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.

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