When my oldest daughter was six years old, we thought she had an auditory processing disorder (APD). When she was at home, she didn’t seem to have any trouble hearing me and doing what I asked. However, in a group situation where she needed to listen and respond to a teacher, such as in an art class or a science co-op, I always had to be there in the room with her. I would have to repeat the instructions directly into her ear for her to know what to do. She was tested and she did not have APD. I watched her carefully in these classroom experiences and saw that she would consistently slide down in her chair, flit from one activity to another without spending much time on each, and put in minimal effort on the projects. I thought maybe she was gifted and her behavior was the result of boredom. So I treated her as such, putting her in enrichment programs for the gifted. Those were disappointing, as they were designed for children who went to school all day and my kids have always been homeschooled. The projects that they were doing in a week, my child could’ve done in a day at home, and I probably would’ve spent less money buying the computer software and supplies myself. Anyway, I left the whole thing alone for a while. I decided that it really didn’t matter. ADHD was lingering on the outskirts of my mind, but since she was home, what did I need a label for? Plus, I was guilty of the same assumptions that others had. I thought, just like some other moms in my homeschool support group, that ADHD wasn’t a real condition, but was a result of eating sugary foods, watching lots of television, and playing lots of video games. There were moms in that group who expressed through their comments that they thought ADHD was a result of poor parenting skills. They would shake their heads at moms whose kids wouldn’t sit and be quiet during presentations. It was this environment that blinded me to what was going on with daughter and with my son.
It took a while to diagnose my son, not because he didn’t show obvious symptoms, but because he had other, more pressing issues. The first clue that he might have ADHD was when he was assessed for APD at seven years old. While the tester said that he didn’t have APD (which was later questioned by another professional), she said that he often seemed to lose focus and not answer. She recommended he be tested for language disorders and he was found to have several types of language disorders, including dyslexia. I thought that was the root of his issues. However, he continued to demonstrate other classic symptoms of ADHD and for a few years, I was in denial. How could he have ADHD? He didn’t watch more than two hours of television a day and we didn’t (and still don’t) own any video game consoles. He had very limited time on the computer and I didn’t have sugary sweets in the house. But then, an opportunity came along for his older sister to receive comprehensive testing for free and I discovered how wrong I had been.
Testing revealed that she does have ADHD, along with a few other issues, which explains a lot. Her other issues are similar to those that her younger sister, who has Asperger’s, struggles with. Her trouble in classroom situations was partly ADHD and partly not knowing who or what to pay attention to.
My sister’s children have both been diagnosed with ADHD also. She chose the medication route. I chose to do things differently because I didn’t want my children to get hooked on drugs, I didn’t like the side effects, and I also felt that because they were home, they were free to move about as they felt like it.
As I described in my other article on ADHD, I went about cleaning up their diet. They were already eating a pretty healthy diet, but I made a few changes to make it even better. I also incorporated some herbs for ADHD. These needed to be herbs that would support brain function in general, increase circulation to the brain, help with reducing inflammation in the brain and improve focus. I put together a formula that included the following herbs:
American ginseng root: this North American herb has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms when combined with ginkgo. It helps the body and brain adapt to stress, it has anti-oxidant properties and can reduce inflammation, and it has been found to improve working memory and mood.
Oat straw: While the oats you eat may cause inflammation in the gut, a tincture made from the green straw and tops has been shown to nourish the brain in multiple ways, including increasing brain activity and reducing inflammation.
Ginkgo leaves: a tree native to China, this plant increases circulation to the brain, bringing all this great medicine to where it is needed.
Ashwaganda: this Indian herb that has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, helps reduce anxiety and stress, improves sleep and mood, and is a tonic for the adrenals and thyroid gland.
Motherwort: this herb is found in many parts of Europe and is useful for calming the nerves and improving mood.
Blue vervain: this herb is found all over North America and Europe and is useful for strengthening the nervous system.
Valerian root: a native to Europe and north Asia, this plant is particularly useful for all nervous system issues as it calms and nourishes, while gently stimulating. It helps with sleep, pain, and nervous tension.
Another formula that I have since discovered includes the essential oils (oil distilled from the plant material) from the following herbs for ADHD: vetiver (oil is distilled from the roots of this grassy plant native to India), frankincense (oil is derived from the resin of the tree that grows in Somalia), and cedarwood (oil comes from the wood of the cedar tree). This formula has also been very effective in helping with focus and attention.
People with ADHD are some of the most creative people I know. These herbs can help them be more productive and effective in using their creative potential instead of drugging them into submission to complete worksheets. Please comment below with your experiences in using alternative treatments for ADHD.