ADD / ADHD Community
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Avatar universal

What's natural that actually works on ADHD?

Hi--I am new to this blog. My 8yr old son has ADHD and mild delayed development. I tried not to medicate. As a nurse I do realize that stimulants can be addictive etc..Well, he was just unable to cope in Kindergarten--the teacher told me that he just wasn't retaining anything and I agreed. Despite counseling and behavior mod therapy etc..he wasn't learning. His self esteem was taking a hit and we started to see alot of anxiety.  SO we did adderal. It worked and has for the past year or so. He's not addicted and only takes it to go to school. Not on weekends, not on breaks. He is doing so well that he may not be going to special ed classes anymore which is a big deal.  I am thinking about weaning him off adderal altogether.

But first I would like to know what actually works for real kids (not myths). I already limit his sugar and give him a multivitamin. The dr recommeded melatonin--it didn't help and he's never had any problem sleeping anywway.  

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
12 Responses
1346146 tn?1299364097
As far as natural things that actually helped my son who is now nine we did fish oil supplements and a good multivitamin with zinc.  I also eliminated artificial dyes from his diet.(fruit snacks and some of the yogurts he ate had it)  this helped for a while however his adhd started affecting him at school and we started medication.  But we did focalin xr and its only 10 mg.  I didn't want to medicate either but I also didn't want him hindered either like his dad.  My husband also has severe adhd to the point where he could not read a book at all.   He finally as an adult began taking focalin also but it didn't work.  He switched to adderal and it works great for him.   If you are going to wean I would do it during the summer so you can see if its possible.  I know with my son the las two summers we took him off but it was so obvious he needed it.  Now during the second summer he did better and seemed more in control but he still needs it.  I think in a few more years he will b able to learn how to adapt to it without meds.  Hope this helped good luck.
189897 tn?1441130118
   I've been posting on this site for close to 5 years and I have never seen  a post  by anyone saying anything naturally helped their child (with ADHD) outside of normal good dietary practices.
   The thing that will most help your child is for you to be informed about ADHD as possible.  I highly recommend that you get the book, "The ADD/ADHD Answer Book" by Susan Ashley.  It will be a tremendous resource for you.  Best wishes
Avatar universal
Sandman I too have noticed that there are no posts that actually say that anything naturally treated their ADHD child successfully like the stimulants do.

Thanks for your comments-I am looking into finding the right vitamin with omega 3 in it as well as the ADD/ ADHD book. Today I gave my boy green tea this morn--he is not on adderal as its a winter school break here in Germany. Personally I have always used caffiene to help me focus and I think it may benefit my boy as well.
Avatar universal
I would suggest keeping him on the medication if it has already helped him improve. You want to keep his self image intact. If he begins to feel stupid or slower then his friends his performance will go down.
Other alternatives you can look into are
supplements as suggested above - Omega 3 and 6 EFA's, calcium , magnesium, zinc and iron supplements
a large change in diet, avoid colorants, flavor enhancers, preservatives and sugars
exercise / movement through play
A regular sleep routine

I agree with Sandman that the best you can do is to keep yourself informed on the subject.

Avatar universal
Stay away from caffeine
189897 tn?1441130118
besides a good nights, also check out the "featured Articles" at the top of adhd forum page.  the second page hassome good articles
Avatar universal
Read the articles...sigh..its so hard to make these drastic changes almost all of the fruits/veggies on 9 worst food article are our major staples. Thanks for the info. I wanted a natural advice to deal with ADD and now I got it.
Avatar universal
These are not necessarily stimulant replacements, however, there are a couple things you can do for your son.

1). Exercise (as another poster recommented).  Read Dr. John Ratey's chapter on ADHD & exercise in the book "Spark"

2). Research is only preliminary, but French Maritime Pine Bark (sold without prescription under the name "pycnogenol," has shown some benefits for people with ADHD in research.  You can research it at www.pubmed.com.  The same with Bacopa monniera (brahmi) extract.

3).  You probably already know that structure, organization, and having a predictable schedule are helpful.  The less chaos, the better.  

4).  Using positive reinforcement charts (with stars and rewards) works great for children this age, in my experience.  Part of ADHD is living in the moment and forgetting the "pain" of past mistakes and forgetting the rewards of one's actions on the future.  Positive reinforcement using visual charts can help cement the relationship between present behavior and the future.

Best wishes!
189897 tn?1441130118
You can still eat the fruits and vegies.  the problem with them is the pesticides.  go organic or wash them really well
Avatar universal
I am a special education teacher and I understand your pain. I have also tried an all natural remedy for my child with no success. My in laws tried the same thing with my husband (when he was a child) with no success. Sometimes we have to step back and remove our own feeling from the situation. I don't know one parent who likes their child on medication, but sometimes it's the only option.
Avatar universal
I should have started out by saying that I will be experimenting with proven natural ADHD treatments over the summer while he's off his meds anyway. I won't just take him off in the middle of the school year. I have way too much respect for my boy's academic progress than to do that.

