Many parents of children with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, prefer not to use medications as treatment and seek out natural remedies for hyperactivity. Unfortunately, although there have been some studies that suggest some natural remedies may ease hyperactivity symptoms, there are currently no studies showing that any natural remedies work as well as medications. The good news is that there are a few natural remedies and lifestyle changes that cannot hurt and might help ease some symptoms. These include changes and supplementation to the diet as well as neurofeedback and both green and Interactive metronome (IM) therapy.
One of the most popular natural remedies for hyperactivity is a special diet developed by Dr. Ben Feingold. This natural remedy involves eliminating certain foods from the diet and gradually reintroducing them to determine if the child has food sensitivities that might be causing hyperactivity. The diet eliminates foods containing certain additives, artificial colors, and flavorings. Foods containing salicylates are also eliminated from the diet. Research results have been mixed, yet many parents are convinced that it has worked.
Some natural remedies for hyperactivity are supplementation with essential fatty acids (EFAs), zinc, or St. John’s wort. There is some evidence that EFA supplementation might help, and it appears to be safe, but more research is needed. Zinc supplementation has had mixed research results as a natural remedy. Also, too much zinc can be harmful, so it’s probably best to consult a doctor before trying zinc for hyperactivity. St. John’s wort, an herb used to treat depression, has not been proved to reduce hyperactivity in children.
Other natural remedies for hyperactivity include neurofeedback, green therapy, and interactive metronome (IM) therapy. Neurofeedback is similar to biofeedback in that the child is hooked to a device that measures activity in the brain during certain activities. The child receives immediate feedback and is able to control his response and improve focus. Although studies have yet to prove its effectiveness, neurofeedback may be a promising treatment for hyperactivity.
Green therapy is one of the least expensive and easiest natural remedies for hyperactivity for parents to implement. The theory is that children focus better when they are regularly exposed to the outdoors. Even something as simple as a short walk in a park is believed to help children reduce symptoms of hyperactivity. Results of one study were promising, but more research is needed to establish a strong connection between green time and symptom reduction.
IM therapy is a more recent additions to the list of natural remedies for hyperactivity. This therapy requires subjects to coordinate a series of movements to a beat heard through headphones. The goal is to increase control of focus and concentration. IM is currently being studied for the treatment of several neurological disorders in addition to ADHD.
Although most natural remedies for hyperactivity have had mixed or poor results, many of them can work in some cases. Some remedies are cheap, easy, and safe to try, so there is little risk if they do not work. It’s also likely that even if a special diet does not cure ADHD, simple measures like eating a healthful diet in general and getting enough sleep each night can help children with ADHD feel well enough to gain more control over their hyperactive behavior.