3 herbs to help with ADHD

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents at an awesome activity facility here in Ottawa called NUTS about 3 herbs to help with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The kids got to participate in the fun obstacle racing and trivia activities at NUTS while I sat down with the parents to discuss the topics of herbal medicine. This was my second talk on ADHD at NUTS. If you’d like more info on nutrition for ADHD see my blog post: Back to School with ADHD: Natural tips to help with the transition.

Here is a summary of the 3 herbs we discussed to help with ADHD:

  1. Chamomile: This herb is easily found as a tea and is very calming to the nervous system. The calming effects can help with anxiety and insomnia. Chamomile also supports digestion and calms a nervous stomach. The digestive tract is commonly known as the ‘Second Brain’ since it contains a large amount of nerves and is connected directly to the brain by the vagus nerve. This communication between the brain and the gut goes both ways. So the way you think can affect your digestion and what is going on in your digestive tract can influence your mood and mental state. Chamomile is also a great herb to brew and add to your child’s bathwater because it is anti-inflammatory and soothing for nervous skin irritations like eczema.
  2. Lavender: This herb is also calming for the nervous system and can help with anxiety and insomnia. The essential oil is often used to promote the relaxation response and shift the nervous system from a state of ‘fight or flight’ to a state of calmness. You can add the essential oil, lavender flowers or brewed lavender tea to your child’s bathwater for a calming effect. The essential oil can be added to a diffuser or humidifier in your child’s bedroom to promote sleep. Putting lavender essential oil onto a tissue and helping your child practice alternate nostril breathing is a great method for self-relaxation. Finally, new research is showing lavender can be just as effective at calming anxiety as low dose pharmaceutical medication. Check out this research summary for more info.
  3. Licorice:  This herb in tea form is quite sweet so kids tend to like it! Licorice has adaptogenic properties which means it helps your body regulate cortisol (the stress hormone) and adapt to stressful situations. Adrenaline is the common name for the hormone cortisol, and I’m sure we have all experienced the feeling of running on adrenaline! The body pumps out adrenaline to keep us alert during stressful periods, however if it is constantly in a state of high adrenaline this can lead to burnout. Ideally we want to balance periods of high adrenaline with periods of relaxation, and licorice root helps support your body’s ability to adapt to stressful situations. Finally, as an added benefit, licorice helps heal the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract and can help heal food sensitivity reaction associated with ADHD.

For more information on herbal medicine and how to administer herbal remedies to your child, check out my post from yesterday: Herbal Medicine for your child: Tips and tricks for administering herbs.

Advertisements

Herbal Medicine for your child: Tips and tricks for administering herbs

Herbal medicine for children can be very helpful for a variety of conditions. Commone reasons parents turn towards herbal options include the treatment of cold/flu symptoms, digestive complaints, as well as supporting mood and sleep difficulties.

While using herbal options can provide a natural alternative, it is important to remember that just because a product is natural, does not mean it is safe.  Always consult your primary health care provider and read the warning labels prior to starting a new product. For herbs, it is especially important to be aware of potential allergies if you or your child have seasonal allergies. Click HERE to read my post on supplement safety.

Herbal remedies come in different forms such as teas, tinctures and capsules.

Teas:

Teas tend to be made up of raw parts of a plant including the roots, leaves and flowers. When teas are steeped in boiling water, the heat releases the phytochemicals from the plant and provides a low-dose herbal effect.

Tips for giving your child a tea:

  1. Make an iced tea: Brew a batch of tea, let it cool, add a little juice for flavour or fresh fruit and store it in the fridge.
  2. Make a tea popsicle: Brew a batch of tea, blend it with fruit and freeze it using popsicle molds.
  3. Make a tea smoothie: Brew a batch of tea, let it cool and use it as a smoothie base instead of plain water or milk.
  4. Add tea to the bathwater: Brew a batch of tea, let it cool and add it to your child’s bath water so it can be absorbed through the skin!

Herbal tinctures:

A herbal tincture is more concentrated than a tea. Raw parts of a plant including the root, leaves and flowers are soaked in alcohol to further pull out the medicinal ingredients of the plants.

Herbal tinctures are stronger than teas, and often come in dropper bottles so they are great for adjusting dosages to meet your child’s individual needs and weight. This is also great for the sensitive child because you can start at a super low dose and work your way up to a higher therapeutic dose as needed.

