One of my readers recently wrote in for any advice I had for his son with ADHD, so he wouldn’t have to put him on Ritalin (see his full letter below).

For kids who suffer from ADHD, ADD, or any other label that involves any of these issues:

  • short attention span
  • problems focusing
  • aggressive behaviour
  • frantic, scatty energy
  • really annoying behaviours, often repetitive
  • difficulty learning in an academic setting

a marked change in behaviour is usually seen from simultaneously changing the diet, supplementing with missing nutrients and balancing the gut microbiota (getting mostly good bacteria in the gut).

Diet Guidelines for ADD and ADHD

The first aspect to test is to take your child off all processed foods (with artificial colors, flavors, additives, preservatives, flow agents, etc.) and all sugar (except whole fruits).

YES, this is extremely difficult, especially in our culture. And your child will go through bonafide ‘withdrawal’ – same as if they had been on a drug.

But if you remove these substances for 3 weeks, you will have a chance to see your REAL child. Likely, neither you, nor your child, know who that person is. So although the withdrawal is nasty, if your child never gets to experience their true self, they will not have the motivation to sustain healthy habits for the long-term.

Then test adding back in the occasional sugar items – but still no processed foods – and see what happens. Depending on your child’s reaction, adjust their diet accordingly. Be sure to watch for tolerance thresholds; sometimes one cookie per day is okay, sometimes only one cookie per week is okay.

Then feed your child a bag of artificially flavored potato chips (for example), but no sugar that day. And see what happens.

Then feed them a chocolate bar AND a bag of MSG, artificial flavor chips. And see what happens over the next 4 hours.

This kind of testing will help you determine what affects your child the most; sugar, or chemicals, or is the combination the killer?

For my eldest, he is fine with sugar on its own. And he is fine with the occasional bag of chips or Doritos. BUT, combine sugar WITH the artificial, chemical crap and yowsers, none of us want to know him. My mum once said to me, “You know, if he didn’t have you for his parents, he’d probably be on drugs to control his behaviour.”

Top Food Allergies and Intolerances for ADHD and ADD

The other aspect of diet you need to test, is your child’s sensitivity (or allergy) to the top irritant foods:

  • Pasteurized dairy products (RAW dairy is usually okay)
  • Wheat (and then also test for gluten)
  • Corn (especially GMO corn)
  • Sugar (which we already talked about above)
  • Grains and/or Potatoes (because these digest quickly into sugars)

For sure, test your child’s reaction to at least wheat and pasteurized dairy (these are the most common intolerances)  by following the same guidelines given above for sugar and chemicals. And then also test for tolerance thresholds.

Key Nutrients and Probiotics for ADHD and ADD

Simultaneously, with these dietary adjustments, you need to calm the nervous system and normalize the gut flora. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride really nailed this component in her GAPS book (for autistic kids).

So at the same time as you remove the sugar and additives from your child’s diet, you need to supplement with:

Omega-3 oil – give Udo’s oil and a clean, high quality cod liver oil, or krill oil. For kids it’s easiest to give them Udo’s in a shake or smoothie, or give them the lemon-flavored cod liver oil to chew. I like the cod liver oil as it also naturally contains Vitamin A, if you use the brand I recommend, there is no issue of mercury, or any other contamination as it is micro-filtered and then tested.

Good fats – make sure your child gets plenty of organic, or even better, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and whole eggs. If your child won’t eat eggs, the yolk is the important part, so you can stir egg yolk – not the white – into hot cooked pasta and sauce (just makes the sauce more creamy), or add them to smoothies or shakes. Butter and egg yolks also contain Vitamin A and another crucial nutrient that most are deficient in: Vitamin K2.

AntioxidantsCoQ10, Vitamin C, and pycnogenol or grapeseed

Bioflavonoids – mixed bioflavonoids are best, otherwise just quercetin is okay.

Magnesium – the form depends on whether your child tends to loose stool or constipation. See my blog post on magnesium for complete guidelines. My kids take both the nano-sized magnesium (also contained in Bone Support) and Natural Calm drinkable magnesium (raspberry lemon flavor) when they feel their bowels getting sluggish (usually when they eat too much carbs!).

