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Boosting Brain Power: Top Natural Supplements for ADHD Support (instead of medication)

ADHD is a growing "label or diagnosis" in the UK particularly, and our local ADHD service in the West Midlands have told us that they have seen an increase of over 150% in referrals since COVID. The support on offer for ADHD doesn't just have to be medication. Here we explore other supplements that can help.

So you may be wondering if your child has symptoms of ADHD, and what on earth to do to help them! But before you do anything, it's important to understand what the treatment options are, as getting a diagnosis can take 18 months or more on the NHS and will likely end up with some sort of lifelong prescription for your child. You may find, that with some tweaking of the diet, some healthier lifestyle habits and an open mind - you can support your child without the trials and tribulations of getting a diagnosis. If you are well against medicating, then it is really worth considering what outcome you are seeking if you are thinking about getting your child assessed.

ADHD medication

Non-medication type products to support ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. While there is no cure for it, many treatment options are available to help alleviate symptoms and improve the everyday life of children with ADHD.

Medications are considered the primary treatment for childhood ADHD. Doctors usually prescribe ADHD medications to help reduce hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, and attention problems. This allows children with ADHD to function better in their daily life. However, there are ways to treat ADHD without medication.

In this article, we will discuss some common non-prescription treatments for ADHD, as well as highlight their intended uses for specific symptoms.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

For children with severe cases of ADHD, cognitive behavioural therapy or modification can be crucial. This type of psychotherapy focuses on identifying specific problematic behaviours in children and recommends strategies to help modify their behaviour. For example, children with ADHD often struggle with negative thought patterns. This can affect their mood, emotions, and behaviour. A cognitive behavioural therapist can teach the children how to recognise and convert negative and unhelpful thoughts into more positive, healthier thoughts.

Parent involvement in cognitive behavioural therapy is important, as they spend the most time with their children at home. Therapists may teach parents strategies to support their child at home and help establish effective rules and structures for behaviour management.

Child CBT

Natural supplements

Treatment with natural supplements can help manage ADHD symptoms in children. These supplements include zinc, iron, magnesium, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B6. While some of these natural supplements can be purchased over the counter, others require dietary adjustments.

For example, fatty fish (such as tuna, salmon, and sardines), nuts and seeds (such as walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds), and plant oils (such as canola oil, perilla oil, and soybean oil) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Adding them to a child’s diet can help keep them healthy while alleviating ADHD symptoms.

Parents should consult a nutritionist before introducing any natural supplements into their children’s diets. A paediatric nutritionist can help determine each child’s nutritional requirements and create a proper meal plan to help manage ADHD symptoms. If a parent suspects that their child has food allergies, it’s best to check with an allergy doctor.

While some supplements have shown promise, their effectiveness can vary, and they should not replace conventional therapy without professional guidance. Natural supplements remain a complementary approach to alleviate symptoms and are often used together with other ADHD treatments.

Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback

This ADHD treatment option is also called neurofeedback training. During the training, a neurologist places electrodes on the scalp of the child. These electrodes are connected to a computer that records the child’s brain activity in a painless and non-invasive way. As the child focuses on certain tasks, such as playing video games or watching a movie, the machine monitors their brainwave patterns and provides real-time feedback.

The immediate feedback helps the child recognise the mental states associated with focused attention and learn how to reach those states voluntarily. Through repeated sessions, the child learns to consciously control their brainwave patterns. Neurologists may adjust the child’s treatment over time. The goal is for the child to learn to maintain the desired brainwave patterns outside of the sessions, reducing ADHD symptoms.

The effectiveness of EEG biofeedback for ADHD is a topic of ongoing discussion. Some studies have shown positive results, indicating improvements in attention and focus and a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsivity. Others suggest more research is needed to confirm these findings. As with any treatment, parents need to consult an ADHD professional to determine the suitability of EEG biofeedback as a treatment plan for their child.


Relaxation techniques

Stress can cause emotional distress in children with ADHD. Different factors can cause this stress, including boredom, sensory overload, social interactions, and change in routine. Often, these factors cause kids to have tantrums and meltdowns.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help children calm down. When children learn to calm down, they can manage stressful situations better. This can result in improved focus and behaviour, both at home and in school.

Relaxation activities that work for one child might not work for another, so it might take some experimentation to find the most effective relaxation techniques for each child. Additionally, these activities should be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that might include behavioural therapy, EEG biofeedback, natural supplements, and possibly medication.

What ADHD symptoms can be addressed with non-prescription interventions?

Each of the non-prescription treatments for childhood ADHD listed above can help improve specific symptoms. Here’s a list of symptoms addressed by each intervention:

1. Cognitive behavioural therapy

  • Impulsivity: Helps in managing impulsiveness and practising thoughtful decision-making

  • Inattentiveness: Improves focus and attention in tasks and activities

  • Hyperactivity: Aids in learning strategies to control excessive energy and restlessness

  • Emotional dysregulation: Assists in managing mood swings and emotional responses

  • Disorganisation: Enhances organisational skills and time management

  • Social challenges: Improves interpersonal skills and understanding of social cues

2. Natural supplements

  • Inattentiveness: Some supplements may improve concentration and focus.

  • Hyperactivity: Certain supplements may help in calming excessive physical activity.

  • Sleep problems: Supplements like melatonin can aid in regulating sleep patterns.

  • Emotional dysregulation: Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, might help in stabilising mood

3. EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback)

  • Inattentiveness: Trains the brain to maintain focus and attention for longer periods

  • Hyperactivity: Helps achieve a calmer state of mind, reducing physical restlessness

  • Impulsivity: Assists in increasing self-control and reducing impulsive behaviours

  • Emotional dysregulation: Aids in achieving better emotional balance and resilience

4. Relaxation techniques

  • Hyperactivity: Reduces physical restlessness

  • Emotional dysregulation: Reduces stress, frustration, and anger

  • Sleep problems: Promotes relaxation and a better sleep routine

  • Inattentiveness: Improves focus and concentration

While these non-prescription treatments can be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms, they are most effective when used as part of a comprehensive approach that may require professional guidance. Parents of children with ADHD should work with healthcare professionals to develop personalised treatment plans for their children.

Let’s partner to help your child cope with ADHD better

Although ADHD starts in children, it can persist into adulthood. Understanding the various treatment options available for childhood ADHD can empower parents to make better choices for their children.

At SEN Buddy, we offer online resources to help you learn more about ADHD and offer online courses to support your child's journey with their symptoms or diagnosis. Try our monthly membership for just £1 and get access to our huge library of resources! 

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