Nutritional and herbal supplements as a treatment for ADHD are based on the theory that there is something lacking in your diet that is causing the symptoms. There are a few medical conditions related to diet that can cause symptoms similar to those of ADHD. For example, iron deficiency in children can cause the inability to concentrate or short attention spans. Hypoglycemia can cause hyperactivity and low attention levels. If you, or your doctor, believe that nutritional deficiencies may be causing or aggravating of some of your symptoms, blood tests will help to determine what supplements may be needed. Your doctor can help in finding the correct dose of supplement needed to improve your symptoms.
The belief that large doses of vitamins (mega-vitamins) can help to decrease symptoms of ADHD is controversial. To date, there is no scientific data to back up this claim and many medical professionals have discussed the risks of taking these in large doses.
Even though there is limited or no scientific data to support many of the claims made regarding nutritional or herbal supplements, they are easily accessible. Most pharmacies today carry a large range of nutritional supplements and the Internet has many websites designed to sell consumers these products.
The FDA does not regulate these products. They do not monitor the claims of improving or curing symptoms, although in some cases, warning letters have been sent to manufacturers who make false or misleading claims to the public.
Some manufacturers of nutritional or herbal supplements rely solely on the testimonials of customers to market and promote their products. Many are lacking in scientific studies to back up claims of effectiveness.
In addition, some supplements can severely interfere with other medication you may be taking. It is very important to discuss all medications, including supplements, with your physician. Pharmacists may also be able to help you with information about interactions with current medications.
“ADHD - Unproven Treatments.” American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Complementary and Alternative Treatments.” National Resource Center on ADHD. Mar 2006.
Bernard-Bonnin, Dr. Anne-Claude. “The use of alternative therapies in treating children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Canadian Pediatrics Committee. 2003.
Strock, Margaret, National Institute of Health, Publication 3572,National Institute of Mental Health, 2006
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.