Acupuncture for ADHD

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Acupuncture is an alternative and complementary medicine that has been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine and has made its way into Western healing culture. It uses very fine needles; a skilled practitioner carefully inserts them into the skin on strategic points on the body. Acupuncture for ADHD is a relatively new use, but acupuncture has become quite popular in the United States in the last three decades. Before using acupuncture as a treatment for ADHD, it is important to speak to a doctor first.

Auricular acupuncture is said to be the most effective form of acupuncture for ADHD. This type of acupuncture is done on the ear. It may also be done on the ear as well as other areas of the body. Acupuncture is believed to be effective for ADHD because in Chinese medicine, this disorder is seen as insufficient nourishment of the spirit, orifice obstruction by phlegm or static blood, or some type of heat agitating the spirit, as opposed to the complex neurodevelopmental disorder that Western medicine sees it to be.

Studies have shown that a combination of acupuncture and certain Chinese herbs are effective in treating ADHD in both children and adults. It is said that it is effective for mild cases of ADHD and is a beneficial adjunct therapy for cases of ADHD that are more severe. For severe cases, it is said to help the patient need lower doses of Western medications.

Those interested in trying acupuncture to treat ADHD should contact a registered acupuncturist or a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Many health insurance companies do cover acupuncture.

How is Acupuncture Done?

Before having acupuncture for ADHD it is a good idea to know what to expect. To begin the treatment, the practitioner will locate the areas in which he or she will insert the needles. The patient will then be asked to remove any clothing in areas where the needles need to be placed. A towel, gown, or sheet will be used to help cover the patient up if he or she needs to remove clothing. Then the practitioner will carefully insert fine needles into specific areas. The needles are extremely thin, so for most patients, no pain is involved, but some may experience a little discomfort. Five to 20 needles may be placed. Once the needle is placed deeply enough, the patient may experience a deep, aching sensation.

The needles may have mild electric pulses or heat applied. The needles may also be gently twirled or moved once placed. The needles will stay in place for about 15 to 30 minutes while the patient relaxes and lies still. The needles will then be removed and properly discarded. There should be no discomfort during the needle removal.

Some patients report feeling energized, while other report feeling relaxed after a treatment. However, every patient responds differently and some patients do no respond at all. If patients do not notice improvement in their ADHD after three weeks of treatment, it may not work for them.


Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. (2009). Treating ADHD with Acupuncture. Retrieved on December 18, 2010 from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: (2009). Acupuncture. Retrieved on December 18, 2010 from