Doctors are diagnosing more and more adults with ADD. Usually, these adults went through childhood undiagnosed and have already developed coping skills for managing their condition in daily life. While ADD does cause them difficulties, most would prefer to avoid drugs if they can. Herbal and other natural remedies provide options for improving their quality of life at reduced cost and without medication side effects.
Most ADD drugs are stimulants. Instead of revving you up, if you have ADD, stimulants may calm you down. Caffeine may help you settle down and focus. If coffee is too much for you, tea contains a gentler dose. Green tea provides anti-oxidants, which protect your body and brain from day-to-day damage. Gingko biloba is another general brain protective herb that has good effects for some.
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) says that small studies have found support for oral flower essence, pine bark extract and panax ginseng as ADD treatments but stops short of recommending them.
Herbal practitioners have also tried Avena sativa (oat straw), German chamomile, Gotu kola, hawthorn, lemon balm, Lobelia, rooibos, Scuttelaria (skullcap), and Valerian. Many of these are combined in a commercial preparation, Focus. Other preparations are also available.
Selecting Your Herbs
If you choose to use herbal remedies, remember that although herbs are natural and can have fewer side effects, for medical purposes herbs are drugs. You must tell your doctor what you are taking and how much. Herbs can have side effects. Gingko biloba can thin the blood and impair clotting. Ginseng can also impair clotting, and some overseas lots have been contaminated. Many products that claim to be ginseng preparations contain little or no ginseng. Imports frequently have little quality control to ensure that the label on the bottle is accurate or truthful.
Herbs vary in how much of the active ingredients are in each bottle, depending on agricultural factors, and the specific line of plants. Dose varies greatly from bottle to bottle if the contents are not medicine grade. Some companies do make an effort to stabilize the therapeutic quality of their individual bottled herbs, but many people choose commercial preparations because the dosage is more controlled. Herbal teas provide almost no control over how much of the active components of the herbs are in them. Be prepared to adjust how much you use whenever you buy a new box.
Fish really is brain food. Omega-3 fatty acids are what you need. Fish oil supplements help up your intake, but make sure they’re fresh. They shouldn’t smell fishy; keep the bottle in the refrigerator. Fish oil supplements have a big advantage over fish. Many of the oily fish can have high mercury levels. Since mercury is insoluble in oil, fish oil supplements are mercury free.
Your ADD symptoms may be caused or worsened by a food allergy. Eggs, wheat, chocolate or milk are common culprits. You may also want to avoid salicylates—aspirin, many fruits and some peppers.