One of the most common questions I’ve heard from friends, family, and strangers alike in regards to my boyfriend’s son’s attention issues: Well if you suspect ADD, are you medicating him? But what many people fail to realize is that there are other options — specifically, natural remedies for ADD.
As of 1994, ADD has no longer been considered a medical diagnosis. As you have probably heard it described interchangeably, ADD has become ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder). ADD is simply the inattentive ‘subtype’ lumped under the larger umbrella.
Regardless of how you classify the disorder, though, ADD/ADHD involves issues with memory, attention, recall, and distractibility. And for young children who exhibit symptoms, their learning processes and classroom experiences are often difficult and frustrating.
When I first met my boyfriend’s son, Austin, he had been classified to fit the ADHD/ADD category. He was often distracted from his work, unable to attend for longer periods of time, and frequently lost his place while reading or doing other activities. While a large portion of this can be attributed to his dyslexia, there were still issues regarding attention that had to be addressed.
And for James, Austin’s biological mother, and I, our focus was to find natural solutions as opposed to medication. Especially since there was no official medical diagnosis.
Whether you’re curious about our story (you can read more here), are interested in alternatives for your own child(ren), or just want to learn more, here are some natural remedies for ADD.
*Disclaimer: This is NOT medical advice and not intended to be. Please contact your doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself and/or your children.
1. Try Ginko
Ginko is packed with antioxidants that boost your child’s overall health, and improves digestion and the process of converting food to energy. It’s also proven to reduce spectrum symptoms of patients with dementia when used for 22-24 weeks.
Although there are both positive and negative reviews of adding this supplement to the diet (and some caution against the strength for ‘adult’ versions vs. those specifically made for children) this can be an all-natural booster for brain health. It may be worth pursuing as an option for your child.
2. Up the Exercise
An active brain is a happy brain. Getting your child involved in an organized sport or some type of consistent exercise can help to stimulate brain function and allow them to focus on classroom and other activities.
Exercise also boosts catecholamines, which are neurotransmitters that can increase concentration levels.
3. Add Ginseng to the Child’s Daily Intake
Ginseng is one of the commonly used natural remedies for ADD because of its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Although that may sound counterproductive, helping a child with ADD to relax can allow them to focus. If their minds are moving a mile a minute, calming properties can help them pay attention. The supplement also offers energy to combat tiredness, which can work to counterbalance both stillness and movement.
Like all natural supplements, there is conflicting and sometimes limiting research. As always, it’s best to consult a medical professional as well as make educated decisions before pursuing this as an option for your child.
Purchase Ginseng mints right here.
4. Add Behavioral/Occupational Therapy
Behavior and occupational therapy, if in your budget, can give your child an incredible advantage in the classroom. Sometimes this can even be included in your IEP, if necessary!
Behavioral therapy focuses on your child’s understanding of his or her own body and decisions and awareness of it. Occupational therapy is all about teaching and improving the skills your child needs for both life and classroom experiences—invaluable to his or her success!
These types of therapy can be really worth the investment because the people working with your children can break down skills in ways you, as a parent, might not even be able to understand or articulate. They’re also trained in working with kids who struggle with attention and focus, which can be a relief for a parent with a rambunctious child!
5. Look into Passionflower
Passionflower is an herb that includes both anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. It’s good for overall health and also helps with anxiety and depression by increasing GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain.
Boosting GABA helps improve balance and reduce over-excitement, which can be extremely helpful for a child with ADD.
To get Passionflower supplement, click here.
6. Boost the Omega-3s
Besides being incredible for your overall health, omega-3 fatty acids can help with ADD/ADHD, including cognition and focus. When taken in correct doses (talk to a physician!) they can also be effective as stimulants for the brain.
To order Omega-3 supplements for kids, click here.
7. Remove A Colorings and Preservatives From the Diet
Certain food colorings and preservatives may be increasing your child’s hyperactive behavior. These are the ones recommended to avoid (even though this is difficult!):
– Sodium benzoate: often found in carbonated beverages
– Yellow Dye No. 5 (tartazine): pickles, yogurt, cereal, granola
– Yellow Dye No. 6 (sunset yellow): breads, cereals, candy, icing, pop
– Yellow Dye No. 10 (quinolone yellow): juices, sorbets
– Red Dye No. 40 (allura red): medications, gelatin, ice cream, pop
8. Try Other Diet-Related Natural Remedies for ADD
Allergen-Free Diet: Another recommended natural remedy is to avoid potential allergens. Beyond things like milk and eggs (which may not be possible, or may be difficult) you can try to remove foods that contain chemical additives like BHT (butylated hydroxytolune) which keeps oil in products to preserve the quality.
This is found in things like chips, gum, cake mix, cereal, and other instant food products.
Elimination Diet: An elimination diet makes the process of weeding out ‘issue’ foods or drinks one by one. This can be preferred if cutting multiple items at once is too difficult, or if you want to take the process slow. It does have mixed results, but can be effective.
9. Pursue Vision Therapy/EGG Biofeedback
Vision Therapy: I came across Vision Therapy when I was looking for alternative solutions for Austin’s struggles with his focus, especially because he wears glasses and has astigmatisms in both eyes. Vision Therapy is all about training and strengthening your eyes to work together to focus. Although it’s not a remedy per se, it’s an incredibly useful form of therapy to make sure the eyes are working together with less effort. (We’ve been loving it so far!)
EEG Biofeedback: Although relatively new, Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback is neuropathy that measures brain waves. Children are asked to focus on one task for as long as they can without breaking concentration. These waves can help to show medical professionals and parents how the child is processing information, as well as help the child practice keeping focus over long periods of time.
As Parents, Don’t Be Afraid to Explore and Ask Questions
Knowing what to do for your child’s ADD/ADHD can be really difficult. People are often recommending options to you, and you’ll probably feel pulled in certain directions that you may or may not want to go.
Before making any decisions, be sure to research potential side effects and talk to medical professionals that you trust. Also, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, unapologetically.
Another tip is to write down your observations as you try new things. Keeping a record can potentially show you what’s working and what’s not, or certain times that your child is exhibiting different symptoms and what potential causes/effects there are.
Hopefully this list (although merely suggestions and not solutions) can help you in your journey to find natural options.
To add thoughts of your own or questions, feel free to post a comment below!
Featured Image Credit: Jaroslaw Mis