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Focus on Herbs and Natural Treatments for ADHD Adults

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/20/2011

You may have heard about the possible side effects of Ritalin, Adderall, and other ADHD medications. If you have ADHD, you may want to consider a more natural treatment route such as herbs for ADHD adults instead!

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    Caffeine

    Perhaps the most surprising of all of the proposed natural treatments for ADHD adults is caffeine, as found in coffee and herbal medicines. Studies cited in various journals seem to show that caffeine can treat ADHD in a similar way to stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall. Research by Schechter and Timmons published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology demonstrated that ADHD subjects given caffeine had a greater improvement in symptoms than those given amphetamines. However, there were some side effects.

    In addition, some theorize that people with ADHD who were medicated as children often self-medicate with coffee once they wean themselves off their medication, without even realizing it.

    A look at the scientific literature appears to show that caffeine is not as strong conventional stimulants, plus there are studies that demonstrate that there is no clear connection between caffeine and improved ADHD symptoms. Therefore, even herbal practitioners who suggest the use of caffeine to treat ADHD symptoms usually recommend it in low doses together with other herbs.

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    Herbs for ADHD Adults: Ginkgo Biloba

    Ginkgo (biloba) is known to help memory and other brain-related functions, but it can be used to treat ADHD as well. It contains two main components, ginkgolide and flavone glycoside, which increase the flow of blood in the nervous system. This increased blood flow brings additional oxygen to the parts of the body that require it and protect against free radical damage. The benefits of ginkgo biloba become stronger after staying on it for a period of time.

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    Herbs for ADHD Adults: Gotu Kola

    Gotu kola contains three glycosides (asiaticoside, madecassoside, and brahmoside), which work to lower the levels of adrenal corticosterone in the blood during times of increased stress. The net result is that stress levels are lowered as well. In addition, the herb increases concentration, which can help tame ADHD symptoms in some people. Gotu kola should not be confused with the Kola nut, which contains caffeine.

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    Herbs for ADHD Adults: Brahmi

    Brahmi, an Ayurvedic herb that has been known for centuries to strengthen cognitive skills, has also been used to treat ADHD. It leads to improved learning and wards off free radical damage.

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    Herbs for ADHD Adults: Green Oats

    Green Oats (Avena sativa) do not act as quickly as caffeine, but the results can be seen more obviously after consistent use over a period of time. It comes in the form of green seeds, and provides nourishment to nerve cells.

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    Disclaimer

    As is true about any medicine, herbal or otherwise, these herbs for ADHD adults should be taken only under the care of a professional herbalist or other experienced practitioner. Taking herbs without the advice of a qualified practitioner can lead to adverse effects. You should also discuss any herbal remedies with your medical doctor.

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    References

    Herbal Remedies World. "Top ADHD Herbal Remedies." http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/ADHD-herbal-remedies.html

    Healing Arts. "Herbal Medicine and Treatments for ADHD." http://www.healing-arts.org/children/ADHD/herbal.htm

    Native Remedies. "Adult Herbs for ADHD." http://www.nativeremedies.com/articles/adult-herbs-adhd.shtml

    Journal of Clinical Psychology. "Objectively Measured Hyperactivity: Caffeine and Amphetamine Effects." http://jcp.sagepub.com/content/25/4/276.abstract

Alternative Treatments for ADHD

The articles in this series discuss various alternative treatments for ADHD, including herbs and therapies.
  1. ADD Natural Remedies: Dietary, Herbal and Therapeutic Treatment Options
  2. Focus on Herbs and Natural Treatments for ADHD Adults
  3. Spotlight on Herbal Supplements for Hyperactivity