Aug 012013

Are you searching for natural remedies for ADHD or ADD treatment without using medication? 

We didn’t want to use meds with our young son, so we sought natural remedies for ADHD to control his hyperactivity and inattentiveness.

Let me say initially, if you think you need to medicate your child, go for it. I am neither for, nor against, medication for a child with ADHD. I’m sharing this information for anyone who wants to explore natural remedies for ADHD treatment without medication.

Deciding Factors For Using Natural Remedies for ADHD

I think this is an agonizing decision for most parents who are faced with the medication question. Knowing what is best for your child is difficult. The outcome isn’t known until you’ve already started down the path whether you choose natural remedies for ADHD or not. No matter which path you decide upon, I think it helps ease the burden to remember you can always change your mind later!

Your decision is not engraved in stone. You should feel to explore natural remedies for ADHD and/or use medications to find what works for your child. Your child is what is most important in this decision.

I think the main factor that drives parents to chose one solution or the other is the severity of their child’s symptoms. Since clinical ADHD is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, milder imbalances are easier to manage through natural remedies for ADHD. If a child has significant deficits in the balance of brain-based chemistry, then I think management using natural remedies for ADHD is much more challenging.

Factors to consider when using natural remedies for ADHD

  • What behaviors are you concerned about controlling?
  • How critical are the behaviors to your child’s functioning?
  • What are your options for managing the behaviors?
  • Can the main problem areas be managed without medication?
  • If educational/behavioral goal(s) can be met in other ways, are you willing and able to provide the needed program elements?

A common concern for parents of children with ADHD is fear of the long-term ramifications of using medication. Many parents don’t want their children to be dependent upon a brain stimulant. Today, many medications are long acting. Addiction is less of a concern. However, the medications are still stimulants.

There are alternatives for raising the level of chemicals in a child’s brain without medication. One way of meeting the need for additional brain chemical stimulation for a child is through intense daily exercise.

Vigorous Exercise as a natural remedy for ADHD

If you choose natural remedies for ADHD, insuring your child gets a good 30–45 minutes of intensive physical activity EACH day can be critical. The intense exercise helps an child with ADHD burn some energy, helps raise the level of serotonin and dopamine in the brain (which is what the medication does).

Raising the brain chemicals can help your child focus longer on school work, improves memory, and helps your child be less impulsive. Exercising can vary from day to day. Exercise can be accomplished through physical activities that interest your child. The activity level may be a bit much for you, but it is a sacrificial decision you’d make to make coping with ADHD feasible for your child.

As an example, your child could do karate two days a week, tennis two days per week, and go for a walk at the park two days per week. Sometimes he can do other things–like wash the cars, or vacuum the whole house, etc. Although the active schedule might be difficult for you or seem like it will break the pocketbook, you can find inexpensive community-based classes, engage in activities that have no associated cost, and you will eventually adjust to your new routines.

There is a lot of neuroscience behind brain development and natural remedies for ADHD. Programs such as Brain Gym or Balametrics, or treatments at the Dore Centers can help stimulate your child’s cerebellum, thereby alleviating ADD/ADHD symptoms. Some people report excellent results with cerebellar stimulation exercise programs, but there aren’t a lot of controlled scientific studies proving its effectiveness.

Family Counseling as a natural remedy for ADHD

Other natural remedies for ADHD include ongoing family counseling. Counseling helps you deal with ADHD issues. It will also help your child learn more appropriate behaviors and reactions. Sometimes the child may go in to work with the psychologist one-on-one, sometimes the psychologist will see each family member one-on-one. Other times the counselor will see everyone as a family.

You can get a psychological referral from your pediatrician. Ask specifically for someone who ‘specializes’ in working with children who have ADHD, learning disability issues, or or specializes in neuropsychology.

I think many psychologists who specialize in ADHD, learning disabilities, and family counseling approach the situation differently than typical medical doctors (who may see medication as a quick cure all). A good doctor will be willing to work with you either way you want to go. Whether you choose natural remedies for ADHD, knowing you have more work cut out for you, or choose medication, your family will need good advice. You’ll want professional who is willing to accept your family’s individual decision. Whatever you decide, you will likely need ongoing support for your family and child.

Counseling for ADHD issues doesn’t have to occur weekly. Counseling can take place once or twice per month, depending upon how intense the situation around your house is. You may not need a lot of counseling, but enough to help deal with issues that have surfaced since your last visit. A counselor can help come up with ideas for you to help your child understand he MUST do school work. He may teach your child ways to stay focused too. The counselor will listen to you vent when you’re exasperated.

