Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies for Children With Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The Chiro.Org Blog

SOURCE:   Altern Med Rev. 2011 (Dec); 16 (4): 323–37

Janice Pellow, M.Tech (Hom),
Elizabeth M. Solomon, HD, ND, DO, BA,
Candice N. Barnard, M.Tech (Hom), B.Phys.Ed

University of Johannesburg, Department of Homeopathy,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a commonly diagnosed childhood disorder characterized by impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. ADHD affects up to 1 in 20 children in the United States. The underlying etiologies of ADHD may be heterogeneous and diverse, and many possible risk factors in the development of ADHD have been identified. Conventional treatment usually consists of behavioral accommodations and medication, with stimulant medication most commonly being prescribed. Parents concerned about the side effects and long-term use of conventional medications are increasingly seeking alternatives to pharmacologic treatment. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offers parents various treatment options for this condition, including dietary modifications, nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine, and homeopathy. CAM appears to be most effective when prescribed holistically and according to each individual’s characteristic symptoms. Possible etiologies and risk factors for the condition also need to be considered when developing a treatment plan. This article serves to highlight the latest research regarding the most commonly used CAM for children with ADHD.

Table 1.   Risk Factors for ADHD

Risk Factor Mechanism
Dietary Factors and Nutrient Deficiencies
Hypersensitivity to foods and/or additives Increase in inflammatory mediators and neuropeptides in the blood
Phospholipid deficiencies Possible impairments in neuronal structure and function, especially during early development
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency Impaired neurotransmitter reception in brain; altered neuronal plasticity
Amino acid deficiencies Decreased production of amino acid-based neurotransmitters
Refined carbohydrates Abnormal glucose metabolism, causing disruptions in hormone and neurotransmitter regulation
Mineral deficiencies Impaired dopaminergic transmission
Antioxidant deficiencies Oxidative damage to DNA
Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, neurotoxins Disrupted neurotransmitter and neuromodulator function
Exposure to Electronic Media
Television Over-stimulation, sensory addiction, increased stimulus-seeking behavior
Cell phones Pre-and post-natal exposure linked to increase in ADHD symptoms. Exact mechanism unknown.
Abnormal Lighting
Natural light deciency / Exposure to fluorescent lighting Hyperactive behavior and decreased learning ability

You can learn more about the chiropractic approach to management at:

The ADD/ADHD Page and the

Chiropractic and ADD/ADHD Page

Risk Factors

Numerous risk factors for ADHD have been proposed. The following potential etiological domains all appear to exacerbate existing ADHD symptoms and have a plausible neural mechanism of action, [18] as outlined in Table 1.

Dietary Influence and Nutritional Deficiencies

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