Natural Remedies for ADHD

Some natural remedies may help ease ADHD symptoms.

Natural Solutions?

About 15 million Americans have a brain-based disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some natural remedies may ease some symptoms. Others have little effect.

Behavioral therapy can help you learn how to create a routine, organize, manage distractions, limit choices, set goals, and create positive opportunities.

Proven: Behavioral Therapy

You can work with a therapist or coach to find strategies that work best for you. They may want you to:

  • Create a routine
  • Learn to organize
  • Manage distractions
  • Limit choices
  • Set goals for yourself
  • Create positive opportunities

Your doctor can recommend someone for you to see.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and limiting fat, sugar, and salt can help you manage ADHD symptoms.

Proven: Meal Planning

A healthy, balanced diet matters when it comes to helping ADHD. Using fresh, healthy ingredients that are low in fat, sugar, and salt can make your symptoms easier to manage. When you cook at home, you know exactly what's on your plate.

Exercising for 45 minutes at least 3 days a week can dramatically improve ADHD symptoms.

Proven: Exercise

Not only is exercise good for your health, but your brain loves it, too. One study showed that 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 3 days a week for 10 weeks dramatically improved ADHD symptoms. Talk to your doctor before you start.

Caffeine improves memory and concentration, but too much can have the opposite effect.

Proven, but Be Careful: Caffeine

Caffeine may be an effective treatment for ADHD. Research says it improves your memory and concentration. You probably know that you can find it in things like coffee, soda, and tea. You can also find it in some over-the-counter medicines for things like pain and colds. Keep in mind that a little caffeine goes a long way. Too much caffeine can actually have the opposite effect.

Getting optimal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, melatonin, and magnesium may help your ADHD symptoms.

Depends: Supplements and Vitamins

Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements are good for your heart. But the benefits for your ADHD symptoms are relatively modest. The same goes for zinc, iron, melatonin, and magnesium. Unless you're already low in those essential elements, you may not see much change.

Ginseng, ningdong, and bacopa may reduce ADHD symptoms, but the optimal doses have not been investigated and they may interact with certain medications.

Not Enough Information: Herbal Medicines

Studies show that some herbal medicines, like ginseng, ningdong, and bacopa, may help with ADHD symptoms. But more research is needed to find out how much you should take and how they might interact with your meds. Talk with your doctor before you go the herbal route.

Essential oils can improve sleep and focus, but more research is needed.

Not Enough Information: Essential Oils

Studies on lavender, vetiver, and rosemary have hinted that some essential oils may help improve sleep and focus -- two things that are crucial to people with ADHD. But more research is needed. Talk with your doctor before using any essential oils.

There is not enough research on biofeedback for ADHD symptoms to know whether it helps or not.

Not Enough Information: Biofeedback

This practice can let doctors can see and record your brain waves to compare how active certain parts of your brain are. Because ADHD is a brain-based disorder, it's possible to use that information to ease symptoms. But not enough research has been done to know for certain that biofeedback helps. Talk with your doctor about it.

Sensory integration training may help ease ADHD symptoms, but more research is needed.

Not Enough Information: Sensory Integration Training

It's possible to train your brain to react in a positive way to lots of sensory messages at once, like hearing, seeing, smell, taste, and touch. This could ease the symptoms of ADHD. But more research is needed.

Studies on interactive metronome training and ADHD do not tell us whether it works or not for the condition.

Not Enough Information: Interactive Metronome Training

With this, you do a range of exercises to a beat provided by a computer, like a metronome marks time for musicians. It can help with a bunch of brain and physical issues, but studies about its effects on ADHD don't tell us whether it works or not.



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  • CDC: "What is ADHD?" "Treatment of ADHD."
  • "About ADHD: Overview," "Treatment Strategies," "Complementary Treatment," "Nutrition and ADHD," "Fish oil supplements and ADHD," "Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)," "Q&A: What about caffeine for ADHD?" "Boost your exercise to help with ADHD."
  • "Are there natural remedies for ADHD?"
  • MedlinePlus: "Caffeine."
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