ADHD - Natural Treatment?
Are there any natural ways to treat ADHD?

There are many “proposed” natural treatments for ADHD, but few of
them have ever been compared to placebo, so we don’t know if they
really work. Increasing certain fats or oils in the diet may be the only
natural treatments that are worth considering. ADHD kids appear to
be deficient in these fatty acids.

There are two families of these compounds, Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6. The only source
of Omega-3 is fish, flax seed oil, and some greens.  From the research on this topic, it has been
determined that:

  • giving long chain fatty acids and adding it to your food doesn’t work any better than a placebo
  • giving a certain long chain fatty acids called DHA derived from algae doesn’t work better than
  • giving two long chain fatty acids called Omega-3 and Omega-6 worked better than a placebo in
    children who had behavior problems, attention problems, and academic problems

Two of the most popular natural treatments for ADHD are
Synaptol and Focus ADHD. But they
are very costly ($69 for a one-month supply). If you can find it, there is a herring product called
Omega Gold. It is cheap and has plenty of the right fatty acids in it.

To determine whether or not fish oils are
actually helping your ADHD child, you need
to be able to measure how much change
there is over time, because these substances
do not work overnight.

Assuming your child will go along with this
attempt at natural treatment, try giving fish
oils for one whole year. If there is no
significant improvement in his/her behavior
or academic performance after the
recommended time has elapsed, then stop
the treatment.

The good news is there are few side effects
-- usually just indigestion and burping (although in rare cases, an ADHD kid may become agitated on
fish oil).

Overall, fish oils are worth trying, not because they work better than standard medications, but

  • they have so few side effects
  • they are cheap
  • some parents refuse to administer standard medications (e.g., Ritalin)
  • some kids refuse to take the “hard stuff”

Just so you’ll know my bias, I don’t believe children should be on non-natural forms of ADHD
medication except in those worst-case scenarios where the child simply cannot function (in the
social sense) without the drug.  Here’s why:

  • some children will actually become more hyper -- not less
  • some children will become irritable, angry and easily upset
  • occasionally a child who has a problem with speaking will actually worsen on one of these drugs
    and speak even less than usual
  • these drugs may make the child have nervous tics as in Tourette's (e.g., nail biting, licking the
    hand, having to touch certain things)
  • sudden death while taking stimulants (3 deaths per 10 million)
  • serious heart problems while taking stimulants (5 per 10 million)

Overall, ADHD is (in my opinion) an overly diagnosed mental disorder.  Often times it is much easier
to medicate a child rather than spend the time and energy with behavioral strategies.