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Feb 7, 2012

Parents Choosing Natural Therapies & Lifestyle Changes for ADHD

When it comes to children with ADHD, many parents are increasingly turning to natural therapies and lifestyle changes for treatment, according to research conducted at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  Published in the journal Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, the small-scale research study incorporated information from intake forms, physician reports and lab studies for at least 75 patients who sought medical care from an integrative pediatrician over the period of 18 months.   

Researchers found that the majority of families with ADHD children expressed interest in learning how diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep may influence their children.  The recommendations made by these pediatricians incorporated things such as health promotion information, dietary supplements like multivitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, and specialist referrals. 

According Dr. Kathy Kemper, professor of public health sciences, "Many parents are reluctant to put their children on medication for ADHD, and instead want to first try healthy lifestyle options to help promote optimal focus and attention."  Dr. Kemper was in charge of the study and expressed her goal of trying to determine what parents seek to learn from an integrative pediatrician when searching for alternative ADHD treatments. 

While thirty percent of parents involved in the study expressed concern about ADHD, only thirteen percent of children were actually taking medication.  Many of the children with ADHD had experienced concurrent ailments for which they were seeking treatment from medical specialists and primary care physicians. However, it was noted that these same doctors tended to avoid suggesting medications for ADHD.  

Some of Dr. Kemper’s advice for parents with children who may have difficulty concentrating in class is to “be sure he eats a really good breakfast, or try having him go to bed an hour earlier to see if that helps.”  She goes on to say that, “If your child can't sit still to do homework when he gets home from school, have him go outside to shoot some hoops and then try doing homework.”  She emphasizes using healthy lifestyle modifications that are low-risk prior to considering medication. 

Dr. Shana McQueen