Meds Plus: Exploring Adjunct Therapies

Using natural treatments in addition to medication is a sound, reasonable approach, say many ADHD experts, provided the therapy is safe and legal.

long, skinny graphic shows how exercise, nutrition, and cutting down on screen time can improve focus and help manage ADHD symptoms.

Medication or alternative therapy? That's like asking whether you should eat fruit or vegetables.

Barbara Ingersoll, Ph.D.

"ADHD medication and natural treatments are not mutually exclusive," says Sanford Newmark, M.D., clinical professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of California, and founder of the Center for Pediatric Integrative Medicine, in San Francisco. "Many families in my practice use both at the same time to achieve good results."

For many experts in ADHD, using natural treatments in addition to medication is a sound, reasonable approach, provided the treatment is safe and legal, says Ned Hallowell, M.D., co-author of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. Many adults and children do well on stimulants. Others have limited success and may need something else to help with symptoms.

David L. Rabiner, Ph.D., associate research professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, has come up with a good litmus test for using other therapies: Ask yourself, "Is the treatment — whatever you are using — doing the whole job? Or are there still problems that need to be addressed?" If so, consider additional approaches that might help.

In this special report, ADDitude explores several natural treatments that are adjuncts to medication, not substitutes for it.

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