Q: Natural solutions for ADHD?

My son is five, and was diagnosed with ADHD ... although he has no trouble with schoolwork and is learning at a terrific rate, it's hard to get him to focus and stop being hyper long enough to function in a normal kindergarten setting. Doctors won't prescribe medicine until 7, but even then I'm not keen on the idea of him taking a prescription to curb his problems. Does anyone know of an alternative to medicine, something perhaps natural? We've just started him on a new diet and I've educated him on the benefits of making good food choices, but are there maybe herbs or something? Thanks :)
munkin2u (rep: 1.25k) posted Mar 05, 2012
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Personally, I wouldn't experiment with herbs unless it's under a Dr.'s order. Herbs should be treated like medicine! Just keep in mind, if they can help, they can hurt (and even if they can't help, they can still hurt you)!

Have you asked your Dr.'s office for ideas? It would be best to start there. Just call and ask your Dr. or the nurse in the office for a diet plan or what to cut out or add.

I'd also seek out books on the subject. And I'm not talking just about a diet, but just general info and help for dealing with ADHD. Read some reputable books and see if those may have some additional ideas for you. Good luck.
MHT962 (rep: 3.22k) posted Mar 05, 2012
I spoke to a woman who used to be a 2nd grade teacher about ADHD, Autism, and all sorts of "disorders" that we have become more aware of recently. She said it was so upsetting for her to see kids diagnosed with these disorders and "treated" with some kind of medicine that just seemed to slow them down. In her opinion, these kids were just everyday kids. They didn't have disorders and yet their parents or doctors felt a need to treat them.
Perhaps your son is just an active, curious, healthy 5 year old and it's just a phase that he's going through. I'm no expert of course but I know kids aren't always going to be as attentive as adults and heck, even adults who don't have ADHD may not always have such a long attention span.
arsiel (rep: 13k) posted Mar 05, 2012
I wouldn't mess with herbs either. Beyond your Doc, I'd consult a Nutritionist. More and more people seem to have or develop food intolerance. My son has a gluten intolerance, which has manifested itself differently (different symptoms) throughout his 21 years.
This is a good article to get started Elimination Diet May Improve ADHD Symptoms
"In her commentary, Dr. Ghuman notes restricted elimination diet studies are "complex and challenging." The INCA study was "well-designed and carefully done, showed a benefit with a supervised elimination diet, and provides an additional treatment option for some young children with ADHD.

"For interested parents," Dr. Ghuman told Medscape Medical News, "clinicians should encourage them to seek the advice of the child's primary care provider and a nutritionist for appropriate monitoring of the child's nutritional status and needs. The parents will need appropriate guidance and supervision for a structured protocol to determine any benefit and identify incriminated foods."

This is a lot of work at first. Detailed notes, knowing ingredients, reading all fine print on labels, etc.
Don't pass on any testing @ school. You may not want to have your child labeled, but check out an ILP (Individual Learning Plan) he may be gifted & bored. It may even help down the road with college...benefits from, acceptance, scholarships and placement. Good Luck.
glwrks (rep: 112k) posted Mar 05, 2012
Quite frankly? I find that ADD/ADHD has become an excuse used by lazy teachers. Chances are, if your son can focus on anything at all, then he doesn't have ADD/ADHD. Keep in mind, psychiatric disorders aren't that easy to diagnose in kids unless they're particularly... Obvious.
Chances are, your son just needs to learn how to behave in a classroom setting, which isn't really a natural one for kids. Seriously, at five years old, does anybody want to sit still?
If he's learning, that means he's paying attention. If he's doing that, it means he'll be just fine.
I'm not a psychiatrist, or any other doctor. All I know is that ADD/ADHD is disturbingly overdiagnosed, and I've seen kids take the pills and start losing their personalities. They become kind of... Dead behind the eyes.
Please, unless you're absolutely positively sure, avoid medicating your son.
Jourdy288 (rep: 532) posted Mar 05, 2012
I have ADD and was also diagnosed at 5. I was put on meds at 6. It took awhile to find the right medication but, once they did, it did wonders! Both of my parents are pediatricians so they knew the signs but they still had me tested by a psychiatrist and a neurologist to see if my behavior might be caused by something else. I know some people don't think it is a real disorder and that is little insulting, but it is hard to understand how the mind of someone with ADD works unless you actually have it.

They probably want to wait until he is 7 to put him on meds because it is over-diagnosed and they probably just want to make sure he has ADHD and is not just a hyper kid. I can't speak for everyone, but I thank my parents for putting me on medication. School was such a struggle on the days I did not have it. If taken properly and by people who actually have it, ADHD medication is not addictive and really gives the kids a fighting chance. It is not cruel or child abuse either. Actually, I think it would have been very cruel and selfish of my parents if they refused to give me something that curbed my chemical imbalance. But, like I said before, every child is different and medications and natural remedies that work for one, may not for another.

I wish I could recommend an alternative, but I have tried so many things and the only thing that worked for me was Concerta. Every case is different though. ADD/ADHD kids need a LOT of structure in their lives so I would maybe talk to his teacher and make sure his daily schedule is the same (including where he sits) and, at home, try to keep things organized and the days and weekends very structured. Make sure he is a part of the organization process so he knows where to put things and learns how to incorporate those skills in his everyday life. Making him feel important when he accomplished something is also great. Remember, it is much harder for a child with ADD/ADHD to accomplish most things than for a child without the disorder. Even the small things are a real challenge for these kids. Once he turns 7, you may want to consider medication but I am sure you and his doctor will have a better idea of what will be best for him at that point.

