Children diagnosed with ADHD improve more quickly when their treatment involves behavior modification first, and then medication, rather than the other way around.
Signs and symptoms, how kids act
ADHD symptoms and signs include school difficulties, academic underachievement, troublesome interpersonal relationships with family members and peers, and low self-esteem. Adult ADHD is also common. The cause is not fully understood at this time but there appears to be a strong genetic link. About one-third of cases among U.S. children may be linked with tobacco smoke before birth or to lead exposure afterward. Even levels of lead the government considers acceptable appear to increase a child's risk. These children should be steered away from contact sports such as football or basketball because they may be at greater risk of long-lasting head injury.
One out of every 5 children in the USA has a mental health disorder which include: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, behavioral or conduct disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, substance abuse, and Tourette syndrome. Of psychiatric issues affecting child development, generalized anxiety is not getting the attention it deserves and is frequently mistaken for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder by Alan Schwarz is an interesting article in the December 15th issue of the New York Times. It begins, "The number of A.D.H.D. diagnoses has soared amid a 20-year marketing campaign by drug makers."
Rates of developmental and mental disabilities -- ranging from speech problems to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder -- among U.S. children, have increased significantly in recent years.
Diet and nutrition - food and fish oils - natural
Research indicates artificial food colorings and benzoate preservatives increase hyperactive behavior in preschool children. One good dietary natural remedy for ADHD is to remove food coloring, preservatives, processed sugars and flour from the diet and replacing them with more protein and fish, along with adding omega-3 supplements such as fish oils.
When children between the ages of 4 and 8 are placed on a diet containing no processed foods for five weeks, ADHD symptoms diminished in the vast majority. And, when suspected trouble foods were reintroduced into the diet, most of the children experienced a relapse in symptoms. Researchers recruited 100 children from Belgium and the Netherlands and were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first was placed on the restrictive elimination diet, and the second served as a control group. The restrictive diet began with a diet called the "few foods diet," which includes just rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water. The researchers then added this diet with certain foods, such as potatoes, fruits and wheat. The restrictive diet lasted for five weeks. During the next four weeks, kids in the restricted diet group received two food challenge diets, in which certain foods were reintroduced into the diet. Of those who completed the study, 78% had a reduction in their ADHD symptoms, compared with no improvement in the controls. Thirty children who had shown a response on the restrictive diet went on to the challenge test. Nineteen of those children had a relapse in symptoms on the challenge test. Lancet, 2011.
Nord J Psychiatry. 2015 January. Diet in the treatment of ADHD in children-A systematic review of the literature. Dietary changes have been suggested as a way of reducing ADHD symptoms. Relevant databases were searched in October 2011, with an update search in March 2013. The studies included describe diet interventions in children with ADHD or equivalent diagnoses measuring possible changes in core ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. A total of 52 studies were identified, some investigating whether ADHD symptoms can improve by avoiding certain food elements (20 studies), and some whether certain food elements may reduce ADHD symptoms (32 studies). Elimination diets and fish oil supplementation seem to be the most promising dietary interventions for a reduction in ADHD symptoms in children. However, the studies on both treatments have shortcomings, and more thorough investigations will be necessary to decide whether they are recommendable as part of ADHD treatment.
Natural Remedy for ADHD
treatment with vitamins, supplements and proper fatty acids
Over the years many attempts have been made to find natural therapies in order to avoid the use of stimulants such as Ritalin. Little research has been done in this area since the medical profession has focused their attention almost exclusively on the use of stimulant drugs. It does seem probable that some nutrients or herbal remedies could eventually be found to be helpful. I am not a pediatrician and do not have first hand experience treating ADHD in children, but based on my general knowledge of herbs and nutrients, and some preliminary studies, there are several natural supplements that are worthwhile for researchers to study. A combination formula called Mind Power Rx may be helpful. I will update this page as I come across more information about herbs or supplements helpful in the natural remedy and therapy of ADHD. If any parents have had success using natural therapies, please email me and I will post your email so that others are helped.
Which one of your products might be useful for a
person experiencing symptoms popularly associated with Attention Deficit
Disorder, such as: excessive daydreaming, time management issues,
disorganization, forgetfulness, trouble staying focused, trouble following
instructions and mild depression? We are looking for natural products that might
alleviate these symptoms without destroying the positive aspects of the
personality -- great imagination, empathy, creativity, sense of humor and
willing to try new things.
It is difficult to predict what would work in any one individual, but you can try different ones listed below.
