How to Naturally Calm a Child with ADHD – Natural Remedies
Rough-housing. Climbing and destroying furniture. Getting in fights with other kids.
Playing with a toy for only a few minutes, getting bored, then moving on to something else. Running off in a busy mall or street, unaware of the dangers. Easily distracted while doing homework. Squirming and running around during meal time. Notes home from teachers that the child is distracting other students.
Do these behaviors sound familiar?
To a parent with a child who has ADHD, these are the sorts of things they see all the time.
Parents see beyond these behaviors to understand who their child really is: loving, kind, empathetic, highly intelligent, creative, and curious.
Teachers and other observers, however, might simply see a child who is rough, doesn’t listen, doesn’t sit still, interrupts, and doesn’t complete their homework.
These kids aren’t trying to be troublemakers. They are just like every other kid: they want to do well and they want approval from their parents and teachers.
They just can’t sit still. They simply can’t listen without their minds wandering.
They sincerely can’t keep their hands to themselves, sit in their seat without wiggling, and remember to be gentle. It isn’t a choice that they are making. It is the way their brains are wired.
Parents with ADHD are their child’s advocate. They need to work with their child’s school so the teachers and administrators can see through these problem behaviors too, and get through to the sweet, smart, curious, intelligent child underneath the ADHD-related behaviors.
These children need to be set up for success, so that the teachers and administration understand that their child is not just behaving badly because they are undisciplined.
Their behaviors are stemming from a disorder that is difficult to control or even understand. Parents can request accommodations for their student such as seating the child in the classroom where there are limited distractions, break homework assignments into smaller goals so they are easier for the child to understand, provide bouncy rubber mats for their chairs so they can wiggle while they sit, ensure the child gets many opportunities to move and get energy out, and provide occupational therapy sessions during school hours.
Many parents find limiting certain types of foods to be extremely helpful. Gluten, sugar, artificial dyes and preservatives.
A lot of hard work goes into being the parent of a kid with ADHD. Advocating at school is one piece. Another piece is figuring out if there are dietary accommodations that can alleviate some of these behaviors.
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Many parents find limiting certain types of foods to be extremely helpful. Gluten, sugar, artificial dyes and preservatives, and dairy are some of the ingredients that some parents have found to cause some of these unwanted behaviors.
Sometimes though, the process of eliminating certain foods can be too difficult. The child may have a very limited diet already, due to anxiety, sensory issues, or any other number of other disorders that can accompany ADHD.
Trying to eliminate one of the few types of food a child eats may not be a realistic approach. Instead of working on elimination diets, another approach is to add vitamins and nutrients to the child’s diet to help level out the child’s brain chemistry and decrease the hyperactive behaviors.
Using Zinc Picolinate to Reduce Hyperactivity
Zinc has been shown in multiple studies to help reduce hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors in children with ADHD. Studies have shown that many children with ADHD are deficient in some key vitamins and minerals, including zinc.
There are a few types of zinc supplements, including Zinc Citrate, Zinc Gluconate and Zinc Picolinate. Zinc Picolinate absorbs in the body easily, with the best absorption rates among these three supplements.
One of the most interesting things about zinc is the way that it interacts with other supplements.
Zinc is essential in converting the inactive form of Vitamin B to the active form. In order to absorb B vitamins in the body, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the B vitamins in the system, zinc must be present.
If a child with ADHD has a zinc deficiency, the B vitamins they are ingesting from food or supplements are going to waste.
By taking a supplement of Zinc Picolinate along with a diet rich in Vitamin B, the body will be able to absorb more of the vitamins found in those foods.
Most parents are dismayed to know that the benefits from all those healthy meals they are feeding their child are not being absorbed into the body when a zinc deficiency is present.
Not only does zinc help absorb Vitamin B in the body, but it has also been shown to boost the effectiveness of ADHD medication. A common prescription medication for ADHD is methylphenidate, found in such medications as Concerta, Methylin, Ritalin, and others.
When zinc is taken in concert with methylphenidate, the effectiveness of the drug seems to increase. Many parents struggle with determining the correct dosage of drugs containing methylphenidate.
Once methylphenidate is prescribed, it can take weeks, and sometimes even months, to figure out the correct dosage that helps the child, but does not make the child “lose their spark” (which is a common description of what a child feels like when over-medicated).
Low dosages may not be effective enough, but high dosages may increase unwanted side effects, such as sleep problems, mood swings, loss of appetite, heart problems, and depression.
Many parents give up on the methylphenidate drugs quickly because of these difficult side effects.
However, if a lower dosage of the prescription medication is taken along with a supplement of Zinc Picolinate, helping boost the effectiveness of the methylphenidate, it may be possible to achieve higher effectiveness while minimizing unwanted side effects.
Children with ADHD have been shown to have a low level of dopamine receptors. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a vital role in maintaining and regulating dopamine.
And guess what?
Zinc is necessary for the absorption of melatonin, just like it aids in the absorption of Vitamin B and helps boost the effectiveness of methylphenidate.
Melatonin helps a body regulate day/night cycles and helps create a healthy sleep pattern. Without enough sleep, attentiveness can be diminished.
Zinc has been shown in multiple studies mostly to help in the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD, but when it aids in melatonin’s function, it can also be helpful in increasing attentiveness.
“No zinc, no think” is not just a catchy phrase. It illustrates the link between how zinc helps the body absorb essential vitamins and hormones that regulate so many ADHD symptoms.
