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Alternative Treatments for ADHD

More Top Expert Videos on ADD and ADHD

Whether you’re for medication, against it, or not even sure where you stand, it’s important to be informed about all of the treatment options available for your child’s ADHD. While prescription stimulant medication has been proven to be effective, medical experts also tout the efficacy of more natural solutions to bolster brain performance and promote focus and concentration.

“The question is whether or not children who need medication for ADHD should be medicated. The answer to that is that we should try everything that we possibly can first, before we try medication,” says psychologist Alan Yellin, PhD.

These alternative ADHD treatments range from cognitive retraining programs to diet and school modifications. If you’re concerned about prescription side effects, you can always speak to your child’s medical professional about implementing one or more  of the natural treatment options below:

Diet

“Many parents are interested in diet, and I’ll usually refer them to the [internet] to look up the Feingold diet, which was popular in the seventies and eighties, which eliminated food additives and excessive sugar in the child’s diet,” says Dr. James Varga, MD., a pediatrician who has treated childhood ADHD for over 30 years.

For children with ADHD with hyperactivity, it of course makes sense not to exacerbate their restlessness with foods that would make any child bounce off the walls. Varga notes that restricting your child’s sugar intake is unlikely to fully solve their attentional issues, however it can begin to make a difference in their symptoms.

Natural Supplements

“What I have seen in thousands of cases is that children who have ADHD symptoms– impulsive, hyper, overly sensitive, hyper in various aspects– if they take 1000 mg of ascorbate, not ascorbic acid, ascorbate - that means it's buffered with minerals, along with half that dose of grape seed extract, within days you will notice an improvement in their behaviors,” says best-selling author John Gray, PhD.

Gray explains that ADHD symptoms are the result of inflammation caused by free radicals in the brain. Taking certain oils, minerals, and vitamins to protect and heal the brain, he believes, will improve much of the symptoms affecting your child.

Gray recommends the following supplements:

  • Ascorbate
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega 3- Chia seeds
  • Minerals with Orotic Acid

All of these supplements can be found in your local grocery store and lack the side effects that prescriptions can cause.

School Modifications

  • Classroom Placement– Make sure your child is away from distractions and as close to the teacher and board as possible.

“Moving the child to the front of the classroom, in some cases, can have as much impact as medication,” says Yellin.

  • Low Student to Teacher Ratio– Choose a class or school system that allows your child to get as much attention and structure from the teacher as possible.
  • Finding the Right Teacher– If possible, work with your school administration or IEP team to choose a teacher that can tolerate outbursts or inattentiveness and will help structure and facilitate their learning instead of just punishing the child.
  • Tutors– To keep up with schoolwork, tutors can help your child one-on-one in an environment with limited distractions.

Fitness

  • Exercise– Regular physical activity can relieve excess energy and promote better brain function.

“One of the best treatments for ADD is regular, vigorous physical exercise,” says Harvard-trained Dr. Edward Hallowell, Md., EdD. “[Kids with ADHD] need to have movements. They need to have outlets for neurological overflow that so often accompanies ADHD. [It’s] absolutely critical. Sometimes exercise is the only treatment you need, if you get it regularly and vigorously enough.”

  • Brain Fitness– Cognitive re-training programs help your child work on memory and concentration to essentially re-learn how to do the processes they struggle with.
  • Organized Sports– Being on an after-school team pairs structure and focus in an environment that doesn’t limit hyperactivity or excess energy and movement, but encourages it.

If your child is struggling with their ADHD, natural alternative treatment methods may be the solution they need. Talk to your doctor about what changes you can make to the foods they eat and daily activities to relieve their ADHD symptoms.

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