Although there are many prescription medications to treat the symptoms of ADHD some parents opt to try some non-prescription remedies first. Supplements and herbal remedies are included in this realm of “natural treatments.” As do many parents of a child having special needs, I went through a phase of searching for vitamins and herbs to help my son. I am not a stranger to using supplements as I currently take SAM-e to treat my symptoms of depression and Rhodiola Rosea for anxiety. I think in some situations herbal remedies are worth a try but you have to understand the possible risks and especially when giving such substances to a child.
In this post we will talk about some of the precautions you need to know before giving your child a supplement. In addition I am going to tell you about three supplements we have tried and how they worked or did not work for my son. Lastly, I will provide some links to resources and recommendations from the experts as to which supplements show promise for treating ADHD symptoms in children.
Disclaimer: We are not recommending any supplement or herbal product for your child. Always discuss the decision to give your child a supplement or herbal product with your child’s doctor.
Before you give your child a supplement…
• Just because it is “natural” doesn't mean there won't be any side effects. You may not get a list on the bottle of any possible side effects primarily because they may be unknown.
• Most natural supplements are not FDA approved and this means that sometimes fillers are used which may be useless or even harmful additives. Unlike prescription medications that go through a rigorous safety and effectiveness evaluation, herbal remedies and supplements have no such evaluation. The safety and effectiveness is left up to the manufacturer.
• Due to the lack of scientific studies on many of these supplements, the possibility of drug interactions may be unknown. If your child is taking prescription drugs as well as supplements you may be brewing a dangerous cocktail of substances without knowing.
• The lack of regulations for supplements also might mean that the herbal product does not contain enough of the active ingredient to make it effective.
• Natural supplements may not be strong enough to help with your child’s ADHD symptoms and you could be losing valuable time when your child could be taking something more effective.
The bottom line is that you need to do your homework and research any supplement you are thinking of giving to your child. Not only that, you need to tell your child’s doctor what vitamins and supplements he or she is taking in addition to any prescription medications so that they can tell you (if they know) about any possible adverse interactions.
Three supplements we have tried:
• Planetary Formulas Calm Child
Who could resist? It says “calm child” as the name of the product. We tried this herbal remedy off and on for years. It comes in liquid syrup form or tablets. The primary “calming” ingredients include: Chamomile, lemon balm and catnip. This product is marketed for children with ADHD and is supposed to improve focus, calm nerves, and reduce irritability and hyperactivity.