There are a lot of parents who are rightfully hesitant about using prescription medications on their young child. I understand that, because I don’t particularly like it myself. Many of these parents look to more holistic approaches. This can range from using supplements to give your child a break from the meds, which we do, or using them as a method of completely managing your child’s concerns. This also includes specific diets, using essential oils, meditation and many other ideas.
As I have said before we do use medication, but we also use supplements. If you do an internet search about ADHD you will find many, many suggestions about which supplements are effective to help treat the disorder. If you search long enough a few consistently pop up, they are Omega 3, B vitamins, Magnesium and Zinc. If you do a search for sleep problems, which are common with kids with ADHD, you find melatonin which has saved many an ADHD parent some sleepless nights. There are more, but these are the ones that come up the most. It would seem to be a simple process give the kids the supplement and no need for meds, but as you have learned by following this blog nothing when dealing with mental health and learning differences is simple. If you are going to choose this road there are a few things to consider.
- This can be expensive.
- It takes time to work so you must be patient.
- You must be prepared to be painfully consistent with the supplements.
If those three things do not deter you then the first thing you should do is talk to your child’s treating physician regarding the use of supplements. It is safer if the doctor is on board. If you are just choosing a Psychiatrist try to find one that supports supplementation. They do exist. The doctor can give some guidance, but you are also going to need to do research on your own. I have books on how to naturally treat disease, I have done many internet searches, and I have read books specifically for managing ADHD including one for treating ADHD without medication.
I want to take a moment to talk about safety. Many people look at a supplement and assume because it is “natural” it cannot hurt. Well a rattlesnake is natural, but its bite will kill you. (Extreme I know, but you get the point) As you start taking the time to learn about this you will find, some of these supplements do not play well together or with others ie prescription meds. This is why it is important all treating physicians are aware of everything you are giving your child. You don’t want to deal with an adverse reaction unnecessarily. Additionally, like any other substance there is a risk of allergy.
What if the doctor is not on board with helping with the supplementation? There are many parents that do this without a doctor’s assistance successfully, but do not hide that you are giving them to your child from the physician. If the physician is truly against it, you may want to find a more supportive physician.
It is also important you know what a supplement is supposed to do. It will help you decide if that is a supplement you want to try. I give my kids magnesium. It has a calming effect on them. That in conjunction with some physical activity can make my day easier. It is not enough to get them through a stressful day of school, but it is enough to get through homework or a Saturday cleaning the house. This saves me from having to give my kids a booster dose of the stimulant medication or stimulants on the weekend.
Let’s say you have done your research. The doctor is on board. You know what supplements you want to try and you have set a weekend start date. The day arrives you proudly wake up that morning to give your child this wonderful alternative to the medication and your kid gags on the supplement, refuses to take it, or has an all-out meltdown. So here is where the rubber meets the road per se and this is also where this gets expensive. I intentionally failed to mention before this many supplements are disgusting. I would suggest before you give your child anything taste it, smell it, and look at it first. If it makes you gag odds are it will make your kid gag. Also, if your child has issues with sensory processing, texture and taste may be an issue which may further hinder your goals. You may go through a lot of trial and error and a lot of wasted supplement just to get to something they will take consistently, without world war three erupting to make it happen. Then you have wait and see if it works. If it doesn’t work you start over.
If the thought of giving your child a supplement still unsettles you look into making smoothies or juicing to treat ADHD as well. I have a few smoothie and juicing books and many have recipes to help with ADHD. They include fruits, vegetables, and seeds rich in the previously mentioned nutrients. That does not work for us, because my kids do not like smoothies or fresh juice, but I did try it.
I have seen information about parents having some success with a gluten free diet for their ADHD kid. We cannot do that, because many of the gluten free products are nut based and my middle child has a peanut/treenut allergy. However, if it is an option for you it may be worth looking into.
In addition to everything else aroma therapy is an effective and relatively safe way to help with ADHD. There are many oils that help with sleep and even concentration. Lavender oil in a warm bath can do wonders to help relax a tense child. I have also put it in an oil burner to scent the room before bed.
The last and best natural treatment for ADHD is…………EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE. I have eluded to it before, but physical activity is the single most effective natural treatment of ADHD I have ever seen. When my kids come home from track or gymnastics you would think they took a second dose of their ADHD medication. They are calm and easier to deal with. When they are not going to practice they can take bike rides, and walks and maybe even jumping jacks and push-ups in the house if they cannot get out. Physical activity along with a balanced healthy diet will make a difference.
There are so many methods I have not tried and I have not listed here. I hope this can give you a jumping off point for you to learn about supplements and other alternative treatments that may work in your home.
Black ADHD Mom