Natural medicine for hyperactivity and ADHD in children

The acronym ADHD means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Natural medicine can be useful in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity.

Attention deficit is a behavioural syndrome that has a mainly genetic origin.  It is believed that the disorder has neurobiological, and probably psychosocial and environmental foundations, such as lead poisoning, smoking during pregnancy and certain food additives.

The symptoms can appear when the child is under 7 years of age and continue into adolescence and adulthood. ADHD is not a learning disorder, but is often linked to an individual’s lack of attention.

ADHD is one of the main causes of academic failure and social issues in childhood. ADHD needs to be adequately evaluated and treated before the child’s educational achievement, family and social relationships begin to deteriorate.

The child with ADHS is active, impulsive and struggles to pay attention and concentrate. He is incapable of listening correctly, organising tasks, working or playing as part of a team.

Children with ADHD have problems with writing and maths, as these involve intense periods of concentration. They are forgetful and absent-minded, and have a tendency to daydream.

ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder comprises of two different elements: the first element is characterised by a difficulty in concentrating for long periods of time or “inattention”. The second element is characterised by an inability to control impulses, which is linked to hyperactivity-impulsivity.

How does ADHD or ADD become apparent?

The diagnosis of ADHD is very complex as is can be confused with other disorders that occur in childhood.

When the behaviour leans towards hyperactivity, the child is constantly in motion, is incapable of sitting still for long, talks excessively, answers before the question is finished, is incapable of waiting his turn in a queue, interrupts others without justification, makes inappropriate comments to attract attention, loses interest in a task very quickly and their behaviour is generally worse with their mother than it is with their father.

In adolescence, the same behaviour tends to continue; once adulthood has been reached, they learn to control their behaviour and hyperactivity and are able to mitigate their difficulties.

How does the brain of a child with ADHD work?

In the brain of a child with ADHD, there is a reduction in the regulatory action of some neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. There is an abnormality in the function of dopamine and adrenaline in the frontal cortex and in the lower structures such as the corpus striatum.

This would be connected with the inattention and excessive movement in comparison with the functionality of a normal individual.  Dopamine and noradrenaline are crucial to the correct transmission of electrical impulses in the brain.

If we look at the brain on a physiological level, we can see that the brains of children with ADHD are slightly reduced in size, especially in the prefrontal area and the basal ganglia, although there is no severe malformation.

Treating ADHD or ADD

In order to treat ADHD it is important to stage an intervention with an educational psychologist; this will help to identify learning difficulties and implement positive development therapy, by reinforcing the child’s potential via sports and group dynamics. Some schools have access to specialised educational services.

Children who have ADHD can improve with treatment, but there isn’t a cure. The aim is to eliminate the symptoms to be able to support the child’s social, intellectual and emotional development. The child needs to be given advice on how to control and manage his symptoms and be given constructive and educational tasks to counteract his limitations.

Currently, here in Spain, the treatment that is used for ADHD is methylphenidate, which is marketed under the brand name “Rubifen” (this has an immediate effect) or “concerta” (slow-release). If these are not well tolerated, there is another drug called attomoxetine, marketed under the brand name “Strattera”.

How can natural medicine help us with ADHD?

Natural medicine can be used alongside these allopathic medicines. Some of the natural medicines that can be prescribed include:

DMAE (2-dimethylethanolamine)

DMAE is marketed as “Pedi-active”, “Deanol” or “Deaner”. In the 1970s, Drs. Lewis and Young conducted a study on the effects of this medication on children with ADHD. These studies demonstrated the effectiveness of the medicine in comparison with the placebo and the children who were taking methylphenidate. DMAE has stimulating effects and is a precursor of cerebral acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine and choline levels are increased with the addition of DMAE. Acetylcholine enhances the memory, concentration, thought processes, calculations…DMAE aids learning in ADD.

DMAE is also effective in other mental disorders, including: depression, lack of motor coordination and mental fatigue. According to studies conducted in the 1990s by Knusel, it can also enhance cognitive function in Alzheimer and in progressive degenerative dementia patients.

Phospholipids: Phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidyl serine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphoinositides

The primary function of phospholipids is to act as structural components of the cell membranes. They are the “coating” substances of the nerve cells and play a crucial role in transmitting the chemical impulses from neuron to neuron, in the formation of neurotransmitters and the formation of neural receptors. They have a positive effect on learning and concentration, boost the memory and stabilise the state of mind.

Omega 3

Omega 3 in the form of DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an essential component in the formation of phospholipids. A DHA deficiency has been linked to many of the symptoms of ADHD.

Many studies have been conducted on DHA and its effectiveness on ADHD, which means that this natural medicine is a mainstay in the treatment of ADHD.

Always speak to your doctor, therapist, pharmacist or health professional, who will be able to advise you.

Foto: Blanka, Public Domain

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