DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN.
Herbs for ADHD: Alexander’s Story
I have a lot of experience working with people to switch from pharmaceuticals like Adderall, Xanax, anti-depressants, and topical steroids, and even methamphetamines to herbal treatments for psychological issues of various kinds. I’ve worked with a lot of adults, but until recently, I had never had the opportunity to work with a family to help them learn how to treat severe ADHD naturally.
Alexander’s ADHD Situation: A Brief Summary
Alexander’s parents came to us to work with me intensively for two weeks in Mexico. At the time of the treatment, Alexander was 7 years old. He had been on various ADHD medications for 4 years and by the time I met him, he had almost no ability to focus on anything for more than 30 seconds to one minute at a time. At that time, he was on two drugs: Focalin twice a day and Atomoxetine. He had numerous repetitive behaviors, most notable was the behavior of whining to play video games or to watch movies. He would also hoard sugary treats like candy in various places around the home to take “as needed” for self-medicating his apparent dopamine deficiency. His parents experienced his repetitive behaviors as “nagging” because the child would often whine and beg for specific things for hours at a time. The things he whined for were all quick “dopamine fixes” and I easily identified them as such. Alexander would flit from one thing to another throughout the day until late afternoon when his behavior would deteriorate into a “fit” which looked similar to a seizure in that Alexander would kick and flail and scream and stop responding to any kind of guidance from parents or authority figures. His parents told me that he had recently had a fit in the car and kicked his father in the head while his father was driving.
When Alexander first arrived in Mexico, Alexander told one of my assistants that, “Mom and Dad don’t love me”. I’ll talk more about family dynamics later in this series of articles.
Alexander craved meat and the first evening of his visit with us, he ordered a giant rib-eye steak and ate all of it. He was severely malnourished, thin, and small for his age. I’ll talk more about diet later in this article.
How to Help Severe ADHD
There were many problems plaguing this family when they arrived in Mexico. They had financial difficulties and the mother was pregnant again with her third child. The second child (4 years old) had been babied and wasn’t able to do basic care at a 4 year old level and he was severely malnourished (the child refused to eat vegetables or fruit of any kind for the duration of his 2 week stay in Mexico–on the second day, he vomited due to dehydration). The family dynamics played a major role in the maintenance of Alexander’s ADHD symptoms, but we started the process of dealing with severe ADHD by introducing natural supplements into Alexander’s daily schedule.
Day 1: On this first day, Alexander’s mother told me that she was no longer giving Alexander the Atomoxetine because she felt like it made him violent. He was still taking Focalin twice a day.
Alexander refused the natural treatment for ADHD that I had prepared for him. I let him refuse it, but told him that he didn’t know what he was refusing and that I wouldn’t offer it to him again that day. He would have another chance the next day and I told him that I would happily tell him about the medicines and that he and I would talk about what he was taking and he’d have some control over the process.
We went sightseeing with the family and around 5:00 PM, about an hour after the rib-eye dinner, Alexander saw a toy that he wanted at a tourist market and at that time, he had a meltdown. My husband, John and I put Alexander in a SuperNanny-style “Time Out” (see a full episode of Jo Frost’s work with this ADHD family: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2JvEofJOvQ ). Alexander stayed where we put him on a bench in a quiet area of the tourist market, but instead of getting calmer over time, Alexander’s screaming got louder and louder and over time. Eventually, he became destructive toward a vine growing on the wall and John and I decided that it was time to move toward the family’s Home Base.
On the way to our vehicle, Alexander began thrashing around and screaming violently. His father, Tom, John, and I restrained Alexander gently while standing a crowd of tourists. My daughter, Lydian and her husband called a taxi. I observed the thrashing and the screaming as a mix of emotions…like Alexander had absorbed a lot of negativity and he was expressing it in the only way he could as a child. I felt like Alexander wasn’t really “there” anymore during this fit. His state of mind was different at that time and he was no longer fully conscious of what he was doing. Sometimes he cried as though sad and when he cried in this way, I stroked his hair and whispered in his ear that we all loved him and that we would take care of him. When he screamed angrily and thrashed in a destructive way, we held him gently and I told him that “these are his choices, and these are the consequences.” I was very careful with my words because I felt like Alexander wasn’t fully conscious so I was speaking to his unconscious mind. My words, as such, would be powerful.
