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Treating ADHD without Medication: It Can Be Done

Updated on August 18, 2012

Taking drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been a life-changing experience for many people. A number of ADHD sufferers find that medication helps them focus, control their impulses, and get through everyday life much more easily. That doesn't mean drugs are always worth it, however.

This medication often comes with a host of side effects, including changes in sleep habits, weight loss and gain, mood changes and many others. Some people suffer more serious health issues when taking ADHD drugs. Because of these potential side effects, especially in young children, many people are turning to ways of treating ADHD without medication.

Diet and Nutrition

Some people have found that what they eat affects the severity of their disorder. ADHD sufferers may need to give up food additives like artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Some find that processed food and sugars are culprits in their attention and behavioral problems. Others need a diet that's specifically high in certain nutrients, such as those provided by fish oil or specific vitamins. When diet won't provide enough of these substances, supplementation is sometimes used.

Herbal and Homeopathic Therapy

Herbal remedies and homeopathic treatments are useful for some people. There are many different options available for individuals with ADHD, as well as parents of ADHD children. They include homeopathic treatments based on henbane, iodine, sterilized bacteria and similar ingredients, as well as St. John's wort, ginseng, ginkgo biloba and echinacea. The body of scientific literature on these treatments is minimal since so few studies have been performed, but many individuals report improvement.

Physical Treatments

ADHD suffers may find that some physical solutions help their mental and emotional states. Options include chiropractic treatment, yoga, massage and biofeedback therapy, which encourages children to exercise the parts of their brain related to focus and attention. These techniques can alleviate some of the stress and related discomforts that often come along with an ADHD diagnosis. They may also promote calmness and encourage a better ability to pay attention overall.

Behavioral Options

Behavioral treatments can do a lot to help people who suffer from ADHD deal with their attention difficulties both as children and adults. These treatments can also help their family members and friends deal with the effects of the disorder, too. For instance, many counselors advocate teaching parents of ADHD children to set clear rules and expectations, make consequences clear, and keep instructions short and easy to follow.

ADHD patients themselves can learn skills that will help them get more done, such as switching between two tasks when their attention wanders. These techniques must be tailored to the individual, but may do a lot to help when medication isn't an option. Some people can learn to use behavioral treatments on their own, but these are often more effective when they're performed under the supervision and with the help of a counselor or other ADHD expert.

Treating ADHD without medication isn't the right option for everyone; some people need medication to function effectively or find that the effort involved in non-medication options is too great. For others, however, medication poses too much of a risk. After all, drugs such as Ritalin routinely come with warnings of an increased risk for heart attacks, hallucinations and even sudden death. Simply cutting out food coloring or consuming a homeopathic remedy may seem like the safer option.

No matter what treatment method you choose, it's important to make sure you do all your research. Taking the time to learn about all the options instead of simply popping a pill can help you make the right decision for yourself and for your family.


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    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Welcome :)

    • raj2006 profile image

      raj2006 5 years ago from New Delhi

      Hi @teresapelka,

      These are great suggestions! Thanks

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I'd like to add those very traditional and therefore often forgotten remedies: mint, camomille, or melissa. Often, the mistake with herbal tea is to have 'camomille now', 'mint then', 'melissa later'. You can combine herbs. Use a sachet of camomille and melissa, a drop of lemon and maple syrup :)

      Doing physical exercises, it is good to learn to breathe in when effort is to be taken. I've never been an ADHD myself, but I exercised on a regular basis and still more, taking exams and tests. If you're tired, breathe :)

      For example, if your choice is push ups, breathe in pushing up. The good habit forms easy :)