Alternative Natural ADHD Treatments
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioural disorder that is usually diagnosed in children between the ages of 6-12.
The symptoms of ADHD include; inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and tend to be noticed at an early age, especially when a child’s circumstances change, for example, when they start school. The symptoms will normally begin to improve as the child ages; however, it is not unheard of for adults to continue to experience problems.
It can be difficult to diagnose ADHD initially, as all children go through periods where they are restless or inattentive; however, it is important to speak to teachers and your GP about the possibility of your child having the problem if you feel their behaviour is quite different from their peers.
Although there are many different types of treatment for ADHD, one of the most common is medication, to lessen their hyperactivity. There is a lot of controversy over this, and many parents prefer to treat their symptoms naturally. Here are just some of the ways that you can help children with ADHD, without turning to medication.
Make sure they are getting the right vitamins and minerals:
It is so important that a child with ADHD is getting the right vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, so is really important for ADHD sufferers.
Magnesium is linked to vitamin B6, and it is found that if their magnesium levels drop, it can cause problems that present in a similar way to ADHD, such as reduced attention span and irritability. So, eat food that is rich in both, and include a supplement for them if you feel they could benefit.
Vitamin C, zinc and iron are all important as well in ADHD sufferers. Vitamin C is needed in order for the brain to make neurotransmitters; vital for the above; zinc regulates the levels of dopamine, which if low can contribute to attentional issues, and finally, iron is required in order to make dopamine, so having low levels can again, affect their symptoms.
Take an Omega-3 supplement:
Research has suggested that those who have been diagnosed with ADHD actually have lower levels of omega-3 in their bodies compared to those who do not.
This would suggest that by boosting their levels of omega-3 could actually help to improve their symptoms. There are a number of benefits associated with taking this supplement; including increased attention span, focus, and memory.
Ensure that they are eating a ‘clean’ diet:
One of the easiest ways that you can help to control their symptoms is to ensure that they are eating a ‘clean’ diet, which consists of no processed foods, additives or chemicals.
So, when you are cooking or shopping, look for food that has low sodium, which although your body requires to function; too much can cause a number of different health problems, including exacerbating the symptoms of ADHD. Avoid MSG, which is a flavour enhancer found in a number of different foods, but have been linked to poor cognitive function.
Finally, limit their amount of; caffeine. This is not only a stimulant, but is also addictive, and can really highlight the symptoms of ADHD, often worsening them. Although some people can enjoy a small amount of caffeine, others find it easier to cut it out completely, so find a balance with your child; sugar, which can cause energy crashes when had in larger quantities, and cause problems with memory and focus, which will only magnify their symptoms; and finally, artificial sweeteners, which can interfere with cognitive functions and emotions; however it should be noted that this evidence is very mixed.
Keep their blood sugar stable:
Making sure that your child is eating regularly enough that they are maintaining a steady blood sugar level is a good way of managing symptoms without additional medication. Low blood sugar causes irritability, focus and attention issues, and low physical energy, which will only add to the symptoms of ADHD.
Of course, it can often be hard to encourage a child who has ADHD to eat regularly, so here are a few ways in which you can help to keep their blood sugar stable; get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning, to ensure that they always have time to eat breakfast; eat protein for breakfast as well, as this will help to stabilise blood sugar levels; set an alarm for lunch and dinner, so that they know when they should be eating; keep a supply of healthy snacks on you when you leave the house, so they (or you!) will not be tempted to reach for a sugary snack should they get hungry.
Ensure that they get enough sleep:
Every parent with a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD will know that this one is not easy at all; however, getting enough hours of sleep every night really is one of the best ways that you can help to treat ADHD without medication.
The battle is of course that the behaviour associated with the disorder can often be detrimental to sleep. For example, if they spend a lot of time procrastinating, or focusing on other things, they will not go to sleep until late, where more often than not, having such busy thoughts will prevent them from falling asleep at all.
Unfortunately though, being sleep deprived affects all aspects of your body; including the ability to focus and concentrate, as well as your mood; all of which will make symptoms of ADHD far, far worse. It might seem incredibly daunting, and you might benefit from speaking to a sleep expert, but if you can make sleep a priority, and get your child into good habits around bedtime, it is likely that you will see a marked improvement in their behaviour.