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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Using Herbs and Supplements for ADHD

Disclaimer: it is extremely important to work with your doctor when starting new herbs and supplements. In a perfect world, you would have an alternative medicine provider supporting you on your journey. But I recognize that this is not realistic for everyone. At a minimum, please talk to your primary care provider.



What are common natural treatments for ADHD?

Whether you are looking for a completely natural path or you are looking for additional treatments to support your ADHD medication, there are several options that are scientifically backed to help manage symptoms.


  • Supplements and herbs

  • Therapy - try to find support from a therapist who has a good understanding of ADHD. It is ok to "interview" potential therapists to find the right fit.

  • Mindfulness practices - meditation, journaling, calming techniques.

  • Good sleep practices - lack of sleep will make your symptoms worse.

  • Nutrition - aim for a high protein, low carb approach.

  • Exercise - exercise impacts your brain similarly to stimulant medications.

How do you start using supplements?


Learn

Read, research, and learn about supplements and herbs. Don't take random people's word for it (that includes mine). Recommendations like mine are a starting point. If I tell you, Melatonin will help with sleep - double-check that. Look for credible sources with science-backed research.


Make sure you look into possible negative side effects or interactions with any medication you may be on.


Consult

Talk to your doctor. Make sure any herb or supplement you want to take won't interact negatively with any existing medication. *St. Johns Wort is a prime example of this, it's a common supplement for anxiety, but this supplement negatively interacts with almost every medication out there. - I leave this one alone. As my hedge witch BFF says - "if the animals don't touch it, I don't touch it".


Vet Sources

I feel such a need to really pound this one home. Make sure you use credible resources when you are researching things. Look for websites that are based on research, ideally written by experts in their field. Great options for ADHD resources can include Chadd.org, Psychcentral.com, and Additudemag.com

Find more resources here


Take it Slow

Don't do the stereotypical ADHD thing, and do all the supplements and herbs all at once. Take it slow, add in one at a time. Give it a month - see how this new herb or supplement impacts you. This would be a good time to start a mood journal - check in with yourself every day and note how you are feeling. That way, you can look back at the end of your trial period to see if this supplement is actually helping or hurting.


Grab a free download of my mood tracker here




Supplements worth noting


Omega-3 - improves concentration

Omega-3 is a common supplement used for concentration. You can also get Omega-3 in by eating fish like herring and salmon a few times a week.



Vitamin D - supports brain function

If you live in a cold state, like me, it is likely that you need more Vitamin D. Vitamin D supports immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.



Zinc - suppresses impulsivity.


Iron - improves behavioral regulation.


Magnesium - calming and increases emotional stability.


I make a magnesium spray for my "happy feet" (restless legs), and I use this Magnesium Powder.


Melatonin - improves sleep and insomnia symptoms.


Herbs worth noting

I personally try to stick to herbal and nutritional remedies over manufactured supplements. I do use some supplements such as Omega-3, Magnesium, and Melatonin. But I try to meet the rest of my needs with food and herbs.


These are some of my favorite herbs I use on a regular basis.

I do have a tea available here that incorporates these herbs!


Hibiscus

Hibiscus has several medicinal properties, not to mention it makes a tasty tea. In regards to ADHD benefits, hibiscus is considered an extremely mild sedative.



Damiana

Damiana is said to be both stimulating and calming. This is particularly beneficial for people who experience depression and anxiety symptoms. It is also known to boost mental stamina and clarity.




Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is recommended to relieve fatigue and ease depression symptoms.




Motherwort

Motherwort is considered a sedative but is noted to promote relaxation rather than drowsiness. *Please avoid if pregnant or experiencing heavy menstrual cycles*




Skullcap

Skullcap has a long history of being used to ease symptoms of anxiety and stress in North America. (and is personally one of my favorite herbs to incorporate into my ADHD management regimen.)




Cannabis

This one is obviously controversial. Take what resonates for you here, and feel free to leave the rest. There is research and a long history showing the benefits of marijuana for depression, sleep issues, and anxiety symptoms.


Unfortunately, due to the restrictions on cannabis in the United States, research is only starting to show the effects of cannabis on people with ADHD. What we are finding so far is promising.


Current studies suggest that cannabis could help with Dopamine production, as well as lower inattentive symptoms and increase self-regulation.


Please remember that marijuana is still a regulated substance in most of the United States. Please research your local laws.


Here in Minnesota, medical marijuana is legal. This means that most of us are left with CBD and Delta products until the government catches up with the science. These could be viable alternatives to help manage ADHD symptoms. I personally find a lot of relief from Delta-8 Sativa blends.


Also worth noting, like all herbs, cannabis has pros and cons. It is up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects.


Cannabis can make fatigue and brain fog worse - depending on dosing and strain. For me, these risks are worth eliminating the debilitating anxiety and racing thoughts. I could write a whole book on this subject, so I'll have to leave it at that.


Resources






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