4 Natural Ways to Treat ADHD in Children – New Ideas for ADHD Treatment
A happy, healthy, well-adjusted child is every parent’s wish, but especially the parents of children with ADHD, when it feels like the ADHD symptoms are
making it difficult to achieve even these three basic things.
Children with ADHD can be unhappy, depressed, and anxious. Children with ADHD can have problems sleeping and eating, causing health concerns. They can be impulsive, hyperactive, and aggressive, making it difficult to make friends and feel well-adjusted or self-confident.
These children can have a hard time concentrating and memorizing, making it difficult to achieve success in school. ADHD can also come with other diagnoses including learning disorders, conduct disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety, and depression, among others. It is heartbreaking to watch a child struggle with these issues. As parents, we want to help make our children’s experiences with friends, school, family, and home life easier.
Each child is unique and has unique characteristics. Just as each child’s ADHD symptoms are unique
It is not known what exactly causes ADHD. There are studies that show deficiencies in blood flow to the brain, or deficiencies in neurotransmitters (like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin), vitamin B and other nutrients in the ADHD brain.
So where to turn for a remedy? Are prescription medications the answer?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes in conjunction with other solutions.
Each child is unique and has unique characteristics. Just as each child’s ADHD symptoms are unique, so too is each child’s reaction to medication. What works for one child may not work the same for another child.
Often parents have been told negative stories about the side effects of medication, so may be hesitant to start medication without trying natural methods first.
Some parents who have tried medication have found that the side effects are unacceptable and are looking for other natural solutions that don’t cause the same undesired side effects as the prescription medication.
For some, the right answer is a combination of mediation and natural remedies. It takes time to try various remedies in order to make the right decision of what works best for each individual child.
Luckily, there are things to try. Studies have found some activities to be helpful such as regular time outdoors, relaxation techniques, massage treatments, setting up a regular routine, and limiting screen time.
Behavioral and occupational therapy with a knowledgeable therapist can be transformative. In addition, diet and nutrition can also play a large role.
There are many parents who have seen great improvements in their children after limiting intake of sugar, dairy, food dyes, and other chemical additives.
And there are some exciting findings in the research of different vitamins and natural supplements that have positive effects on brain chemistry.
These may alleviate some of the hyperactivity, lack of attention, impulsivity, aggression, and depression associated with ADHD.
If an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain is the main cause of ADHD, then research shows how we can use nutrition, vitamins, and supplements to naturally control the balance of these neurotransmitters.
Understanding nutritional biochemistry and the affects it can have on behavior can help us use natural remedies to increase brain function and decrease the problematic behaviors associated with ADHD.
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Vitamin B6 as a Mood Regulator
Beyond limiting the types of food that may cause harm, there are natural remedies that can be included in a child’s diet to help alleviate ADHD symptoms.
One of the most promising of these is the use of Vitamin B. These vitamins are an essential ingredient for helping our bodies run smoothly.
B vitamins provide energy to the body by breaking down carbohydrates, aid in the nervous system by breaking down fats and proteins, maintain muscle tone in the stomach and intestines, and prevent anemia.
B vitamins can be found in foods such as beef, salmon, bananas, eggs, potatoes, almonds, and milk. Two of the B vitamins, B6 and B12, are especially important in the regulation of ADHD symptoms.
How does Vitamin B work? Vitamin B regulates carbohydrate metabolism.
When carbohydrates are converted to glucose efficiently, the body is able to metabolize and convert it to energy. However, hyperactivity and excitability can occur when Vitamin B is not doing its job properly.
When there is not enough Vitamin B in the body, then the blood level of glucose rises quickly as the carbohydrates are not able to convert correctly. Low levels of Vitamin B can then result in the excess energy associated with the hyperactivity of ADHD. B6 deficiencies can cause irritability, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and hyperactivity. These are all common symptoms of ADHD.
When reducing these behaviors and mood disorders, children are able to have more successful interactions with other children their age.
Creating and maintaining friendships can be very difficult for the child with ADHD, but by minimizing some of the socially unacceptable behaviors, these children can gain more friends and self-confidence.
One of the most difficult things about having a child with ADHD can be watching your child struggle with friendships and feeling ostracized. When some of these symptoms are relieved and children can maintain better friendships, parents feel relieved that their child can be “just one of the kids” instead of being an outsider.
B6 also plays an important part in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate brain function and mood.
Low serotonin levels in the brain may be one of the causes of ADHD. Frequently, children with ADHD show signs of anxiety and depression.
A serotonin deficiency is often to blame for these symptoms. When Vitamin B6 is absorbed in the body, it aids in serotonin formation. Vitamin B is best absorbed in the body when zinc is present; therefore combining Vitamin B with zinc will best convert B vitamins to their active form and create an optimal absorption of the vitamin in the body.
This combination of Vitamin B6 and zinc can work together to achieve maximum absorption and therefore optimal serotonin levels.
Vitamins B6 and B12 to Decrease Hyperactivity
One of the most common traits that children with ADHD share is hyperactivity. This can make it difficult for a child to have success in school, get along with other children, and contribute positively to their home life.
Studies have shown that a Vitamin B6 supplement can decrease hyperactivity. Along with converting carbohydrates to glucose, Vitamin B6 also increases dopamine levels in the brain, causing higher levels of attentiveness and less hyperactivity.