Anyway thanks for the advice all--this summer I plan on trying a better vitamin (mine has flinstone artificial coloring -whoops) +add some fish oil+add any information from the ADD/ADHD book I get. We're already very structured at home...he has no discipline problems and is eager to please. He just cannot focus on anything requiring active thinking--frequent ly daydreaming...Altogether I have a feeling that next year he will stay on the stimulant. : /  Every little bit of info helps add little pieces of the puzzle.  
209987 tn?1451939065
From my own personal experiences, I have learned that exercise and diet are key.
Not sure about Germany or any other country for that matter, but I know in Canada physical education is not in the top 10 school subjects any more.
In fact, it doesn't seem to exist at all in most places.
My third oldest is now in grade 11. He was told to buy a bow and arrow and use it after school. This is supposed to be his P.E...as they no longer offer it in school....or at least in the town he lives in.
My son is obese...and has ADHD.
When he was younger he would come home, sit in front of the t.v and stab the couch with whatever was in his hands. We bought a trampoline (used) and forced him outside. He graduated from that to a treadmill. Now he has a girlfriend and has suddenly recognized that he has legs to carry him over to her house. lol
When I was in school we had phys ed every single day. In order to graduate from high school you needed to at least take phys ed 10. That is no longer true.
Most children seem to be experiencing problems...whether it's their weight, ADHD/ADD diagnosis, or whatever.
If you look back through history ( even the past 60 years ) you will notice an increase in obesity, attention problems, etc.
My son's pediatrician pointed this out to me. He also has ADD and Tourette's Syndrome.
He says that way back when, kids were made to sit still. They would attend church, family functions, etc. on a daily/weekly basis.
Churches didn't have "quite rooms" like they do now. You sat still or Opa/daddy/the person next to you, would smack you.
Now society is "too busy" to sit still...this has got to have some sort of impact on our children.
I think ( in Canada anyway ) that if they brought back P.E as a major subject in schools, to at least give the kids a chance to run around once a day, it might help.
Our school day used to start at 8 A.M and ended at 4 P.M. We used to have recess twice a day for about half an hour, and an hour for lunch.
Now they have school from 9/ 9:30 to 3:00, a 10 minute break ( or less in some schools ) which only gives you enough time to pee and run to your next class. Lunch is cut short so you only have time to eat...no time to run those calories off.

Speaking of lunches...society is offering up more "junk food" when they claim that they are trying to make all school cafeterias healthy.
The U.S came up with that wonderful idea of making Pizza a Vegetable!!
How can it be a vegetable? Does it grow on a tree or bush? Does it have roots in the ground?  They saw that children "needed" to retain junk food or less healthier foods in their diets, so they turn things around to make them seem like they aren't so bad.
I'm not saying that pizza is totally junk...it has tons of good things in it...but the sauce has sugar ( most varieties), most contain preservatives,...and most have lard in the crust. And what goes better with pizza than cold pop or sugar laden juices from concentrate? Of course you have to finish your lunch off with jello, pudding, fruit snacks...made from concentrate, and most with lots of sugar...or worse yet with aspartame ( which most people cannot handle)
Sorry...just running off with my ADHD mouth! Err...fingers...lol
Not trying to cause a world war here...just trying to get people to think.
All I know is that life was miserable for me as a child, but not nearly as bad as what some of these kids have it.
I got the strap in school and in Sunday school...so I learned to sit as still as possible. My focus changed from running around to reading. Which I also got in trouble for, because I would lose track of where we were in the reader...but at least I wasn't causing a scene...right? lol
I would run my legs off at recess and lunch hour, and then I would be "okay" for a bit.
Now that I'm older I leave sticky notes all over the place, and clean house or go for walks to "curb" my energy.
As long as I have a schedule or something to do I'm fine.
I still have problems with saying inappropriate things at the wrong time, but hey...who's perfect right?
Anyway...I found that with myself, I would retain some of the information that the teacher was pounding out if I "doodled" while he/she was talking.
Other kids took notes, but: 1) my printing/writing was too sloppy for even me to read. 2) I got bored easily and started to daydream.
There is nothing worse than a teacher who prattles on about the same thing day after day...a noun is a person, place, or thing...ya, ya, ya...I get it already. Now can we move onto something else? Something to tweak an interest?
The "right" teacher / plan can make or break a child.
The teacher who makes it "fun" wins the students attentions.
When they use "props" or hands on type of learning it really helps.
But most won't or can't...which is too bad.
They realize that more and more children every day are diagnosed with learning problems...so why not add "something" to the teaching methods in order to hold the attention of these "special" children...might make a difference for the "normal" kids as well. There are some colleges and universities that are now doing just that. They find it makes an absolute difference.

Home schooling is also another option for those of us with ADD/ADHD. Unfortunately, it's often not an option for most parents.
My mom wishes they would have had that when I was younger.
She would have done it for sure! I did that with my two oldest sons. Worked well, especially for the dyslexic one. They got their interaction with other kids when we went swimming, went to the park, library, etc.

Anywho...enough of my rambling.
Basically it adds up to :1) the children need to discover a way to learn that works well for them, whether it's doodling, re-reading material after school, having it read to them, making notes, listening to music with a good beat while trying to study/memorize...whatever works...experiment.
If your child likes Lego try to invent a way to learn by playing with those.
For example: he is learning about the pilgrims in Social Studies...have him take his Lego blocks, build a ship, grab the little Lego men, and re-enact the whole scenario while someone reads about it to him.
Make play time a learning experience.  Also offer lots of praise!
2) Exercise at home. Teach him ways to stretch when he can while at school. Wiggle your toes under your desk, twirl the pencil between your fingers. Anything that helps to "take the edge off" but does not distract the other students.
3) Healthy foods. Less sugar, caffeine, etc. Look for any hidden food allergies/intolerances. It took me many years to discover that certain foods set me off. Wasn't until I recently had my teeth removed that I learned that I can't eat processed/preserved foods...no more cheezies/ or anything else containing processed cheese, potato chips, chocolate bars, pop, etc. All the crunchy things were removed from my diet...not by choice. lol
I have not had any raw veggies, red meat, and most fruit since the removal. A few things such as grapes, oranges, avocado, mashed  potatoes, cooked peas and carrots have returned to my diet.
I am not yet feeling any adverse reactions to them...at least not ADHD wise...and my IBS has cleared up.
I'm feeling much better, calmer, and alert than I have in many years. I can now remember where I put my keys!
Good luck to all.
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