Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects five to eight percent of school age children and between two to four percent of adults, according to the National Resource Center on AD|HD. This disorder causes challenges with attention, impulsivity and overactivity for those who are affected.
Many treatment options are available, including dietary changes, use of herbal supplements and behavioral therapy. Each individual will respond to treatment differently and often a combination of treatments is used.
Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder With Dietary Changes
Certain foods do not, except in a few cases, appear to have any affect on behavior. It is to be noted however, foods that are allergens to a child have had an impact on behavior.
Some foods shown to cause behavioral changes are:
- artificial colorings (yellow, red or green)
- chemical additives
- milk, chocolate, eggs, wheat
- salicylates (found in berries, apples, cloves, grapes, peaches, peppers, plums and tomatoes)
The Feingold Diet is well known as a diet for children who suffer from ADHD. It requires careful moderation of the child's diet to ensure it is free of both salicylates and additives. Increasing essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids) is another dietary change many parents implement as well as increasing zinc consumption. It is to be noted, though, if a child is not zinc deficient, taking extra zinc can have side effects.
Using Herbal Supplements to Relieve ADHD Symptoms
Many parents resort to the use of herbal supplements as alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. Herbal supplements do not require FDA testing to be sold, and as they can alter the body's chemistry it's important to know they can cause side effects especially if interacting with other medications. Always speak to your healthcare practitioner before starting any new medications, especially if current prescriptions exist.
Common herbal supplements used to treat ADHD are:
- St. John's Wort
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Paxax Ginseng
- Pine Bark Extract
Behavioral Therapy to Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Therapists work with children to help them manage themselves better and gain a more positive self-image. A psychiatrist or psychotherapist will help a child learn how to deal with daily problems, stay more focused and learn to control aggression.
Therapy options include:
- Behavior Therapy: Works towards altering behaviors for better outcomes and results. This type of therapy focuses on a plan children and caregivers can follow to achieve better behavior.
- Talk Therapy: This type of therapy encourages the child to discuss how he is feeling and how to deal with those emotions. The therapist will attempt to help the child identify what he is feeling and ways to handle that feeling.
- Social Skills Training: Designed to help the child interact better with others, this therapy will cover concepts like waiting for a turn, how to share and when to ask for help if needed.
- Caregiver Counselling: Assisting the caregiver in learning ways to help the child is another therapy option. Caregivers will learn to recognize when the child may need some quiet time or when a task needs to be broken up into smaller sections if it seems overwhelming.
- Family Support Groups: These groups allow caregivers of ADHD children to get together and share stories and experiences.
Using Natural Alternative Remedies to Treat ADHD
Many options are available when treating ADHD and not all will work the same way for each child. Often, combinations of treatments will be used and modified as the child gets older.
Consulting medical professionals and performing routine medical checkups is advised to ensure a child with ADHD is healthy and that no other underlying issues are present.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.
National Institute of Mental Health. "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (accessed September 9, 2010).
National Resource Center on AD|HD "What is ADHD or ADD" (accessed September 9, 2010).
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. "Getting Treatment" (accessed September 9, 2010).