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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Introduction

Scott Olson, ND

image by Bradley Stemke (lic)Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder most commonly seen in young males that also affects females and older adults. The disorder is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and the inability to remain focused on activities or tasks. People with ADHD also have difficulty with short-term memory, organizing their thoughts, and setting and achieving goals.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies for ADHD

There is almost a complete lack of research on CAM approaches for treating ADHD. This is surprising given the large amount of young patients with this disorder and the large amount of pharmaceuticals (which are not without risks) used to treat them.

The Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) have the most research to support their use as a CAM treatment for ADHD. The rest of the CAM strategies have been explored in only one or two small trials and, therefore, remain experimental.

The following chart summarizes the common natural treatments for ADHD and their degree of scientific study to support their use:

Natural Therapies for ADHD


These complimentary medicines have been well-studied for both effectiveness and safety issues and can be recommended on the basis of their scientific and traditional-use background.



These complimentary medicines have at least some clinical studies in humans to support their use along with a long history of traditional use. They can be recommended for use on the basis of their traditional use and their relative safety.

· Omega-3 fatty acids


These complimentary medicines lack the support of good clinical studies in humans, but have been used traditionally, or have some studies that suggest that they might be effective. They can be recommended for use with the caution that they are not well-supported by research.

· Ginkgo and Ginseng

· SAMe

· Vitamin b-6

· Iron

· Magnesium

· Zinc

· Diet


These are complimentary medicines that cannot be recommended for use because are harmful, not effective, or are too new to make a judgment about their safety or effectiveness.



(A) Well Supported Integrative Therapies for ADHD

There are no well-supported integrative therapies for ADHD that can be considered the only treatment for the disease.

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