Later, Alexander confirmed that he had indeed hear what I said to him during this time and he responded by trusting me.
After the taxi came, Alexander continued to scream and thrash around inside the taxi. When we arrived back at our vehicle however, he suddenly became okay again and said that he’d seen an “ocelot” outside the window. The switch from thrashing and destructive behavior to being “okay” was dramatic and swift, but it made sense to me. When we arrived back at our vehicle, Alexander’s brain released a bit of dopamine after having eaten that rib-eye some hours earlier (meat contains the amino acids his body needs to manufacture dopamine) and he was able to come back to himself again.
It seemed to me that Alexander’s brain was completely starved of dopamine due to the drugs he’d been taken. The Focalin and Atomoxetine had literally squeezed every bit of dopamine out of his neurons that had been available and I believed that his diet wasn’t providing the necessary amino acids for him to produce adequate levels of dopamine for Alexander to function throughout the day. He wasn’t producing very much dopamine because the drugs caused Alexander’s appetite to be significantly diminished–so he wasn’t eating enough foods or the right foods to make dopamine naturally. And the drugs artificially caused his brain to release dopamine at inappropriate times to keep him docile for strangers or people who aren’t as closely related to him. One of the functions of dopamine is to help us make decisions in relationships and close relationships are decidedly more rewarding than relationships with people who are more distant to us. But Alexander only had dopamine available during the day when he was teachers and friends. By the time he made it home at the end of the day, his dopamine stores were all used up. This is a complex topic, but the important point I want to make is that Alexander didn’t have the necessary dopamine available in his neurons in the first place, and then, his brain wasn’t releasing the dopamine in response to normal rewards like when he feels loved and accepted by his family, or when he completes a project well, or when he’s having fun playing. Indeed, Alexander’s brain didn’t release dopamine very often at all because he was deficient in dopamine, but also because close family members (normally a huge source of dopamine release) had given up on him. Most of his interactions with his parents were negative.
On the way back to Home Base, Alexander told me that he’d decided that he would like to try the supplements that I’d offered him that morning. I promised to teach him about each one so that he could take control of himself. I didn’t make a big deal of it, but I did tell him that the supplements would help him a LOT and that he could look forward to that.
Day 2: On the second day, Alexander readily took the supplements in the morning before we went out for the day. I gave him some choices about how much vitamin C to take so that he felt a sense of control over his own recovery, but I explained each supplement to him briefly one-by-one. I let him decide how much magnesium to take, but encouraged him to take at least 3 gummies to make his body and muscles feel relaxed. He was distrustful of the pills because the pills he’d been given up to this point made him feel bad. I acknowledged this problem and told him that these pills were supplements and they would make him feel NORMAL…they would make him feel like himself.
Below, I provide a detailed list of each supplement that I gave Alexander and a dosing schedule.
On this day, I held Alexander’s hand when we went out sight-seeing. He became visibly anxious about going out before we left Home Base and I explained to him that if he had a “fit” while we were out that we would take care of him today just as we had the day before. This made him feel better and we all left as a family, but returned by 2:00 PM to Home Base in anticipation of a difficult afternoon.
Alexander had asked for ice cream and I let him have some but told him to pay attention to what happened within an hour or so of eating it. Sure enough, his behavior deteriorated and later that night he had another “fit”. I explained to Alexander why this happened. I told him that the sugar causes his brain to use up all its fuel and then he crashes and feels terrible after that. I told him that I had honey-candies and healthy sweets like fruit leathers that he could eat instead of ice cream and refined sugar sweets.
Alexander’s mother still gave him his first dose of Focalin on Day 2, but forgot to give him his second dose because his behavior was so much better.
Around 7:00 PM, during dinner that night, Alexander refused to sit and eat his food, so John and I put him in time-out again and he sat in his time-out square and screamed. Nonetheless though, he stayed put and as the rest of us sat nearby eating, I told the parents that his screaming sounded to me like an emotional release. I likened it to a balloon that was slowly deflating. When Alexander returned to his seat, I told him (and his parents) that one day soon, he might feel like he just doesn’t need to scream and cry like that anymore. One day soon, (maybe today, maybe tomorrow, or maybe a week from now), he’d just feel like doing his Time Out and be done with it quickly and easily.
