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Naturally Treating ADD and ADHD

written by: BettyHolt • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/15/2011

Standard drug treatments for attention deficit disorder include powerful, stimulating drugs with multiple side effects. But there are some natural herbal remedies here which have been shown to help these attention disorders.

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    Conventional Treatment

    The accepted form of treatment for ADHD/ADD has traditionally been drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine. While these drugs can be very helpful, and even counter some of the depression that accompanies ADHD, they are powerful stimulants with the potential for abuse and dependence. They also come with side effects such as loss of appetite and insomnia. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the rate at which Ritalin was prescribed in the nine-year period between 1991 and 2000 increased by 500%. The rate of increase during that same period for Adderall and Dexedrine was over 2,000%. While the diagnosis of ADHD/ADD varies from one region to another there have been some areas reporting as many as 20% of the student population taking drugs for ADHD/ADD. It's no wonder that parents search for other options in the alternative health field, including herbal remedies for attentiion deficit disorder.

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    Herbal Remedies

    Because of the biological differences in the brains of children diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, there is general agreement among professionals that stimulants cause significant improvements in performance. Stimulants actually improve the performance of people without ADHD/ADD as well, and therein lies the potential for abuse. However, there are herbs with stimulating properties and those will be discussed here. Called "alertness enhancers" by Frances Brinker, N.D., the following herbs have been documented for increased nervous system function:

    Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba) The leaves of this plant are known for increasing blood flow to the brain and greater amounts of oxygen to the tissues. This herb improves brain glucose metabolism while affecting levels of amine neurotransmitter substances in the brain. These benefits increase after prolonged use.

    Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) Long used as a cognitive enhancer, this ayurvedic herb keeps the brain safe from free radical damage. It also stimulates improved learning and cognitive function.

    Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus sentiocosis) This herb has an anti-stress effect by exerting antioxidant and steroid metabolism activity on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal endocrine function. It stimulates activity in the brain to cause a more economical release of body energy, resulting in increased work output.

    Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) This herb reduces adrenal corticosterone blood levels during stress. It is also useful for cognitive and nervous disorders as well as vascular problems in the brain.

    Green Oats (Avena sativa) The fresh green seeds of this plant are known for being a mild antispasmotic and a nourishing nerve tonic. Though its tonic effects are not as immediately stimulating, they are cumulative and restorative over time.

    A professional formula called Focus Factor combines Ginkgo, Skullcap, German Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Avina Sativa Urtica Urens, and Rooibos into a natural, non-addictive formula for ADHD, according to herbalremediesinfo.com. Sharol Tilgner, N.D., author of Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth, recommends a product called Liquid Serenity as an anti-depressive formula. It contains St. John's Wort, Kava Kava, Oats, Siberian ginseng, Skullcap, Chamomile, Schisandra, and lavender and orange essential oils.

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    Chinese Herbal Remedies

    Traditional Chinese medicine combines herbal formulas to nourish and balance bodily systems. The notion of "restoring balance" is especially significant in ADHD/ADD. These formulas are usually compounded individually for patients, based on their particular symptoms and needs. Many formulas combine both stimulating and calming herbs. A study on the Chinese herbal formula, Tiaoshen Liquor, showed successful results with children who were hyperactive. After being treated, their behavior improved as did their academic performance.

    Another Chinese herbal formula called Calm Dragon Formula from K'an Herbs is available from practitioners of Chinese medicine. It may be used alone or in combination with other formulas and comes as a tablet or fluid extract.

     

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