5HTP and GABA
Email - Several months ago our nutritionist recommended the combination of GABA and 5HTP as a natural treatment for symptoms of ADD in our 6 year old son. The recommended dosages were 100 mg of 5HTP each morning and 500 mg of GABA each morning and 500 mg each evening. We initially tried the combination and found that the results were very positive. He was noticeably calmer, happier and less anxious in virtually every context. His teacher noticed a difference, and our son seemed genuinely better off.
Acetyl l-carnitine may help ADHD in children with the genetic disorder known as fragile X syndrome. Fragile X syndrome results from an inherited genetic defect on the X chromosome. It is associated with mental retardation and may also cause autism and ADHD, common in young boys with fragile X syndrome. Dr. Giovanni Neri from Universita Cattolica in Rome studied boys between 6 and 13 years old for a period one year. Twenty four received the nutrient and 27 received placebo. There was a more effective reduction of hyperactivity and improvement of social behavior in patients treated with acetylcarnitine. American Journal of Medical Genetics 2008.
Comments: I have not seen any studies regarding the use of acetyl l carnitine in children with ADHD who do not have fragile X syndrome, but I think its use is a safer alternative to prescription stimulants. A dosage of 5 to 10 mg per kilo is a reasonable one to begin with. This dosage can be adjusted higher or lower as needed. For a 30 kg child, (66 pounds), this would be about 200 to 300 mg per day.
A double-blind, parallel, multicenter comparison
of L-acetylcarnitine with placebo on the attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder in fragile X syndrome boys.
Am J Med Genet A. 2008.
Our results show that L-acetylcarnitine 20-50 mg/kg/day represents a safe alternative to the use of stimulant drugs in a sample of fragile X syndrome boys with ADHD.
Acetyl l-carnitine reduces impulsive behavior in adolescent rats.
This study shows the ability of chronic acetyl- l-carnitine to reduce impulsivity in a validated animal model for ADHD.
Efficacy of carnitine in the treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002.
In 13/24 boys receiving carnitine, home behavior and school behavior improved. In the majority of boys no side effects were seen. Treatment with carnitine significantly decreased the attention problems and aggressive behavior.
Mind Power Rx - Formulated by Ray Sahelian, M.D. for a healthy mind
This herbal and nutraceutical combination is a sophisticated cognitive formula. It combines a delicate balance of brain circulation agents and neurotransmitter precursors with powerful natural brain chemicals that support healthy:
Memory and Mood
Alertness and Focus
The herbs include:
Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, Gotu kola, Mucuna pruriens, Reishi, and Rhodiola. The nutrients and
vitamins in Mind Power Rx include Acetyl-l-carnitine, Carnitine, Carnosine,
Inositol, Pantothenic acid, Trimethylglycine,
Tyrosine, and Vinpocetine.
We have some anecdotal reports of Mind Power Rx being helpful in adhd, but we don't have any studies to prove it.
Consuming more fish or taking fish oil pills could be of benefit.
Nutrition. 2012. Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, cognition, and behavior in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Physiology Research Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Supplements rich in EPA, DHA, were randomly allocated for 4 mo to 90 Australian children 7 to 12 y old with ADHD symptoms higher than the 90th percentile on the Conners Rating Scales. The effect of supplementation on cognition, literacy, and parent-rated behavior was assessed by linear mixed modeling. Increases in erythrocyte ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically DHA, may improve literacy and behavior in children with ADHD. The greatest benefit may be observed in children who have comorbid learning difficulties.
I just wanted to let you know that I had ordered Mind Power Rx about 8 months ago and found it to be extremely helpful in keeping focus. I have been diagnosed with Adult ADD and had been on Concerta (basically Ritalin) for some time. I know that this drug can be taxing on the liver and other organs as many prescriptions, but I really felt that I needed the focus it gave me. After doing research on more natural approaches to my issue, I came across Physician Formulas. I haven't had any Mind Power Rx in a while, but I just placed another order and anticipate it greatly. Thank you for an outstanding product!
I had been prescribed Adderall for some time and
have recently stopped using it because I would like to explore more
natural alternatives. While on Adderall I noticed that I had more energy
and slightly better concentration, but I felt that I didn't really need
it and that I could find a more natural alternative. I came across your
supplement medication on the web and am wondering if it would be
something to consider as an alternative. Have your patients been able to
find Mind Power Rx helpful in increasing their energy and concentration
Most users have found this mind formula to increase focus, alertness and concentration.
My 8-yo has ADHD. I give her one
Mind Power Rx weekday mornings. The initial effect is/was
amazingly quick and noticeable. However, by lunch time the effects are
wearing off. Is there a reason I should/could not give her 1 capsule in the
morning and one in the afternoon?
