Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is typically diagnosed during childhood. According to the CDC, approximately ten percent of children aged 2 years old to 17 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD. In addition to this, there are millions of children who have not received a diagnosis yet suffer from the symptoms of ADHD. Lets look into the symptoms, causes and natural remedies for ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD
Some common symptoms of ADHD include-
- Difficulty paying attention
- Inability to control impulsive behaviors
- Being overly active
- Being talkative
- Squirm constantly
- Frequently lose things
These symptoms can last into adulthood. Sometimes these symptoms are also just a part of being a young child, therefore getting a proper diagnosis can be difficult.
Causes of ADHD
Although the exact cause of ADHD remains a mystery, researchers believe several factors could be causing ADHD including:
- Anatomy – The anatomy of an individual’s brain and how it functions may be associated with an increased risk of developing ADHD.
- Drug and Alcohol Exposure – Children who were exposed to drugs and alcohol during their mother’s pregnancy have an increased risk of ADHD.
- Genetics – ADHD tends to run in families. In fact, if a child has a parent or sibling with ADHD, their risk of developing ADHD increases.
- Environmental: Processed foods, food additives and food dyes are known to contribute to ADHD symptoms. Mold and other environmental exposures can also contribute to ADHD symptoms.
- Toxins – Children who have been exposed to toxins such as heavy metals like lead. Toxins can interfere with a child’s behavior and development, including resulting in ADHD.
Side Effects of ADHD Medications
There are many treatment options on the market for ADHD in children and adults. Although these drugs can help improve the symptoms of ADHD, they are not without risk. ADHD sufferers may be prescribed a stimulant or an antidepressant. Both of these medications may cause side effects such as-
- Heart issues
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues
- Suicidal thoughts/actions
Natural Remedies for ADHD
Why should you choose a natural treatment option rather than a prescription medication? Natural treatments seek to find the root cause of ADHD or similar symptoms, and work to heal the body, rather than just treating the symptoms. Let’s take a look at some of the natural ways you can manage the symptoms of ADHD, help improve the function of the brain, and heal the body and the mind from the inside out.
Certain food allergies or sensitivities can impact an individual’s thought patterns, actions, and mood. Possible avoidance of the following food(s) can help improve behavior in individuals diagnosed with ADHD.
- BHT and BHA – chemical preservatives used in processed foods like instant mashed potatoes, dry cake mixes, potato chips, cereal, and chewing gum
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oils
Fish oil is extracted from oily fish (tuna, herring, mackerel, and anchovies). Fish oil contains two omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that have been shown to help reduce and relieve the symptoms of ADHD. Typically, those suffering from ADHD will have lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids than those who do not have ADHD. Fish oil and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation has been shown to:
- Enhance memory
- Improve attention span
- Increase focus and better memory
- Ease hyperactivity
- Improve obedience and learning
- Decrease hostility
- Improved sleep
- Reduce coexisting conditions of ADHD, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression
- Reduce PMS, which increases the symptoms of ADHD
- Reduce the side effects of ADHD prescription medications
Choosing a Fish Oil Supplement
Approximately 60 percent of the brain is fat, which means you must supply your brain with a steady stream of healthy fat to ensure your brain is functioning properly. The building blocks for brain tissue are essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3 fatty acids.
When omega 3 levels are low, the brain cannot function properly. Some of the common problems experienced in individuals with low omega 3s include:
- Decreased formation of synapses in the brain (Synapses act as bridges between the neurons in the brain)
- Degeneration of the membrane of neurons
- Decreased serotonin levels (Serotonin helps control mood and mental activity levels)
- Malformation of dopamine receptors
- Reduced creation of dendrites (Dendrites are branches that carry messages to and from neurons)
There are three kinds of omega 3 fatty acids – ALA, DHA, and EPA. DHA and EPA are found in fish oil while ALA is found in plants like flaxseed. The EPA and DHA found in fish oil help fight inflammation, improves thought processes, moods, and emotions.
Avoid Preservatives and Artificial Colorings
These artificial food additives can increase hyperactivity in children. It has been shown to cause attention difficulties, forgetfulness, organization issues, and frequent interruptions. For best results, limit or avoid food colorings, preservatives, and additives, such as:
- Yellow number 5 – a coloring found in cereals, yogurt, and pickles
- Yellow number 6 – an artificial coloring found in candy, soft drinks, and cereal
- Yellow number 10 – an artificial dye found in sorbets, smoked haddock, and juices
- Red number 40 – a dye found in gelatin, ice cream, certain children’s medicines, and soft drinks
- Sodium benzoate – a preservative found in juice products, salad dressings, and carbonated beverages
Holistic Approach To Treating ADHD
Fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids help reduce systemic inflammation. If you believe you or your child is suffering from ADHD, it will help to look for functional or integrative children’s medicine. The holistic practitioners will help discover the root cause of your child’s concerns and try using natural remedies for ADHD that may help reduce or relieve the symptoms of ADHD.