Using ADHD Natural Remedies For Kids: A Close-up On Sugar and Herbs
Getting an ADHD diagnosis for your child or teen can feel like both a relief and another difficult crossroads. You know that your child isn’t broken like getting a diagnosis might imply. In fact having ADHD gives them some pretty amazing superpowers like lots of energy, focusing (sometimes for hours) on things they’re into, lots of creativity, and a spicy personality. You also know all too well that there’s a flipside to some of their superpowers.
It can be hard for your child or teen to stay on-track with multi-step tasks (i.e. getting ready in the morning), sitting down for meals without repeatedly getting up, impulsive behavior that can result in physical behaviors, difficulty sleeping, and challenges with academic-style learning. Your child may have these superpowers/challenges or they may experience different ones. That's because every kid with an ADHD brain is unique. Regardless, you know you want to support them without the use of meds that have serious side effects and no timeline for tapering off.
Luckily, holistic pediatric approaches to ADHD are available to you. From herbs (that they’ll take), to supplements, phototherapy patches (nope, they don’t have to go on the skin), and changing-up some food routines, there is SO much we can do to support kids with ADHD without the use of high-risk, dependency-creating medication.
ADHD and Sugar: What’s the Real Story?
Let’s bust a myth right off the cuff: sugar does not cause ADHD. But, it does impact your child’s ability to focus and regulate their mood. Especially when your kid or teen has an ADHD brain. How? Let’s dig in.
#1) Consuming Refined Sugar Spikes The Body's Blood Sugar Levels
Sugar is what we call a “fast” food. Fast foods or high glycemic foods are processed quickly by the body. Ideally, as parents of a kid with an ADHD brain, you want the foods your child or teen eats to keep things slow and steady in the blood sugar world. For the visual learners amongst us, here’s a visual. You want your kid's blood sugar graph to look like a rolling line, like the gentle waves of the ocean. But when your kid eats refined (or other) sugars, their graph looks more like quickly summiting a high peak and then riding down it on a runaway slide. Not ideal. If you want to support your child or teen to focus and have an even mood, cutting out cane sugar is an important first step. But there are options for sweet treats without the behavioral fallouts! Explore how to use ADHD natural remedies for your child or teen.
#2) Making The Connection Between Blood Sugar And ADHD
Hyperactivity is ramped-up by consuming sugar (you’ve probably noticed this!). Studies corroborate this for people of all ages and with all kinds of brains. This is especially pronounced in kids and teens with ADHD because many are high-energy already and have trouble gearing-down for more stationary activities like eating a meal, academic-style learning, and even sleeping.
Interestingly, the converse is true. You may have already noticed that if your kid hasn’t eaten a protein and fiber-filled something in too long, their energy levels ramp-up. That’s because when we don’t feed their cells, the only way their bodies can increase blood sugar is to spike cortisol! As you know, cortisol is a stress hormone that shunts blood to the extremities and prepares the body to fight or flee a dangerous situation. Your kid's brain cannot distinguish between the danger of having low blood sugar and the danger of running from a threat once that cortisol spike hits their bloodstream. The lesson in this? Keep your child’s blood sugar stable by offering high-protein, high-fiber meals and snacks, regularly. Otherwise, you’ll see more impulsivity, anger, hyperactivity, meltdowns, and trouble sleeping. You don’t want that and neither does your kid!
Herbs For ADHD: Decrease Impulsivity and Improve Sleep And Focus
In recent years there have been a number of studies on the efficacy of herbal medicine in children and teens with ADHD. The amazing results found with specific, proprietary extracts of two herbal remedies is notable. Disclaimer: dosing your kid with herbal extracts without the help of a trained pediatric herbalist is not safe. Book a free, 15 minute Curiosity Call to responsibly explore non-pharmaceutical alternatives for your child or teen.
Studies with these herbal extracts have shown an increase in “executive functioning”. Children and adolescents showed an ability to:
- concentrate better,
- less restlessness,
- decreased impulsivity, and
- less psychiatric problems.
In another study, herbal extracts were proven comparable to methylphenidate (a commonly prescribed ADHD pharmaceutical) and even performed better than methylphenidate in the area of hyperactivity. Yup, read that again! These studies are a profound relief for parents who want safe, non-pharmaceutical alternatives for their kids. No major safety concerns were noted in any of these studies, the worst side effect was an upset stomach if administered without food. The fix being, give it to your kid with food!
If you’re tired of worrying about the side effects of ADHD meds and are ready for some of those ADHD superpower behaviors to change, call (215) 402-7046 to book or get in touch to explore what an individualized plan using ADHD natural remedies could look like for your child or teen.
Penckofer S, Quinn L, Byrn M, Ferrans C, Miller M, Strange P. Does glycemic variability impact mood and quality of life? Diabetes Technol Ther. 2012 Apr;14(4):303-10. doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0191. Epub 2012 Feb 10. PMID: 22324383; PMCID: PMC3317401.
Valdovinos MG, Weyand D. Blood glucose levels and problem behavior. Res Dev Disabil. 2006 Mar-Apr;27(2):227-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2005.02.002. Epub 2005 Jul 7. PMID: 16005606.
Blasco-Fontecilla H, Moyano-Ramírez E, Méndez-González O, Rodrigo-Yanguas M, Martin-Moratinos M, Bella-Fernández M. Effectivity of Saffron Extract (Saffr'Activ) on Treatment for Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Clinical Effectivity Study. Nutrients. 2022 Sep 28;14(19):4046. doi: 10.3390/nu14194046. PMID: 36235697; PMCID: PMC9573091.
Dave UP, Dingankar SR, Saxena VS, Joseph JA, Bethapudi B, Agarwal A, Kudiganti V. An open-label study to elucidate the effects of standardized Bacopa monnieri extract in the management of symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Adv Mind Body Med. 2014 Spring;28(2):10-5. PMID: 24682000.
Kean JD, Downey LA, Stough C. A systematic review of the Ayurvedic medicinal herb Bacopa monnieri in child and adolescent populations. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Dec;29:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Sep 4. PMID: 27912958.
Esparham A, Evans RG, Wagner LE, Drisko JA. Pediatric Integrative Medicine Approaches to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children (Basel). 2014 Aug 27;1(2):186-207. doi: 10.3390/children1020186. PMID: 27417475; PMCID: PMC4928725.