Mind Power Rx was formulated for adults, and we have had some feedback from parents that it helped their child, but since we don't have much details on the use of its in children or adults with ADHD, we really can't say much more. One option is to have supervision by your child's doctor and use the lowest amount and number of capsules that work for your child and take occasional breaks from use.
Is ashwaganda useful to treat ADD? My child is 12 years old.
I have not seen such studies but is is worth a try for a week or two to see if there is an improvement since this herb can help relax.
Bacopa monnieri herb
Adv Mind Body Med. 2014. An open-label study to elucidate the effects of standardized Bacopa monnieri extract in the management of symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Thirty-one children were participants in the trial. They were 6-12 y of age. The children received a dose of 225 mg/d for a period of 6 months, BacoMind (M/s Natural Remedies, Bangalore, India). Standardized extract of B monnieri was found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD and was well-tolerated by the children.
It may be worthwhile to try carnosine to see if it is of benefit.
I find DMAE helps me with my ADHD symptoms. My daughter is able to substitute one DMAE tablet every other day for her Adderall which reduces her need for this drug. So she takes Aderall one day, and DMAE one tablet the next day, alternating the use.
I have miraculously stumbled onto your website, how wonderful and educational. I have recently taken my 8 yr old son off of Ritalin due to ADHD combined type and after long research I have put him on natural supplements. He is taking a combination of DMAE and Leci-PS , also a combination in one, of omega 3 fatty acids and a multivitamin high in magnesium and natural food minerals. This has worked tremendously.
Fish oils and omega-3
There are many reasons given for unruly children - from television to bad parenting to video games. But recent research suggests there may be a more subtle reason. A team of Oxford scientists showed in a series of trials that a range of behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactive disorder, can be dramatically improved by adding fish oil supplements to the diet. Researchers tested 100 students suspected of having dyspraxia, a behavioral disorder related to movement and attention. The students were divided into two groups; one was given fish oils and the other placebos. After three months, half the group taking the fish oils no longer fit the criteria for abnormal behavior. The other group was switched to the same treatment soon after. An alternative to fish oils may be flaxseed oil.
Ginkgo and ginseng
Effect of the herbal extract combination Panax quinquefolium and Ginkgo biloba on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a pilot study.
J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2001.
A combination herbal product containing American ginseng extract, Panax quinquefolium, 200 mg and Ginkgo biloba extract 50 mg (AD-FX; CV Technologies, Edmonton, Alta.) was tested for its ability to improve the symptoms of ADHD. AD-FX capsules were taken twice a day on an empty stomach for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks of treatment, the proportion of subjects exhibiting improvement ranged from 44% for the social problems attribute to 74% for the Conners' ADHD index and the DSM-IV hyperactive-impulsive attribute. Five of 36 subjects reported adverse events, only 2 of which were considered related to the study medication.
Comments: It may be preferable at first to just try one herb for a few weeks before adding another one. The combination of herbal remedy with pharmaceutical medication may be unpredictable. We suggest using the herbal remedy by itself, not in combination with ADHD drugs.
Email - I have taken kava occasionally for depression. I suffer from SAD and adult ADHD. It really helps with the calming overall, and seems to help me sleep through the night. With ADD there is a tendency to wake up and channel surf a couple times a night!
Note: Kava should only be used occasionally.
Magnesium and calcium
Email - With a society willing to choose soft drinks over water phoshates in the drinks further deplete mag. I became interested in studying this as my son has ADHD. I dropped all cola from his diet and supplied him with 1000mg cal / magnesium / zInc. Within two weeks I noticed a more calm, focused and overall settled young man. His grades are slowly improving and after a month, I received a note from one of his teachers that she has noticed an improvement in his behavior. I myself have taken the same dose and I'm less stressed then normal. I also sleep better at night for some reason.
Q. I have found out about NADH, or Enada, while doing research on non-pharmaceutical treatments for ADHD. I first heard of it through Phyllis and James Balch's book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, where it's listed as helpful for depression. Having looked at your website's description of this supplement, I am puzzled as to why ADHD is not mentioned. As you know, ADHD is a result of various neurotransmitter imbalances, the neurotransmitters involved being those (with the addition of acetylcholine) listed as benefitting from NADH.
I have not come across, as of 2012, any studies that have evaluated NADH treatment in children or adults with this condition.
Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of zinc sulfate in the treatment of ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Bilici M. Karadeniz Technical University, School of Medicine, Trabzon, Turkey.
