ADD/ADHD: Alternative Medicine
Top Alternative Medicine
Certain ingredients in the diet are believed to induce behavioral changes in ADD and ADHD patients. Refined carbohydrates and sugar are often blamed for inducing hyperactivity. These simple sugars are easily digested, resulting in rapid increase in the sugar level in the blood stream. Sudden rise in the blood sugar level stimulates adrenaline secretion, leading to hyperactivity. Hence, hyperactivity might be prevented by eliminating sugar rich foods and refined carbohydrates from the diet. Besides sugar, hyperactivity can be induced by artificial colors, especially red, yellow and green, chemical additives, eggs, chocolates, milk and wheat. Sensitivity to salicylates is also believed to increase activity in people with ADD or ADHD. Salicylates are found in several fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, berries, prunes, peppers, apples, grapes, oranges and peaches. Eliminating the suspected hyperactivity triggers from the diet can improve behavior.
2. Omega3 fatty acids
Omega3 fats play an important role in the functioning of the brain. Supplementation with eiconsapentaneoic acid (EPA) and decosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two forms of omega3 fats present in fish oil, can cause small but significant behavioral improvement in ADD and ADHD patients. The anti-inflammatory property of the essential fats may modify the anatomical and chemical abnormalities in the brain of people diagnosed with behavioral disorders. Omega3 fats are safe and can be taken for a long period.
Zinc plays an important role in metabolism of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the feelings of pleasure and helps to calm the mind. Deficiency of zinc may incite behavioral problems in ADD and ADHD patients. Preliminary studies suggest that zinc supplements may improve the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Moreover, when combined with pharmacological stimulants, zinc supplements can increase the effectiveness of these medications. Zinc supplements are likely to be safe when used in recommended doses for a brief period. However, the supplement has no effect on the symptoms of ADD or ADHD in patients without zinc deficiency.
4. Interactive metronome training
Interactive metronome is a computer based therapeutic tool for people suffering from ADD or ADHD. Proponents of the therapy claim that deficit in the neural timing or the internal clock of the brain causes behavioral problems. The timing in the brain, also known as temporal processing, regulates concentration, reading, remembering, motor coordination and speech. In interactive metronome therapy, a person with ADD or ADHD listens to rhythmic beats and then tries to match the beats by tapping his/her hands and feet. The patient is then provided feedback, informing how well he/she can mimic the beat. Over time, interactive training helps to improve the attention span of the patient. Interactive metronome training is safe. However, the training sessions can be expensive and finding an interactive metronome certified trainer might not be an easy task.
Imbalance in the theta and beta waves in the brain triggers hyperactivity. Through neurofeedback, a person learns to control the brain wave activities. The human brain emits brain waves of different frequencies during different activities. The brain of a person with ADD or ADHD produces excess waves of very high frequencies or beta waves which trigger hyperactivity, and a fewer than average low frequency brain waves or theta waves, which help to calm the mind. In neurofeedback treatment, the brain wavelengths are monitored with electroencephalograph (EEG), and the patient is informed about the different levels of brain activities through visual signals such as graphs or images on the computer monitor. The patient is then trained to control the brain activities, which can significantly improve the attention span and reduce impulsiveness. Neurofeedback therapy sessions can be expensive.
6. Chiropractic medicine
Chiropractic medicine can restore the normal activities of the brain through spinal adjustment and exposure to sound and light of different frequencies. Chiropractors believe that ADD and ADHD are signs of uneven distribution of pressure on different areas of the brain, which occur due to misalignment in the temporal bones and the sphenoid bone of the skull.
7. French maritime pine bark extract
French maritime pine bark extract can be used as an alternative to psychostimulant drugs. The effectiveness of the herb in treating the symptoms of ADHD and ADD has been proved in double blind placebo controlled studies. The beneficial effect of French maritime pine bark is attributed to the antioxidant compound pycnogenol. Reduction in hyperactivity and improvement in attention span coordination have been reported within a month following diet supplementation with pine bark extract.