Expert Advice

How can I treat ADHD?

Focus a fast-paced, wandering mind naturally.

How can I treat ADHD?
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An integrative physician says: ADHD is caused by an excess of vata, the air-element dosha that governs the nervous system. Since vata is a mobile, gusty energy, too much of it can cause restlessness, an overstimulated, wandering mind and unpredictability.

The treatment: Establish a structured routine for yourself: Set times for when you sleep, eat, exercise and relax. Vata types tend to benefit from a stable, consistent rhythm to better allow the mind to soar in between necessities. Cut out white sugar and flour and eat grounding, protein-rich foods, which will help calm and center you. Get enough magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and omega-3s, which help stabilize the nervous system for better focus. You can also try rubbing cold-pressed olive, sesame or coconut oil on your feet before bed to draw energy out of your mind. — Carrie Demers, M.D., medical director of the Himalayan Institute’s Total Health Center in Honesdale, Pa.

An integrative psychiatrist says: ADHD is sometimes a hereditary condition, starting in childhood, which affects neurotransmitters and can cause impulsivity, difficulty finishing tasks and trouble regulating emotion.

The treatment: Rhodiola rosea, an herb, can be used to supplement the effects of stimulant-based prescription drugs or, in very mild cases, as a substitute for drugs. Most adults start with a 150 mg tablet in the morning. To stay calm but alert, try coherent breathing: Close your eyes and mouth, and breathe in through your nose for six seconds and out for six seconds. A second breath technique can wake up your mind when it wanders: Breathe in steadily, and as you exhale, make a loud “ha” sound while thrusting your arms forward, swinging them up and over your shoulders as you twist each way. — Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., co-author of Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD (W.W. Norton & Co.), based in Kingston, N.Y.

A homeopath says: ADHD symptoms are responses of the body and mind to infection and/or to environmental assaults and stresses, causing a restless mind and body, anxiety, phobia and even paranoia.

The treatment: A professional homeopath can develop treatment that is highly individualized to your unique syndrome. If you feel restless, the homeopath might consider Tarentula (wolf spider) 30C. If you’re particularly impulsive, anxiety-ridden and hurried, the homeopath could consider Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate) 30C. If your ADHD causes you fear, the homeopath may consider Stramonium (thornapple) 30C. A homeopath might also suggest tai chi, power-based kundalini or Bikram yoga as ways to ease into a gradually slowed down meditative practice to overcome hyperactivity. — Dana Ullman, M.P.H., C.C.H., president of Homeopathic Educational Services in Berkeley, Calif.