Tips for giving your child an herbal tincture:

  1. Take a juice shot: Mix the herbal tincture into a shot glass with some juice (grape, blueberry and cranberry work great to mask the flavour) and have your child ‘shoot it’ followed by a glass of water. This method allows your child to only take 1 sip of the ‘yucky flavour’ versus diluting it in water and taking multiple sips of the ‘yucky flavour’.
  2. Blend it in a smoothie: Add the herbal tincture to a smoothie. Your child may not even notice it is there…but if they do it can ruin the flavour of the entire smoothie! try different combinations of flavours until you find one that works.
  3. Add it to a fruity tea: Add the herbal tincture to a cup of hot fruity tea. The hot water will evaporate the alcohol and hopefully the fruity tea flavour will mask the flavour of the tincture. Then follow the tips for administering teas above.

Herbal capsules/tablets:

Herbal capsules/tablets tend to be the most concentrated form of herbal medicine. This method is great for older children who are able to easily swallow pills and it bypasses any flavour issues.

Tips for giving your child a capsule/tablet:

  1. Mix capsule contents into food: Some capsules can be opened and the contents mixed with food like mashed banana, mashed potato, apple sauce, yogurt or blended in a smoothie to mask the flavour. If your child needs more flexible dosing or cannot swallow pills easily, consider a tincture or tea over a capsule.
  2. Crush the tablet: Some tablets can be crushed with a pill cutter (available at the pharmacy). Just double check that the herbal tablet is not formulated as a timed-release formula as these cannot be cut because it will alter the dose delivered.

Please share your tips and tricks for herbal medicine!

DIY Make your own bath bombs!

DIY Make your own bath bombs!
Monday, November 6th 7:30-8:30 pm 

Location: Dr. Ellen Simone ND & Associates, 1390 Prince of Wales Drive Suite 205, Ottawa, K2C 3N6

We’re making bath bombs! Join Kayla Robinson, RHN and Kelly Sabara for another DIY natural body care workshop!

Inform yourself about the common chemicals found in your everyday body care products and learn how to incorporate natural alternatives in your home.

Find out how you can use essential oils to make your own safe body care products and… Make your own bath bombs!

Cost: $20/person (includes materials)

Limited seats available. Please contact ellen@drellensimone.com to save your spot!

 

DIY Make your own natural essential oil rollers & deodorizer spray workshop!

DIY Make your own natural essential oil rollers & deodorizer spray!

Monday, September 18th 7:30-8:30 pm

Join Kayla Robinson, RHN and Kelly Sabara, Reiki Master for another DIY workshop!

Inform yourself about the common chemicals found in your everyday body care products and how they can affect your health.  Learn how to incorporate natural alternative products into your home and reduce your toxic load.  Find out how you can use essential oils to make your own safe body care products and.  Make your own deodorizer spray and essential oil roller!

Cost: $20

Limited seats available. Please contact ellen@drellensimone.com to save your spot!

3 ways to make drinking water more fun!

Having trouble staying hydrated? Trouble getting your kids to drink their water? Here’s 3 ways to make drinking water more fun! (Applies to adults too!)

  1. Personalize your water bottle: Preferably choose a reusable water bottle made from stainless steel or glass (avoid plastic due to cancer causing chemicals which leech into the water). For children, decorate their water bottle with fun stickers or write their name with a creative sticky label. For adults, perhaps adding a positive quote or affirmation to keep you motivated while at work. Every time you look at your water bottle and read the positive message it will be reinforced! Some examples of positive affirmations are, ‘Keep calm and carry on’, ‘You are beautiful and loved’, ‘#bosslady, getting stuff done!’. Basically, whatever floats your boat and matches your unique personality!
  2. Turn drinking water into a game: Mark the water bottle from top to bottom with the hours of the day. This gives you a visual target for how much you should have drank and by what time. For children, you can mark specific points in the day like first recess, lunch, second recess, on the bus, etc. If you finish your water by the end of the day reward yourself with something positive. For children, rewards could include stickers, dollar store toys, or an extra 5 minutes of screen time.
  3. Add flavour to your boring old H20: By adding berries, lemons and limes you can infuse your water with some flavour and extra nutrients. Be creative with cooling cucumber or herbs like fresh basil and peppermint! Some water bottles come with a diffuser down the centre for fruit or tea. Having your children participate in choosing the flavours they add to their water includes them in their own healthy choices and teaches them the importance of self-care.