Day 3: Alexander’s mother forgot to give him his morning dose of Focalin because Alexander’s behavior was notably better by the next morning. I told her to not give him Focalin again, but instead, I gave Alexander supplements 4 times per day thereafter. Alexander had to be put into Time Out a number of times during the 2 week visit (which is normal for a 7 year old), but he didn’t scream or have any more “fits” after this initial 3 day period.
We avoided refined sugars for Alexander. He was aware that sugar caused him to have fits so, although he loved sugar, he accepted the honey-based candies, fruit leathers, fresh fruit, and other healthy snacks that I gave him.
Day 4: By Day 4, I had noticed that Alexander would develop repetitive behaviors in the afternoon if I gave him JUST the Mucuna without mixing it with the Manuka Honey. I speculated that he needed to have a healthy sugar boost regularly throughout the day. Also, Alexander craved bananas and would eat 3 of them at a time.
Manuka honey is a special type of honey that can boost gut health as well as immunity. Alexander was able to mix his own Manuka and Mucuna (with supervision) by the end of the first week and his mom and I discussed sending a disposable condiment cup with 1 dose of Mucuna with Alexander to school in his lunchbox so that he could give himself a dose of sugars and Mucuna in the afternoon without having to involve the school doctor/nurse in the process.
Day 5: On the morning of the 5th day, Alexander felt a little ill. I felt like this was perhaps withdrawals/detox from the Focalin and I sat with him for several hours until he felt better. Alexander was small for his age, but by afternoon, his appetite was insatiable and he started eating a lot more. I encouraged this, but the parents had a hard time noticing that their son was hungry. Rather, they felt like he was still nagging at them. It was hard for them to let go of the family dynamic and accept that Alexander was doing well now. I encouraged Alexander to eat and suggested that he would probably have a growth spurt if the parents kept him off the Focalin and Atomoxetine.
The rest of the two weeks went relatively smoothly in terms of Alexander’s ADHD symptoms. Using the ADHD natural supplements listed below, we had few ADHD incidents, though homework was still a major issue. Though Alexander had no problems with doing science experiments with me, building stuff, and playing normally along with other hands-on learning activities he HATED the worksheets that he’d been assigned to do. Lydian and I looked through these worksheets and the homework with Alexander’s mother and found that much of the homework didn’t make sense (literally). Of course, school systems differ in regard to this problem, but I recommended that the family seek out a Montessori school or some other educational environment with a more hands-on, student-centered approach.
What herbs are good for ADHD?
Below are the ADHD natural treatment herbs and supplements that I gave Alexander during his time with us. These herbs and supplements took effect during the first 24 hours after we gave him the first 4 doses. Mucuna pruriens, because it contains a high dose of the dopamine precursor, allows the brain to manufacture a good amount of dopamine naturally within 4 hours. Alexander was still on Focalin during those first 4 doses of Mucuna and Manuka, but by the next day, he was ready to be weaned off the Focalin. I’ll talk more in depth about each of these supplements (Mucuha and Manuka) and herbs for ADHD in upcoming articles to explain how to help a child with severe ADHD using these natural medicines.
Mucuna pruriens is a bean that contains high amounts of L-Dopa, the natural precursor to dopamine that exists in a number of different foods including other broadleaf beans like fava beans. But the cool thing about Mucuna is that it contains high amounts of L-Dopa, which means that it’s the ideal brain-food for ADHD. Be aware though that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about Mucuna and much of it involves confusion over the drug Levodopa (which is sometimes called L-Dopa though this pharmaceutical contains two synthetic drugs in one pill and one of these synthetic drugs, carbidopa, causes long-term, serious side effects) and natural Levodopa (which is also known L-Dopa, though it is chemically different and naturally produced in the human body from L-Tyrosine and/or L-Phenylalanine, two amino acids that are converted along various pathways into different neurotransmitters and proteins). Big Pharma wants to hide the virtues of Mucuna pruriens and natural L-Dopa from non-chemists because dopamine deficiency fuels all kinds of industries and keeps people tethered to The Machine. As someone who has been taking Mucuna pruriens (eating it in chili soups and drinking it in hot water rather than using coffee, for example) on and off for more than 2 years, I can attest to the fact that this bean is not addictive just as fava beans are not addictive. I often forget to take Mucuna for days at a time. And I have suffered no negative effects, but only positive benefits from taking this herb. I have watched the same positive effects with no negative side effects (other than perhaps stomach upset within 30 minutes of consuming high doses of the bean) in other people as well.
