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Herbal Adjuvants in the Treatment of ADHD

It is a matter of concern for parents and medical professionals alike that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become increasingly prevalent among children.

The most recent report by the CDC based on parent interviews shows that about 4.4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. From the children who were diagnosed by a physician, about 2.5 million of them are currently on medication.

Pharmacological treatment of ADHD is still a controversial topic due to its troubling side effects. For this reason, more and more parents are turning towards alternative treatments instead of standard medication for their children.

The most common ADHD medications prescribed today are methylphenidate or amphetamine. They are both stimulant drugs. While they have been proven to be effective in most of the children, they also have a high risk for abuse and have many side effects.

Side effects listed as frequent are weight changes, appetite changes, insomnia, and nervous tics not previously present. It is a fact that the number of children on these drugs is alarmingly growing and the total production of methylphenidate and amphetamine has increased by up to 2000% since 1991. Half of the drugs used for the treatment of ADHD are being prescribed by pediatricians.


Due to the significant side effects of these medications, many parents are now looking into alternative options for effectively dealing with ADHD. Research on herbal treatments has shown promising benefits while keeping the type and severity of the side-effects to a minimum.

Caffeine has been the focus of a lot of attention as a potential remedy because of its stimulant properties. Numerous studies have shown that caffeine is beneficial to children with ADHD.

Although it seems to help manage some of the symptoms, the benefits from caffeine are not nearly as good as those seen with pharmacological treatments. The many potential side effects from caffeine consumption in children are also a source of concern to parents.

There are a few herbal remedies that have shown some promise with hardly any side effects. They are ginkgo biloba, brahmi, siberian ginseng, gotu kola and green oats. All of these herbs enhance alertness without caffeine and appear to help those dealing with ADHD.

Ginkgo biloba leaves show promise because they increase blood flow to the brain and act as an antioxidant to nervous tissue. This herb is indicated for other brain ailments particularly in the elderly.

Brahmi also acts as an antioxidant and has been shown to facilitate learning and cognition.

Siberian ginseng, when used as part of a long term treatment, appears to increase brain activity in general and boosts work output.

Gotu kola is a mild adaptive, with antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is a gentle sedative and most importantly, a cerebral tonic. Also known as centella asiatica, it may be useful in the treatment of anxiety.

Green oats are known as a nervine and general brain tonic and demonstrate a stimulating effect over time. On the other hand, they have a positive short term effect in treating sleep problems.

The use of herbal remedies for ADHD shows great promise. Parents are trying to employ natural treatments in order to ameliorate the risk of abuse found in medications as well as possible side effects.

As always, enlist the help of an expert in the field. An herbalist may recommend other supplementation and dietary changes in addition to herbs for the treatment of ADHD.

For those who prefer a simple solution, there is an herbal formula for ADHD on the market. It is made by Native Remedies and it is called Focus Formula.  It contains extracts of the above ingredients and many others that are proven to help concentration and to provide balance to the nervous system and the brain. We highly recommend the product. To learn more click here.

References:

NaturalNews.com, “Use Herbal Remedies for ADHD” http://www.naturalnews.com/026081_adhd_remedies_herbal.html Accessed November 15, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements for a Healthy Brain

Among the many products on the market that advertise miraculous cures for almost any condition under the sun, there is no shortage that claim to be of benefit to those with ADHD.

It is true that different individuals respond differently to the same treatment, but there is a particular supplement that has remained uncontested as the best ADHD aid the world over. The product in question is the humble fish oil.

Chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil is extremely valuable as a preventative aid for a wide number of diseases. It is often combined with medications as part of a comprehensive protocol to fight against serious illnesses as well as chronic conditions.

No other supplement is so recognized as a major ally in the fight against brain deterioration and aging. There have been such a vast number of studies that its benefits are quite indisputable and are accepted by medical professionals everywhere.

A most revealing study was done at the University of South Australia. Researchers there tested a combination of omega-3 fish oil and evening primrose oil which is rich in omega-6 oil. In the study, 132 children with ADHD, ranging in age from seven to 12 were given this combination of oils. After the 30-week study ended, half of the parents reported that their children’s symptoms were improved and changes in behavior were noticeable.


During the study, the kids were divided into three groups. Throughout the first 15 weeks, the first group took the fish oil/primrose oil combination. The second group took the same combination plus a multivitamin/mineral supplement and a third group took a placebo. For the second 15 weeks, the kids on the placebo got the fish oil/primrose oil combination plus the multivitamin/mineral as well.

