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Medication not the only approach to treat ADHD

Natural remedies are often quite effective for addressing certain health issues. While it may not be advisable to entirely replace medication with natural treatment options, they can be used in combination to manage some health conditions quite effectively, and that includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Many parents who started off by relying exclusively on medication to help their kids manage ADHD symptoms, say that over the years they have been able to stop medication completely thanks to some changes in diet and sleep patterns.

Anandalakshmi Senthil Kumar's son Vishal, who is now 15 years old, would find it hard to get a good night's rest and was recommended medication.

"I would give Vishal Arkamin until he was seven years old as he was extremely hyper and unable to sleep", says Kumar. "The medication definitely helped with that but gradually I started giving him massages regularly and changed his diet as well. I reduced the amount of chocolates and milk products he would consume and introduced more vegetables in his diet."

Over the years, Kumar found a distinct improvement in Vishal's sleep patterns. He was also less hyper. "Now he is much better, and I no longer give him Arkamin or any other medication for that matter".

It is important to mention here that every child's case is different and what works with one will not work with another. So, stopping medications altogether is not advisable.

As Priya Ravi, a special educator and parent to a child with a disability points out.

Some children have uncontrollable behavior issues and may need medication. What we have observed is that with proper nutrition and exercise, the condition can be managed. Vision therapy also helps because it enables children to focus better. Many kids with ADHD have visual stress and this can make it hard for them to focus on one thing. - Priya Ravi, Special Educator

Ravi teaches at Sankalp, a school for children with disabilities in Chennai, where activities like music and craft are used to help children with ADHD. "Activities like music and craft help calm them significantly. I use all these techniques with my children and have seen great progress".

Over the years, clean eating has emerged as a major talking point when it comes to treating children with conditions like ADHD. So what does that mean? It refers to a style of eating that avoids foods that are processed, contain additives or chemicals. It's a good idea to avoid them in your child's diet.

Like monosodium glutamate or MSG, that is used to enhance flavour and is added to many foods, even baby food. Some people have reported negative reactions. Even sugar has been reported to magnify signs in people with ADHD. Same is the case with artificial sweeteners.

Some broad healthy eating tips are to ensure there is protein in every meal you give your child and include vegetables, raw fruit, or oatmeal.

Delhi-based occupational therapist Manish Samnani cautions that medication is often a defense mechanism for parents who are coping with a child with a disability like autism or ADHD.

"This way parents feel like they are doing something and by the time they realize that medication does not make a difference beyond a point, the child is older. The aim is to make the child adapt to us and us adapt to them. It is also about letting them be what they are as well."

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