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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that usually first becomes apparent during early childhood. It is one of the most common of all childhood disorders, affecting anywhere from 3 to 8 percent of all children in the Canada.

Symptoms include:

  • difficulty concentrating for very long on any one task
  • tendency to move quickly from one activity to another
  • acting before they have given any thought to their behavior
  • difficulty remaining quiet and focused
  • become bored easily with challenges set before them

A number of medications are available for treating attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), perhaps the most popular of which is methylphenidate (Ritalin®). But many parents and health care workers are reluctant to medicate children who exhibit the symptoms of ADHD. Fortunately, alternative treatments are available, one of which is provided by naturopathic medicine.

What Are the Causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Medical researchers are not certain about the cause or causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Genetics and heredity may be an important factor. Children who have ADHD are likely to have relatives with the same condition.

Brain structure and brain function may also be responsible for the symptoms of ADHD. Women who use tobacco or certain types of drugs when they are pregnant are more likely to have children with ADHD than are women who do not use those substances.

Naturopaths believe that the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be caused by any number of factors, including heredity, diet, family problems, and cultural pressures.

How Can Naturopathic Medicine Be Used to Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?


Adjustments to a patient’s diet may be the first step a naturopathic doctor takes in treating ADHD. Common nutritional therapies:

  • Reduce refined sugar and artificial additives in diet
  • Correction of nutrient deficiencies
  • Elimination of food sensitivities
  • Supplementation of nutrients such as fish oils, magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, and iron.

Lifestyle counselling

Canadian and American society is often characterized by a rapid pace in which family life is fragmented, causing emotional pressures on children and producing irregular and disruptive sleeping and eating patterns. A naturopath will review a child’s family life to look for ways in which he or she can lead a calmer, more regular existence.

Cultural influences may also affect a child’s behavior. Some naturopaths believe, for example, that television provides young people with negative images that may lead to violent antisocial behaviors. Simply reducing the amount of time a child spends watching television or playing violent games may contribute to reducing the child’s own inappropriate behaviors.

Botanical Medicines

A number of herbs have been recommended for the treatment of ADHD. These herbs include:

  • catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha)
  • lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
  • valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Page Last Updated: October 25, 2009

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