A number of alternative treatments are advertised as helping to reduce symptoms of adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Some of these are unproven, some show promise, and some can be incorporated into your daily life to enhance your current treatment program. In this guide, we will explore the different treatment options available for ADHD and explain what you need to know before considering one of these other alternative treatments.
EEG Neurotherapy can also be referred to as EEG biofeedback. According to doctors using this technique, people with ADHD have an excess amount of theta waves and a deficit in the number of beta waves in the brain. EEG Neurotherapy is supposed to train the brain to produce more beta waves.
Advocates of EEG Neurotherapy point to a 60 percent success rate and indicate that some people using this treatment discontinue the medication. Although this treatment shows promise, additional research is needed before considering this a viable treatment for ADHD.
It can take up to 60 sessions to achieve results and the cost of this treatment is extremely expensive. It can range from $3,000 to $6,000. It is not normally covered by medical insurance.
Herbal supplements are readily available in any pharmacy. Because they are natural, most people assume they are safe. This, however, is not always true. St. John’s Wort, for example, can cause or increase sensitivity to sunlight and should not be taken if you have allergies.
Supplements can cause side effects as well. Ginseng, a popular herbal supplement, can cause insomnia, nausea, nosebleeds, rapid heartbeat, and headaches. Ginseng is also a blood thinner and can be dangerous to people with bleeding disorders or who are on other medications.
At this time, the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements. Manufacturing of these products can vary, so one brand can be stronger or weaker than another brand (even the same brand, during different manufacturing runs, can vary in strength).
Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure there is no risk of interactions with other medications you are taking or complications with other health conditions.
Vision therapy consists of an eye and perceptual exercises, sometimes using colored lenses or prisms. This type of treatment is based on the belief that faulty eye movements cause behavioral problems.
Vision problems, however, can mimic some of the symptoms of ADHD (and learning disabilities), including an inability to focus for extended periods of time, especially when doing detail work or reading. There is no scientific data to back up claims that vision therapy improves symptoms of ADHD.
Using auditory stimulation to help people with ADHD is based on a study completed by the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York. In this study, children were divided into three groups (half had ADHD). All three groups were given math problems to complete. The first group listened to music, the second group had to talk in the area, and the third group was in a silent area. The children without ADHD did relatively the same no matter which environment they were in. Children with ADHD performed better while listening to music.
This study may give you a good reason to listen to music while completing tasks, but it does not indicate this is an effective treatment for overall symptoms of ADHD.
Cerebellar training is a combination of eye, balance, and sensory exercises. This type of alternative treatments is based on the belief that connections between the cerebellum and the cerebrum in the brain either work too slowly or are not working. The exercises are supposed to improve these connections and improve the functioning of the cerebellum. The entire exercise program takes between 12 and 15 months to complete.
Several years ago, the journal Dyslexia published a study on this program. However, it was later found out that one of the authors of the study was paid by the organization that offered the service.
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) list this treatment as controversial and not backed by medical science.
There is a belief within the chiropractic community that ADHD may be caused by trauma to the spine (occurring throughout our lives, beginning at birth) or a misalignment of the skull causing uneven pressure on certain parts of the brain. Chiropractors perform adjustments to realign the skeleton. Proponents of this treatment believe these realignments will improve symptoms of ADHD.
There has been one study of this treatment and, in an article entitled, “Attention Deficit Disorder,” Dr. Joel Alcantara (a chiropractor) called the results of the study “inconclusive.” Medical science and our current knowledge of anatomy do not agree with the theory behind this treatment.
Although these alternative treatments for adult ADHD treatments are all viable, there is on the important thing to note: Dosing information, purity, and strength of supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and the strength of the supplements can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The dosing information listed on supplements is usually based on the average adult and does not take an individual’s weight into consideration. Because of this, it is best to talk to your doctor before going down this path. Good luck!
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