The results correlated to the amount of time the children were given the fish oil supplements. A 40% to 50% improvement in behavior for the two 30-week fish-oil groups was estimated. A 30% to 40% improvement for the 15-week group was also noticed. Compared with results of studies of Ritalin and Concerta, the drugs most often prescribed for ADHD, they found that fish oils were, in fact, more effective.

It has been reported that levels of omega-3s in the plasma and red blood cells of children with ADHD are significantly lower than in kids who don’t exhibit symptoms of the disorder. Since many parents make it a priority to find an alternative to stimulant drugs, it is vitally important that this information be known to them.

While Ritalin can have excellent results in some cases, it has been over-prescribed for a long time now. We must not forget that with a few benefits come many risks of such serious long term side effects as loss of appetite, insomnia, changes in personality and heart damage. There is also some evidence that it can stunt growth when the drug is taken from a very early age.

Therefore, it is generally recommended by pediatricians that a quality multivitamin as well as a good pro-biotic be taken along with a quality fish oil supplement. Most importantly, always make sure that you are purchasing a high quality, mercury-free, fresh fish oil that will deliver the most benefit to your child’s brain. To purchase the fish oil brand I recommend click here.

What is ADHD

What is ADHD? An Overview – Part 1

What is ADHD?ADHD sometimes known as childhood hyperkinesis is a condition with symptoms of inattentiveness, over activity and impulsivity. For this host of problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child’s age and development.

The direct causes of ADHD are unknown but it is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. It affects about 3 – 5% of school aged children. Interestingly, ADHD is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls.

ADHD seems to run in families, but it is not clear how it is passed from generation to generation. Whatever the cause may be, it seems to be set in motion early in life as the brain is developing. Imaging studies indicate that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children.

There are a number of condition such as depression, sleep disorders, learning disabilities, tics and other behavior problems that may be confused with ADHD. Every child suspected of having ADHD should be carefully examined by a doctor to rule out other conditions or reasons for the behavior that might need prior treatment.

In fact, many of the children diagnosed with ADHD show at least one other developmental or behavioral problem. At times, they may even have a psychiatric problem, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD are separated into three main categories.

  1. Lack of attention or inattentiveness
  2. Hyperactivity
  3. Impulsive behavior or impulsivity

Some children with ADHD primarily have symptoms that fall mainly into one category. Others may have a combination. Those with inattentiveness symptoms alone are less disruptive to others and are more likely to not be diagnosed with ADHD.

Inattentiveness

Inattentive symptoms are described as a consistent failure to give close attention to details. The child often makes careless mistakes in schoolwork and has difficulty keeping attention during tasks or playtime. He or she does not seem to listen when spoken to directly and as a result does not follow through on instructions.

The child also has difficulty organizing tasks and activities in a sequential fashion. Tends to avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork).

Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity symptoms are persistent and disruptive. The child fidgets with his hands or feet or squirms in his seat, often getting up when remaining seated is expected. He runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations and does not seem to be able to be part of quiet play. He or she seems to be “on the go” and talks excessively and out of turn.


Impulsivity

Impulsivity can also be present when the child blurts out answers before questions have been completed and without waiting for his turn to speak. He constantly interrupts or intrudes on others by disrupting games, for instance.

It is quite difficult to arrive at a correct conclusion when it comes to ADHD. The paradox is that all too often, difficult children are incorrectly labeled with ADHD while many children who do have ADHD remain undiagnosed.

In either case, treatable learning disabilities or mood problems are often missed and the children remain untreated. To simplify the process, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines to bring more clarity and accuracy.

To start with, the diagnosis must be based on very specific symptoms, which must be present in more than one setting:

  • Children should have no less than 6 attention symptoms and 6 hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms. Symptoms are present before age 7.
  • The symptoms present themselves for at least 6 months and are seen in two or more settings.
  • The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere at home, school and with relationships with peers.

In older children, ADHD can be considered to be in partial remission when they still show symptoms but no longer meet the full criteria of the disorder.

In any case, the child should have an evaluation by a medical professional if ADHD is suspected. Evaluation may include parent and teacher questionnaires that describe the behavior in detail.

It is recommended that psychological evaluation of the child as well as the family is completed. Other developmental, mental, nutritional, physical, and psychosocial examination should be performed to better pinpoint the diagnosis.

References:

National Institute of Health, MedlinePlus. “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001551.htm Accessed August 30, 2011.

New York Times, Times Health Guide. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/overview.html Accessed August 30, 2011