The ATTEND Approach: Natural Support for ADHDNov 23, 2019
Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP
Many families are looking for more natural options to manage ADHD and attention issues (e.g., distractibility, impulsive behavior, disruptive behavior, restlessness, and hyperactivity). ATTEND is a pneumonic device to remember the six key strategies to consider.
ATTEND: Natural Support for ADHD
A | Arousal Management
Some studies suggest that ADHD symptoms may represent a dysregulation of the internal 24-hour clock (aka circadian rhythm), which controls the balance of alertness and drowsiness of our brain throughout the day and night. Over 55% of people with ADHD have sleep disturbances. Sleep is foundational for good attention and emotional regulation. Be sure to receive the appropriate amount of sleep each night. For example, kids and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
T | Training the Brain
Mind-body skills can be very helpful for kids and teens to help condition their nervous system to be quieter, calmer, and more efficient at sustaining attention. Effective skills in this category include yoga, mindfulness, breath-work, imagery and various forms of psychotherapy/behavioral support.
Try this restorative yoga sequence.
T | Technology
A few technologies are emerging as very safe, effective non-drug options for improving ADHD core symptoms:
- Neurofeedback involves measuring electrical brain activity using sticky pads on the scalp and then learning to control those brain waves. In kids with ADHD, we are typically training them to decrease excess amounts of low frequency brainwave activity (called theta waves, which are associated with daydreaming) while learning to increase higher frequency brain waves (called beta waves, which are associated with active problem solving and thinking). Neurofeedback results take about 30-40 sessions.
- Electrical trigeminal nerve stimulation (eTNS). Gentle stimulation of this nerve while kids are sleeping, each night for 4-6 weeks, can improve symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was initially widely utilized to treat depression resistant to standard pharmacological treatments and psychotherapies. It is now also used to treat ADHD. It involves applying repetitive electromagnetic field energy to brain areas in ADHD that might be under-aroused and need activating.
- Cranial Electrotherapeutic Stimulation (CES) involves low level electrical currents being passed over the cranium via a small clip on each ear. 40-60 minute session each can help with ADHD symptoms as well as sleep and anxiety.
E | Exercise
Daily aerobic physical activity (~30 minutes) can greatly reduce core ADHD symptoms throughout the school day for kids. When people exercise and increase their heart rate through cardiovascular activity, their brains release the two main chemicals identified as being deficient in the ADHD brain, norepinephrine and dopamine.
N | Nutraceuticals
Foundational Supplements For ADHD (speak with your doctor before adding any supplements):
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Try our Strengthen | Omega-3.
- Zinc. Try our Mind Mineral | Zinc.
- Vitamin D3. Try our Illuminate 5000 | High-Potency Vitamin D3.
- Magnesium. Try our Relax Powder | Magnesium.
- B-Complex. Try our Activate | B-Complex.
Targeted ADHD Supplements: Phosphatidylserine, Pycnogenol, Theacrine, Tyrosine, Mucuna Pruriens, Oligemeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC’s)
D | Diet
A basic dietary approach for ADHD should include shifting to a dietary style with less refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, etc.), less refined sugar, and lower levels of chemical additives like artificial dyes and flavors. Focus on including the following at each meal:
- Complex carbohydrates
- Examples: brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, amaranth, oatmeal, etc.
- Include a wide variety of seasonal fruit.
- Include a wide variety of seasonal vegetables.
- Healthy proteins
- Beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, etc.
ADHD Without Drugs, Dr. Sanford Newmark
Finally Focused, Dr. James Greenblatt
Getting Ahead of ADHD, Dr. Joel Nigg
Mental Health, Naturally, Dr. Kathi Kemper
Mental Health For The Whole Child, Dr. Scott M. Shannon
www.playattention.com is a website containing interactive activities for kids and teens to improve executive functions and organizational skills which are commonly deficient in ADHD.
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