Patients with a primary DSM-IV diagnosis of ADHD were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to 12 weeks of double-blind treatment with zinc sulfate 150 mg/day or placebo). Zinc sulfate was statistically superior to placebo in reducing both hyperactive, impulsive and impaired socialization symptoms, but not in reducing attention deficiency symptoms. It was determined that the hyperactivity, impulsivity and socialization scores displayed significant decrease in patients of older age and high BMI score with low zinc and free fatty acids (FFA) levels. Zinc monotherapy was significantly superior to placebo in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and impaired socialization in patients with ADHD. Although by themselves, these findings may not be sufficient, it may well be considered that zinc treatment appears to be an efficacious treatment for ADHD patients having older age and high BMI score with low zinc and FFA levels.
Take your child
on a nature walk
Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have less symptoms after a being in nature or taking a nature walk. Activities in "green" spaces such as farms, parks and even backyards temporarily quell the children's symptoms. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2008. Exercise enhances school performance in these children.
Parents of children between ages 2 and 5 years with ADHD should undergo behavior therapy before having their children placed on medication.
ADHD Drugs -- Ritalin - are
these drugs safe?
The number of young adults who end up in the emergency room after taking Adderall, Ritalin or other such stimulants has quadrupled in recent years. Critics say ADHD drugs are overprescribed, especially among children. The government is strengthening warnings about possible psychiatric side effects from Concerta and related drug treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity, and is probing whether other ADHD drugs need updating, too. Concerta is a long-acting form of methylphenidate, sold generically and under the brand name Ritalin. For years, those drugsí labels have listed possible psychiatric side effects, such as agitation, psychosis or transient depression. But a routine Food and Drug Administration review of Concertaís use in children turned up more reports of psychiatric reactions than anticipated, including some that arenít explicitly labeled, such as suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and violent behavior. A subsequent review of all methylphenidate products found similar reports.
Commonly prescribed drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may affect bone density. Young people who take stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and Adderall have lower bone density than their peers. This could have serious consequences later in life.
The stimulant medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can keep some kids awake at night. The medications -- which include drugs like Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall -- already list sleep problems as a potential side effect.
A study of more than 160,000 youngsters found that kids with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder who received stimulants were at increased risk of becoming obese as they hit their teens. In contrast, kids with ADHD who took non-stimulant medications or got no therapy were very comparable, in terms of weight gain, to kids who didnít have the disorder.
WARNING: Usual doses of Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) may cause sudden death in children and adolescents with pre-existing cardiac problems. On rare occasions the medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may induce hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.
Ritalin, a popular drug for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), increases the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm. Children and teens who are prescribed methylphenidate -- sold under the brand names Ritalin, Daytrana and Concerta -- had a an increased risk of arrhythmias or heart palpitations.
Canada's health ministry
has warned individuals with hypertension
(high blood pressure), heart disease, clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)
or hyperthyroidism not to take drugs used to manage attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder. Health Canada said that in rare cases,
patient with these conditions could suffer "rare heart-related side
effects" from these drugs. All ADHD drugs stimulate the heart and blood
vessels... The effects are usually mild or moderate, but in some patients
this stimulation may -- in rare cases -- result in cardiac arrests,
strokes or death. The medications mentioned by Health Canada include:
Adderall XR, made by Britain's Shire Pharmaceuticals Group Plc. High doses used daily can lead to mood swings, insomnia, delusions and paranoia.
Concerta, made by Johnson & Johnson
Ritalin and Ritalin SR, made by Novartis AG
Dexedrine, made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc
Strattera, made by Eli Lilly and Co.
The Food and Drug Administration has advised doctors and care givers to monitor children and adolescents being treated with Eli Lilly and Co.ís Strattera drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lilly said it would add strong warnings, including the risk of suicidal thoughts, to its label for Strattera. Strattera will now carry a ďblack boxĒ warning, the strongest required by regulators.
ADHD drugs include Novartis AG's Ritalin and Focalin, Shire Plc's Adderall and Johnson & Johnson's Concerta. A new drug is Daytrana methylphenidate transdermal system which became available in 2006.
Abbott Laboratories Inc. stopped sales of a 30-year-old adhd drug that a consumer group complained was too dangerous to stay on the market. Abbott decided to discontinue Cylert because of declining sales. Charges were made from consumer group Public Citizen that the drug had caused 21 cases of liver failure, including 13 that were fatal or required transplants. Generic companies sell copycat versions of the drug under the name pemoline. Public Citizen asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban Cylert and its generic competitors immediately.
Children suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are much likely to try and abuse drugs. Teens are more likely to start smoking or drinking with each additional symptom they have of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder.