But that being said and in the interest of helping parents figure out how to deal with severe ADHD, if you’re scared of using Mucuna pruriens, give your child a daily dose of fava beans instead. Just be aware that fava beans don’t contain as much L-Dopa as Mucuna pruriens, so the effects may take longer or be less noticeable at first. Follow the rest of the protocol and give your child the other vitamins and supplements to ensure that the L-Dopa can be converted into dopamine expeditiously.
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I will say more about the utility and safety profile of Mucuna pruriens use in children with ADHD in an upcoming article. For now, just know that if you research Mucuna pruriens through Google, you’ll find a lot of damning “information” that’s been put out there and paid for by Big Pharma to keep the ADHD industry fully functioning and intact as a Profit Machine. I will provide links to scientific research in upcoming articles to prove the safety and efficacy of Mucuna pruriens as a treatment for ADHD (including severe ADHD) in an upcoming article.
DOSE – administer 4 times per day (morning, noon, 3:00 PM, and at bedtime): ½ teaspoon (approximately 700 mg) of Mucuna pruriens powder mixed with a ½ teaspoon of Manuka Honey.
This the most important herb that you’ll use to treat ADHD at home.
Without adequate levels of vitamin B6, the body won’t be able to convert the L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens into dopamine in the brain. Administer at least 25 mg of vitamin B6 daily to children with moderate to severe ADHD. This dosage requirement can be met by combining the liquid vitamin B6 product I’ve linked to here with the vitamin B6 contents of the multivitamin that I recommend below.
DOSAGE – administer 2 dropperfuls in the morning: 2 droppers contains 8.5 mg of vitamin B6.
Children with ADHD are often severely malnourished. A diet that contains a lot of fast foods, refined sugars, and a lack of nourishing fruits, vegetables, and meats can contribute to ADHD. A good multivitamin that’s designed for ADHD kids can provide nutrients that a child’s body needs to grow, repair, and produce the neurotransmitters that children need in order to function properly at home and in society.
DOSAGE – administer 1 dose per day in the morning: This multivitamin contains 0.64 mg of vitamin B6, 6.82 mg of iron, and 4.13 mg of zinc.
The magnesium “calm” gummies that I recommend are an important part of the ADHD natural supplements list. Magnesium calms the body and it’s also a necessary component that the brain needs in order to convert L-Dopa into dopamine in the brain.
DOSAGE: administer magnesium once or twice a day to treat ADHD naturally. Start with 2 gummies and add 1 gummy per day until the child is taking 5 gummies per day. Thereafter, the child can choose how many gummies they take each day. Teach them that the magnesium helps calm their muscles and that they can take more gummies if their body feels like it can’t seem to rest or sit still. If your child asks for the bigger dose of gummies during the day, you will then know that their body feels like it can’t sit still, which will help you with making a differential diagnosis about additional natural treatments your child may need later on.
- NAC / N-Acetylcysteine –
NAC is an important medicine for general health, but if you’re wondering how to deal with severe ADHD, NAC will help by balancing your child’s glutamate system. This system in the brain controls mental excitability so it’s important as a treatment for ADHD. The FDA is currently trying to make NAC into a prescription medication even though it has an extremely low toxicity level and in fact is used to detoxify the body from various poisons (like acetaminophen overdose, for example). The reason why the FDA wants to diminish public access to NAC is because it can be used to cure COVID (as well as the common cold, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses) by thinning mucus. It is also an important fertility medicine for women. It can help women overcome health issues like endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) by thinning vaginal secretions, thereby allowing the uterus and ovaries to naturally detoxify. So don’t underestimate the value of this natural treatment for ADHD. I’ll talk more in-depth about NAC later.
Unfortunately, NAC is no longer available through Amazon, but I’ve provided a link to NOW Foods NAC that is still available at the time of this writing.
DOSAGE – administer NAC twice daily for severe ADHD: Administer 600-1000 mg in the morning and 600-1000 mg in the evening.
