What are the Different Herbal ADHD Treatments?

Rebecca Harkin

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by having a shortened attention span and impulsive, highly active behavior. The condition, typically diagnosed in childhood, continues into adulthood and often impacts both personal relationships as well as scholastic or work performance. ADHD is most often treated with psychostimulant medications, but these drugs are increasingly being abandoned due to their side effects and addictive nature. Herbal ADHD treatments such as ginkgo biloba, ginseng, American skullcap, German chamomile and gato kola are increasingly used in place of psychstimulant medications.

Ginseng root is a popular herbal ADHD treatment.
Ginseng root is a popular herbal ADHD treatment.

The herbal supplement ginko biloba is an extract from the leaves of the ginko tree. It is one of the most popular herbal ADHD treatments because it improves several ADHD issues. Irritability and becoming easily frustrated are traits common to people with ADHD, and ginko biloba seems to reduce these types of responses. In addition, ginko biloba seems to improve focus and concentration.

German chamomile produces a restful state that may counteract the hyperactivity common in people with ADHD.
German chamomile produces a restful state that may counteract the hyperactivity common in people with ADHD.

Ginseng is another popular herbal treatment for ADHD due to its beneficial effects on many ADHD symptoms. People with ADHD have been shown to have a deficit of dopamine and norepinephrine, thought to be one of the main reasons for the shortened attention span seen in ADHD sufferers. Ginseng appears to enhance the production of both dopamine and norepinephrine, resulting in improved focus. Brain scans have shown that people with ADHD also suffer from a deficiency of both glucose and oxygen. Ginseng also improves the metabolism of glucose, increasing energy availability in the brain, resulting in better cognitive function.

American Skullcap, or Scutellaria lateriflora, and German Chamomile are both known to produce a restful state. This type of effect is helpful to diminish the anxious and impulsive characteristics of ADHD. American skullcap also stimulates blood flow to the brain, improving overall cognitive function.

Gato kola contains high concentrations of vitamin B, important for transforming sugar into glucose. The availability of glucose directly impacts the whole body, but especially the energy consuming brain. Gota kola improves the mental abilities by helping to provide a ready supply of energy to the brain.

Several of these herbal ADHD treatments can be combined together to prevent the wide ranging problems of ADHD. Before trying any of the herbal ADHD treatments, a doctor should be consulted about doses and drug interactions. In some cases, psychostimulant drugs can be reduced in conjunction with herbal ADHD treatments. Psychostimulant drugs should never be stopped in favor of herbal remedies unless directed by a doctor.

Brain scans have shown that people with ADHD suffer from a deficiency of both glucose and oxygen.
Brain scans have shown that people with ADHD suffer from a deficiency of both glucose and oxygen.

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Discussion Comments


Here is a number that makes one shiver- 2.5 million of 4.4 million ADHD diagnosed children are using stimulant drugs to treat the disorder! I just think that that is a very high number- both for the number diagnosed and the number of children on medication.

My mom is a nurse at a children's hospital. She says that children who use stimulant drugs lose appetite and unavoidably lose weight. They have sleeping problems, they can even develop nervous tics. Some of them are toddlers or are in grade school. I feel so sad because that is the age that they need to eat well, sleep, play and just be happy. I know that ADHD is a serious disorder but I feel that they are too young to be dealing with the side effects of these medicines.

Herbal remedies like green oats, ginseng and Chinese herbs have no side effects whatsoever and can help treat different ADHD symptoms in the long term. I know that different children respond differently to herbal remedies for ADHD. It might work for some but not for others. But we should give them a chance before we start using medicines. I wish doctors could actually prescribe these herbal supplements and treatments just like they prescribe medication. I think that they don't want to send parents with ADHD diagnosed children empty handed but that shouldn't mean that everyone needs to use stimulants, does it?


I have been hearing so much about a dietary supplement called spirulina. It is said to be rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals. It's being listed as an ADHD treatment option in websites and forums even though a study has not been done to determine what the effects are.

I don't approve of taking any supplements without asking my doctor first and I usually don't trust homeopathic treatments to replace medications. But I have heard so many good things about spirulina that I am seriously considering it. I am already taking zinc, multivitamin and omega 3 supplements to treat ADHD. Spirulina is said to improve zinc levels even better than zinc supplments. If I can replace several of these supplements with spirulina and if my doctor says it's safe, I'd be happy to try it.

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