ADD refers to attention deficit disorder and involves childhood developmental issues that is characterized by hyperactivity, inattention (lack of concentration and focus) and impulsiveness. About sixty percent of these children carry symptoms into adulthood, however adults are rarely treated for this. In the U.S. alone, there are approximately eight million adults affected. Adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) often have difficulty completing tasks that have time limits, lack focus and concentration, forget information easily and have problems following directions. ADD and ADHD can bring about emotion, social, vocational and academic problems. Adult ADHD tends to demonstrate certain behaviors such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, chronic lateness, low self-esteem, poor organizational skills, procrastination, substance abuse and relationship difficulties.
There are actually three different types of ADHD which includes Hyperactive Impulsive, Inattentive and a Combined Type. Current thinking is that this disorder is a genetic neurobehavioral problem that that involves an imbalance of neurochemicals such as dopamine. Research demonstrates that increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine help with ADHD symptoms. Another issue involves digestive problems and food allergies along with possible hormone issues.
If you are interested in natural alternatives to relieve ADHD symptoms, there are a number of supplements available that seem to work quite well. Make sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider before taking supplements because it is important to determine what’s causing ADD to begin with as there are a number of causes. Nevertheless, you want to look for supplements that contain essential fatty acids, B vitamins, probiotics, GABA, choline, minerals such as zinc and magnesium along with botanicals that have a calming effect on the nervous system and muscle.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids in the form of eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic acid and arachidonic acid are important cell membrane components and needed for proper membrane functioning particularly in the brain. Clinical trials indicate that children supplemented with these fatty acids had significant improvement in cognitive and behavioral issues. Essential fatty acids come in fish oil, flaxseed and krill oil forms (liquid and capsules). They’re also available in flavored chewable (gummie) forms.
Clinical trials demonstrate that ADHD children who have been administered magnesium show a significant decrease in hyperactive behavior. Some children with ADHD have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium not only calms overactive skeletal muscle but also calms the brain.
Some ADHD children have been found to have low levels of zinc. When these children are administered zinc they demonstrate a decrease in hyperactivity and impulsivity. Consider adding foods that contain high levels of zinc such as oyster (seafood in general), red meat, dairy and poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains along with supplementation.
Some ADHD children may have iron deficiencies and some research suggests iron supplementation improves ADHD symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider before supplementing with iron as excess amounts of iron are toxic.
B vitamins are coenzymes that are needed to activate enzymes to run metabolic pathways. B vitamin deficiencies can generate a loss of mental focus and concentration, mood swings and overall loss of brain function. For the most part, B vitamins are not stored in the body as they are water soluble so they need to be replaced on a regular basis.
Probiotics are supplements that contain good bacteria that help maintain proper digestion and immune function. Probiotics keep the gut healthy. Some ADHD individuals have gut issues.
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter/hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is released when light levels are low. Melatonin prepares you for sleep and is used by many individuals who have sleeping issues. Some research suggests that ADHD children who take stimulant medication can benefit from this neurotransmitter in that it will improve sleeplessness from hyperactivity.
GABA is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It keeps the brain from getting overexcited keeping the brain calm. Many people take GABA for a variety of problems and firmly believe it works wonders.
Inositol is classified as a member of the B vitamins. Some ADHD individuals (especially hyperactive types) have low levels of inositol in the brain. Supplementation with inositol decreases hyperactivity and obsessive thoughts. Studies demonstrate that inositol improves a number of brain issues such as bipolar disorder, depression as well as obsessive compulsive disorder.
Alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) is an excellent source of choline. Choline is required to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is important for short-term memory and learning, focus, concentration and cognition. It is also an important component of the cell membrane. Research has demonstrated that individuals with ADHD have a mutation in their choline transporter gene. The choline transporter is found in the plasma membranes of cholinergic neurons (neurons that make acetylcholine) and carries choline from the extracellular space to the inside of the neuron so it can be converted into acetylcholine. ADHD individuals with this mutation have low levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine so they experience loss of focus, concentration and short attention spans as well a motor issues. Supplementation with alpha-GPC has demonstrated a decrease in overall ADHD symptoms.
Gingko biloba is a popular botanical that is used to treat a number of issues including asthma, incontinence, digestive problems, depression, tinnitus and memory loss. Gingko contains many different molecules but one of particular interest here is coumarin. Courmarin has the ability to thin blood, improve smooth muscle tone in blood vessels, and enhance blood flow. Increased oxygen supply to the nervous system brings more oxygen and nutrients to the brain improving ADHD symptoms. Ginkgo also contains powerful antioxidants. It also inhibits reuptake of norepinephrine which also improves ADHD symptoms.
Chamomile has been used for centuries for its ability to relax and bring about a calm state. It also promotes peaceful sleep. It contains a number of molecules that are responsible for its anti-histamine, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties
Evening Primrose – contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) a fatty acid.
Lemon balm – used to treat nervousness, insomnia, headache and toothaches to mention a few. Helps to improve ADHD symptoms.
Gotu kola – anti-anxiety, anti-stress and improves concentration.
Passionflower – acts as a sedative and analgesic (pain reliever). Good for ADHD symptoms.
Skullcap – decreases nervousness and improves muscular activity and improves restful sleep.
Valerian – decreases nervousness and good for ADHD.
Wild Oat – anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and increases focus and concentration. Also, helps to treat drug addiction.
Rooibos – improves short-term memory, focus and concentration. Provides powerful antioxidants. Contains zinc, magnesium and iron.
Nettle extract (Urtica) – promotes healthy blood sugar levels, increases blood circulation and decreases hyperactivity.
Huperzine-A – this is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This allows acetylcholine to remain in the synaptic cleft longer improving focus, concentration and short-term memory.