Parents are quick to put their children on medication like Ritalin as soon as they are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but what about alternative, natural remedies?
While drugs like Ritalin and Adderall may help reduce the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, they often do not target the root cause of the problem, and in addition they might have some very negative side effects.
These drugs are used to help kids improve their ability to pay attention, control impulsive behavior, and curb hyperactivity.
However, many people do not know that simple things like nutritious meals, play and exercise, and learning better social skills are all part of a balanced treatment plan that can improve performance at school, improve your child’s relationships with others, and decrease stress and frustration.
Treatment starts at home
You as a parent have a huge influence over your child’s treatment. Research has shown that following a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and making other smart daily choices can help your child manage the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. That means your child can begin treatment for ADD/ADHD today—at home.
The importance of exercise
Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
Physical activity can immediately boost the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.
In a sense this is what medication such as Ritalin and Adderall try to achieve, but the difference is that exercise doesn’t require a prescription and it is side-effect free.
Activities that require close attention to body movements, such as dance, gymnastics, martial arts, and skateboarding, are particularly good for kids with ADD/ADHD.
Team sports are also a good choice as the social element keeps it interesting.
The importance of sleep
Getting enough, quality sleep can lead to great improvement in ADD/ADHD symptoms. However, many kids with ADD/ADHD have problems getting to sleep at night, and often this due to stimulant medications, and decreasing the dose or stopping the medication entirely will solve the problem.
However, a large percentage of children with ADD/ADHD who are not taking stimulants also have sleep difficulties. If your child is one of them, the following tips can help.
- Set a regular bedtime (and enforce it).
- If background noise keeps your child up, try a sound machine or a fan.
- Turn off all electronics (TV, computer, video games, and cell phone) at least an hour before bed.
- Limit physical activity in the evening
The importance of nutrition
Studies show that what, and when, you eat makes a difference when it comes to managing ADD/ADHD.
In order to help manage ADD/ADHD, follow these guidelines for eating right:
- Regular meals or snacks no more than three hours apart –
This will help keep your child’s blood sugar level, minimizing irritability and supporting concentration and focus.
- Include a bit of protein and complex carbohydrates in each meal or snack –
These foods will help your child feel more alert while decreasing hyperactivity.
- Check your child’s zinc, iron, and magnesium levels –
Many children with ADD/ADHD are low in these important minerals. Boosting their levels may help control ADD/ADHD symptoms. Increasing iron may be particularly helpful. One study found that an iron supplement improved symptoms almost as much as taking stimulant medication.
- Add more omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet –
Studies show that omega-3s improve hyperactivity, impulsivity, and concentration in kids (and adults) with ADD/ADHD. Omega-3s are found in salmon, tuna, sardines, and some fortified eggs and milk products. However, the easiest way to boost your child’s intake is through fish oil supplements.
Alternative to Medication
If you still want to give your child some sort of medication, rather give him/her the Manna Calmer Junior instead of the chemical options. The Calmer Junior formulation can help to keep them calm, focused without the worry of any side effects.