For your child, the counselor can help your child reflect on appropriate or inappropriate behaviors and expectations. The counselor helps your child with ideas for dealing with frustration or tasks he’s disinterested in completing.

It’s important also for you to learn how to properly manage your child’s impulsive behaviors too.  Check out the article on Behavior Management for ADHD Impulsivity for more information.

With regular counseling, your household can run smoother. Everyone will cope better. Family counseling helps everyone be a lot less frustrated. There is often less chaos. I think the regular counseling, combined with other non-medicated solutions, makes a difference similar to what you’d see with medication. When you’re using natural remedies for ADHD, it just takes a bit longer to get settled down (about six months). I understand medication makes a relatively immediate difference, but takes a few weeks to determine the correct dose. It can take six months to find ‘the right’ medication and dosage.

Diet management as a natural remedy for ADHD

Another one of the natural remedies for ADHD is diet management. There are several experts who have written books about ADHD and its correlation with artificial chemicals in our foods. Probably the most widely known expert source of diet related information is the Feingold Association. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children and adults apply proven dietary techniques for better behavior, learning and health.

At the very least, eliminating “junk” food is one of the natural remedies for ADHD many parents find helpful. However, eliminating junk food is seldom sufficient for eliminating ADHD behaviors. MOST of the packaged foods contain some sort of food dye or preservative which can have pervasive effects. If you are going to use natural remedies for ADHD for your child, making some dietary changes will be beneficial. Please check out the Feingold Association for specifics on making significant dietary changes that may benefit your child.

Deciding whether to use natural remedies for ADHD

You still may not know whether you want to medicate your child or use natural remedies for ADHD. If it helps at all, one teacher-parent said she’d medicate her child if the child were in school, but not if she were homeschooled. In public school, it is difficult to control the environment sufficiently to address the needs of the child on an ongoing basis. It is often better to ‘make’ the child fit the environment.

Homeschooling parents can modify their homeschool to suit their child’s individual needs. Thus, a homeschooled child doesn’t have to be ‘modified’ to fit the home environment nearly as often. Whether you choose medication or natural remedies for ADHD, your choice can be dependent upon the bigger picture of your child’s daily routine and needs.

While it may be difficult to think of modifying your child through medication, if your child is in public school, that may be the best decision for your child in the long-term. If you do decide to medicate your child, it will help you to find a doctor who specializes in ADHD issues. A specialist will be able to direct you in more aspects of dealing with ADHD than a general practitioner. A generalist may have insufficient knowledge about specific problems and issues your child will be facing with ADHD.

Benefits of medication as a remedy for ADHD

Benefits of medication may include more immediate control of a child’s behavior and immediate improvement in a child’s ability to concentrate. Your child will have more ‘availability’ for learning-based tasks. The level of improvement and immediacy of it will depend totally on the appropriateness of the selected medication for your individual child.

If the doctor happens to select a perfect match, you are set immediately. Most often, some modifications to medicines or dosages are required through an adjustment period. During the period when your doctor is trying to determine the best medication and dosage for your child, you may go through periods when your child has behavioral changes, changes in appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, etc. Talk with your doctor about any symptoms that are of concern, particularly those having any significant impact on your child.

Parents who have chosen medication give mixed testimony. Some have had dramatic, outstanding results. Others have had a difficult road with many modifications in the child’s medication with few definitive results. Some parents mourn the loss of a ‘spark’ their child once had, whereas others say they noticed no personality changes in their child.

Likewise, some people who initially decided to use natural remedies for ADHD had poor results. Some have realized a tremendous turn-around once they decided to medicate their child. The outcome with medication will be unique to your child, and the outcome cannot be accurately guessed without trying medication to see how it affects your child.

What ever your decision may be, always remember you can change your decision if you need to. In all likelihood, there will be a period of adjustment whether you choose natural remedies for ADHD or not. If nothing else, I hope this page has given you some ideas about ways to help your child using natural remedies for ADHD.

Maybe the information will have cleared a little confusion for you about whether to medicate your child or use natural remedies for ADHD. The choice is yours.

Best Wishes no matter which remedy you choose!

Recommended Resource: Focus Pocus – The Focus Pocus Program gives you creative and multisensory methods to help your child focus and stay engaged with his schoolwork. This is an ideal program for homeschooling families because it provides you with some great behavior management and study techniques that help you keep your kid academically engaged throughout the day.

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