Natural Remedies for ADHD

Beyond Meds

Considering alternative treatments for ADHD? These safe, sensible remedies won’t hurt – and could help ease the symptoms of attention deficit.

Boys being around one another and playing is an alternative to medication
Boys being around one another and playing is an alternative to medication

When it comes to alternative or complementary therapies, my advice is to retain your common sense. On one side, academics say that because many of these therapies do not have prospective, double-blind studies to back them up, one should avoid them. Remember, though, that the only organizations that can afford the expense of such studies are pharmaceutical companies. Good for them – because meds are key to reducing symptoms. But if you insist on double-blind studies and reject anecdotal evidence, you risk losing out on some potentially worthwhile therapies.

I’ve seen some patients benefit from LENS, a form of neurofeedback. I’ve seen other patients benefit from iLs, Integrated Listening Systems, a music-based therapeutic listening program. I’m a big fan of the Cogmed program for improving working memory, because it has more research behind it than other alternative therapies. My favorite “alternative treatments” are free: sleep, exercise, nutrition, meditation, stretching your brain with stimulating exercises, and positive human contact – known as love.

My motto for using alternative treatments is: “Try whatever might work, as long as it’s safe and legal.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends treating ADHD in children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 with FDA-approved medications, plus parent training in behavior modification and behavioral classroom interventions. Research studies like this one conducted by scientists at McGill University have found that “stimulant medications are most effective, and combined medication and psychosocial treatment is the most beneficial treatment option for most adult patients with ADHD.” All ADHD treatment decisions should be made in consultation and coordination with a licensed medical provider.