There’s no shame in taking ADHD medication. But not everyone wants to go this route due to potential side effects, risk of dependence, or simply a matter of personal preference.
If you’d rather opt for a natural option and forgoing medication is in your best interest, you may want to consider exploring different home treatments for ADHD.
“Home remedies are useful because they can be implemented with relative ease, and they can also be applied whenever needed,” adds Alex Dimitriu, MD, who’s double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and is founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and which natural remedy you try, you could experience minimal side effects and notable relief. Home remedies for ADHD can also serve as a complement to or substitute for medication.
Depending on which natural supplement you take, studies suggest that they can offer several benefits for folks with ADHD, such as:
- improving brain function
- increasing attention span
- enhancing focus
- regulating emotions
- improving sleep quality
- improving memory
Some of the best supplements for ADHD management include:
Research on supplements and ADHD specifically is often limited, and results may be mixed. Also, a supplement that may work for one person may not work for somebody else.
Because some supplements can interfere with medications and risk side effects, it’s essential to speak with your treatment team if you’re interested in trying a supplement for ADHD symptom relief.
Changing your diet
Certain dietary changes can help enhance brain and gut function and ultimately improve ADHD symptoms.
“The precursor molecules of the neurotransmitters (brain chemical messengers) are synthesized in the gut before they can be transported to the brain,” explains Uma Naidoo, MD, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of the national bestseller “This Is Your Brain on Food.”
“Therefore, not only is it vital to ensure that we’re consuming the appropriate nutrients to allow this optimal synthesis, we must also nourish the gut so that it can effectively function,” she adds.
How we eat is important, and so is when we eat. “The morning meal provides fuel to the brain after a night of fasting, and it’s especially important for people with ADHD to create a breakfast routine as stimulant medications can reduce appetite,” says Naidoo.
- information processing
Study participants didn’t specifically have ADHD. But people with ADHD tend to face challenges in these areas, so it’s possible that dietary changes may benefit them in these ways, too.
Improving sleep quality
According to Dimitriu, sleep may be the most important natural remedy for ADHD.
“Many people with sleep issues will often look like they have quite significant ADHD, which improves with better sleep,” he says.
“One of the essential issues with ADHD is the ability to control or resist impulses, and sleep plays a tremendous role in this.”
When we sleep, the brain recharges, stores memories, and creates room to learn new things. It also helps with impulse control, he says.
To reap the benefits, he recommends making sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep.
“‘Enough’ sleep means 7 to 8 hours for adults and 9 to 10 hours for children. ‘Good quality’ sleep means you’re asleep before midnight (or earlier for kids) and sleeping regular hours (not sleeping in),” Dimitriu says.
“It’s possible that some food colorings, as well as highly processed foods, can worsen ADHD symptoms, as well as cause some level of inflammation in the brain,” says Dimitriu.
Either way, avoiding these allergens and eating less processed foods whenever possible can reduce brain inflammation. Dimitriu says omega-3s may help with this as well.
He also suggests watching for allergies that can lead to nasal congestion and mouth breathing (that will ultimately lead to worse quality sleep).
Exercising more often
According to a
- executive function
- social disorders
“In his book ‘ADH0.5D 2.0,’ Edward M. Hallowell describes the benefits of the use of a balance board to engage the cerebellum and in turn improve impulse control in children with ADHD,” says Dimitriu.
He notes that exercise can also help adults with ADHD:
- relieve stress
- enhance focus
- improve impulse control
Folks with ADHD are more likely to experience wandering minds and short attention spans.
“Meditation and mindfulness can definitely help. At minimum, it helps with bringing in the ‘monkey mind,’” says Dimitriu.
Some helpful mindfulness exercises include:
It may be challenging to sit still for a while. But mindfulness practices like these can help you connect with the present moment and ultimately reduce ADHD symptoms, such as anxiety and hyperactivity.
Meditation takes practice, and you’ll get better with time, Dimitriu says. So try not to give up if it doesn’t come naturally to you right away.
“I thought it most helpful to think of meditation as literally the practice of bringing monkey thoughts back to the breath,” he adds. “We all do this repeatedly when we try to meditate, and it’s OK. That’s exactly the point.”
Therapy is another great way to understand how your brain works to better manage your ADHD symptoms.