There’s limited research to support the claims often made about alternative medicine treatments and their ability to reduce ADHD symptoms. Before considering any alternative interventions, talk with your doctor to determine if the therapy is safe. Some alternative medicine treatments that have been tried, but are not yet fully proved scientifically, include:
- Yoga or meditation. Doing regular yoga routines or meditation and relaxation techniques may help children relax and learn discipline, which may help them manage their symptoms of ADHD.
- Special diets. Most diets promoted for ADHD involve eliminating foods thought to increase hyperactivity, such as sugar, and common allergens, such as wheat, milk and eggs. Some diets recommend avoiding artificial food colorings and additives. So far, studies haven’t found a consistent link between diet and improved symptoms of ADHD, though some anecdotal evidence suggests diet changes might make a difference in children with specific food sensitivities. Caffeine use as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have risky effects and is not recommended.
- Vitamin or mineral supplements. While certain vitamins and minerals from foods are necessary for good health, there’s no evidence that supplemental vitamins or minerals can reduce symptoms of ADHD. “Megadoses” of vitamins — doses that far exceed the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) — can be harmful.
- Herbal supplements. There is no evidence to suggest that herbal remedies help with ADHD, and some may be harmful.
- Proprietary formulations. These are products made from vitamins, micronutrients and other ingredients that are sold as possible treatment supplements for children with ADHD. These products have had little or no research and are exempt from Food and Drug Administration oversight, making them possibly ineffective or potentially harmful.
- Essential fatty acids. These fats, which include omega-3 oils, are necessary for the brain to function properly. Researchers are still investigating whether these may improve ADHD symptoms.
- Neurofeedback training. Also called electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback, in these sessions a child focuses on certain tasks while using a machine that shows brain wave patterns. More research is needed to see if this works.