Doctors diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children with excessive symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsive behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medication alone or in combination with behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for children with ADHD. For parents unwilling to give their children medication, herbal ADHD treatments are an alternative. If your child is already taking medication for ADHD or if your child's symptoms are severe, contact your child's doctor before starting any herbal supplement.
Flax was one of the first plants ever cultivated. The flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Doctors have found deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids in people diagnosed with ADHD. Dr. M. Johnson reported in the March 2009 "Journal of Attention Disorders" that taking omega-3 improved ADHD symptoms. Flax seed is available as loose seeds or as flax seed oil. Add flax seed or the oil to baked goods, smoothies or other food. Use caution when taking flax seed with blood-thinning medicines. Flax seed is considered a safe herbal supplement, but no specific studies are available on the safety of flax seed use in children.
Coffee and tea have been used for centuries for their stimulant effects. One of the active ingredients in coffee and tea is caffeine. Caffeine is an adenosine receptor antagonist that has been shown to improve the symptoms of ADHD, says Dr. V.A. Pires in the March 2009 edition of "Behavioral Pharmacology." The optimum dose of caffeine for the treatment of ADHD is 200 mg. One 8 oz. cup of coffee has about 65 mg to 120 mg of caffeine. According to Drugs.com, the safety of caffeine in children under 12 years of age is unknown.
Brahmi is a semiaquatic herb related to the spinach and snapdragon family. It is considered an important herb in the traditional ayurvedic medicine of India. According to herbs2000.com, brahmi is used as a brain tonic and ADHD supplement that helps ADHD by improving memory, learning and mental performance. It is consumed as a tea made by steeping ½ tsp. of brahmi herbs in boiling water. Children in India take brahmi before important exams, but researchers have not performed any safety studies in the U.S. on this ADHD supplement.
The ginkgo tree is one of the oldest plants on earth. The leaves and seeds have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. According to Medline Plus, ginkgo may improve concentration, absent-mindedness and confusion by improving brain circulation. A study in the January 2010 "Phytotherapy Research" by Dr. H. Niederhofer found that ginkgo improved symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity in patients with attention deficit disorder. Ginkgo is available in 80 to 240 mg extracts and in 30 mg tea bags. Ginkgo is generally well tolerated, but researchers have not performed safety studies in children.
Ginseng is a slow-growing plant with red berries. The root of the plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In May 2001, Dr. M.R. Lyon reported in the "Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience" that 200 mg of American ginseng combined with 50 mg of ginkgo improved the symptoms of ADHD. Medline Plus also reports that American ginseng may help the symptoms of ADHD but that more studies are necessary. Ginseng is a well-tolerated herb for ADHD. Adults and children taking this herbal ADHD treatment have reported few side effects. Ginseng is available in capsule, extract and tea forms. The usual dose is 200 mg a day.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health:Medline Plus: Flax seed and Flaxseed oil
- "Journal of Attention Disorders"; Omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled trial in children and adolescents; Johnson M, Ostlund S, Fransson G, Kadesjö B, Gillberg C.; March 2008:
- "Behavioral Pharmacology"; Adenosine receptor antagonists improve short-term object-recognition ability of spontaneously hypertensive rats: a rodent model of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Pires VA, Pamplona FA, Pandolfo P, Fernandes D, Prediger RD, Takahashi RN; March 2009
- herbs2000: Brahmi
- National Institute of Health, National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine: Gingko