Natural Medications for ADHD


The demand for nonprescription medication approaches for the treatment of ADHD (especially for children) has grown considerably over the last few years. It is thought that certain preparations have important cognitive enhancing properties because they supply essential nutrients, fatty acids, phospholipids, amino acids, B vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients important for optimal brain growth and development.

As a treatment for ADHD, there is growing support for the theory that many individuals with ADHD have deficiencies in essential nutrients that compromise healthy brain development and result in ADHD symptoms. Providing these nutrients using an appropriately prepared herbal compound thus has the potential to be therapeutic and reduce these symptoms.

A few products are thought to have some benefit:

1. Nurture and Clarity is an alternative approach to treating ADHD that relies on the use of Compound Herbal Preparations (CHP) derived from traditional Chinese medicine.  The active ingredients include Paeoniae Alba, Withania Somnifera, Centella Asiatica, Spirulina Platensis, Bacopa Monieri, and Mellissa Officinalis.

In the study published in 2010 in the Journal of Attention Disorders, over 90% of the children on the active compound remained in the study over the 4 month trial, suggesting that parents of these children saw response to the treatment that were robust enough to keep their children in the study for the full duration.  It was also striking that no serious adverse effects were reported and the rate of even mild adverse events among CHP-treated children was actually lower than for children who received placebo.

2. Truehope EMPowerplus is a micronutrient treatment consisting of 16 minerals, 14 vitamins, 3 amino acids, and 3 antioxidants. Most of the studies on this product have been with adults, although it has been studied for various conditions in children as well. There have also been reports of possible mood improvement and minimal side effects.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 supplements probably have the most clinical supportive data in the field of natural/nonprescription ADHD approaches. Multiple studies show small but significant improvement when these products are used. Determining effective dosing or whether they are best used in combo with prescription ADHD drugs vs. as a stand alone med remains elusive.

In addition, the University of Maryland Medical Center website provides other potential complementary and alternative approaches to ADHD in children. Although they offer promising results, it is important to remember that further study is clearly needed. This blog post is also not meant as an endorsement for any product or treatment approach but to provide available information on some novel alternative treatments that, at the very least, deserve further investigation.