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Spotlight on Herbal Supplements for Hyperactivity

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • updated: 3/22/2011

If your child shows symptoms of hyperactivity, you may feel pressured to use stimulants or other medications. Instead, you may want to consider some of these herbal supplements for hyperactivity. As usual, you should speak with an herbal practitioner before giving your child any herbal remedies.

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    Why Choose Herbal Treatments for Hyperactivity?

    As more and more children are seen as hyperactive and diagnosed with ADHD and similar disorders, parents have become wary about putting their children on stimulants in order to control their behavior. In the wake of this development, a different trend has begun: parents have been searching for herbal supplements for hyperactivity. Some use these supplements alongside stimulant medication, but many others use them alongside alternative treatments, such as nutritional changes.

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    Caffeine

    It has been believed that caffeine can reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity just as much as stimulant medications. Over the years, studies have looked at this hypothesis to see whether it was true. For example, a small study published in The Journal of Clinical Pharmocology looked at the difference between children who were medicated with amphetamines and those who were "medicated" with caffeine. It found that both caffeine and amphetamines reduced hyperactive behavior.

    So why doesn't everyone just use caffeine? There are two main reasons. First of all, caffeine may lower hyperactivity levels, but it can also have other side effects. Second of all, other studies have found that caffeine does not have an significant effect on hyperactivity levels, such as one published in the American Journal of Psychiatry which found that caffeine only had a slightly greater effect than a placebo.

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    Chinese Herbs

    Several herbal formulas on the market profess to help with hyperactivity. Some Chinese herbal formulas actually have research to back them up. For example, in a study done by the Pediatric Department of the Affiliated Hospital of Shandong College, researchers found that the Chinese herbal formula called Tiaoshen Liquor was 94% effective in minimizing behavioral problems, maximizing attention span, and raising academic grades.

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    Valerian

    Valerian, one of the strongest herbal sedatives, relaxes the CNS (central nervous system). Despite its strength, it is not addictive, nor is it a narcotic. It can relax the body, however, leading to fewer symptoms of hyperactivity.

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    Stevia and Licorice

    Although neither Stevia or licorice actually address hyperactivity symptoms, they help in a different way. Many hyperactive children are very sensitive to refined sugars, and even a small amount of refined sugar can aggravate their hyperactivity. Using Stevia or licorice to sweeten baked goods and drinks can satisfy a child's sweet tooth without causing hyperactivity. You may need to use barley malt or brown rice syrup to enhance Stevia's sweetness. You can also offer herbal teas, such as camomile, cinnamon, and hibiscus, rather than other sweetened drinks.

    These herbal supplements for hyperactivity can help you avoid putting your child on medications for hyperactivity/ADHD, or at least allow you to give the lowest medication dose possible.

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    References

    Healthy.net. "Calming Hyper Kids With Herbs." http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=926

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

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

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