ProbioticsNatren is the only brand I recommend at this current time, see my blog post on probiotic selection criteria for why. If your child can swallow large capsules, the Healthy Trinity are the easiest way to take them (1 per day). Otherwise, my kids will happily take the powders mixed in yoghurt or raw chocolate milk.

These are the basic guidelines and then individual adjustments may be necessary.

For my kids, I see a marked difference in their behaviour and attention span from just spending ONE day at a friend’s house and eating “normal” foods there. People always comment on what amazing kids we have, but I wonder how much other children are being handicapped just by what’s going, and not going, into their bodies.

If you’ve found anything else that really makes a difference with your child, please post it below.

NOTE: Here is the original email I received from my reader, with his full question:

“I have/had UC and am doing very well on your advice in the “Listen To Your Gut” book. Thank you.
My son is nearly 4 and is very hyperactive, stubborn and can get very stressed about things, for example refusing to go to the toilet for a number 2. He is a very bright boy and his language skills are very advanced. The problem is he struggles to sit down for 10 minutes to do say a puzzle and gets very frustrated if he can’t do it first time. He can however watch a 2 hour movie no problem.
I was hoping you would be able to suggest some natural supplements that would improve his concentration and calm him down a bit. There is no way he going on Ritalin. I have heard omega 3 and 6 helps as well as Pycnogenol/pine bark extract.
I was wondering if it would be better to give him flax seed oil rather than fish oils due to the high mercury found in fish these days.
Your suggestions would be appreciated.”

Natural Remedies and Diet for ADHD and ADD
5 Comments

5 thoughts on “Natural Remedies and Diet for ADHD and ADD

  • Hi Jini
    Thank you for the advice. You are correct when you say sugar and colorants can make them hyperactive. We call it the “Smartie test”. This is a candy like M&M’s in the US. We give him a small box of Smarties and within less than 10 minutes he is bouncing off the walls. It can take up to 2 hours for him to calm down again.
    We will try to work out if it’s the sugar, colorants or both with your step by step guide. I will get him on the cod liver oil and other nutrients straight away.
    Once again thank you for your help.
    I will keep you posted on the results.
    Bruce

  • YES, please let us know how it goes.

    And Smarties also contain wheat – which, along with pasteurized dairy, is one of the top irritant foods for children with these tendencies. I have added this info to the blog post above, along with the other common food intolerances.

  • My son Christopher whom we just recently adopted is 9, we fostered him since he was 2 1/2 yrs old, he has ADHD/ADD and isn’t on any Meds. His behaviors are terrible at home and at school. His eating habits are terrible also
    First of all he refuses to eat any vegetables except mashed potatoes,but only about 3 tbsp. He won’t eat salads, he refuses to try anything! He will drink apple juice but he won’t eat an apple or orange, pear, peach, watermellon. He will eat beef, pork and chicken. He will eat american cheese only. He refuses to even try yogurt. He eats bread and cereal and pop-tarts, donuts and junk food. I have been taking him to a Homeopathic Physician who has been trying to help him with different remedies for about 2 yrs now. Can you help Christopher? Is there any help for him? We love him very much.

    1. Hi Diane,

      The best information we have about ADHD/ADD is in the blog post above and I’m afraid we aren’t qualified to help your son directly but we wish you and your son all the best on your healing journey together. We’d love to hear how it works out for you if you decide to incorporate any of Jini’s ideas as well.

      Kind regards,
      Justin
      Customer Care

  • DIANE – Natasha Campbell-McBride has a protocol for getting fussy kids to try new foods – see her GAPS book, or site:

    http://www.doctor-natasha.com/fussy-eaters.php

    What I found works for my kids (and even their friends) is not to try to get them to EAT anything. But to educate them on what “tastebud training” is. And how the different foods benefit their body, so they get the WHY of why it would be good for them to eventually eat those things.

    So tastebud training is only concerned with tasting something, chewing it so you can feel/experience the texture and then if you need to, spit it out! I have the garbage can or spit plate ready (so no anxiety). If there is NO pressure to swallow, kids are much more willing to do tastebud training. And eventually, they will try to swallow little bits, if they can.

    Over time, they do develop a taste (after 10-15 tries) for new foods.

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