably a very small percent of children who none of this matters and they would still have the ADHD symptoms, but there is a greater number of kids to which this principle applys.

  • denise

    This subjuct is very close to my heart. My 9yr old has struggled with ADHD symptoms for over 5 years. I would first like to say that “sleep” can improve some symptoms, but the subject is more complicated
    than that.

    We’ve had our 9yr old on a regular sleep schedule for years, and he is still quite intense at times. I think it is the way he is wired. Our Naturopath tested him food sensitivities, and he came up sensitive to dairy and gluten. We have eliminated dairy, and some gluten. She also suggested we give him a supplement called L-Theanine. This is an amino acid, that “settles” the brain, but also helps you to concentrate.
    They make a kids brand by KAL named Relax-a- Saurus.

    This amino acid coupled with the dairy elimination has shown consistent improvement at home and at school. I recently read a very interesting book by a Dr. Kenneth Bock titled “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics” Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies. This doctor addresses the link between vaccinations, casein/gluten, etc and these conditions. He also offers solutions.

  • Excellent post. I do believe that ADD/ADHD is over-diagnosed at times, but the real problem is there for some people, and it is unfortunate that there are not more and better options available to those children (and adults, parents, etc). Thanks again for your post and wonderful blog!

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  • Thanks for the book suggestion Denise. I ordered it today and hope to read it soon.

  • Nell Taliercio

    Another great post, Tiff. I have a friend whose son has ADD. He is hopped up on drugs and still “out of control”. I’ve talked to her about the importance of diet and even though she admits their diet is poor she does nothing about it. It makes me so sad, because I just know that this young man would do much better with a good diet.

    I know putting a child on a diet isn’t easy. It’s a lifestyle change for Mom and child. But, isn’t out job as parents to give our kids good health, love and security?

    I’ve got my son on a diet for his health right now and have an appointment booked for a holistic doc. We wouldn’t normally be able to afford this, but we’re using the government money to get our baby boy help for his health instead of buying a TV or new cell phone…etc.

    I just wish more parents would understand how truely damaging the foods most of us eat really are. I think it’s safe to say that many American’s don’t think much about the fast food they eat every week or the loads of sugar in their food…not to mention ALL the really bad stuff, like food coloring, hormones, antibiotics…etc.

    I know that up until a year ago I didn’t realize how bad our typical American diet was. It wasn’t until I got sick that it opened my eyes. I honestly see life in a totally different light now. Everything is different in my world and it reflects in how I feed and raise my family.

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  • JHS

    Thanks for contributing this post to this week’s Carnival of Family Life hosted at Beauty and Personal Grooming! Be sure to check out the other wonderful entries this week! And if you would like to host a future edition of the Carnival, you can check out the schedule here and then let me know the week you are interested in.

    Have a wonderful Sunday — and Easter (if you are celebrating)!

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  • I personally think natural remedies are awesome. My best friend has an autistic son and she’s so amazing coming up with these remedies and she knows exactly what effects her son and what he can have. It’s amazing. I think wow, you really know your son’s every move. And by doing so she could probably open her own business, but like she has any time to do that.
    A book that has helped me deal with my sons illness is, Parenting Child with Health Issues, by Dr. Cline and MD.Lisa Greene.
    It’s a wonderful book that gives usable, immediately applicable tools and techniques that are very effective in reaching children of all ages – such like remedies.
    One of the best things about Dr.Cline, is his website has an ‘ask dr.cline’ section where you can just ask away.
    I found this very useful with my questions. He probably is going to write another book just for me i have so many questions…(ya right i wish)

  • Fantastic article. I’m sure parents everywhere are appreciative. The good news for kids is that professionals with ADD / ADHD can be successful.

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    Any promotions of this edition will benefit the both of us and will be appreciated. God bless!

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  • If I had only known!

    I am a 33yr old single mother of 2. My son has ADHD. Most of his fav. food have gluten in them I never knew that gluten caused ill effect on children with ADD/ADHD. If I had only known 8 years ago.

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  • You have written a very informative and thorough post on alternative and safe treatments for ADD and ADHD. I have written about the harmful and sometimes dangerous side effects of ADHD medications in my blog:

    As a piano teacher, I have seen children with ADD adn ADHD symptoms so I know that it is real; however, these children respond well to one on one instruction. In addition to dietary changes and supplementation, psychological techniques such as biofeedback can be effective. If you are able to do it, consider homeschooling these children. Homeschooling worked wonders with my now college student daughter. You can read our homeschooling story at:

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  • Sharon

    I have just recently found your website and just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful information I have found. I am a mother of an almost 2 year old and a special education teacher. I look forward to using this information with the parents I have been working with to offer a no-medicatoin alternative.

  • JP

    Thanks for the article. We are researching natural alternatives to Adderall, which has been prescribed by our neurologist. Thanks for the info.

  • Kelly

    Maybe I’m the only pessimist here but my husband lived with it from the age of 6-13, you are never really “cured” you just learn to control the symptoms as you get older (as he no longer uses ritalin). But my son is diagnosed with ADD/Asperger’s Syndrome and I can honestly say I’ve tried visiting the homeopathic place here and he had sensitivities to everything under the sun and it is nearly impossible to remove “everything”. Your child almost becomes a “vegan” amongst other things. The one thing we kept going was he drinks “Lactose Free” milk as he had an allergy as a baby and they say children outgrow it but I’m not so sure about it. Our son has tried Ritalin, Dexadrine and now finally settled with Adderall XR, I hope that by the time he is older, he may eventually not require the medication. My son is not hyper and only medicated for ADHD as its a concentration thing. And as love as I’d love to go an alternative route, my son’s education counts on his ability to focus and I do need to work for a living. This is our reality.

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  • kristy

    My son has rheumatic fever with mitral valve damage. He also has ADD. The pediatritian here had put my son on Concerta. He was on it for about 8 months with great success. Then I started noticing him putting his hand on his chest alot. I researched the effects of amphetamines on the heart and was shocked. Our doctor told us nothing. My son is now in 5th grade and is stuggling. He is very bright and has higher scores on achievement tests than most of his school. He has scored profiencient to advanced on his MCT. I am fighting the school, they want my son on the meds, I say its not worth the risks. I have read alot about the ADHD diet and am very interested. The problem I am running up against is finances. We dont have the money to order this program. We are subsedized by foodstamps at the moment because of the economy and work is short. Does anybody know of a way to find this information? I am desperately in need of something that will help my son. He has been branded as evil by the school. His 3rd grade teacher rode him to the point that he was suffering trichotillomania, stomach ulcers, he reverted back to bedwetting and lost 17 pounds in 2 months. I cannot see this repeat itself. I have been to the superintendent as well as the school board to no avail. They want him medicated. My son cannot stop fidgeting, or playing with things, pay attention in class. He isnt an “evil” child and doesnt have a mean bone in his body. The worst thing he has done behaviorally is to make fun of another child for a peanut allergy. He cried when it was explained to him how he hurt this child. The school gave him 2 days ISS for this. I am at my whits end!!!!! I dont know what to do. Mississippi schools are not ADD or ADHD friendly or understanding. I have asked for an IEP for 2 years, hoping that would help him, maybe if you take away the stimulus while he is actually doing his work he could concentrate? Somebody who has been through this please respond. My email is surgtechin@hotmail dot com.

  • Patti

    Great blog, thank you for sharing your wealth of information!

  • This is excellent information, thanks for this!

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