Do you have other tips on how to make H20 more fun? Feel free to share your tips below in the comments section!

Back to school with ADHD: Natural tips to help with the transition

It’s back to school time and for those parents whose children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) this can be a challenging time of transition.  It is a time for establishing new routines and adjusting to the structure of the school system.

Pharmaceutical medications are helpful for many children, however often parents come to my office looking for some natural options. Choosing medication is a personal decision based on the needs of your child, family and teachers. The following is a list of natural tips to help support your child with the back to school transition, regardless if they are on medication or not.

Nutrition:

  1. Stay hydrated! Equip your child with a water bottle and encourage them to finish it throughout the day. Dehydration contributes to lack of concentration and information processing.
  2. Avoid artificial chemicals: Pack lunches full of whole foods versus packaged foods which often contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. These chemicals stimulate the nervous system and contribute to restlessness and mood changes.
  3. Add more protein: Protein keeps blood sugar levels from fluctuating. High and low blood sugar levels lead to hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and mood changes such as irritability and anxiety.

Check out these Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school which are high in protein!

Vitamin and mineral supplements:

  1. Consider zinc supplementation for hyperactivity and impulsivity. Always speak to your doctor or naturopath before taking supplements to figure out if they are needed and what the appropriate dose should be. Try adding more zinc containing foods to the diet such as chicken, turkey, fish, pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed butter (great replacement for peanut butter!).
  2. Additional B vitamins can be helpful for improving cognitive function.  B vitamins are essential for producing neurotransmitters that influence mood and can be helpful for anxiety and depression. A B-complex is generally safe because the body breaks down these vitamins and you urinate them out daily.  Make sure you take a b-complex vitamin with meals to prevent nausea.  It is best to take it in the morning with breakfast because it also helps improve energy throughout the day.
  3. A fish oil supplement is the best way to get an appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  The two major types are ecosapentanoic acid  (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).  A combination of EPA and DHA is important for supporting nervous system function leading to improved learning, attention and concentration in the classroom.  Nourishing the brain with omega-3 fatty acids is essential for improving mood.

    Fish oil is available in liquid or capsules.  You can freeze the capsules to prevent it from repeating or purchase an enteric coated brand.  Liquid fish oil is great for children because it can be mixed into a smoothie or juice.  There are even delicious gummies and chewable capsules for the picky eater!

    If you follow a vegan diet or are allergic to fish, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds and hemp seed.  However, much higher doses are needed to absorb the same amount that is found naturally in fish oil.

Botanical medicine:

  1. Calming lemon balm or lavender tea: Brew a batch of lemon balm (aka Melissa officinalis) or lavender tea and store in a glass jug in your fridge. It can be added as a smoothie base, as a popsicle base, frozen into ice cubes and added to your child’s water bottle, or mixed in with a little juice. These are all creative ways to have your child experience the calming effects of lemon balm and lavender without having to drink the hot tea directly.
  2. Chamomile tea has digestive healing properties in addition to a calming effect. Paired with ginger root, licorice root and peppermint tea, these make a great addition if your child suffers from ‘nervous stomach’ or is experiencing digestive side effects from their medication.
  3. Concentrated herbal tinctures: Teas are generally safe because they are very dilute. However, if you are looking for something with a stronger effect a herbal tincture where the herbs have been soaked in alcohol and the medicinal properties of the herbs have been extracted is another option. There are many options at the health food store such as St. Francis brand Tilia Calm. Be sure to read the instructions based on your child’s weight and avoid herbal tinctures if your child suffers from allergies to any of the ingredients.

Building a Healthy Home Workshop! Make your own body lotion!

 

Join Kayla Robinson, RHN and Kelly Sabara for the next workshop in our Building a Healthy Home series!

Inform yourself about the common chemicals found in your everyday body care products and how they can affect your health.
Learn how to incorporate natural alternative products into your home and reduce your toxic load.
Find out how you can use essential oils to make your own safe body care products and… Make your own skin lotion and essential oil roller!

Cost: $20/person (includes materials)

Date: Monday, July 17th 7-8 pm

Location: Dr. Ellen Simone ND & Associates, 1390 Prince of Wales Drive Suite 205

Limited seats available. Please contact ellen@drellensimone.com to save your spot!

19875323_331431183952328_1167473443449504713_n