I saw this program on PBS the other day and it really helped my husband understand what I go through and how my mind works. I don't know if you can view the video on this site but it does have some helpful resources. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/attention.html

Sorry for the super long post! As a teacher, I have seen a lot of kids with ADHD and I see how the parents struggle (and remember how my parents struggled) so I hope I can help. IMHO, ADHD kids are awesome. Maybe see him as natural sleep medication for you because I am sure you are wiped out at the end of the day and can't wait to go to bed :)
VirginiaPeanuts (rep: 10.9k) posted Mar 05, 2012
I agree with Arsiel. Many times, children are misdiagnosed with ADHD because they seem to be "overactive" by the parents even though they are just being kids. The condition is very subjective at this point as far as what is considered ADHD and what is not, even though there are a few specific standards, it is not perfect.

As a 2nd year pharmacy student, I have learned much about ADHD medications. The medication that will most likely be prescribed to your child (if you choose that route) would be Amphetamine, which many people know by as Adderall. The drug is a stimulant, which may seem a little counter intuitive, giving a stimulant to someone who is already "hyper". The mechanism of action of how it works in patients with ADHD is unknown, but the drug does work very well for that condition. The downside to such medications such as Adderall is that they are schedule II drugs meaning they have abuse potential, and your child may build tolerance (meaning he will have to take more and more in the long run to get the same effect) to the medication or become physically addicted (he will want it because it makes him feel good), although the latter is unlikely if you give him the prescribed dosage by the physician.

With all that being said, these ADHD drugs work very well, and if you decide to take that route, you should not be worried of it doing much harm or cause undesirable side effects to your child (although there are side effects, they are not life threatening).

However, in my opinion, I would stay away from the medication for now and observe your child for a few more years and see how things are going. As you have stated, he has no trouble with school work and learning at a terrific rate. I would only consider medication if he starts to fall behind in school work or have a hard trouble concentrating in school. As far as him not being able to "function" in kindergarten, I am not really sure what "function" means, it is very subjective, and to me, there is not much to being able to "function" in kindergarten, except to learn (which he is doing well) and playing with the other kids.

As far as herbs go, I do not recommend any because none have enough studies behind them to show that they are safe and effective.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
aznballa161 (rep: 3.11k) posted Mar 05, 2012
@ Jourdy288: Teachers can't diagnose ADD/ADHD or even suggest it to the parents unless a doctor is present. You can actually lose your job, or teaching license in extreme cases, if a teacher suggests this. If a teacher ever tells you that she might think your kid has a disorder that has not already been diagnosed by a doc, go to the principal. She might be telling other parents similar things and could cause kids to be misdiagnosed or given medications for disorders they don't have. A lot of times if a parent tells the doc that his teacher says he might have something, the doctor may be less reluctant to prescribe since the teacher observes the kid in an academic setting.
VirginiaPeanuts (rep: 10.9k) posted Mar 05, 2012
sister-in-law ( with her kid ) is sure RED food coloring is bad.
encorez (rep: 9.95k) posted Mar 05, 2012
Just something to think about... relationship with vision and my son's ADHD...

It was actually a specialist appointment 6 months in the works. He specialises in the link between ADHD and optical issues. He has done his PHD thesis on the link and has removed hundreds of children from medicine by his treatment.

Our appointment lasted 4 hours between with xxxx

Facinating results. Below please find the Visagraph III results for xxxxx that the Optometrist forwarded to me from the appointment. He asked that I share it with xxxxx's teacher and the school board for their information and application.

After an extremely thorough examination of eye health (beyond the normal tests), Dr. Quaid started checking for visual function. He watched xxxxx read and noted xxxxx could not read without moving his head side to side instead of his eyes side to side. He did a check of his eye muscles focusing inward as well as outward (peripheral). The test results below are the results.

The first file is the numerical results vs someone at his grade level. Given it involved reading, we tested him with a Grade 2 reading level. Especially telling is the first number which shows the number of eye movements per reading passage. A normal reader focuses for a split second on every 3rd or 4th word with the peripheral vision reading the words in between. The eye typically when reading move smoothly forward, left to right, back to the beginning of the line and down one to read the next line and starts over. The eye rarely goes back over a word. xxxxx's results shows a reading comprehension of 70%, BUT his eye focus points are three times the amount of someone his reading level (ie 389 vs 174) showing he has to work 3 times harder to get the same results. This exhaustive method does not leave much concentration left for school work and results in a distracted , tired child after a small amount of work.

JUST A HIGHLIGHT from an actual email... This boy is extremely smart... just really struggles with reading and gets exhausted. ADHD is the known .... and hoping medication can be reduced or even eliminated...

Anyway... good luck and stay positive
grapsy (rep: 47) posted Mar 05, 2012
I don't know that I could give you any advice or ideas that haven't already been said, but I just wanted to say good for you for wanting to do some research before jumping into anything. And good for you for teaching your son about making healthy food choices at such a young age. It sounds like your son is doing well in school and enjoys learning, so you're obviously making some great parenting choices. You should be proud. :) Good luck!
canis444 (rep: 263) posted Mar 06, 2012
When i was a kid there was no such thing as ADHD because if you didnt pay attention you got whooped. Guess what, we all paid attention.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.84k) posted Mar 06, 2012
The person that diagnosed him was a licensed psychologist, not his teacher. His teacher just keeps telling me, "If you don't get him under control, it will affect his learning for years to come." ... as if I don't already know. Before having my son, I always thought the ADD/ADHD diagnosis was also bunk, but my uncle had it, my son's father had it and my mom has an adult version. My son is hyper, yes, but learns well. He just can't sit still. Ever. And is disruptive and uncontrollable a lot of the time.

Thanks for the suggestions :)
munkin2u (rep: 1.25k) posted Mar 07, 2012