Attention and focus disorders are becoming rampant in our society. Conditions like ADD and ADHD are affecting more and more children and are becoming more common in adults. If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, you do have treatment options. If you don’t want to go the pharmaceutical route and would prefer to take an approach that addresses the root issue, then there are effective natural options to consider.
If you need help with ADD or ADHD, click here
Natural Solutions for ADD and ADHD
Attention and focus disorders are becoming rampant in our society. Conditions like ADD and ADHD are affecting more and more children and are becoming more common in adults. In 2011, 6.4 million children between 4 and 17 years of age were diagnosed with ADHD, and that number is climbing.
The terms ADD and ADHD are often used interchangeably, but the conditions are different. ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms include problems focusing, difficulty sitting still, poor concentration, behavior problems, outbursts in class, etc. These conditions can also lead to depression and self-esteem issues.
ADD is more of a fatigue syndrome whereas ADHD is characterized by being amped up and unable to settle down and focus. Typically, a person with ADD doesn’t have enough energy, and a person with ADHD has too much energy.
If you or your child are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, your doctor will likely prescribe a medication such as Ritalin or Adderall. The same medications are used for both conditions, and they come with a long list of side effects. Sometimes anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications are used as well.
If you don’t want to go the pharmaceutical route and would prefer to take an approach that addresses the root issue, there are effective natural options to consider.
Start with the Gut
The gut and brain are very strongly connected. Resolving many neurological imbalances requires addressing gut health. Much of the underlying cause of ADD and ADHD is linked gut dysbiosis. Research has shown that many kids with ADD/ADHD also had a history of ear infections and/or respiratory infections and had been on several rounds of antibiotics. Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut that can be fungal or bacterial.
Dysbiosis, fungal or bacterial, is known to cause neurological imbalances, such as brain fog, insomnia, depression, and irritability. We see this with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), Candida, and gut inflammation. There is so much that happens in the gut that can affect the brain.
Simple solutions include cleaning up your diet, reducing sugar, and taking a probiotic.
Blood sugar imbalances
Balancing blood sugar is also critical in kids with ADD/ADHD, and it can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety and irritability. Choosing healthy, whole-food carbohydrate sources rather than simple carbohydrates and sugars and adding in more protein and healthy fats will prevent sudden spikes and crashes in blood sugar throughout the day.
A typical American breakfast, especially for kids, consists of a high sugar cereal and orange juice. This will cause blood sugar to spike and then drop quickly. This becomes a viscous cycle — when you eat a carb-rich meal, you experience a blood sugar crash, and stress hormones are released to bring your blood sugar back up.
A couple of things happen when you experience this extreme blood sugar drop. You crave sugar to bring your blood sugar back up, and the stress hormones that are released can fuel anxiety, fatigue, and other neurological symptoms. You tend to crave sugary foods and stimulants, which caused the problem in the first place.
It’s important to be mindful to have a healthy breakfast with protein and fat. You’ll want to make sure that lunch, dinner, and snacks are structured this way as well. Numerous studies have shown that the healthier dietary approach is one that focuses on healthy fats, healthy protein, vegetables, and some fruits. This way of eating does not put a large emphasis on carbohydrates. However, when you do have carbs, make sure they are whole food-based, like fruit, sweet potatoes, rice, or legumes.
Other natural solutions
A few additional supplements and behaviors for nourishing the body and rebalancing the gut and brain include:
- Fish oil high in DHA
- Whole food multivitamins/minerals
- Calming herbs
- Fermented foods
- Limiting screen time on digital devices
If you’d like to learn more about natural solutions for ADD/ADHD, click here to listen to our podcast with Dr. Phil Carson.
If you need help with ADD or ADHD, click here