Vitamin B6 is sometimes referred to as the anti-stress vitamin, because it can improve the body’s ability to get through stressful situations. Stress management is important for everyone, but in particular when a child with ADHD is hyperactive, managing stress can become almost impossible.
The brain’s flight or fight mode is engaged, preventing the ability to react to stressful situations calmly. Vitamin B6’s ability to regulate stress and alleviate hyperactivity makes it an invaluable tool in moderating the symptoms of ADHD.
One of the most important roles Vitamin B12 plays in the body is its work protecting our neurons. B12 creates a protective sheath around the neurons, called myelin.
Myelin protects neurons from damage done by chemicals such as lead and mercury. B12 also aids in the regeneration of neurons and protects neurons from glutamate toxicity. Toxins such as mercury can cause the brain to have irregular levels of glutamate.
Too much glutamate can cause hyperactivity. Vitamin B12’s role in protecting neurons from too much glutamate aids in the reduction of the hyperactivity seen in children with ADHD. Mercury toxicity also adversely affects the thyroid and neurological tissues.
The use of Vitamin B12 by children with ADHD has been shown to increase awareness, cognition, and eye contact in some studies. Additionally, studies have also shown a link between B12 deficiency and memory problems, one of the many school-related issues that plague some children with ADHD.
Boosting Dopamine with Phenylalanine
What is phenylalanine? Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid present in proteins such as beans, nuts, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, and eggs. Our bodies need phenylalanine, but cannot make it on its own. We need to ingest it from these sources or through supplements.
What does phenylalanine do? The body converts it into tyrosine, another amino acid that is used to make dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in the body. Children with ADHD have been shown to have a low level of dopamine receptors, a neurotransmitter that helps with focus, attention, and muscle control.
If phenylalanine is not present, then the body may be missing one of the key ingredients it needs to make enough dopamine. Phenylalanine can therefore boost dopamine levels, increasing focus and attention.
Norepinephrine, another hormone created with the help of phenylalanine, affects mood. A deficiency in norepinephrine can cause mood disorders including confusion, lack of energy, depression, decreased alertness, memory problems, and lack of appetite.
These all sound very familiar to the parent of a child with ADHD. Phenylalanine has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in treating depression by increasing the production of both dopamine and norepinephrine.
Grape Seed Extract to Improve Sustained Attention
Everyone knows that grapes are healthy. But, do we know how healthy, and why? Grapes have been used as medicine since ancient times, and the medical and research communities are beginning to understand more about what it is about grapes that can be utilized to help some ailments.
Grape seed extracts contain OPCs, or oligomeric proanthocyanidins. These have antihistamine and antioxidant properties.
Originally, grape seed extract was used to treat allergies because of their ability to lower histamine and therefore decrease inflammation.
OPCs are also commonly found in pine bark, but it is significantly less costly to extract the OPCs from grape seeds. Thus the rise in popularity of grape seed extracts as a natural remedy.
Grape seed extract is not only useful for fighting allergies (although this may also aid the child who has dietary sensitivities or food allergies, a common set of comorbid diagnoses with ADHD). OPCs also help make vitamin C work better in the body.
Vitamin C is required by those same neurotransmitters that are so often deficient in the brain of a child with ADHD, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Controlling dopamine and norepinephrine greatly affects attention and hyperactivity. Studies have shown that children with ADHD taking grape seed extract have shown improvement in handwriting and improved school performance, both areas that are aided by the correct amount of dopamine controlling the ability to concentrate. Along with helping vitamin C to work better, OPCs also transport nutrients to the brain, including zinc and magnesium, both commonly known to be deficient in children with ADHD.
One additional benefit of OPCs is that they can increase blood flow to the brain by increasing nitric oxide in the blood. Decreased blood flow to the brain has been linked to children with ADHD. Increasing blood flow can aid in reducing depression and fatigue, as well as increasing mental focus and attention.
Natural Remedies in Action
Frequently, parents of children with ADHD feel frustrated. ADHD is an invisible disease; it’s not something that people can see and understand fully.
The causes of ADHD are unknown. Other parents, teachers, and even family members can sometimes discredit ADHD, believing that the behaviors are simply caused by a lack of discipline or good parenting skills.
The parent of a child with ADHD takes on the role of advocate for their child, giving voice and explanation to others who misunderstand the behaviors of a child who is struggling.
Diet, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular metabolism are all connected and have vast effects on our behavior. The medical community has a long way to go in understanding exactly how everything interacts and affects behavior and mood, but studies are constantly being done to prove the effectiveness of these types of natural remedies in behavioral issues like ADHD.
Without definitive answers, parents become testers and advocates for their children, creating communities with other parents and sharing successes and failures using these sorts of treatments. It takes perseverance to be a parent of a child with ADHD, both in handling the behaviors and also in working tirelessly to find the right remedy to help alleviate the child’s suffering.
Once a parent has found the right remedy for their child’s ADHD symptoms, the feeling of relief can be overwhelming. The child’s behavior and mood are improved, and the parent has been validated that the problem is indeed chemical, and not a symptom of their parenting choices.
It is a vast relief to know that many others in this same situation have persevered and watched their child go from failing in school and failing to make friends to finding their own voice and finding peace and the ability to fit in.
Thank you for reading! Please share this article with any parent concerned with ADHD in their child.
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