ADHD is a common disorder that causes hyperactive behavior, difficulty concentrating, and impulsiveness. About nine percent of children and four percent of adults struggle with ADHD, and the symptoms can lead to significant problems at school, work, and home.
Stimulant medication is one of the most common treatments for ADHD, but it can cause uncomfortable side effects. Fortunately, there are also many natural options that can help if you don’t want to take medication or if you need additional treatment.
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Here are eight ways you can manage your ADHD symptoms naturally.
1. Undergo Behavioral Therapy
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, behavioral therapy should be the first approach to treating ADHD in children. It can also be greatly beneficial for adolescents and adults with ADHD.
Behavioral therapy addresses problematic behaviors and attempts to find ways to prevent them. Although it probably won’t stop the ADHD symptoms from occurring, therapy can help you learn to manage them.
Parental therapy can also be helpful for parents of children with ADHD. This type of therapy equips parents with techniques to manage and work around their children’s ADHD symptoms, which can improve the well-being of the entire family.
2. Try EEG Biofeedback
EEG biofeedback is a neurotherapy that measures and alters brain waves. Many people with ADHD have abnormal patterns of electrical activity in their brains, which may be the cause of their symptoms. EEG biofeedback attempts to normalize these brain patterns to improve behavioral and cognitive functioning. Although the research has been limited so far, several studies show that EEG biofeedback is helpful for altering brain waves and treating ADHD.
Sessions usually last 30 to 60 minutes and occur two to five times per week. During the session, you may play an interactive video game or computer game that requires concentration. For example, you might have to keep a plane flying on the screen. Whenever your focus wanders, the plane may start to dive. Over time, you should learn new concentration techniques that you can apply to your daily life.
3. Spend Time Outdoors
Spending a little time outdoors every day can have a big impact on your ADHD symptoms, especially if you’re around nature and greenery.
In one study, researchers compared children with ADHD who took 20-minute walks in a park to children with ADHD who took walks in an urban area. Those who went to the park concentrated better after the walk than those who stayed in the urban area.
4. Follow a Healthy Diet
Clean eating can help treat a wide variety of disorders, including ADHD. Protein is one of the most important nutrients for people with ADHD as it strengthens neurotransmitters and improves brain functioning. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is also essential for managing ADHD. Low blood sugar levels can cause attention issues, tiredness, and irritability, so you should eat healthy meals and snacks regularly to keep your blood sugar stable.
The following are some ingredients that you should try to avoid if you have ADHD as they can interfere with your cognitive functioning and energy levels:
- Yeast extract
5. Take Supplements
In addition to eating an overall healthy diet, there are a variety of vitamins, minerals, and supplements that may help you manage your ADHD naturally. Zinc and iron both regulate dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in your ability to concentrate. You can find these minerals in lean meat, poultry, seafood, and soy, but you can also take supplements if you don’t get enough in your diet.
Some research suggests that B vitamins increase dopamine levels as well. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon, may help with ADHD, too. One study found that omega-3s could reduce symptoms by up to 50 percent.
6. Avoid Allergens
Food allergies can play a large role in behavior and cognitive functioning. Here are some of the most common allergens that may worsen your ADHD symptoms:
If you think you may have a food allergy, you should talk to your doctor about allergy testing. It may also be beneficial to keep a journal of your meals and symptoms, so you can look for connections between what you eat and how you feel.
7. Stay Away from Food Coloring and Preservatives
Food additives like artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives may increase hyperactive behavior in children. These additives probably don’t cause ADHD, but they likely make the symptoms worse.
The following are ingredients that may be linked to ADHD:
- Yellow No. 5, No. 6, and No. 10
- Red No. 40
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
- BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
- Sodium benzoate
- Sodium nitrate
The FDA requires that these ingredients be listed on food labels, so it should be easy to identify them. It may not be as easy to avoid them, though, as they’re found in a wide variety of popular foods.
8. Follow a Regular Sleep Routine
Many people with ADHD struggle with sleep but sleep deprivation can make ADHD symptoms worse. Kids with ADHD may resist settling down in the evening, and people of all ages who take stimulant medications may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Following a regular sleeping routine is a challenge, but it can make the disorder much more manageable.
The best way to practice good sleep hygiene is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Routines can be very helpful if you have ADHD, and you’ll fall asleep more easily once your body adjusts to a schedule. You should also make sure your environment is conducive to a good night of sleep. Use dark curtains to block out light from your window, and keep a fan running to drown out other noises.
ADHD can be a frustrating disorder, but it is possible to manage your symptoms with natural treatments. Everyone’s experience with ADHD is slightly different, so it may take some time to figure out which treatments work for you. However, after some experimentation, you should find some natural remedies and lifestyle changes that improve your quality of life.