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ADD & ADHD Center

How to Treat ADHD With Caffeine

author image Heather Vale
Heather Vale is a writer, interviewer and seasoned journalist. She has authored news, entertainment and informational programming in TV, radio, print and online media. She is also a certified childhood fitness and nutrition specialist with a background in mind-body-spirit health, self-help, business, technology and pet breeding. Vale holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual arts from York University.
How to Treat ADHD With Caffeine
White cup and coffee beans. Photo Credit: Roman Rybaleov/iStock/Getty Images

If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be looking for an alternative treatment to drugs. While it seems a bit counter-intuitive?after all, people with ADHD have more than enough hyperactive energy, while coffee drinkers often want more of it?caffeine is being touted as an effective treatment for ADHD.

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Step 1

Take moderate amounts of caffeine in the morning?perhaps a cup of coffee, black or green tea, or cola?along with a protein drink, such as a whey, soy, rice or hemp protein shake. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that reduces blood flow to the brain and affects the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps people focus. According to the ADHD Information Library, a caffeine-and-protein treatment is effective for kids, teens and adults with ADHD. However, it recommends other dietary changes to complement it, such as removing dairy, junk food, processed foods, fish, fruit juices and yellow foods from the diet, and cutting sugar and chocolate intake by 90 percent.

Step 2

Monitor the amount of caffeine being taken. According to the ADHD Information Library, 100 mg of caffeine is approximately equivalent to the low therapeutic dose of 5 mg of Ritalin, a common drug for treating ADHD. Both caffeine and Ritalin are absorbed into the bloodstream within about 45 minutes and wear off after 3 or 4 hours, but caffeine may be a more attractive choice for people who don’t want to take prescription medication. An 8-oz cup of coffee has 135 mg of caffeine, black tea has 60 mg, green tea has 30 to 40 mg, most caffeinated sodas have 35 to 55 mg and Red Bull energy drinks have 80 mg.

Step 3

Continue to drink plenty of water during the day, as caffeinated beverages do not fulfill your body’s need for hydration. At least four glasses of water for kids, and up to eight for teens and adults, is recommended, or 50 to 75 percent of your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 100 pounds, you should consume 50 to 75 ounces of water daily—on the high end of the scale if you're very active, and on the low end if you're not.

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