The Omega 3’s, and 6’s are often lacking in children with severe ADHD. It’s essential that you supplement with fish oil. Put it in smoothies if you think your child won’t take this stuff. The lemon flavored Cod Liver Oil tastes fine and shouldn’t set off any alarms. If your child is allergic to fish, find a source of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s that does not contain fish.
DOSAGE – administer once per day in the morning: 1 capful or 1 tablespoon.
This product contains 15 mg of vitamin C (which is a negligible amount) and 5 mg of zinc. Give your child 3 tablets of Frunatta zinc to fulfill the necessary daily requirements for converting L-Dopa into dopamine. Studies have shown that children with ADHD are often severely deficient in zinc. Supplementation often relieves a number of the ADHD symptoms within days. With the zinc contained in the multivitamin, your child will receive 15 mg + 4.13 mg of zinc total per day (19.13 mg).
DOSAGE – administer the total zinc requirement (3 tablets) at two different times of the day per day to prevent stomach upset: 1 tablet in the morning with the multivitamin and 2 tablets in the evening.
- Iron –
One of the important ADHD natural treatment supplements is iron. Children with ADHD are typically deficient in iron. Supplementation leads to relief from symptoms within days. Be sure to store iron supplements in a safe place because overdose with iron can be deadly. Administer iron according to the age-dosing instructions on the Renzo bottle. For Alexander, a 7 year old with ADHD, I administered 15 mg of the Renzo iron with the Renzo multivitamin for a grand total of 21 mg of iron daily.
DOSAGE – administer in the morning with the multivitamin. Follow the dosing instructions on the Renzo bottle.
Vitamin C is another extremely valuable vitamin that assists in a number of mental-health related chemical conversions in the body. I let Alexander choose how many dinosaur pills he took each day to give him some control over his own process of healing. The vitamin C pills that I recommend contained 125 mg per pill and I let him take between 1 to 5 per day.
DOSAGE – administer in the morning. Start with a lower dose and work up to 5 pills by increasing the dose by 1 pill per day. Thereafter, take 1 to 5 pills.
Iodine is a complex topic, but an important one when it comes to ADHD and general health. Iodine deficiency is a major cause of obesity in the United States where bromine is still used as an insecticide and the water is fluoridated such that the fluorine and bromine compete with iodine in the body, causing thyroid and reproductive organ dysfunction that goes unnoticed by doctors. Iodine deficiency leads to general poor health due to low immunity. The use of iodine for the prevention of COVID-19 by healthcare workers demonstrates the importance of this substance, but few people, unfortunately, are aware of the difference between Lugol’s iodine and Povidone iodine and how to use these two substances to prevent and treat COVID and how daily supplementation with Lugol’s iodine can promote general health, particularly mental health, and educational development in children. See our list of “Other Important Links” below to learn more about Lugol’s iodine and how a high daily dose of this important mineral can change the course of health for you and your family.
DOSAGE – administer 1 drop via the skin or in drinking water of 2% Lugol’s iodine on the first day, 2 drops on the second day, 3 drops on the third day and so on and so forth until the child is taking 1 drop for every year according to their age. For adults, follow the same pattern, but work up to 20 drops per day.
- CBD Drops –
I added 3-4 drops of 1000 mg CBD to most of the batches of Mucuna and Manuka honey that I gave Alexander and noticed that without CBD, Alexander would tend to get more restless and his parents would get frustrated with him at these times. But parents who live in states where CBD is not legal can do the other parts of this protocol listed above and will likely find that the Mucuna, NAC, and supportive supplements will make a huge difference in their child’s behavior even without the CBD. CBD was definitely not the core medicine used to treat ADHD. The core herb was Mucuna pruriens.
DOSAGE – administer 3-10 drops of CBD with every dose of Mucuna and Manuka honey.
- CBD Lotion –
I let Alexander administer CBD as a roll-on if he felt like he needed it. He only rarely asked to use it, but I always knew when he asked for it that he was feeling uncomfortable or unpleasant in some way, which gave me extra information about how he was feeling at those times and allowed me to tune into him more closely in addition to the medicinal effects of the CBD roll-on itself.
DOSAGE – with guidance, the child can decide when and if a dose of the roll-on lotion is necessary.
Other Important Links: