Monday, September 23, 2013

Natural Alternatives to Treat ADHD in Children

by Dr Rania Chiourea

As a parent, do you think that your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is being over-diagnosed and over-medicated? If your kid has been labeled as ADHD, but you do not feel comfortable with standard medications that can do more harm than good, may be you wish to explore some natural alternatives to subdue hyperactivity within your child.
It is interesting to see the diversity amongst ADD/ADHD population. Many young children and adolescents love the feeling of being "hyper-focused" and are able to accomplish amounts of work in a short time. Some others look pale and tired, and want off their medications.
Symptoms of ADHD in children can vary widely from child to child. Typically, these symptoms are broken down into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. A child may have just one, or a combination of the three. Within each category, there are common ADHD symptoms in children, but also many individual ones.
Once the diagnosis is made, typical treatment includes medication, counseling and behavioral therapy. Then, symptoms of ADHD can be controlled with medication to make the child able to behave better and concentrate in school. But medications may have side effects, and some can be serious. In several cases medical treatment can do more harm than good. That’s the main reason why many parents wish to explore natural alternatives to subdue hyperactivity within their child. On the other hand many of the symptoms can be controlled or eliminated naturally, without medication and some patients improve their attention and hyperactivity with alternative regimens.
 While research continues to debate the effectiveness of the medications for improving grades and helping students "study", recent statistics show that use of medications for ADD has increased by 50% in the last six years. It is also shown that abuse of Ritalin, one of the most commonly used ADHD medications, is rampant on college campuses.

ADD and ADHD are the result of neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine imbalances. The four main imbalances include high norepineprine and cortisol, dopamine dysfunction, serotonin deficiency, and insulin irregularity. Each of these imbalances are rooted in nutritional deficiencies that with correction, improve symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. Food allergies and intolerances also contribute to malabsorption of nutrients, explains Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, an Integrative/Holistic medicine expert.

While the practice goal is to identify each patient's unique ADD/ADHD type, Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, Dr. Nancy Malik and 5 other experts report that there are general patterns that seem to be consistent for the majority of patients:

1.     Correct Nutritional Deficiencies. Nutrition is often underplayed in ADHD management, says Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, but there are nutritional deficiencies that appear in my patients repeatedly. These deficiencies are also important in neurotransmitter balance. The most common nutritional deficiencies we see in practice include low B vitamin levels, low magnesium, and low levels of amino acids. If you or your child may have ADD/ADHD, have your physician or nutritionist evaluate your potential nutritional deficiencies, prior to supplementation.
2 .     Remove artificial colorings, flavorings, sweeteners and preservatives from your child's diet. You should also remove foods containing salicylates, such as berries, apples, cloves, oranges, peaches, grapes, peppers prunes, plums and tomatoes. Eggs, milk and chocolate have also been linked to behavioral problems. If you do not want to impose such a drastic change on your child's diet all at once, eliminate different types of foods one by one while seeing if there is any improvement.
3.     Correct Irregular Sleep Cycles. Children with inattention, as well as adolescents, need more sleep than their non-ADD counterparts. Most children require at least 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Many children become wired at night, fighting sleep and bedtimes. Creating a calming sleep routine that is consistent helps children with ADD/ADHD relax. Reading, journaling, guided imagery tapes and yoga are great pre-bed activities. Warm baths with Epsom salts may also help.
4.     Help your child relax. A daily massage may help feel happier, less fidgety and able to focus. If the kid is willing, help learn yoga or meditation. Try looking for guided meditation tapes. They can be soothing, and can at least provide some short-term relief from the ADHD symptoms.
5.     Try to include supplements containing iron, zinc, magnesium and fatty acid supplements like shark liver oil in your diet.
6.     Keep Insulin Stable. Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable improve inattention and hyperactivity symptoms. Many children leave their homes with a high-sugar breakfast, followed by sugary snacks and unhealthy lunches. Emphasizing the importance of protein and decreasing total sugar consumption daily to under 40 grams, is critical for children with ADD/ADHD. Small servings of protein should be eaten at regular intervals. Convenient protein sources include nuts, yogurt, hummus, protein bars and protein smoothies.
7.     Morning Exercise. For many children, serotonin imbalance is the cause of ADD. Beginning a quick morning workout before heading to class, gives the brain a serotonin boost. Try running up and down the stairs five times or 10 jumping jacks. A brisk morning walk may also help "wake up" your serotonin.
8.     Enroll your child in a sport or hobby. These can take excess energy out of your child and can also be a mental stimulant. However, taking a hobby such as art or music is not recommended due to the fact that your child will have to stay immobile for long periods of time.
9.     Use musical or rhythmic therapy. Interactive metronome therapy uses rhythmic feedback to improve children's control and attention. Children that are treated with this technique perform exercises to a rhythmic beat while wearing sensors on their hands and feet. If you cannot find a practitioner in this type of therapy, try enrolling your child in music and/or dance lessons.
10.  Create an Electronic Budget. Children and adults with ADD/ADHD often find their symptoms worsen with constant stimulation from iPhones, iPads and other electronics. Most children should have an "electronic budget" that limits use of TV, video games, phones and other gadgets to one hour per day. Adults need an electronic budget as well. While jobs may force us all on the computer for long periods of time, having "electronic-free" hours can help build focus and attention. Turn off your electronics by 10 p.m. and keep four hours at least one day per week gadget/electronic-free.

       Some Tips
·       Take your child outdoors or on a walk at least once a day to provide a chance to get rid of excess energy.
·       Be calm and accepting to your child. Don't yell or respond negatively when your child has an episode or when they get in trouble.
·       Remember, It's not your fault or a result of bad parenting that your child has ADHD.
·       Don't overreact to your kids they calm down after a while.

Warnings, by Dr. Nancy Malik
·       None of these treatments is proven to work and most have no scientific prior plausibility.
·       Children with ADHD that is not properly treated by a medical professional are four times more likely to drop out of high school, 8 times less likely to graduate college, 40 percent more likely to become pregnant as a teen, twice as likely to have marital problems, and 60 percent report having few or no friends.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2011, September 6). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September 15, 2011, from
Tourville, A. D., & Sorra, K. (2010). My friend has ADHD. Minneapolis: Picture Window Books.
Wender, P. H. (2000). ADHD: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults. London: Oxford University Press.
Novella M.D., Steven. (Speaker). (2010). Sugar and hyperactivity (Video Recording No. 1924). : The Great Courses.

SOURCES: Dr Tasneem Bhatia, M.D.,


Unknown said...

I Think it is interesting and helpfull.

Rania Chiourea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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