What Are The Best Drug-Free Approaches To ADD And ADHD?

Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., Wake Forest

Question: What are the best drug-free approaches to ADD and ADHD?

Answer:The best approaches to helping a child with ADHD to achieve a greater sense of calm, focus, concentration and self discipline are really a healthy lifestyle. So focus on a healthy diet -- that is, avoiding foods with chemicals, artificial colors, artificial flavors, focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, decreasing exposure to pesticides, decreasing exposure to fast foods, good discipline, good behavior and stress management techniques, approach to sleep hygiene to make sure the child gets good sleep at night, are very important.

Because many children are picky eaters and don't eat all the things that they should, I often recommend a multivitamin, multimineral to be sure that the child does not develop deficiencies of any essential vitamin or minerals because some children with ADHD have been shown to be deficient in zinc, magnesium or iron. Also fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can help the developing child's brain develop properly and be more successful in achieving those mental health goals. There is some promising research about EEG biofeedback. This is not still widely used or reimbursed by insurance because randomized control trials, large randomized control trials still need to be done to compare the effectiveness of that approach to other things like tutoring.

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