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Alternative Treatments For ADHD

Thursday, May 4, 2023 - 11:30

From time to time, you may hear of new treatments for ADHD. For example, in the 1970's, it became popular to limit food additives. These approaches are often sought out by parents who are concerned with the use of medication for a variety of reasons.

The value of medication in the treatment of ADHD has been proven – but alternative treatments can be used together with medication and other approaches.

Need To Know:

Some alternative therapies have been found to be of no value. Others are as yet unproven, and what works for one child may be ineffective for another.

Discuss other options with your doctor. Keep communication lines open. It is possible to integrate several different treatment approaches. Your doctor will keep you child’s best medical interests in mind and is an excellent scientific consumer advocate.

Some other approaches in treating ADHD include:

  • Diet

  • Nutritional Supplements

  • Behavior-Changing Therapies

  • Allergy Treatments


There is evidence that certain foods may affect some children's behavior – although these foods do not affect most children with ADHD. It is nonetheless worth keeping the following points in mind:

  • Good food is important for everyone. Regular meals with nutritious snacks are an essential part of every child's routine.

  • Following any diet can provide structure and control that can be helpful behaviorally and nutritionally. The rigid following of any diet, however, can worsen certain situations

  • Some children become calmer when they cut down on foods containing excessive sugar, MSG, chocolate and artificial color. If you think this might be the case for your child, work with your doctor to remove these substances from your child's diet, then add them back one at a time and see if you notice any ill effects from them.

Nutritional Supplements

No firm evidence exists that extra vitamins or minerals taken as supplements affect ADHD, although more research is being done in this area. However, it is important to note that nutritional imbalances may affect behavior adversely.

  • Some parents have found that the use of free fatty acid formulations, which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, might be helpful. Researchers are unclear as to whether this is the case or not.

  • Daily multivitamins are recommended, especially the B group of vitamins.

  • Multimineral supplements including calcium, magnesium, and zinc can be helpful and can possibly improve a child’s response to the use of stimulant medication.

Check with your doctor to avoid excessive dosages of any supplement

Behavior-Changing Therapies

A variety of behavior-changing therapies and educational options have been suggested as being able to allow children with ADHD to focus their attention, build self-esteem, and control their hyperactivity.

  • Biofeedback might help children control “secondary symptoms” such as hyperactivity, but not the problems of inattention. Biofeedback relies on sensitive electronic equipment to help people learn to control certain physical activities. Biofeedback utilizing electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques has been used to address inattention but as yet has not been proven effective.

  • Auditory integration therapies have been suggested as possible treatments for those youngsters with associated sound sensitivities and speech difficulties. Auditory integration therapies revolve around the belief that hearing has a direct bearing on behavior, and that treatment for increased sensitivity to sound results in positive behavioral changes.

  • Various “brain training” programs have also been used in an attempt to correct underlying differences in brain functioning, such as motor or muscle planning difficulties.

Allergy Treatments

Allergy treatments have been proposed for children with a history of allergic symptoms that are associated with ADHD. The use of antifungal treatment approaches has been used especially in younger children with a history of frequent infections and the use of antibiotics.

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