Q. My 12 year old son has ADHD and has been taking
Concerta 54 mg along with Strattera 18 mg in the last 6 weeks. Iíve also started
giving him Nordic Natural Omega Jrís and one oz of Natural Vitality Kids Calm
Multi daily in the last month. His dad and I have seen an improvement in his
behavior since giving him the supplements. We also have an older son who has a
diagnosis of PDD-NOS but his symptoms/behavior are more like Aspergerís. He has
recently begun taking Attentive Child and itís helped him focus in school. I
would like to start our 12 year old on Attentive Child too but am worried it
will interact with his prescription meds. (Our older son doesnít taken any
prescription medications.) I canít seem to find any information about the ADHD
medsí interactions with GABA and DMAE on the web, although I did find your web
site, which is very informative. Do you believe these supplements are safe for
him to take with his other meds? Is there a website where I can get more
information about this?
A. I am not aware of any studies that have used these combinations, and much depends on the child and dosages used.
Between 2000 and 2004, use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused doubled among adults aged 20 to 44, but rose only 56 percent among children. Experts say reasons for the surge range from better drugs and advertising, to parents of children newly diagnosed with ADHD realizing they have the same symptoms. The makers of Adderall XR and Concerta have advertised their drugs in magazines geared to parents of kids with ADHD. And Eli Lilly & Co., which makes Strattera, has been running television ads aimed at adults who may not realize they have the disorder.
Cause, smoking, enlarged
tonsils, lead exposure during pregnancy
Genetics plays a role. Brain scans of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder show abnormalities in the fiber pathways along which brain signals pass. The finding indicates the disorder may be more than just a chemical imbalance. Researchers found subtle anatomical differences in children diagnosed with ADHD that may affect communication between key areas of the brain - the frontal cortex, basal ganglia, brain stem and cerebellum. These areas are involved in the process that regulate attention, impulsive behavior, motor activity, and inhibition.
Use of Tylenol in pregnancy tied to higher risk in child. Feb. 24, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics.
The risk that children will develop this condition rises with every week they are born short of full term
Most children with ADHD displayed symptoms and skin prick test results consistent with allergic rhinitis. Nasal obstruction and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis could explain some of the cognitive patterns observed, which might result from sleep disturbance known to occur with allergic rhinitis. Department of Allergy & Immunology, Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004.
Artificial colorings and preservatives
Artificial food colorings and benzoate preservatives increase hyperactive behavior in preschool children. Despite claims about the detrimental behavioral effects of artificial food colorings and preservatives, the authors explain in the June Archives of Disease in Childhood, there have been no broad studies of the prevalence of ADHD related to intolerance to food additives. Dr. John O. Warner from Southampton General Hospital, UK, and colleagues studied the impact of artificial food colorings and benzoate preservative on the behavior of 277 preschool children. At the start, 36 children had ADHD and allergies, 75 were only hyperactive, 79 had only allergies, and 87 did not have either condition. Parents' ratings of their children's hyperactivity fell after withdrawal of food additives from the children's diets.
Children's behavioral problems, including symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sometimes improve after they have their tonsils removed. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, support the theory that nighttime breathing problems -- and consequently poor sleep -- contribute to some children's behavioral difficulties during the day. When the tonsils at the back of the throat become enlarged, they can obstruct the breathing passages. Chronic breathing problems are a chief reason tonsillectomy is performed in children. It's it not clear what percentage of children with ADHD improve after tonsillectomy. It may be a small percentage.
Children exposed to pesticides known as organophosphates have a higher risk. A good washing of fruits and vegetables before consumption would help reduce exposure.
Children whose mothers were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while pregnant are more likely to have attention problems as they grow up. Such pesticides can affect the human brain.
Mothers of children with ADHD were more likely to be younger, single, smoked in pregnancy, had some complications of pregnancy and labor, and were more likely to have given birth slightly earlier. January 2014, Pediatrics.
Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder seems to be a risk factor for unprovoked seizures in children.
ADHD is sometimes associated with Tourette's syndrome.
Adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have a higher risk of developing a common form of degenerative dementia called dementia with lewy bodies (DLB). Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein deposits that develop inside nerve cells and disrupt brain functioning. They are found in people with Parkinson's disease and some other neurological disorders.
I have a 14 year old daughter that has most of the symptoms of adhd. I have tried a product called the Smart Pill by Only Natural which has a good combination. It has helped in the behavior department tremendously and some in focusing. She is calmer and less angry and less liable to trigger at things. This combo enables me to relate to a calmer and happier child. Even I, as a possible adder, i have felt much better, less anxious and less obsessing on anything and everything. I have had my daughter diagnosed with learning disabilities but not yet add. I have researched this and all the problems areas for the last year and never seem to get enough information. Thanks for your site, it is easy to look for information and is easy to understand.