How can Ginseng help with ADHD symptoms?
What is ginseng? Ginseng is an herb whose root is used to make medicine. It contains chemicals called ginsenosides that affect insulin levels in the body and help to lower blood sugar.
Ginseng is commonly found in energy drinks, herbal tea, and cosmetics. It is often used to reduce stress, boost the immune system, and to fight infections like the cold or flu.
Some of the things that ginseng is also used for are symptoms of ADHD: insomnia, headaches, loss of appetite, and memory loss.
Just as Vitamin B ensures that carbohydrates are converted to glucose at the correct level that the body needs it, ginseng can also help glucose levels. Ginseng improves aerobic glucose metabolism. This makes the glucose metabolism in the brain a more efficient process.
Having adequate supplies of glucose in the brain modulates attention control, impulsivity, and concentration.
Do these traits sound familiar?
Certainly, a student with ADHD can benefit greatly from the ability to pay more attention in class, concentrate on homework better, and reduce impulsive behavior.
Increased levels of dopamine in the brain can cause higher levels of concentration and less hyperactivity.
Children with ADHD often show deficits of dopamine levels in the regions of the brain responsible for attention span and impulse control. Ginseng boosts levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, another neuro-signaling agent, by targeting the brain’s dopamine pathways. Imbalances of dopamine and norepinephrine can result in shorter attention spans and poor memory functions.
Many stimulants prescribed to treat ADHD also work by boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Ginseng is also known as having an anti-stress effect. When stress is alleviated, memory retrieval is enhanced, helping the child with ADHD in schoolwork as well as day-to-day functioning.
Some studies have even shown that ginseng has been found to improve both working and long-term memory.
Rhodiola Increases Accuracy and Limits Stress
Rhodiola is a plant grown mainly in the arctic and has a long history of being used for traditional medicinal purposes particularly in Russia. Rhodiola is considered an “adaptogen,” which refers to its ability to balance neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
It has a favorable effect on the body’s stress response system, similar to ginseng’s anti-stress effect.
Studies have shown that Rhodiola can boost mental focus and attention span, reduce fatigue, and improve mental and physical performance. These effects can certainly benefit a child suffering from ADHD.
One interesting finding from studies on Rhodiola is the fact that Rhodiola increased accuracy in students taking very long tests. But while these tests were long and tedious, the students did not get frustrated or fatigued, particularly in comparison with their counterparts who did not take Rhodiola.
This is exactly the reason that Rhodiola is considered an option for natural supplementation for ADHD. It balances those neurotransmitters that are so important and also acts as a de-stressor.
A child with ADHD can benefit from an herb that helps increase focus and accuracy, while also calming any feelings of stress or frustration at the same time.
Have you Heard of Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, an organic pigment found in plants, fruits, and vegetables that are often considered antioxidants. Astaxanthin is found naturally in some types of algae and fish such as salmon, krill, trout, and shrimp.
It can be absorbed in the body when eating these fish, or taken in supplement form either on its own or in a krill oil supplement. It is the Astaxanthin that creates the red color of salmon meat and it is why shellfish such as lobsters and shrimp turn red when they are cooked.
The Astaxanthin is found within the protein of the shell of these fish, and when these fish are cooked, the Astaxanthin is freed from the shell and the red color is released.
But what does Astaxanthin do for humans, other than make our fish dinners look pretty? Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, even more potent than the antioxidants found in fruit, vegetables, fish oil, and Vitamin C.
It is used in supplement form for various uses such as age-related illnesses, macular degeneration in the eye, preventing cancer (since it is such a powerful antioxidant), preventing premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and skin protection.
It has been found to have a calming effect on the brain, which has led some doctors to use it on children with ADHD and autism. It is also used in treating stress and depression. Some studies have also found that after taking Astaxanthin, students had improved concentration, planning skills, behavior, concentration, and social skills.
The studies that have been performed have shown great promise; hopefully more researchers will continue the work that has begun to find more positive effects of Astaxanthin.
Causes of ADHD
We don’t know what exactly causes ADHD. It isn’t bad parenting, vaccines, laziness, low intelligence, or too much television.
Many years ago, it was thought that autism was caused by mothers who weren’t loving enough with their children. After much study, this theory has been eliminated.
The exact cause of autism is still unknown, but there are signs that a child with autism has different brain patterns. Similarly to autism, there seems to be a biological origin to ADHD. It has been found that ADHD tends to run in families, proving a biological hereditary link.
There have been studies showing ADHD can sometimes be present when toxic elements have affected the developing brain tissue in babies. The brains of children with ADHD have shown lower levels of dopamine, zinc, and magnesium. Researchers need to continue to be diligent in studying ADHD to determine the exact cause.
What do we do?
But meanwhile, we can work with what we do know about the brain’s role in ADHD. Treating ADHD with supplements is one way to try to level out the brain differences that have been found in the ADHD brain.
There are so many other areas of trial and error when parenting a child with ADHD – what types of incentives motivate the child the most, what discipline techniques work best, what accommodations at school are most successful, which teachers and occupational therapists understand the child’s needs better than others.
Trial and error with natural supplementation and/or prescription medication may also be a central key in helping eliminate some of the hyperactive behaviors associated with ADHD. The goal is for everyone to see what a unique and wonderful child exists underneath some problematic behavior, and for that exceptional child to shine, learn, grow, and thrive.
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