Are There Any Natural Herbs for Kids to Help Them Focus Better?

Ginkgo on a branch
A branch with leaves of the gingko biloba tree. (Image: Heike Brauer/iStock/Getty Images)

A lack of concentration or focus is a common finding in children. Your child's inability to concentrate may be caused by attention deficit disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects between 3 and 5 percent of school-aged kids. Before giving your child herbs to help improve his focus, speak with his primary care provider about the risks, benefits and limitations of these powerful natural substances.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Your child may be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, or ADD, if she exhibits symptoms for six or more months and if her symptoms are clearly more serious than other children her age, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. Some of the most common indications of this condition in your child include difficulty focusing on a task, being easily distracted or forgetting details, problems with organizing a task and bringing it to completion, an inability to consistently complete homework assignments and an inability to concentrate or absorb information when spoken to.

Helpful Natural Herbs

Numerous natural herbs may be helpful in treating your child's inability to focus as well as his hyperactivity, if this is an associated problem. In her book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," certified nutritional consultant Phyllis A. Balch states that bacopa, ginkgo, ginseng, mullein, valerian root, lemon balm, lobelia, St. John's wort, oats, chamomile and catnip may be helpful remedies for these health purposes. Further scientific scrutiny may be required to better understand the true effectiveness of these herbs in helping children focus better.

Highlighted Herb

Bacopa, a natural herbal remedy native to India, may be helpful in improving your child's concentration and ability to focus. According to Dr. Alan R. Gaby, a medical doctor and author of "The Natural Pharmacy," bacopa may enhance the effects of various brain neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, serotonin and GABA, and bacopa extracts may have significant brain antioxidant action. Along with ADD, bacopa may be helpful in treating Alzheimer's disease, anxiety and epilepsy. A larger body of clinical research trials may be needed to assess the true effectiveness of this herb in treating ADD and other conditions.

Disclaimer

Natural herbs alone, though long used in treating ADD in children, may not be sufficient in treating this health problem. The use of herbal remedies does not guarantee a cure or a beneficial health result, and herbs should only be used if you are under the care and guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. Some herbs contain powerful medicinal ingredients that may cause undesired health effects if they are not used properly. Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for botanical medicine treatments.

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