Dylan is a great kid. He has a bunch of friends now and he’s finally settling into school and choosing good classroom behaviors. He loves playing on his soccer team and he’s even been helping his mom out at home by taking out the trash and picking up his Legos without being asked. This is all so different from last year, when Dylan’s parents felt completely overwhelmed by the challenges Dylan was having with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
At first, Dylan’s parents felt like Adderall (amphetamine-dextroamphetamine) was the perfect solution. Dylan’s diagnosis of ADHD had, in some ways, relieved their fears simply by providing some answers. Dylan’s doctor placed him on Adderall and it wasn’t long before they noticed some positive impact.
After a while on Adderall, though, they began noticing some unsettling side effects. Dylan increasingly had trouble sleeping at night, and while they loved that he was now able to sit and focus longer, now he seemed even a little depressed. Dylan’s parents began to wonder if this was simply their son’s personality without ADHD, or if this was about the medication.
After doing a little reading, they found that kids commonly experience side effects like these on ADHD medications. Like so many parents of kids with ADHD, Dylan’s parents quickly began to feel discomfort with placing their son on a medication like Adderall. Sure, it was helping Dylan manage his life in a lot of ways, but was it worth the side effects he was experiencing?
The Roots of ADHD
It’s unclear exactly where ADHD comes from, but there are several areas that may contribute to its development in a child. One such area is problems in the gut, including food allergies and sensitivities. Some experts also believe that dopamine, or a lack of it, plays a role in the appearance of ADHD, because it is responsible for responses in the brain associated with learning and attention.
There has also been a lot of attention focused on factors like processed foods and the chemicals and dyes it introduces into a child’s system, as well as other toxins like exposure to smoking or alcohol during pregnancy or exposure to lead poisoning.
While there’s no single identifiable cause of ADHD at this point, it seems relatively clear that the introduction of certain irritants may disrupt the healthy functions of the brain and negatively affect behavior in children.
Why Natural Remedies Make Sense
Maybe you’re like Dylan’s parents, and you have a child experiencing side effects from their ADHD medication. Even if your child isn’t experiencing frustrating side effects, it may still trouble you to treat a disorder in a child with medication if there could be an alternative.
No matter what your motivation is for seeking natural remedies, it’s important to explore options that can only improve your child’s health. The suggestions listed below are natural remedy alternatives that could help make a difference for your child.
Natural Remedies for ADHD
Many of the remedies listed below are healthy choices for your whole family and can serve to improve everyone’s overall wellness:
Eliminating processed foods: This can be a big undertaking and commitment, because processed foods are everywhere you go: restaurants, birthday parties, school and at your friends’ houses. It can be challenging to tell your kid that their favorite blue-box macaroni and cheese is no longer an option. However, the amount of chemicals, sweeteners and dyes found in these foods may be contributing to your child’s symptoms.
Eating a diet that is based on whole foods can not only reduce the symptoms of ADHD, but your child will feel better and experience other, long-term health benefits.
Addressing allergens: Your child may be experiencing exacerbated ADHD symptoms because of an undiscovered food allergy. Common food allergens like milk, eggs or chocolate can be identified as allergens with an elimination diet. Talk with your doctor about the best way to complete an elimination diet exercise with your child.
Introducing massage: Many children with ADHD experience positive results from massage. Anything from a long shoulder massage to a foot rub at bedtime can have a great impact on ADHD symptoms. It’s even effective for your child with ADHD to give someone else a massage, so if you’ve had a rough week, it may be a good week for letting your child give you a hand or shoulder massage to help both of you!
Adding in supplements: There are many supplements that, when supervised by your doctor, can make a positive impact on ADHD symptoms. Your doctor may recommend essential fatty acids, fish oil, magnesium or vitamin C as supplements that have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of ADHD.
Your child may require some level of medication to treat their ADHD, even with the implementation of a variety of natural remedies. However, if you can reduce the amount of medication that they need to manage their symptoms, you can also reduce side effects and improve their overall health with good food choices and supplements that improve their well-being.
Dr. Charles Andrews, ND, leads the development of a multi-provider clinic with expanded outreach to Kansas City Northland through Mosaic Life Care Journey’s Healthy Living Clinic.
The Healthy Living Clinic provides a calming environment where, Dr. Andrews’ clients receive a thorough evaluation and a personalized treatment plan. His integrative approach is patient-centered, which instills hope in those who suffer from chronic ailments. Dr. Andrews helps patients feel informed and empowered to care for themselves.
Dr. Andrews is a proud parent of three toddlers. When Dr. Andrews has a few hours of free time, you’ll find him enjoying time with his wife and children, as well as engaged in a number of hobbies, including beekeeping, gardening, swing dancing and playing the violin.